#1490 Smithereens (1982)

Smithereens is a low budget in the production depicting a young girl in the early 80s New York punk scene who’s determined she is destined for greatness, despite lacking any talent to make it.

Instead, she tries to hang around local small time music celebrities and makes one bad choice after another that cost her her apartment, friends and generally always seem to take her further away from recognitions she’s after.

I found the movie slow and mostly uninteresting to watch, but it did stick with me later on, thanks to its sincerity, and quite original plot – so, not a total stinker.

80s-o-meter: 86%

Total: 52%

#1484 Track 29 (1988)

A spiritual predecessor to Requiem for a Dream, Track 29 follows a downward spiral of one relationship and a woman, married to a narcissistic doctor who enjoys his model railways and getting whipped by one of her nurses.

As you might’ve guessed, Track 29 is one of those weird movies that are as detached from the reality as its characters. Rather than a drama, it’s one of those super dark comedies that really doesn’t make one laugh, even once.

I was excited to see Gary Oldman as one of the leads. I guess you could say he performs his part as the annoying ghost of the past so well that I loathed him already in a few minutes, which again made sitting through the movie far more unenjoyable than it should’ve been.

80s-o-meter: 68%

Total: 38%

#1471 Covergirl (1984)

A fashion model meets up with a wealthy and persuasive entrepreneur who promises to make her a star, but after the initial crush the she feels that the he has become quite an overpowering force in his life. This imbalance of power is turned around when it’s her turn to help him.

For a movie much about nothing Covergirl is much more entertaining than it deserves to be. Jeff Conaway as the robot building businessman does a good job of being big headed but still likeable scoundrel, and Irena Ferris whose acting career dried up by the end of the 80s has a great screen presence, and the camera truly seems to love her.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 70%

#1470 Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling (1986)

In the 1980 the comedian Richard Pryor famously set himself on fire while on a drug induced psychosis and sustained severe burns. It’s from this setup that Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling, a semi-biographical movie of Pryor starts.

Directed and starring Pryor, he plays a stand-up comedian much like himself. While definitely boosted up in the 80s by the Pryor being a star everyone knew, the movie holds very little interest to anyone not aware nor fan of Pryor. There’s no real common thread running through the movie and I’m not sure why the movie was made, other than for some sort of personal self-examination.

Fans of Pryor likably will dig this one as well, others might want to steer clear.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 22%

#1459 One from the Heart (1982)

A well known misstep in the career of Francis Ford Coppola, One from the Heart – a drama, romance and a musical – does not work on a paper, much less as a movie.

While the initial conflict between the leads in relatable, even interesting, everything that follows is implausible and very unrelatable, and it’s especially the ending that feels very unfulfilling. Some of the choreography is nice, and songs by Tom Waits are nice, but wasted with the movie.

What works though is the whole Las Vegas set including downtown, street view and a desert scene meticulously build inside a studio, and helps to create that surreal, movie like look and feel that I love.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 51%

#1451 The ’Burbs (1989)

Shot in the legendary Universal back lot, The ’Burbs is one of those perfect 80s family movies that lets us a sneak peak into the life of a neighbourhood in the suburbs where a tempest in a teapot is just about to be unleashed as a new suspicious family moves in to disturb the peace.

Tom Hanks, Bruce Dern and Rick Ducommun create an unlikely trio of family guys who stick together even thought they don’t share much more in common other than the same street address. Corey Feldman joins the show to do what Corey Feldman does the best: being the laid back dude often breaking the fourth wall.

The ’Burbs balances well between creating big drama out of small elements, suspense and comedy. It is debatable if the movie needed its last minute plot twist (I’d been totally content without it), but otherwise the movie does very little wrong.

80s-o-meter: 95%

Total: 90%

#1449 Curse of the Pink Panther (1983)

The untimely death of Peter Sellers in 1980 left the director Blake Edwards unable to milk the Pink Panther franchise even further. Well, almost.

I honestly thought I was through with the franchise after having to sit through the 1982 Trail of the Pink Panther, but there was another Pink Panther movie released the following year, Curse of the Pink Panther. Instead of relying solely on old material like Trail of the Pink Panther, Curse of the Pink Panther aimed to reboot the franchise with a new young inspector of the American origin.

Truth to be told, Curse of the Pink Panther nor its lead Ted Wass aren’t entirely horrid, but already at this point the success of the past movies overshadow any attempts, and the movie might have felt somewhat more fresh as a completely standalone film instead.

80s-o-meter: 65%

Total: 24%

#1445 Dr. Heckyl and Mr. Hype (1980)

I hated Dr. Heckyl and Mr. Hype – a tired word play if I’ve ever seen one – as soon as I heard about the movie, and that feeling got more intensive upon seeing the film poster.

Again, that feeling deepened as soon as the first few moments passed, The movie was just as inept and useless as I’d anticipated.

There’s not much positive to be said about the movie. It’s not as bad a shipwreck as the 1982 Jekyll and Hyde… Together Again, but it’s just bad in various other ways; if neither one of these movies would have seen the light of the day, we’d been better off as the human kind.

The shit they greenlighted at one point of time, sheesh..

80s-o-meter: 22%

Total: 4%

#1444 Bloodstone (1988)

An Indiana Jones inspired B-action adventure taking place in an exotic location much in the vein of Firewalker and Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold, Bloodstone has one interesting aspect going for it: it’s shot in India with shared Bollywood casting.

The experience works and Bloodstone’s Indian born actors make a decent work with their roles, and the movie looks solid overall.

Like many other similar adventure films, Bloodstone can be at times entertaining, but also totally unsubstantial and forgettable.

80s-o-meter: 82%

Total: 71%

#1442 The War of the Roses (1989)

I haven’t been shy on saying about how Danny DeVito is one of the Hollywood’s unsung heroes, that has never received the critical acclaim he should’ve – both as a director and an actor. The War of the Roses, his second feature film after Throw Momma from the Train is once again a good looking, well directed piece of cinema where it’s only the manuscript that runs out of steam before the end.

A black comedy about a couple going through the most devastating divorce ever evolves from a love story into a spiral of revenge that in the end devours them both. But it seems that the story lacks one more step in evolution; the characters become more and more two dimensional caricatures – until the last showdown that manages to revive some more dimensions to them.

The War of the Roses is a good movie with a constant feeling of huge untapped potential that the movie never quite redeems, and although the leads Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas perform well on the screen, it’s DeVito himself whose appearances always leave me hungry for more.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 75%

#1435 Grunt! The Wrestling Movie (1985)

Grunt! The Wrestling Movie and its poster has a good 80s Mad Magazine parody written all over it, but it turns out to be quite a tame take on the show wrestling that really peaked during the mid 80s.

The movie is shot in a mocumentary style with lots of shaky footage and interviews to reveal if the new wrestling star called The Mask is in fact a guy called Mad Dog that disappeared from the face of the earth a few years earlier. These mocumentary bits are then cut into actual matches with the movie’s stars battling against each other.

Thing is, show wrestling is already so entertaining and over the edge that in comparison everything seen here pales in comparison. For my entertainment I’d much rather watch some actual 80s WWE WrestleMania matches.

80s-o-meter: 90%

Total: 36%

#1434 Cookie (1989)

An organised crime racketeer Dino (Peter Falk) is released from prison and goes out to claim his ill earned money from his former partners of crime who don’t want to give that money to them. At the same time his daughter Cookie (Emily Lloyd) who has had to live without a father turns out not loving him, but hating instead. Now Dino has to get his money and the love of his daughter back and also choose between his mistress and his wife.

This is once again a mob movie that begs the movie to side with the main character against the authorities and for this needs a lead that the viewer can feel that sympathy for, and Falk definitely fits the bill: there’s nothing so vicious he could not do and to get away with it by doing his trademark underdog Columbo schtick.

Falk remains the only strong point in the movie and I found most aspects of the movie very unoriginal, as if the Susan Seidelman had traced over a caricature that has been traced over countless times before, and failing to add anything of her own there.

80s-o-meter: 80%

Total: 41%

#1433 Joy of Sex (1984)

Young horny high school seniors are at it again, trying to get laid before the end of the school year. Joy of Sex resembles so many other similar movies I was sure at times I’d seen the movie before.

What adds to this feeling is the inconsistency throughout the movie; compared to other similar films that find their theme in a spring break, ski trip, working in a fast food restaurant or prom dance, Joy of Sex mixes in a bit of everything and does not find to really follow through most of its many threads.

Same applies with its roster of characters; a militant principle, a non-compromising coach way past his hay day, a bashful female teacher having to teach the kids about reproductive organs, a jock, an underdog and so on. Despite all this Joy of Sex is kind of a watchable teen comedy that has its few moments as well that make it worth a watch through.

80s-o-meter: 84%

Total: 60%

#1432 The Great Outdoors (1988)

The Great Outdoors is one of the movies I saw before starting this web site and I’ve been saving it for a rainy day. Well, that rainy day finally came, and I found The Great Outdoors entertaining – but not quite the laugh riot as I’d hoped for.

There are a few overarching themes like summer romance, dealing with obnoxious relatives and father-son bonding, which of then are carried through various episodes with kind of a generic comedy bits; everything here works but nothing exactly stands out.

The Great Outdoors is not a bad movie or a bad comedy, but it is less than the sum of its parts – especially considering the level of top notch comedy hammer provided by John Candy and Dan Aykroyd who end up carrying this movie 100%. Replace them and you end with The Passable Outdoors, at best.

80s-o-meter: 92%

Total: 76%

#1426 Sweet Lies (1987)

Yet another for the steaming pile of those wild and crazy Americans in Paris engaged in an adventure, Sweet Lies follows an insurance investigator visiting the old continent, who then gets chased around by three women.

Sweet Lies makes an attempt in romantic comedy, but lacks laughs and real romance and is a movie that the time forgot almost immediately upon its release.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 18%

#1425 Penitentiary II (1982)

Another collection of bad design choices, Penitentiary II is a followup to the 1979 blaxploitation movie, both directed by Jamaa Fanaka and starring Leon Isaac Kennedy.

The plot is a mess that makes only little sense as it tries so provide the main character Martel ”Too Sweet” Gordone a motivation to get to the fighting ring. Martel trains for awhile, gets into the ring with some old hack, gets defeated and thus becomes the sensation of the nation everyone roots for. He then goes on to participate in a few fights, which are often cut to a gambling midget trying to get on with some hookers.

The plot makes as much sense as having Mr.T in the movie and reducing his role to a mere trainer that gets very little screen time although he possesses ten times the magnetism compared to the weak screen presence of the Kennedy in the lead role.

80s-o-meter: 55%

Total: 2%

#1421 From the Hip (1987)

I’d previously skipped From the Hip as I mistook it for a British movie thanks to its poster – and I still insist that its style reminds more of the British cinema than what Hollywood usually produces.

But make no mistake, the movie itself is as American as it can be: a courtroom comedy featuring Judd Nelson in one of his best roles of all times. The over acted part of a young hotshot lawyer climbing the corporate ladder could have easily turned super annoying, but the movie manages to be genuinely funny at times.

In fact, laugh out loud funny.

From the Hip has its serious side as well as the horseplay comes to a sudden halt when the wizkid is assigned to defending an intellectual sociopath aristocrat – chillingly convincingly portrayed by John Hurt – in a grim murder case impossible to win.

80s-o-meter: 91%

Total: 87%

#1416 Human Highway (1982)

I like my movies weird, but weirdness is a bit like scifi in movies; if it’s done right, I love it, and if not it can be truly painful to watch. And much more often, it isn’t.

Enter Human Highway, a co-op between Dean Stockwell and Neil Young, with Devo (the band) playing a few parts, and performing a few songs. This movie depicting a defunct diner with its defunct staff, located near a leaking nuclear plant is wonderfully quirky one for the most parts, but it should’ve really relied on solid base story it already established. Now Human Highway starts venturing into music video like dream sequences that feel totally out of place and frankly, aren’t very good at all.

For me, Human Highway turned out a total surprise – and mostly positive one at that.

80s-o-meter: 86%

Total: 81%

#1415 The Last Married Couple in America (1980)

Yet another early 80s comedies in the vein of 70s sexual revolution, The Last Married Couple in America actually manages to find a tone of its own, picturing a couple who find themselves happily together, surrounded by the peer pressure coming from their swinging, divorcing friends.

George Segal and Natalie Wood both possess a great screen presence and make a sympathetic couple in The Last Married Couple in America, awkwardly trying out extramarital affairs.

The movie loses most of its oomph after a strong start, but finally wraps up in a satisfactory fashion at the end. Not a good comedy, but definitely one of the easiest sexual revolution comedies to stomach.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 65%

#1411 Songwriter (1984)

A country drama-comedy featuring Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson, Songwriter depicts Nelson as Doc Jenkins, a singer-songwriter tired of his life on the road and away from his son.

While the movie did not end up in my pile of movies to watch again, I did like how the movie depicts its subjects realistically, without neither glorifying or vilifying them; these country starts enjoy loose women, driving nice convertibles and a round of golf as much they enjoy putting on a show.

The musical talent of Kristofferson and Nelson make the movie one of the easier musicals to stomach.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 67%