#1305 Bronco Billy (1980)

Bronco Billy is in many ways very similar to Clint Eastwood’s other films of the era, like Every Which Way but Loose or Any Which Way You Can in depicting himself as an everyday dude who road trips around and gets into occasional classes with the locals, or the authorities.

Made purely to entertain, the plot itself feels secondary in Bronco Billy, and the movie mostly concentrates on showcasing Eastwood and his captivating screen presence. Compared to some other films he’s made at the time, what makes Bronco Billy interesting is the way that Eastwood reveals personal flaws in the main character, depicting him as the despotic leader of the western show, but also subjects him to some humiliating encounters with the local law.

For anyone viewing it for the first time, Bronco Billy Makes for a very easy movie to watch, but is less likely to leave any lasting impression.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 61%

#1296 Blame It on the Night (1984)

Look, I totally get what the team behind Blame It On The Night was trying to achieve by joining together a free spirited rock’n’roll star father and a high-strung son studying in a military academy.

But this obvious setup of mixing two very different elements together, having them going through a set of clashes before each one learns a lesson from each other pressed all the wrong buttons to make its point. The movie features useless and overlong segments of lame adult pop concert footage that serves no purpose after the first time the status of the father as a pop star figure was established and uses only a little time establishing believable relationship between the father and the son. The way the movie sets up the clashed feels very artificial, and the resolution of those clashes feel equally lame and forced.

The name of the movie remains a testament of how much of a misaligned mess Blame It on the Night is, as it has absolutely nothing to do with what’s seen on the screen.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 4%

#1295 Mutant War (1988)

A sequel to Battle For the Lost Planet, Mutant War shares the same production values than its predecessor. Meaning, it’s poor.

And while it has the same kind of charming underdog feeling to its predecessor (the team has aimed ridiculously high, including camera and video effects, matte paintings and stop motion animations, all of which way beyond their capabilities), the charm only carries the movies so far.

80s-o-meter: 55%

Total: 31%

#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%

#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%

#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%

#1214 Eddie Macon’s Run (1983)

A young prison escapee tries to make it to Mexico to join with his family with a keen old detective on his tail.

A likeable road movie with some eccentric characters thrown into the mix, Eddie Macon’s Run doesn’t do anything remarkably well – but it doesn’t do anything remarkably badly either.

Both leads Kirk Douglas and John Schneider perform their roles well, with the latter one doing a good job making his character an easy to relate to underdog.

80s-o-meter: 58%

Total: 70%

#1213 Lost in America (1985)

Writer-director Albert Brooks’ Lost in America suffers from having Brooks himself play the main part.

Similarly to Modern Romance, the neurotic character he plays comes across plain annoying, and Brooks cannot breathe any life or likeable traits to his two dimensional man-child caricature.

Other than that the concept of the movie is very unique and interesting, ending up something of an antithesis of a road movie.

80s-o-meter: 93%

Total: 73%

#1146 The Sure Thing (1985)

The first lead role for John Cusack and the one that made him an overnight success, The Sure Thing follows two college students on a road trip to California.

They begin the trip an unlikeable companions, hating each others guts – and you pretty know how it’s going to play from there. But as with every road trip, it’s not the destination but the journey matters, and that journey is mostly likeable, although the role of a boorish loudmouth does not seem to sit that well with Cusack.

On a whole The Sure Thing ends up a decent little comedy that manages to be more than the sum of its – at times – meager parts.

80s-o-meter: 90%

Total: 82%

#1098 Smokey and the Bandit Part 3 (1983)

If the first sequel for Smokey and the Bandit didn’t need to be made, this holds especially true for Smokey and the Bandit Part 3.

Losing most of its better known stars, part 3 concentrates on pursue between Sheriff Buford T. Justice from previous iterations and The Bandit, played by the stuntman turned actor, turned director, Jerry Reed. While he can perform and direct nice stunts, the comedic attempts constantly fall short.

Chases and the stunts are better than previously, so if those are your thing you might find something to like here. For the rest of us, the final Smokey movie is just a deadweight piece of celluloid.

80s-o-meter: 21%

Total: 4%

#1097 Smokey and the Bandit Ride Again (1980)

Here’s the part of this project that doesn’t interest me much: Watching subpar sequels to 70s movies I have any interest whatsoever to start with.

The original 1977 Smokey and the Bandit was something of a movie equivalent of an Indy cars race that targets precisely that same audience, and Smokey and the Bandit Ride Again continues on that same track. Both movies star Burt Reynolds as the macho male lead, but one could argue that the actual biggest role as well as the top billing should belong to the cars and the stunts they’re involved in.

Smokey and the Bandit Ride Again was not a movie for me, and my guess is that its appeal was already gone in the 90s, let alone today. On the positive side the movie does have a lighthearted tone to it and it even manages to provide few chuckles, thanks to Dom DeLuise’s great comedic improvisation skills.

80s-o-meter: 23%

Total: 21%

#1064 Homer and Eddie (1989)

Homer and Eddie is a road movie about two outcasts ending up unlikely travel companions on their way to Oregon.

While the movie starts as a lighthearted, vapid comedy, it starts to get more interesting tones when Eddie starts to have her violent rages: When the bystanders start dying the viewer is forced to really reassess how they view Eddie.

Jim Belushi is likeable as Homer but in reality the role is beyond his limits and he comes across as an actor doing a poor impression of a disabled person. Oscar winning material this ain’t. Whoopi’s portrayal of Eddie has similar problems with the credibility as Goldberg can never shake off the strong impression of a Hollywood actress playing a Hollywood version of a hobo.

Poor execution and lack of chemistry between the leads leaves Homer and Eddie feel like a worse movie than it probably is. Maybe it’s time for someone to pick this up for a reshoot?

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 59%

#1059 Back Roads (1981)

Have a look at Sally Field and Tommy Lee Jones having a good laugh in the poster here, as you won’t be seeing anything like this in the movie itself.

This is because most of the running time of Back Roads is spent with this odd couple of a prostitute and a deadbeat trying to make their way to California with faith throwing every imaginable setback on their path. While most movies out there try to balance between loss and occasional win, the constant failing of the duo soon becomes something of a predictable pattern.

The reported discord during the filming seems to work for the benefit for the film as the two leads often seem to show some genuine loathe for one other.

80s-o-meter: 71%

Total: 59%

#1013 Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985)

It was only now during my second time watching the movie that I realised how much Spongebob Squarepants (and his movie) owe to Pee-wee’s Big Adventure.

I never was big fan of the lead who seems mostly annoying most of the time and rarely likeable. In fact, he always seems the weakest link in an otherwise above average movie. Although the premise with the character is finding your inner child and overcoming problems with sheer stupid luck, there’s just something very dark and heinous about him.

A Tim Burton’s directorial feature debut, Pee-wee’s Big Adventure is colorful and technically well made movie, but a very hard one to to recommend to anyone since I’m not quite sure to whom it is aimed for. In the end, being something of a catalyst and a paragon for Spongebob might just be the movie’s best asset.

80s-o-meter: 80%

Total: 59%

#997 The Journey of Natty Gann (1985)

The Journey of Natty Gann pictures the 2000-mile long pilgrimage of the young Natty through the depression era America to find her father.

For being a Disney family movie, it’s a movie painted with surprisingly dark tones, ultimately making it a movie I wouldn’t necessarily want to watch through with my kids. On the other hand being a Disney family movie it is a bit too much of a sugar coated family picture to really dig into the grim reality of being a homeless kid during the great depression, and I had this constant nagging feeling throughout the film that I wasn’t in the core audience the movie was made for in the first place.

But the movie is still a delight to look at; the cinematography is top notch and the time period feels a somewhat movie like, but well established and believable. Relationship of Natty and her wolf is a thing of beauty, as well as his friendship with the fellow vagabond Harry, played by John Cusack. It’s ultimately those small moments of carrying each other through the moments of despair that make the movie wholeheartedly recommendable – even if you’re not dead center in the target audience.

80s-o-meter: 58%

Total: 62%

#996 Roadie (1980)

Roadie is a somewhat typical early 80s yippee-ki-yay comedy in the vein of Burt Reynolds, featuring some Texan backdrops, ten gallon hats, saloon fights and wacky car chases – luckily just one in this case.

By far the strongest aspect here is the young Meat Loaf whose natural and unforced screen presence is actually much more watchable than that of his many contemporary peers. It is there somewhat of a shame that Roadie remained his only leading role for the 80s.

There are a few notable cameos here as well with the likes of Alice Cooper, Blondie and Roy Orbison making an appearances, but their appeal is limited to how your fandom of them, and don’t alone warrant watching through the movie.

80s-o-meter: 76%

Total: 57%

#924 Cherry 2000 (1987)

A white collar worker’s last of its line fembot – a Cherry 2000 – short circuits and ends up beyond repair. To find a replacement, he sets out to find a tracker to bring him one from the forbidden Zone 7, and soon unwillingly finds himself in the midst of an adventure.

Mixing various genres is always a huge gamble, but in Cherry 2000’s case the inventive forces behind it seemingly have a good time borrowing elements from sci-fi, cyberpunk, western and road movies and mixing them with elements of dystopian deserted world, 1950s and even some maniac campers. Unfortunately this lead to the movie ending hard to explain to the movie going masses and was deemed a straight to video instead of a theatrical release.

After its release the movie started gaining a cult following and has since inspired various movie and video game makers alike.

80s-o-meter: 88%

Total: 81%

#910 Finders Keepers (1984)

Remember The Whoopee Boys that I reviewed a while back? It took me awhile to even make the connection that Michael O’Keefe from that stinker of a movie is the same actor that plays the lead here, so much on another level is his performance in Finders Keepers. Here he manages to make for a perfect lovable scoundrel and even to pull off some genuinely funny physical comedy, both of which not easy feats at all.

Aiding him is Beverly D’Angelo from the National Lampoon’s Vacation fame and I really dug the weird chemistry between the two. Brian Dennehy makes for a terrific constantly outraged local mayor of a Nebraska two horse town and last but definitely not least David Wayne is just simply hilarious as the baffling, demented old conductor. Fans of Jim Carrey might be interested to check out the movie as he visits the set briefly as a local yokel in a performance only a shadow of the things to come.

Finders Keepers is one funny and entertaining comedy and a forgotten gem to add to your watch list.

80s-o-meter: 90%

Total: 87%

#857 Fandango (1985)

Based on a earlier short movie made by the writer-director Kevin Reynolds, Fandango is a terrific road movie that the time unfortunately forgot.

Fandango tells a story of a four college buddies (five, if you count one of them who stays passed out in the trunk for most of the movie) on the brink of adulthood taking a ride together towards the Mexico to slip away from getting shipped to serve in Vietnam war. The movie is episodic in its nature and Reynolds shows some natural talent by stitching them together to a solid movie experience that doesn’t feel patchy at all. The skydiving bit – lifted off the original short story – does take its sweet time but serves its purpose as a culmination point in the story.

The movie reminded me of how naturally talented and charismatic actor Kevin Costner was before becoming a household name. Fandango also remains Judd Nelson’s best performance to date.

80s-o-meter: 71%

Total: 87%

#850 The Color of Money (1986)

For a movie that I really didn’t care that much for, Martin Scorsese’s The Color of Money gets quite a lot of praise from me — first and foremost for not going for the formulaic master and apprentice struggling against the odds to reach the ultimate victory by a hair approach. Instead, it offers an interesting look into an aging hustler who has to start putting his life back together piece by piece to redefine himself and to find his long lost love for the game.

I’m torn with this picture. By avoiding the temptation to press most of the obvious feel good and jear jerking buttons along the way, Scorsese has made an excellent, uncompromising film, but also one that lacked closure and that never managed to grasp me or to keep me on the edge of my seat. In short, the movie often just isn’t very entertaining.

The movie handles all of its 9-ball scenes with TLC, and they are beautifully choreographed and recorded in a one continuous, breathtaking shot. Paul Newman and Tom Cruise are on top of their game here and perform their moves and shots with such confidence, you’d swear they’re both regular pool sharks in real life.

80s-o-meter: 72%

Total: 70%