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Those Ridiculous 80's Movies and Why We Love Them
by Tim Josephs

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Kids taking on the Russians? Sure, why not?

Kids taking on the Russians? Sure, why not?
Is it just me, or were movies in the 80's better? As a whole, they seemed a little wackier, a little more fun than the films that have followed in the last two decades. And I'm not just talking about blockbusters. What about TEEN WOLF or THE MONEY PIT? SUMMER SCHOOL or ADVENTURES IN BABYSITTING? Pee-Wee, Ferris, Duckie, Bill and Ted? All born in the 80's. And I'm not saying this just because I grew up in the 80's (quite honestly my more formative years namely high school were well into the 90's). No, I believe the 80's, in terms of film at least, was just a better decade.

Sure there were some clunkers. JUMPIN' JACK FLASH comes to mind, and I'd mention HOWARD THE DUCK but that always gets pulled out when discussing the worst movies ever made.

But for me the most enjoyable movies were the ones with the outlandish plots. I'm not talking about sci-fi or fantasy stuff, no E.T. or STAR WARS, but scenarios involving supposedly real people in real life.

Here are in no particular order my top ten 80's movies with ridiculous, outrageous, but still kind of, sort of, if you squint a little, plausible plots.
Who wouldn't have believed this guy was black?

Who wouldn't have believed this guy was black?
And, although some of them aren't great films, they're still enjoyable and hard to turn off when you catch them on late at night.

RED DAWN
The Soviets invade Colorado and it's up to a band of tough, teenaged "Wolverines" to stop them. Lot of future stars in this one including soon-to-be dirty dancers Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey.

SOUL MAN
Because he needs a scholarship, a rich white kid takes an overdose of tanning pills (what?) to make himself look black. Very convincingly played by C. Thomas Howell I might add.

BREWSTER'S MILLIONS
Failed baseball player Montgomery Brewster, played by Richard Pryor, has to spend in a month with nothing to show for it thirty million dollars in order to collect 300 million. Bonus points for the baseball team - the Hackensack Bulls - being in my home state of New Jersey.

TRADING PLACES
I'm sure you know this one: two rich bastards bet for a dollar that they can take a thug and make him into a successful businessman and at the same time turn one of their colleagues after being set up for a crime he didn't commit into a
No comment necessary

No comment necessary
thug. Bonus points for Jamie Lee Curtis as the plucky prostitute. If you've only seen this on basic cable, you don't know what you're missing.

RISKY BUSINESS
A teen, in a bit of a pickle due to the damage caused to his father's Porsche, turns his parent's house into a brothel. And so began my hate affair with Tom Cruise.
(Don't you just love movies where the parents are either never around or just unconcerned with what's going on? See below.)

TWINS
Multiple men fathering one child to create the perfect human being? Pretty crazy, but I'll bet it's even more plausible today than when it was released in 1988. Bonus points for having Danny DeVito and Arnold Schwarzenegger perhaps two of the freakiest looking mainstream actors at the time play the twins.

WAR GAMES
A teen hacks into the government's missile command system and nearly causes World War III. Frankly I'm surprised this hasn't happened yet.

JUST ONE OF THE GUYS
A pretty high school girl, convinced her recent article got overlooked just because of her gender, poses as a boy at another school in order to
Tagline: Terry Griffith is about to go where no woman has gone before

Tagline: Terry Griffith is about to go where no woman has gone before
prove she was right. Busty, 28-year-old Joyce Hyser made a surprisingly good teenaged boy.
(Another movie with absent or completely apathetic parents. See also FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH and any number of John Hughes films.)

THE TOY
Another Richard Pryor classic. I remember liking this movie when I was a kid but when I recently saw it on TV I couldn't believe how racist it seemed to be. A rich white guy essentially buying a black man to be used as a toy for his son? Wow. I don't think they'll be remaking this one any time soon.

TOOTSIE
Another cross-dressing movie, this one has Dustin Hoffman as a struggling actor posing as a woman to get a part on a soap opera. Here's another scenario I'm surprised hasn't happened yet. Great movie but I'm just not sure how convincing a woman Hoffman made. Bonus points for the always hilarious Bill Murray.

Honorable Mention

FOOTLOOSE
A town that bans dancing and rock and roll? Preposterous, right? But, as insane as that premise sounds, it's actually based on a true story.

Ah, the 80's. Yuppies, big hair, and a lot of wonderfully silly movies.

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Movie Musings
Every other Tuesday

Thoughts, observations, conjectures, complaints about movies and mostly how they relate to me personally. If you're looking for something a little broader, try Ebert.


Other Columns
Other columns by Tim Josephs:

So Long 2013, and MatchFlickers!

The Season for Peace, Presents, & Puncture Wounds

Women are Once Again Kicking Ass

Chewing the Scenery

The Greatest President We Never Had

All Columns


Tim Josephs
Born to write (literally much to the displeasure of his mother, he emerged with a pencil clutched in one tiny fist), Tim spends most of his days crafting epic monosyllabic poems, new comical titles to his favorite Beatles' songs (Hey, Dude), and angry letters to local businesses that have wronged him in some way. He's really an okay guy once you get to know him.


Contact
If you have a comment, question, or suggestion, you can send a message to Tim Josephs by clicking here.


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