#1338 The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1988)

After seeing the movie adaptation of The Unbearable Lightness of Being I think I have to read the original novel by Milan Kundera to see what went missing in translation under Philip Kaufman’s direction.

What I love about movies is how they can condensate a ordinary day or a lifetime of a human under two hours and I really admire the directors and editors who can make this happen and the end result does not feel rushed due to well thought out pacing. The Unbearable Lightness of Being totally fails all this. It’s a three-hour epic that feels like it’s skimming the original book, but still has less content in it than many of the 90 minute movies out there. It’s extremely slow, but rushed at the same time.

I did not care for The Unbearable Lightness of Being and found it a pretentious movie that aspires to imitate the style of the generic artsy European cinema without ever trying to find its own tone of voice.

But it did evoke a need in me to look into the original novel to see what makes it tick.

80s-o-meter: 3%

Total: 18%

#1337 The Trouble with Spies (1987)

The Trouble with Spies was originally shot in 1984 as a made for TV movie but released three years later as a theatrical release. But make no mistake, this spy comedy looks and feels very much like your average early 80s TV movie.

Special Agent comedies have been already done to death by 1984, and The Trouble with Spies is really nothing more but yet another poor man’s Pink Panther copy. There was two upsides seeing this movie, first one being seeing Lucy Gutteridge (who ended up mostly in made for TV movies) starring in another movie besides Top Secret! – a movie I’ve seen about gazillion times as a kid.

Another upside? That adorable guard dog towards the end of the movie.

80s-o-meter: 40%

Total: 38%

#1336 Hairspray (1988)

Somebody please explain me why movies like Hairspray exist.

Just kidding – I know, I know. They’re there to give a dose of nostalgia for those long for the bygone days when the sun always shone and the colors were much more vivid. You can spot useless nostalgic movie by reimagining it to the current day and figuring out if the concept still holds up.

Hairspray was definitely my cup of tea, even despite its favorable anti-segregation message.

80s-o-meter: 3%

Total: 4%

#1335 Hider in the House (1989)

If there ever was a role Gary Busey was born to play, it’s the deranged patient Tom Sykes who in Hider in the House finds himself building a little nest in the attic of a nuclear family to live with the family he never had. Really, he’s such a natural in the role and boasts just the right physical features that the movie seems written with precisely him in mind.

Busey perfectly shows the likeable traits needed for the role and we the viewers can’t but hope that everything would turn out well for him in the end somehow. The concept of the movie is unique and it skillfully moves away from the most tired clichés when there is a temptation to just take the road well travelled.

That is, until the end. Even though the ending is a-ok it really felt like such a letdown after all the great buildup that was used to establish Tom’s multifaceted character.

80s-o-meter: 92%

Total: 87%

#1334 A Breed Apart (1984)

After just minutes of A Breed Apart I was really looking forward for it to finish as soon as possible, but it just dragged on and on in its predictable and uninteresting path.

A tale of a soldier turned into nature conservationist never manages to interest and the wonderful cast of Rutger Hauer, Kathleen Turner, Donald Pleasence and Brion James is completely wasted in this mess of a movie.

Reportedly one of the four reels of the movie went missing after being shipped from the shooting location back to Los Angeles and the team had to patch up a movie out of the existing footage. This only partly explains the complete staleness of A Breed Apart.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 2%

#1333 L.A. Bounty (1989)

A weak cast makes for a weak movie with L.A. Bounty.

Wings Hauser plays the role of a demented madman criminal (strong emphasis on the word plays) and Sybil Danning deadpans through the movie in a pair of badly fitting trousers, delivering around 30 words of dialogue along the way.

A kind of a fast food action movie when it was released, this particular serving has gone stale a long time ago.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 38%

#1332 Of Unknown Origin (1983)

The director George P. Cosmatos creates a new subgenre of rat thriller with Of Unknown Origin.

I was drawn to this Canadian-American movie shot in Montréal due to it featuring Peter Weller (of the later Robocop fame), as well as its ominous title. The movie never quite lives up to its premise, and turns into monotonous mouse and cat game where Weller gets fixated on getting rid of a rodent and ends up destroying both his house and him family along the way.

It is not very scary, not that much fun and gets pretty old pretty fast. The concept could have probably worked better as a 20-minute Simpsons episode instead.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 27%

#1331 Inside Moves (1980)

I don’t consider jotting your average average superficial tearjerker movie much of a skill, and I’m pretty confident I would be capable of writing one of those myself in no time. I’m therefore always in awe when I see someone doing it in the right way and coming up with a story that not only feels true but also cares so deeply for its characters that it doesn’t sell them short for some cheap drama.

Inside Moves, based on the Todd Walton’s book of the same name and directed by Richard Donner is one of those rare movies. It starts where one life ends as Roary (John Savage) jumps to his death from the top of a building. After being patched together he then limps his stiff body to a local tavern where he meets up with diverse bunch of characters for a game of poker that changes the course of his life.

The movie is one of the a rare masterpieces that make you happy, sad, angry and hopeful – sometimes all of these within just one minute.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 92%

#1330 American Flyers (1985)

American Flyers is a sports movie that tries a little something different to break the clichéd sports movie formula.

Problem is, it would’ve been a better sports movie if it didn’t so hard to come up with an excessive drama and the additional storyline that seemed only distracting and out of place to me. All of the drama between the two brothers feels really forced and is never quite explained in a satisfactory way.

As a sports movie American Flyers does well in depicting a bicycle race, making it look quite realistic and visually quite pleasing.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 38%

#1329 The Whales of August (1987)

The last movie of the legendary silent movie star Lillian Gish, The Whales of August follows the life and events of two sisters staying together an August during their twilight years in a small shoreside cabin in Maine, like they have done so many times ever since their childhood.

This is one of those slow movies, and nothing much goes on here. In fact, the pacing is painfully slow for anyone with a short attention span .. like myself.

The Whales of August is a hard movie to review, and it pretty much boils down to how much you appreciate seeing the great stars of the yesteryear one more time together in the same movie. My rating will be on the low end due to slow pacing and not having former relationship with the actors – but if you rate it higher, you won’t be getting any counter arguments from me either.

80s-o-meter: 2%

Total: 21%

#1328 Creator (1985)

With Creator the director Ivan Passer and the writer Jeremy Leven have created a thoughtful comedy that deals with many themes not often seen in a romantic comedies.

I wanted to reiterate the plot here to better understand why such a silly premise and goofy plot twists work so well in Creator, but as I wrote everything down it sounded like a pretty darn horrible movie; there’s an eccentric medical professor teaching at a small California college who wants to bring her back through cloning. Plus one of the characters even falls fatally ill – a page right out of a cheap soap opera manuscript.

But please trust me, Creator makes it all work out much better than I can explain it.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 80%

#1327 Heartburn (1986)

Heartburn marks for the second movie I’ve seen starring both Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep, two Academy award winning actors – and both have been a huge disappointments.

Maybe the two egos are too big for one movie, but the lack of chemistry between the two leads in both movies leaves one scratching one’s head.

Both movies also suffer from the same problem, with a weak manuscript that does not leave much chance for success for even a seasoned actor. Based on Nora Ephron’s (the author behind Silkwood and When Harry Met Sally..) personal struggles in her own marriage, Heartburn is a joyless, bitter depiction of a relationship between two uninteresting characters.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 18%

#1326 Ninja Busters (1984)

What makes Ninja Busters special is that it was never actually released by its distributor after test screenings and the reel sat in a warehouse until discovered again and released by Garagehouse Pictures on Bluray in 2015.

It’s a martial arts comedy in the vein of They Call Me Bruce that follows two losers who get their asses kicked and join the local martial arts club, become black belts and then get mixed into weapon smuggling ring, led by their former employee.

The first half works better after which the movie loses a lot of its sympathetic nature after it turns more into a (poor) showcase of a martial arts fights. Actual laughters are scarce, but the movie is good natured, as are its two lead actors.

80s-o-meter: 68%

Total: 59%

#1325 Mind Trap aka Danger USA (1989)

With movies like Mind Trap where the acting is amateurish, manuscript weak and production values laughable, the only remaining aspect to enjoy the movie remains looking for any possible entertainment aspects in that particular train wreck. Unfortunately they are seldomly to be found unless put into the movie intentionally by the team.

This applies to the Mind Trap as well. Admittedly, there is some amount of hilariousness in the way the team has goofed up the sound while shooting and had to dub parts of the dialogue again, but without the original actor present, or in the way the lady lead baddie boasts the worst russian accent even seen on the silver screen. Or in the way the movie tries to tell and explain a silly concept of a dream machine that makes people return from the death without the slightest possibility to get it across in an understandable way.

But these aspects don’t add up enough to make Mind Trap enjoyable, nor recommendable.

80s-o-meter: 51%

Total: 30%

#1324 The Rosary Murders (1987)

Many movie genres of the 80s still hold up well today, but due to the staggering amount of well written crime movies and TV series we’ve seen in the last two decades, the crime / thriller genre has evolved leaps and bounds.

This leaves many a-ok 80s thrillers paling in comparison. Not because they are necessarily bad, but because we’ve accustomed to seeing such perfected thrill rides that make the old presentation feel tame and slow.

Such is the case with The Rosary Murders as well – while it is a pretty decent crime mystery of its era, you will likely find its offerings thrilling if you’re not accustomed to the genre in any way.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 61%

#1323 Vigilante (1982)

Something of a cult classic, Vigilante is one of the most liked .. well .. vigilante movies out there that were popular after the success of Bronson’s Death Wish series.

For me the style of the movie was far too 70s and although there are some good action scenes and car chases done in that very 70s style, the movie feels like same old revenge formula without inventing nothing really new and fresh.

80s-o-meter: 40%

Total: 38%

#1322 New Year’s Day (1989)

Henry Jaglom’s New Year’s Day is one of those pretentious art house movies that makes you never want to sit through another similar movie. Consisting mostly of talking heads in a boring dialogue going through their anxieties, New Year’s Day makes you truly hate every adult out there and their stupid adult problems.

Jaglom’s movies have to be credited in embracing improvisation so wholeheartedly, but here the concept does not just work, and a good movie needs much more flesh around its bones – or at least people in it who feel more fleshed out than just a simple collection of neuroses.

Some people may have come across the movie due to young David Duchovny starring in one of the roles, but you should not bother seeing New Year’s Day for that reason only as Duchovny is one of the weakest links in this already weak movie.

80s-o-meter: 30%

Total: 11%

#1321 Happy Hour (1986)

Seeing a decent hand drawn poster on a movie always makes me happy and warm inside as it is a promise of at least half decent production values for the movie as well as a production company that even remotely knows what they are doing.

And Happy Hour fortunately delivers. A silly story about a chemist coming up with a formula that makes beer simply irresistible for everyone from kids to housewives, and the following espionage between two brewing companies has been done with a tongue in cheek in just the right way.

Great characters, excitement and laughters are all to be found in this silly little comedy gem.

80s-o-meter: 92%

Total: 87%

#1320 Under Fire (1983)

In Under Fire two American journalists get involved in a political intrigue between the Somoza dictatorship and the rebels in the 1979 Nicaraguan revolution.

The movie takes an interesting look into the ethics of journalism and choosing sides when neutrality is expected. The conflict that follows their choices inside the powder keg that was Nicaragua at the time leads to very interesting thrill ride that makes the viewer ask themselves what would they do if put in a similar position.

The depiction of a rogue military control in the area is well done and almost documentary like at times.

80s-o-meter: 68%

Total: 81%

#1319 Big Trouble (1986)

Who doesn’t like a good scoundrel movie?

A surprising (as well as the last) comedy from the director John Cassavetes, Big Trouble walks on the silver screen a somewhat surprising comedic duo of Peter Falk and Beverly D’Angelo that go against Alan Arkin, a mild mannered insurance agent lured into scheme that soon gets out of hand.

All of the casting works like a treat, but it’s particularly Falk as the devil-may-care mastermind – resembling somewhat his famous Columbo character – that gets the best laughs from me.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 85%