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?
Breakin' & Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo
Okay, just the name of this "franchise" dates it tremendously. I will admit that when this film came out I was into break dancing. And by "into" it I mean I liked to watch people do it. The moves displayed on the screen were dazzling. However, watching both of these movies now they just don't hold up. The first film showcases a jazz dancer and two breakdancers merging their worlds. Okay, this is kinda groundbreaking if you're a big fan of dance. The second film is just silly (with an even sillier title) as we see the dancers use their talents to try and stop a community center from being bulldozed. Look, I understand that if we look at a lot of films with today's lens, they most likely wouldn't hold up. But with films like You Got Served, Step Up and even Drumline in it's rearview, the Breakin' films have got to see how little they stand up.
The Last Starfighter
I realize it isn't fair to bag on this movie as supposedly it was the first one to do all of it's special effects via computer. However, this tale of a boy named Alex (Lance Guest) who is recruited to battle aliens is in dire need of a reboot. Considering how great computer animation has become it's almost a given that this film can't hold up today. The effects look kind of cool but they're so first generation that it almost makes this movie unwatchable. Truthfully, the story is ahead of its time. It's the kind of thing that if it got in the right hands (David Fincher anyone?) it could potentially spawn a franchise. However, as it stands now this is one 1980s film that is better left in the past.
Weekend at Bernie's
Alright, I know that this film has achieved a cult status of sorts as there have been some gatherings where Bernie himself (actor Terry Kiser) has shown up. Here's the deal, death isn't funny. As someone who has experienced it, that the two idiots in this film could make their dead boss Bernie seem alive for a weekend is ludicrous. Even worse, it simply defies science. The body would decompose, it would crap itself (as all its muscles relax) and it just wouldn't hold up. Especially, if it was prancing around at a party. The fact that they were able to squeeze a sequel out of that first film is the most remarkable (and appalling) thing about this franchise. In a time where we have mass amounts of death served up on a daily basis via the constant news streams, Weekend At Bernie's doesn't not just hold up, it's downright irresponsible.
This one hurts a little bit. I say that because I LOVED this movie when it came out. However, if you think about the story, an artist (Andrew McCarthy) falls in love with a mannequin (Kim Cattrall) he creates, it kinda sounds like an indy film. Which it actually kind of became when Ryan Gosling decided to get weird and starred in LARS AND THE REAL GIRL. Okay, I know that these films are fairly different, however watching Mannequin now it really seems to be missing something. It just doesn't have the magic that it did in the 1980s. Sure, back then it was easy to feel for Andrew McCarthy's lonely, sad sack character. There's nothing wrong with someone wanting love. At the same time, looking at it via today's HDTV's, it just seems kinda creepy, implausible and something that wouldn't even make it past the development stage at a studio today.
Cocktail soars when it focuses on the characters it is depicting. At the same time, as it is breaking them down, it also shows how bankrupt many of them are. Lets be honest, doesn't anybody in this film ever have anyone else's back? This tale of a bartender from New York finding love in Jamaica isn't without it's merits. As I said, it is in many ways an in-depth character study. The problem is that the bar scenes, while never great, seem even less great by today's standards. Truthfully, Coyote Ugly had much better scenes of swill and swank. As a result, we have a film that feels uneven, looks very dated, and is almost hard to take seriously. The best part of this film is the relationship Tom Cruise's character has with his mentor played by Bryan Brown. As compromised as this is, it does show what feels like a real relationship. Sadly, that doesn't help this movie hold up.
An acronym for Data Analyzing Robot Youth Lifeform, D.A.R.Y.L. is the tale of a typical American boy who comes to realize he's a top secret, military made machine who has more than human abilities. This movie was made too early. There's no two ways about it. The FX aren't anything to write home about and this is a big reason why this movie falls short in 2016. I would say that it could be rebooted but I am not sure that even that would save it. Ultimately, another reason this movie doesn't hold up is because despite its lofty intentions, this tale of political intrigue and man's relationship to machines, just never gets the blood boiling the way, say, DEADLY FRIEND does. D.A.R.Y.L. never really caught on the way a lot of the films in this list have. So the fact that it doesn't hold up might be met with a hollow thud. At the same time for those who know this movie, watching it today is a great reminder of what could've been and what didn't happen.
The Secret of My Success
Michael J. Fox is great in this movie. It's a tale of 1980s Wall Street greed and how that can be triumphed by good will. Fox plays a man who wants to be an executive but can't get a break. So, he pretends to be somebody he's not and shows how faking it UNTIL he makes it can pay dividends (literally and figuratively). The problem with his movie isn't that it's dated. Business fundamentals are business fundamentals no matter what year they are. The reason this film doesn't hold up is because the "greed is good" mentality of the 1980s is even worse now. As a result, watching a film like this, where a character overcomes their modest beginnings to triumph by doing good in business... is a fairy tale. And in the aftermath of the still fresh financial crisis of 8 years ago, The Secret of My Success is even less funny in 2016. It's downright insulting which might be worse than not holding up.
The whole crux of this movie is the idea that the characters are in a space camp and then accidentally get launched into space. One may wonder how such an accident could happen, and the people behind this film did their best to make it seem plausible. Unfortunately, it didn't really work in 1986 it sure doesn't work now. One could sight the effects and other technical things, but this movie simply seems to be a problem child. Sure there were those of us who watched this film only because we hoped that at some point Kelly Preston might get naked. The reason for a such a scene was of no consequence. She'd gone nude before so the prospect of it happening again was enough to lure someone like me in back then. Overall, this film has a silly premise but like I said we can't fault the creators. It isn't like the people who made this film ever thought there would be lists like this on a thing called the internet, right?