As much as people in my forty-plus age group love to wax rhapsodic about the good ole days, what we really mean to say is that the 1980s was our time and it was the best time ever. But was it really? Well, for all the good things that happened (metal videos, big hair, personal computers), there were certainly a lot of bad (Reaganomics, neon, the Iran Contra scandal).
For a lot of us, we like to canonize 80s movies. We like to look at these pieces of cinematic richness as being the standard bearers for the films that came later. And when you consider that a lot of films that are released today are either inspired by movies from the 1980s or trying to capture that special 80s feeling, it's easy to look at this time in film history with rose colored glasses.
However, if we can be quite honest, there are movies that just don't hold up. Especially if you take a quick look at the entire decade on Wikipedia. This can be said about films from many decades. There's just something about the good turned bad films from the 1980s that stand out for some reason. They either have not aged well or they never fulfilled the promissory note that their celluloid die cast so many moons ago.
Quite simply, for those of us who grew up in the 1980s, we hold those films to a higher standard. We expect more from them because they did so much for us. It is as if we have made a pact with these films that we would always be together, but time has worn on and now it seems like we're on the cusp of a filmic divorce.
Make no mistake, making a list like this gives a movie-lover like myself no pleasure. Though, watching something like the documentary Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films certainly helps. However, in today's world of endless content it simply has to be done. We need to weed out watching those films where time could be better spent. So it is with some sadness and remorse that we present, '11 80's Movies That Don't Hold Up.'
This tale of Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack) and Diane Court (Ione Skye) finding love would probably not get made today. That is ultimately the litmus test for why a film doesn't hold up. It isn't that there is anything wrong with this movie, it's just it doesn't make sense why these two people would have any problem being a couple. And then the subplot with Court's father, never very lucid, might play as incomprehensible in today's world of reverse mortgages and Medicare mumbo-jumbo. Now, this isn't to say that back in the late 80s when I saw this movie I wasn't captivated. I am just saying that these days it takes more than holding up a radio to win back the girl you love. Heck, 1983's Valley Girl sees Nic Cage win back the love of his life in a much more impressive and industrious way.
Were the 1980s so boring that a film about a town not being able to dance was somehow able to reach number one status? This may sound like blasphemy but the 2011 redo was in some ways a better film. However, watching that version almost highlights why the 1984 film is a little long in the tooth. Sure, the need for self expression is one that can't be contained. But watching people prance around debating the merits of dancing (and crying about why they can't) seems downright silly. In a year that has seen celebrities die left and right, tragedies both locally and globally, and an election that reminds many why America seems to enjoy dining in the dumper, the problems, character and story of Footloose seem better suited for an afternoon special. The sad thing is how much today makes us long for the stolid times of the 1980s. In that regard, maybe Footloose hasn't aged so badly?
Legend is one of those movies that doesn't hold up for purely aesthetic reasons. Featuring a solid score by Tangerine Dream, the story still plays quite strongly. This tale of Jack (Tom Cruise) battling the Lord of Darkness (Tim Curry) and trying to save the woman he loves (the lovely Mia Sara), is timeless and plays well in any decade. The problem with this film is that it was made in the 1980s. It just doesn't hold up on a visual level. Sure, Ridley Scott did his level best with what he had to work with, but that isn't enough to make this film hold up over time. With Scott revisiting Blade Runner and Aliens, why not have him tap Tom Cruise and redo this film?