#1363 Big Business (1988)

Two sets of identical twin sisters for two families of the opposite spectrum of richness are born at the same time in a small rural hospital, and get mixed up in nursery, resulting in two sets of non-identical step-sister twins, who then end up growing without ever knowing the existence of their actual identical biological sisters. That is, until fate brings them together.

While it would be easy to give Big Business a hard time for its utterly implausible and silly premise, it’s more admirable to praise the director Jim Abrahams and actors Bette Midler and Lily Tomlin for pulling it all off in a believable manner.

As you’d expect from an Abrahams comedy, the humor finds its mark, and the pacing of the movie makes it easy to watch. The visual tricks of mixing all four unrelated siblings on the screen at the same time is flawless, thanks to clever choreography and the groundbreaking post production work done by Industrial Light & Magic.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 86%

#1362 Oh! Heavenly Dog (1980)

An early 80s Chevy Chase comedy I had been storing for a bad day turned out to be a complete letdown.

As a matter in fact, it isn’t a Chevy Chase comedy to begin with, but a Benji adventure where Chevy Chase plays a detective who gets killed while investigating and comes back from heaven as a dog to solve the case. Yawn.

This is one of those movies where its really hard to tell to which audience segment it was meant for; too childish for the grown ups and too violent and raunchy for the kids, Oh! Heavenly Dog makes a hard case to recommend to anyone but die hard Benji fans.

80s-o-meter: 74%

Total: 17%

#1361 The Heavenly Kid (1985)

A delight of a comedy, The Heavenly Kid takes the often seen formula of dying and coming back from heaven to rectify one’s wrongdoings and with a few original twists and tweaks makes the concept work.

First of all, Lewis Smith as Bobby, a good willed, but a bit empty headed cool cat is a perfect cast for the role and he is a delight to watch on the silver screen. Also the plot line of Bobby having to deal with his former girlfriend in the current day, now married to his former worst rival makes the whole concept much more interesting.

Lastly, Richard Mulligan adds a certain spark of magic to it all as a Rafferty, the worst ever spectral mentor on a motorcycle.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 88%

#1360 Spring Break (1983)

Spring Break could be considered one of the definite teen sex comedies of the era. But not because it goes even more overboard and into bad taste than its rivals, but for managing to be truly genuine and relatable, but still fun all the way.

Unlike some 80s party comedies that can be outright mean and womanising, Spring Break is actually good willing in its nature, and Perry Lang’s likeable underdog college nerd makes for an easy character to identify with.

The subplot involving Nelson’s step-father might be a bit unnecessary, but it’s not the worst I’ve seen and does bring some variation to the mix, and wraps up the movie quite satisfyingly.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 84%

#1359 She’s Having a Baby (1988)

She’s Having a Baby, one of director/writer John Hughes’ rare misses in the 80s misses the snappy writing usually seen in Hughes’ movies. The movie plays out pretty much as expected, with the exception that the movie is written totally from the guy’s point of view.

At first he does not want to get married – but goes on with in nonetheless – has second thoughts about his relationship and career, until the big news about his fiancé expecting a baby hit. The woman in the movie is written as one-dimensional sidekick whose role is to nag and be difficult in all sorts of ways.

Two aspects redeem the movie being a total failure. The depiction of the banal life in suburbs through musical numbers like the lawnmower dance is side-splittingly hilarious, and the ending that manages to grasp the heart like like you’d expect of a John Hughes movie.

If Kevin Bacon’s character seems vaguely familiar, you might have seen him in a clever camio in the beginning of Hughes’ Planes, Trains & Automobiles as the blue collar drone racing with Steve Martin to catch a taxi.

80s-o-meter: 91%

Total: 70%

#1358 The Milagro Beanfield War (1988)

When I think of the world I often see it as an endless source of interesting tales – big and small – that beg to be told. And this is kind of where The Milagro Beanfield War tries to tap into, a small little tale taking place in a small town in New Mexico, involving small people fighting for their right.

Problem is, that story is not very interesting at any given time and with a few exceptions (Sheriff Montoya, old man Cordova) the movie does not present the characters in a way that makes the viewer care for them.

The movie felt tediously long and ends up with very few surprises. As the end credits rolled I couldn’t help but to speculate that maybe the small town next to Milagro could have had a more interesting tale to be shared.

80s-o-meter: 51%

Total: 38%

#1354 Pretty Smart (1987)

Pretty Smart is a totally useless comedy that introduces lots of ingredients seen in other films of the era, but lacks the ability to do anything new or creative with them.

The setting of upper class finishing school for girls is there to allow some gratuitous nudity and the movie plays out with a wit of a porn movie – but with the actual intercourses cut out. In fact, the movie is an antithesis for wit.

This wouldn’t be a problem if the movie had some other qualities going for it, but with the exception of ok production quality, Pretty Smart is a totally soulless creation that has next to nothing enjoyable in it; not in its theme, in its humour, the characters and nor the mediterranean setting.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 7%

#1351 Under the Cherry Moon (1986)

Many first row entertainers of the music industry got into acting during the 80s, some doing better than the others. Prince’s sheer geniusness with music never translated to other arts he tried, and movies are not an exception.

Under the Cherry Moon is Prince’s second of the two movies alongside Purple Moon. While Purple Moon is an over the top drama, a cult movie due to being equally entertaining and amusing in its naivety, Under the Cherry Moon tries to be a scoundrel comedy with a cringy theme of forbidden love.

The fact that the movie was at first shot in color, but rendered to black & white afterwards for artistic touch underlines the pretentious tone of the movie. The only thing that work here are the musical numbers, but they are few and far between, and without the visual prowess seen in Purple Moon.

80s-o-meter: 40%

Total: 22%

#1349 Delivery Boys (1985)

The never-heard-before Delivery Boys is a comedy with a typical problem of the team not having a proper focus. This results as the movie being an uneven collection of adolescent sex comedy, a musical and a serious film about break dancing, as if it was patched together from the leftovers of three different movies.

The comedy bits are of your typical lowest common denominator type, with men dressing as women and horny men then trying to have sex with them, and the breakdance and training parts of the movie are much more interesting to watch.

Delivery Boys would’ve worked much better as a showcase to the 1985 New York and to its breakdance / hiphop scene with the comedy bits somehow related to that theme.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 29%

#1347 I Ought to Be in Pictures (1982)

The playwright Neil Simon churned out mediocre scripts through the seventies and the eighties in a breathtaking pace – so much that his name became something of a brand that was printed in a poster right before the title of the movie. I can’t but to wonder the producers’ urge to jump into making filmatised versions out of these plays since, well .. they’re just not particularly good movie material.

True to his style of writing plays about people involved in show business – producers, actors, authors – I Ought to Be in Pictures is also about people of the Hollywood. I’m guessing the charm of revealing the banal side of entertainment business for us the common people was there back in the 80s, but from today’s point of view that charm train has left the station.

I Ought to Be in Pictures is an extremely tedious movie to watch and seems to drag on and on and on without getting anywhere. The characters are unappealing (and, somewhat annoying), and regularly written in situations or mood swings that seem more forced than natural. The dialogue and the way the actors deliver it tries to be always cute, but never actually ends up clever or snappy enough to be delightful, making the movie extra laborious to watch.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 6%

#1341 Nadine (1987)

Let me start with a confession: I’ve browsed through this poster in my collection about a thousand times and always skipped the text, looked at the picture and assumed that it was Patrick Swayze who is starring in Nadine with Kim Basinger. I was therefore more than a bit stunned to see Jeff Bridges instead.

Not that I mind, Bridges is one of the greats that I always enjoy seeing on the silver screen. In fact, he is much too good to be in Nadine, a pretty tame action crime comedy set in the 1950s Texas.

On the positive note he does make the movie better than it rightfully deserves to be; the tale of an impulsive hairdresser and his soon-to-be bum ex husband is not very interesting nor is their constant quarrelling funny. The movie does have its exciting moments though as the shady real estate kingpin played by the great Rip Torn finds out the couple has obtained a confidential document he has been looking forward to getting in his hands.

80s-o-meter: 50%

Total: 61%

#1340 Down by Law (1986)

Jim Jarmusch’s follow up to the surprise hit 1984 indie movie Stranger Than Paradise is not without similarities. Both movies are shot in black & white, feature John Lurie, have similar type posters and introduce a fish out of water foreign character as the comic relief.

In Down by Law that comic relief is Roberto Benigni who in his trademark style delivers great energy and hilarious lines and saves the movie just before it’s about to turn stale.

Tom Waits can be seen as the third lead in the movie and the movie seems almost tailor made for him in its aesthetics and lines that compliment his deep, gravelly voice.

80s-o-meter: 20%

Total: 87%

#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%

#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%

#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%

#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%

#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%

#1317 Sixteen Candles aka 16 Candles (1984)

Sixteen Candles is the first teen comedy led by Molly Ringwald, and begun a series of movies that would make her the household name in the 80s cinema.

Written with Ringwald specifically, writer / director John Hughes’ (making his directorial debut here) way of finding multiple surprising but well fleshed out and believable aspects of the characters that sets the movie ahead of the competition. But the script is not perfect, nor has it aged too well and contains multiple aspects that I did not find that funny any more, including many lazily written and worn out stereotypes.

It’s still an entertaining teen movie, leaps and bounds ahead of the competition, but just beware that it might not have the same impact it did back in the day.

80s-o-meter: 94%

Total: 79%

#1316 Bloodhounds of Broadway (1989)

Bloodhounds of Broadway is an ensemble comedy based on four Damon Runyon stories: ”The Bloodhounds of Broadway”, ”A Very Honorable Guy”, ”The Brain Goes Home” and ”Social Error”, written in the 1930s.

I’ve often criticised period pictures for having their historical settings without any point but to provide nostalgia, but as Bloodhounds of Broadway is more of an adult fairytale, the setting actually works here. I liked quite a lot in the way that the various personas and their stories intertwined during the movie, and the screenplay and direction of Howard Brookner works exceptionally well.

The casting also works well with Matt Dillon, Jennifer Grey, Esai Morales, Steve Buscemi, Randy Quaid, Rutger Hauer and Madonna seen in atypical roles.

80s-o-meter: 3%

Total: 89%