#1277 Romantic Comedy (1983)

When I first saw Arthurand then watched it again a gazillion times – I looked forward to seeing Dudley Moore’s other comedies of the era.

So far nothing has quite reached what Arthur had to offer, and Romantic Comedy is no exception. It’s pretty generic early 80s – well, romantic comedy – With neurotic adults not knowing whom they should commit to.

The chemistry between Mary Steenburgen and Moore is weirdly off throughout the movie, but it’s all fortunately by design, as the ending reveals.

80s-o-meter: 71%

Total: 54%

#1276 Odd Jobs aka Summer Jobs (1986)

Odd Jobs is an on even, small budget comedy of a bunch of college students first trying to get summer jobs before forming their own moving company.

As much as I root for the underdogs, Odd Jobs just doesn’t have what it takes to make for a memorable comedy, and although the single ok moments in the movie are many, as a whole it ends up a dud.

80s-o-meter: 61%

Total: 50%

#1275 Hellhole (1985)

A mid 80s take on the woman penitentiary movies, Hellhole maintains the gratuitous full frontal nudity aspect of the genre and is a complete miss as a horror movie.

But it does manage to find a somewhat interesting own tone, making it if not great, still one of the more tolerable exploitation movies out there.

80s-o-meter: 83%

Total: 38%

#1274 A Great Wall aka The Great Wall Is a Great Wall (1986)

A Chinese American man gets disheartened with his Silicon Valley job and takes a long vacation to Beijing for the very first time in forty years with his fully Americanised family with no roots to the mainland China.

The few cultural clashes are inevitable in this kind of setup in A Great Wall, but more interestingly the clashes are internal and take place within each family. None of the drama is too big and I did like the approach as it gave both families a great sense of depth and authenticity.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 75%

#1273 Shock Treatment (1981)

A spiritual sequel to the 1975 The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Shock Treatment marches similar kind of bizarre imagery and zany characters on screen, but falls short every way our heads RHPS managed not to, despite its unorthodox setup.

Placed on a set of a TV show/hospital the music remains the only good point in Shock Treatment – and the music is not very good.

80s-o-meter: 50%

Total: 2%

#1272 Zelig (1983)

Some of Woody Allen’s comedies feel like a prolonged joke, and Zelig, a black and white documentary of a long forgotten human chameleon so willing to please who ever he talks to that he and that’s not only their point of you, but also their profession, appearance and race certainly feels like one.

Allen plays the lead role well, writing is snappy and the editing that combines old news clips with new footage is flawless, which more than often is not the case for the era.

The story in Zelig does not carry through its feature film length, and would’ve been much more efficient as a 45 minute short film, with some of the excessive padding left on the cutting room floor.

80s-o-meter: 3%

Total: 51%

#1271 Brighton Beach Memoirs (1986)

A portrayal of a Jewish family living together in 1937 Brooklyn, New York, Brighton Beach Memoirs concentrate on the story of Eugene, a horny 16-year-old trying to find an outlet for his sexual frustrations.

But almost every other character in the story is more interesting to follow. The movie gets its best moments out of the shared moments between the older brother, who makes several bad choices, and the father, who is surprises the son as well as the viewer with his totally unexpected compassion and wisdom.

80s-o-meter: 21%

Total: 58%

#1270 Bustin’ Loose (1981)

Many of the 80s movies still feel fresh and topical, while others have it quite badly, and Richard Pryor’s Bustin’ Loose definitely falls into the latter category.

Not only does Bustin’ Loose feel badly aged, but it also has some questionable aspects to it. Like when Pryor’s small-time conman arranges a strip poker session with a bunch of 12-year-olds, and later physically attacks one of the kids after losing his temper.

I never was a fan of priors movie work – excluding Brewster’s Millions and the brilliant See No Evil, Hear No Evil – and the much outdated Bustin’ Loose is not going to change that.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 33%

#1269 Cutting Class (1989)

Known for most only for featuring young Brad Pitt, Cutting Class has been downplayed in many reviews. And while it’s arguably not a masterpiece, it is not completely without merit.

To me cutting class felt like a nice little high school slasher with late 80s look and feel that seems at first to paint by numbers, but then takes the formula to an original and interesting direction.

80s-o-meter: 93%

Total: 71%

#1268 Housekeeping (1987)

A critical success of movie of an odd ball sisters, who after getting orphaned end up with their eccentric aunt.

Housekeeping is one of those movies where you either get enchanted by the eccentricity, or don’t get much out of the movie, as happened to me. While I did enjoy the overall mood I found the characters uninteresting and pacing of the movie tedious.

For me a much more interesting story would’ve instead been that of the sister who’s torn with belonging to the dysfunctional family and wanting to fit it with the rest of the society.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 30%

#1267 Omega Syndrome (1986)

Sometimes when you watch a skilfully paced movie, you might pause if after awhile and get surprised that only some 20 minutes have passed and the movie has already taken you into adventure and action while telling an interesting story and establishing a connection with the main characters.

What you get here is the completely opposite. After watching for an hour the movie seemed be in a standstill without me unable to connect with neither the plot nor the any of the characters. Well, almost as the most interesting aspect of the movie turned out to to be the rough-around-the-edges antihero sidekick played by George DiCenzo.

Omega Syndrome resembles quite a lot of the video games of the 80s, as it has a catchy title and splashy poster, but nothing much more.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 42%

#1266 My Chauffeur (1986)

I wasn’t feeling My Chauffeur at all and actually stopped watching it after only 15 minutes as the concept of an annoying free-spirited Madonna copy introduced to a high society limousine company to cause resentment just seemed like such a bore concept.

But after a small pause I carried on bravely and found My Chauffeur not exactly improving, but not at all as irritating as I first thought. The movie actually turned so self-consciously bad from time to time that it actually got entertaining at times, and I found myself ashamed laughing out loud to all the stupidity.

One aspect worth mentioning about My Chauffeur is that the magician / entertainer duo Penn & Teller make their first movie debut together as a team here in a long segment that feels almost completely separated from the rest of the movie.

80s-o-meter: 82%

Total: 60%

#1265 18 Again! (1988)

One of the many body switching movies of the 80s, 18 Again! does a pretty routine job at comedy.

The only variable with similar titles is that here the story is observed entirely through only the other party of the body switching process as the 81-year old grandfather overtakes the body of his 18-year old grandson, while the grandson ends up in his unconscious body, hooked to life support. This decision leaves the growth story that’s usually in the core of the movie one sided. Another call I didn’t agree with was using the grandpa’s voiceover throughout the movie, often delivering uninspired one-liners – or explaining the situation to the viewer in a condescending fashion.

One noteworthy piece of trivia to share of 18 Again is that this was the last movie for the ageless comedy legend George Burns who plays the 81-year old grandfather. In reality, he was already 91 at the time.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 70%

#1264 Cohen and Tate (1988)

Again, a movie that has totally gone under the radar for me, Cohen and Tate is a thriller of two assassins transporting a young eye witness to a mob boss after wiping out his family and bunch of officers of the Federal Witness Protection Program.

The movie is minimalistic; most of the running time is spent inside the car, with tension building up between Cohen and Tate, two very opposites sides of the same coin. The violence presented in the movie is similarly spartan: very quick and over before the viewer has time to react, making it consequently extreme impactful.

Cohen and Tate is a triumph of an action thriller in both its cinematography and story telling for the director Eric Red, and well ahead of its time, resembling the formula that Coen brothers perfected a decade later.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 95%

#1263 Lionheart (1987)

Starring Eric Stoltz, Lionheart is a 12th century adventure film that the time forgot – and for a good reason.

The reason being that nothing in it really stands out in a memorable way. Released in the era that already gave us terrific adventures like Excalibur, Legend, Willow and Conan the Barbarian that all have their unique thing going for them, Lionheart feels completely lukewarm and odourless.

While similar movies visual landmark movies of their time, Lionheart has the look & feel of Monty Python and The Holy Grail, sans the humour.

80s-o-meter: 8%

Total: 22%

#1262 Say Anything… (1989)

Sometimes when I encounter a movie written with great intellect and penmanship, I get an urge to write something equally meaningful and insightful about it.But sometimes the awe for great writing just renders me unable to come up with fancy words or witty similes.

This happened with Say Anything, where the writer / director Cameron Crowe has achieved something so sincere that leaves next to nothing to improve. The movie tells a love story that’s equally minimalistic, yet biggest thing in the universe through well-rounded, three dimensional characters without once resorting to easy solutions or tearjerkery. And it does all this with an illusion of ease, making the viewing experience unlaborious.

If the movie is a triumph for Crowe, it’s one also for the leads Ione Skye and John Cusack. It’s especially Cusack that performs the role of a lifetime, making Say Anything his no.1 film of the 80s, well ahead of Hot Pursuit and Better Off Dead.

80s-o-meter: 92%

Total: 96%

#1261 The Lost Empire (1984)

The Lost Empire wants to be wonderfully outrageous B-movie, but despite all the over the top action feels somehow a bit more bland than the writer/director Jim Wynorski aimed for. What it does provide as promised is a constant stream of e-cup mammaries.

Although it was not my cup of tea I can see this being the guilty pleasure for many – as it was designed to be.

The Lost Empire does get a bit more interesting and over the top (in a good way) towards its last 15 minutes, for which I hiked up its scoring a good 20 points.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 58%

#1260 Land of Doom (1986)

Mad Max wasn’t the first movie to the post-apocalyptic wasteland genre, but its success resulted to the genre to skyrocket, with unfortunate consequences: if the original Mad Max wasn’t much of a masterpiece, the copycat movies are generally completely worthless uninteresting, uninspired pieces of cheap trash.

Land of Doom lands somewhere in between. While the setup and the baddies are your typical carbon copy leather dudes on basic motorcycles with some dodgy frames welded on, it’s not a total stinker and has some ok moments in it, including interesting landscapes shot in Turkey – again, compared to shooting it in the nearest sandpit like so many similar movies do.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 28%

#1259 Cheetah (1989)

Look, I know what I was getting into when starting to watch Cheetah; a family movie made by Walt Disney Pictures.

I had a reason though: I was hoping there’d be something here for us adults as well so that I could’ve added Cheetah to my catalogue of movies to watch with my kids later. But, there’s nothing here, and to be honest I don’t think the movie is that enchanting to the kids either.

One of the problems here is that for a movie that could’ve been about Cheetah (and Africa), it focuses instead on the young American siblings trying to save the day by busting a crooked Indian clerk and a bounty hunter after the Cheetah. Some of the locations are nice, but you’ll get better experience watching almost any National Geography documentary out there.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 25%

#1258 Date with an Angel (1987)

Whether you enjoy watching Date with an Angel at all depends on if you take it as a weird comedy with a huge credibility problem – or an adult fantasy fairytale that it is.

The sooner I accepted this, the more I started to enjoy the movie, especially considering that in a bigger picture it all kind of made sense in the end. My movie experience went from rolling my eyes, to getting somewhat engaged, to actually wanting to watch the movie again some time in the future.

I’d even consider the movie a triumph for managing to sell the viewer such an implausible setup, and I’d hoped the team had had more courage than to wrap up the movie otherwise than its current compromised crowd pleasing ending.

80s-o-meter: 90%

Total: 81%