How about a nice game of chess?

The other night, I watched War Games.  I’ve probably seen it a hundred times, but it really hits me every time.  Not that globalthermonuclear war is a bad idea, or that hacking into computers can mean big trouble, or even that just because your son Joshua died doesn’t mean you should give up on the living, but that 80s movies are so great!!!  Why is it that no one makes movies like this anymore?  As most of you know, I was really enamored of Kevin Williamson (Dawson’s Creek, Scream) for awhile because I felt like he was breathing new life into the genre that had been dormant for some time.  But I haven’t seen anything from him for awhile now and even John Hughes couldn’t do it alone.  So, let’s reminisce and dissect what makes 80s movies, like Some Kind of Wonderful, Pretty in Pink, Sixteen Candles, The Karate Kid, Can’t Buy Me Love, Say Anything, Footloose, War Games, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Dirty Dancing, St. Elmo’s Fire, & The Breakfast Club so great:

(1) great dialogue.  Who can forget lines like, “What’s the president of the Young Democrats doing working for a Republican senator?” “Moving up.”  Or, “Where’s your brain?” “Why’d you kick me?” “Where’s your brain?” “Why’d you kick me?”  Or, “Joe lies.  Joe lies.  Joe lies, when he cries.”

(2) social issues.  From Footloose’s commentary on censorship and book burning, to Pretty in Pink’s take on class issues, to War Games full-on assault on the Cold War, no one has been able to combine super cheesy fun with social issues like teen 80s movies.

(3) great romance.  This one’s a bit complicated because there are a couple of patterns these movies tend to have in this department.  There’s the best friend syndrome, which worked out well for Mary Stuart Masterson with Eric Stoltz, but not so great for Jon Cryer with Molly Ringwald.  But Andrew McCarthy’s gaze at Molly Ringwald at the end of Pretty in Pink could melt Lake Monona in January.  Then there’s just sort of the easy relationship Ally Sheedy and Matthew Broderick had, which was cute.  Then there’s the beautiful girl falls for the nerdy guy, but the nerdy guy is either Patrick Dempsey or John Cusack.

(4) memorable names.  Ren McCormick.  Amanda Jones.  Blaine, Steph, Andie & Duckie.  Ferris Bueller.  Cameron & Sloane.  Lloyd Dobler & Diane Court.  Jake Ryan.  Daniel-son.

(5) soundtracks.  This one obviously needs no explanation.

What else?  I feel like there’s a lot more to say on this topic and I know I left off a lot of folks’ fave movies  — like Real Genius & Better Off Dead & Flashdance, but Flashdance never really did it for me and I don’t know what to do with Val Kilmer.  Hmm.  I think I need to give this some more thought.

 

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19 Responses to “How about a nice game of chess?”


  1. 1 Kristin April 24, 2008 at 9:59 am

    Flashdance never did it for me either! Although I was getting blood drawn this morning and What A Feeling came on, and me and the guy drawing my blood couldn’t help it – we were both singing! It was fun, and reminded me of the powers of Irene Cara.

    Anyway – as Kate knows, Footloose is my all time favorite movie. Out of all the movies. In the world. And of the 80’s teen genre Some Kind of Wonderful is my second fave, maybe even surpassing Footloose in the romance department. Because the falling for the best friend? What better story is there?? And so masterfully done by Eric Stoltz and MS-M. And I saw Can’t Buy Me Love the other day and… well, perfection.

    I think the thing that gets me about all of these movies is the perfect combination of humor, intelligence and sensitivity that the men have (the leading men, not the bullies, or the horrendous rich guys, or the little brothers, obvi). Of course there are brilliant wonderful women! But I didn’t want to them to be my boyfriend or picture kissing them as I lay in bed at night. So I remember the boys (who were really men) and thinking, if I could find one just like that… Countless characters that I fell in love with and would be ecstatic to meet in a bar today: Ren, Keith, Ferris, Ronald, Blaine, Lloyd, Jake, and Lane. Sigh. I wish I could watch that final scene from Some Kind of Wonderful Right Now…

  2. 2 Kristin April 24, 2008 at 10:01 am

    Flashdance never did it for me either! Although I was getting blood drawn this morning and What A Feeling came on, and me and the guy drawing my blood couldn’t help it – we were both singing! It was fun, and reminded me of the powers of Irene Cara.

    Anyway – as Kate knows, Footloose is my all time favorite movie. Out of all the movies. In the world. And of the 80’s teen genre Some Kind of Wonderful is my second fave, maybe even surpassing Footloose in the romance department. Because the falling for the best friend? What better story is there?? And so masterfully done by Eric Stoltz and MS-M. And I saw Can’t Buy Me Love the other day and… well, perfection.

    I think the thing that gets me about all of these movies is the perfect combination of humor, intelligence and sensitivity that the men have (the leading men, not the bullies, or the horrendous rich guys, or the little brothers, obvi). Of course there are brilliant wonderful women! But I didn’t want to them to be my boyfriend or picture kissing them as I lay in bed at night. So I remember the boys (who were really men) and thinking, if I could find one just like that… Countless characters that I fell in love with and would be ecstatic to meet in a bar today: Ren, Keith, Ferris, Ronald, Blaine, Lloyd, Jake, and Lane. Sigh. I wish I could watch that final scene from Some Kind of Wonderful Right Now…

  3. 3 Kristin April 24, 2008 at 10:38 am

    Sorry!

  4. 4 kateandgracie April 24, 2008 at 10:57 am

    I love it! It was worth two posts!

  5. 5 Sara H April 24, 2008 at 11:49 am

    I seem to remember being so embarassed by Flashdance the first time I saw it at a slumber party, I couldn’t watch it. Pretty in Pink, though, I can watch that any time. Love Duckie doing Otis Redding.

    How about Teen Wolf? So many excellent elements that have been mentioned: unforgettable names like Stiles and Boof, friendship that turns to romance (with a rejection of the super popular chick, just like in 16 Candles!), and social commentary involving winning on your own merits, the consequences of not controlling your temper and the propriety of exploiting power. And that SWEET wolfdance at the prom. And the gum-snapping coach!

    “There are three rules that I live by: never get less than twelve hours sleep; never play cards with a guy who has the same first name as a city; and never get involved with a woman with a tattoo of a dagger on her body. Now you stick to that, and everything else is cream cheese.”

  6. 6 kateandgracie April 24, 2008 at 1:38 pm

    Well. Done.

    Teen Wolf always grossed me out a bit, though. I mean, he really gets so hairy.

  7. 7 Sara H April 25, 2008 at 8:39 am

    I like to think of him as furry. Makes him sound more like a sweet puppy named Scotty.

    Thanks to your blog, I no longer have the motivation to do lots of yard work this weekend, but instead want to find these movies on cable somewhere and watch them ALL. Particularly St. Elmos Fire, I haven’t seen that one in ages, and I do love me some fake-sax-playing by Rob Lowe.

  8. 8 kateandgracie April 25, 2008 at 11:41 am

    Strangely, it may seem, St Elmo’s Fire really stirs up images of Italy for me. We must have watched that movie 100 times that year. Ok, maybe not 100, but quite a few. Since almost everything is closed in Italy on Sundays, and sometimes you need something a little American in your life (at least when you are a 21-year old American), we would get Chinese food from the restaurant down the street (the only one open on Sundays) — for me it was fried rice senza piselli (there were way too many peas in the fried rice) — and bring it back to the basement of the villa, eat yummy Chinese food in Florence, Italy and watch either (a) Dazed and Confused or (b) St Elmo’s Fire. These were the only two movies we had. For a short time, we had access to Braveheart, but one of the first semester kids must have taken it home with him because I don’t remember it there for very long.

    I can see a new horizon, underneath the blazin’ sky

    I’ll be where the eagles flyin’, higher and higher

    Gonna be your man in motion, all I need’s a pair of wheels

    Take me where my future’s lying, St. Elmo’s Fire.

  9. 9 G April 25, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    romancing the stone. I loved that movie.
    Also, last night watched working girl… for the first time. Found whats her name to be a little to breathless and sigourney weaver to be a little over the top for a 30 year old. I realize its a movie.
    The 80s still rock.

  10. 10 Heather April 28, 2008 at 12:10 pm

    I can’t beleive I am late to the 80s movie blog!

    I was thinking the same thing as I watched War Games–they just don’t make teen movies like this anymore. At least not as much. I feel like Judd Apatow did a good job with f and g, and his movies definitely have the sensitive guy thing going. But definitely not much social commentary.

    And Real Genius definitely needs to be on the list:

    Do you want a cherry? I grew them myself.

    I’ve been getting shock treatments.
    Good, up the voltage.

    Not to mention more commentary on globalthermonuclear war!

  11. 11 Kristin April 28, 2008 at 1:02 pm

    Oh Real Genius quotes are my fave!

    Mitch: Did you know there’s a guy living in our closet?
    Chris Knight: You’ve seen him too?
    Mitch: Who is he?
    Chris Knight: Hollyfeld.
    Mitch: Why does he keep going into our closet?
    Chris Knight: Why do you keep going into our closet?
    Mitch: To get my clothes – but that’s not why he goes in there.
    Chris Knight: Of course not, he’s twice your size – your clothes would never fit him.
    Mitch: Yeah…
    Chris Knight: Think before you ask these questions, Mitch. Twenty points higher than me? Thinks a big guy like that can wear his clothes?

  12. 12 kateandgracie April 28, 2008 at 2:36 pm

    Yeah, I knew you’d feel that way about Real Genius, which is why I mentioned it. And as much as I love it because it may be the most quotable, it just doesn’t really have the same kinda sentimentality as the others, you know? I feel like it’s more in the Totally Goofy 80s Movie Genre, which is a different subset of 80s Movies Genre General.

    It does have a very boring montage scene, though, which is an important element to an 80s movie.

  13. 13 kateandgracie April 28, 2008 at 2:37 pm

    OMG. Just saw Gwen’s Working Girl comment. I can’t believe you hadn’t seen that movie before — and that I missed it last night. I LOVE that movie. Joan Cusack is the best. And so is that Carly Simon song!

  14. 14 Kristin April 28, 2008 at 4:40 pm

    That Carly Simon song is second in line for my wedding song. Nothing pumps me up like Let the River Run!! I love love love Working Girl. And not just because I’m from SI. My sister and I use a quote from that most often when we are shopping: “$6000? It ain’t even leatha!”

    And Kateness – you are totally right about Real Genius. It’s not in the same category but it sure is fun. I also thought of Top Secret today, also with Val Kilmer. That movie is hilarious, and in the same vein as RG.

  15. 15 Sara H April 29, 2008 at 5:12 pm

    Confession: we own Top Secret. My husband bought it – like, 3 months ago, so this is not an old purchase.

    Is it wrong that I haven’t seen it? Do I need to watch it this weekend? I fear that without the nostalgia factor of memories and just watching it for the first time, it will ruin Val Kilmer for me.

  16. 16 Kristin April 29, 2008 at 9:19 pm

    Sara, I really think you should watch it. It is such a romp, such a farce, such fun! And Val Kilmer is damn cute in it too. Watch it with your tongue in your cheek and I really think you’ll appreciate it. 🙂

  17. 17 kateandgracie April 30, 2008 at 9:57 am

    I dare say, I think it might save Val Kilmer for you.

  18. 18 Sara H April 30, 2008 at 1:27 pm

    OK, I’ll add it to my movie queue!

    I just hope I also can still see him as The Saint. 🙂

  19. 19 kateandgracie April 30, 2008 at 2:23 pm

    I think I will always see him as Iceman.


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