7 ’80s Flicks I’ll Never Get Sick Of


I never use trick photography!

~Ned Nederlander (Martin Short), “Three Amigos!”

Three good reasons Americans should stay out of Mexico

About this time last year, times were really tough for me. My A/C broke down, like a sad old mule, and wasn’t revived again until fall. My car was on its last legs. I was a layoff victim and didn’t know how I’d pull through. One of the hardest things I had to do was sell most of my DVDs at the local used media shop for a few extra bucks. There were, though, those that survived the Great Purge. They’re like my favorite old windbreaker from 15 years ago. I just can’t get rid of them. It would be a quiet form of heresy.

 
These are the cinematic equivalent of roast beef and gravy: utterly comfortable and predictable, a meal that never fails to satisfy. I wouldn’t necessarily say they’re all my favorite movies, however. I love heavy stuff like The Shawshank Redemption and Saving Private Ryan, but that’s not the kind of movie I’m gonna pop in when I’ve had a lousy day at work. Nor would I swing for a dark slice of weirdness like Dr. Strangelove or 12 Monkeys when I wanted to drown my sorrows.
 
Call these eight the Jolly Ranchers of moviedom. They taste great, leave very little aftertaste, and are pretty guilt-free. And I can watch any one of them when I’ve had a bad day.
 
 
 
A Fish Called Wanda (1988)
 
This one has something for everyone: British and American cross-cultural blunders, a razor-sharp script by former Python John Cleese, dead dogs, a stuttering hit man, and a gonzo turn by Kevin Kline as a particularly dim macho guy who reads Nietzsche for fun. It’s offensive and often completely over-the-top. Exactly the kind of movie that would never be made today for fear of enraging the ACLU, not to mention fish-rights groups. My kind of flick. Best quote: “Don’t call me stupid.” ~Kevin Kline as “Otto”
 
 
Major League (1989)
 
I make it a point to watch this one every year. It’s a funny movie about sports, but it’s just a funny movie, period. Check out all the young stars whose careers took off after this one: Wesley Snipes, Rene Russo and Dennis “Allstate Guy” Haysbert all in their film debuts, and Charlie Sheen (well, he started out sorta OK.) Plus, you had ’80s studs Tom Berenger and Corbin Bernsen essentially playing themselves and the incomparable Bob Uecker as Harry Doyle. I swear it gets funnier every time I see it. Best quote: “You no help me now, I say, fuck you, Jobu. I do it myself.” ~Dennis Haysbert as “Pedro Cerrano”
 
 
 
Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure (1985)
 
I openly admit to loving this bizarre movie…and the brilliant cult classic TV show which inspired it. You can call me silly or sentimental or just plain weird, but I love every minute of this one, director Tim Burton’s feature-length debut and a pastiche of every genre from Western to soap opera to Godzilla flicks(!) Chalk it up to Paul Reubens’ exuberant performance as Pee-wee, some hilarious character actors, and a musical score by Danny Elfman that gives me chills. Remember to tell ’em Large Marge sent ya! Best quote: “You don’t wanna get mixed up with me. I’m a loner, Dottie. A rebel.” ~Paul Reubens as “Pee-wee Herman”
 
 
 
 
Willow (1988)
 
Produced by George Lucas, this one is pretty much Star Wars with swords instead of lightsabers. (Also an obvious Lord of the Rings knockoff, but, you know…it’s the ’80s.) It was also my favorite movie as a kid (my mom had to buy another tape because I wore our family’s copy out.) It’s a pretty standard sword-and-sorcery epic with a wisecracking mercenary, a cute baby, a beautiful warrior princess, lots of little people, and an evil queen who looks like the victim of some bad Botox. I enjoyed every minute of it. Looking back, I can still appreciate its gorgeous cinematography and stirring score by a pre-Titanic and Avatar James Horner. Best quote: “You are drunk, and when you are drunk you forget that I am in charge!” ~Pat Overton as “Franjean”
 
 

Roxanne (1987)

Arguably my favorite Steve Martin movie, and a perfect contemporary remake of one of my favorite literary stories, Cyrano de Bergerac. It might be a little slow for some, but I enjoy its witty script, terrific supporting cast, and a pitch-perfect performance by Martin as small-town fire chief C.D. Bales, who’s perfect aside from his ginormous nose. I also appreciated the choice to make Darryl Hannah’s Roxanne an astronomer instead of just another dumb blonde. And, unlike the original Cyrano, no one dies at the end of this one. Best quote: “I’m tired of having a magnificient, fabulous, interesting nose.” ~Steve Martin as “C.D.”

Caddyshack (1980)

I once got in some serious trouble for quoting part of this R-rated, raunchy flick at dinner. My granddad let me watch it once, and it’s always been a favorite. It stars four immortal funnymen (Rodney Dangerfield and Bill Murray steal the show) and is one of the most quotable movies ever. I also once got away with pulling the infamous pool scene trick. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you need to watch Caddyshack this weekend. And thank you very little. You don’t even have to be a golfer to enjoy it. Best quote: “Last time I saw a mouth like that, it had a hook in it.” ~Rodney Dangerfield as “Al Czervik”

The Princess Bride (1987)

The one movie I wholeheartedly recommend to anyone. Yes, anyone. I’d go far as to say that if you don’t like this movie, you’re un-American. Or un-Guilderian. Something like that. It has everything a great movie needs. Action. Comedy. True love. Life lessons. Cary Elwes when he was still smokin’ hot. And it only gets better every time I see it. Best quote: “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” ~Mandy Patinkin as “Inigo Montoya”

Honorable mentions: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986), Beetlejuice (1988), Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Die Hard (1988), Married to the Mob (1987), The Neverending Story (1984), Harry and the Hendersons (1986), Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1988), This Is Spinal Tap (1984)

Got some favorite movies of your own? Send ’em, they might be included in a future 80s nostalgia edition of P&Q!

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~ by Howlin' Mad Heather on July 15, 2011.

2 Responses to “7 ’80s Flicks I’ll Never Get Sick Of”

  1. I love Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. :0)

  2. This is amazing. Three Amigos! would be tops on my list too! in fact, we are recording a podcast about Three Amigos! tomorrow night. Great article.

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