#1645 Atlantic City aka Atlantic City, USA (1980)

Atlantic City is a movie about transition periods and change. Sally is learning the ropes to be a dealer to be able to leave to Monaco to work on a casino. His former husband, now with Sally’s sister has arrived at the city to makes some money selling drugs, and they run into Lou, a small time old crook looking forward to finally becoming the big shot gangster with the money and a woman he could show off to his Florida pals.

And all this is taking place in Atlantic City that is going through sizeable changes where hotels and casinos of the old glory days are demolished to make room for new buildings.

The real gem in Atlantic City is the interesting array of characters with real yet a bit childish and silly aspirations, and in this sense the movie manages to positively surprise time after time: we don’t have to relate or even like the characters to be able to sympathise with their dreams.

80s-o-meter: 63%

Total: 87%

#1640 Illegally Yours (1988)

Something feels amiss or disconnected throughout Illegally Yours. Perhaps its the nagging feeling of the movie being miscast on most parts, or Peter Bogdanovich’s direction not delivering the story in a convincing way or maybe its the story of a young handsome college dropout nerd stalking his old school love and getting tangled in a trial and murder mystery that just does not click.

There’s a lot to be loved about the movie, and various events and characters have a certain charm, but in the end it’s just somehow much less than the sum of its parts.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 61%

#1634 Almost You (1984)

Listed as a 1984 movie by IMDB, and a March 1985 release according to Wikipedia, Almost You is a small, little known drama comedy of a love triangle (or a square, depending on how you count).

Griffin Dunne and Brooke Adams are a disgruntled New York yuppie couple who get emotionally tangled with a nurse, whose actor boyfriend gets involved in the mess for some reason. All the characters are quite obnoxious and highly unrelatable, the plot feels phoney and the movie subjects us to watch through all of these superficial characters having one of the most dull dinner parties ever with a dialogue written and acted with an blatant intention to be witty, making this inept repartée even more painful to follow.

Almost You is a love movie that fails to make one emotionally, drama that fails to move and a comedy that fails to make one laugh – leaving very little to love about this movie.

80s-o-meter: 84%

Total: 8%

#1619 Foxfire Light (1983)

Romantic drama does not invoke my interest, especially if it looks like a made for TV movie. But Foxfire Light did feel a bit more interesting to me after I learned that Leslie Nielsen – mostly known for me from his comedy roles – stars in it.

Contrary to all the expectations Foxfire Light actually works as a movie, and all the complex relationships shown here do have that soap opera setup for them, but with much more depth added. It’s easy entertainment, but something that still manages to have an actual heart.

80s-o-meter: 80%

Total: 70%

#1617 Lianna (1983)

Look, I don’t know about the history of movies about homosexuality to say how much Lianna was ahead of its time upon its 1983 release – if any – but at least to me the movie felt quite genuine and earnest in its depiction of a housewife suffering from codependency, who then finds consolation and a love interested in the opposite sex.

Earnest in the sense of how the movie depicts the getting out of the closet and the relationship in a quite realistic manner, and as well how Lianna’s codependency is not fixed with getting out of the closet – it just finds a new object, and it’s only when Lianna starts to learn being alone and being comfortable with herself that the growing as a human begins.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 79%

#1567 The Last Fling (1987)

John Ritter and Connie Sellecca, both seasoned TV and made for TV movie actors star in this TV movie made by ABC. As far as made for TV movies go, this one fares very well, resembling your quite average feature film made with a modest budget, and actually got distributed widely as a rental movie as well.

Ritter plays a popular playboy grown tired of one night stands, while Sellecca portrays a role of a fiancée who goes out to try to match her groom’s wild stag party – with dire consequences.

The story is nothing to write to home about, but solid acting work of both leads and good production quality make The Last Fling an a-ok time passer.

80s-o-meter: 90%

Total: 72%

#1566 Tin Men (1987)

Richard Dreyfuss and Danny DeVito, the two best disgruntled, conning scoundrels ever on the silver screen in a movie where they get involved in a massive feud? Sign me in!

Honestly, the movie seems such a good fit for both personas it feels like it was written specifically with these two gentlemen in mind. A story that starts from one bad day and unfortunate accident between two rivalling house aluminium siding salesmen soon gets out of hand, and what seems an bitter downward spiral escalating further and further soon turns out a totally unexpected, beautiful love story.

An already enjoyable comedy, surprisingly it’s this romantic part of Tin Men that ends up its strongest asset.

80s-o-meter: 0%

Total: 91%

#1564 Thief of Hearts (1984)

The second collaboration between producer wizards Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer responsible for such 80s gems as Flashdance, Beverly Hills Cop and Top Gun, Thief of Hearts failed to find its audience in the box office.

The story of a thief falling in love with one of her victims and using ill gained information to win her heart over does not reach the epic levels of Bruckheimer & Simpson’s top movies, but the story is still unique and interesting – basically nothing like I’ve seen before.

There is a moment of bad writing though when the couple finally clashes, as it really feels forced and out of character for the thief figure. But the ultimate plot twist (for the lack of better wording) manages to fully redeem the movie, making for one a totally satisfying finish to the movie.

80s-o-meter: 91%

Total: 80%

#1555 Torch Song Trilogy (1988)

What makes Torch Song Trilogy an above the average movie about gays (and drag) is that is was conceived and lead acted by Harvey Fierstein, an openly gay actor and playwright. This results in a movie that does not aim to explain, sugar coat nor view the gay community through hetero lenses.

A result is refreshing take that portrays all of its characters and their shortcomings, insecurities and sometimes even sheer pettiness in a realistic fashion. Fierstein is a wonderful actor, and a persona on and off stage and his character that often goes from gorgeous to goofy in one scene, depending on the camera direction and his mood swing makes for one of the more interesting and multi-faceted personas seen on screen.

What I did not like about the movie though is how it’s divided in three acts between different eras and lovers as I’d much rather had the movie concentrating on just one time frame in the lifeline of this character.

80s-o-meter: 60%

Total: 74%

#1552 Stardust Memories (1980)

Although I do enjoy Woody Allen’s writing – he is the only author that makes the rich neurotic self centred adults caught in their first world problems movies tolerable – Stardust Memories and its insight into the life of the rich and famous seems more targeted to a selected group of his New York intellectual friends to enjoy, rather than something I could really relate with.

Allen is being his base neurotic screen persona and inconstantly disillusioned in his relationships with the fellow men, especially his love interests. And in this movie there are many of them.

You can’t blame the writing from not being smart; it is – and that if anything is what makes the movie enjoyable. But I left Stardust Memories thinking that a movie needs something more than just endless stream of wittiness to be really enjoyable.

80s-o-meter: 45%

Total: 58%

#1535 Best Friends (1982)

Since the first time I’ve seen this poster, it has been amusing me to no end to how Goldie Hawn looks just dying inside having been forced to nibble Burt Reynolds’ ear.

In real life they were apparently friends though, and Best Friends was a passion project for them that they wanted to do at some point. This is a romantic comedy of a couple that despite the mutual love get hesitantly married in a modest, small chapel, go see the relatives, get fed up with them and finally with each other and split up.

Best Friends is a pretty tame comedy with no laugh out loud moments, and the theme of suffocating relatives has been executed in a better way in many other films, all of which Meet the Parents (2000) being probably the most well known one.

80s-o-meter: 83%

Total: 43%

#1530 Chu Chu and the Philly Flash (1981)

There is one good scene in Chu Chu and the Philly Flash that almost redeems it from its other shortcomings. It’s when the characters finally drop their masks and share the unfortunate life events that landed them where they are now; at the very end of the food chain. Their falling in love is perfectly clumsy and awkward – and perfectly in character.

The rest of the movie does not reach the same standards. Mostly shot in cheap looking studio set the silly story with silly goons going after a silly MacGuffin of a secret government plan.

Alan Arkin is always a pleasure to behold on the silver screen and the hobo character he creates here feels many ways more substantial and complex than the movie itself.

80s-o-meter: 80%

Total: 58%

#1519 The Allnighter (1987)

Hey look, it’s Susanna Hoffs (of the The Bangles fame) making her debut in a lead role, in a movie written and directed by her mother Tamar Simon Hoffs.

While Susanna herself performs the role adequately, The Allnighter itself is such a mess that is pretty much nullifies that performance. I would have loved the movie actually living up to its name, taking place in one long night, but instead the events take place during a time period of few days and none of them are properly followed through, leaving one scratching their head wondering what actually is the theme of the movie.

The movie looks good though and has all those nice seasonings of California, surf, beach houses, parties and overall good mood, sprinkled on top of an empty shell of a movie.

80s-o-meter: 91%

Total: 30%

#1516 Perfect Strangers aka Blind Alley (1984)

Larry Cohen’s (Special Effects, The Stuff, Q) Perfect Strangers begins as a 2-year old witnesses an assassination in an alley.

To make sure there are no loose ends the hitman befriends the boy and her single parent mom, only to soon find himself emotionally attached to both.

The premise is wonderful for a decent thriller, but Perfect Strangers’ approach is somewhat bland and features one of those weird early 80s lense effects where everything looks shiny as if shot through a greasy lens. The strong setup still carries the movie through, fortunately. But only barely.

80s-o-meter: 58%

Total: 68%

#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%

#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%

#1438 The Morning After (1986)

Not to be mixed up with The Day After, a 1983 made for TV movie about nuclear war (I know I keep mixing these up all the time), The Morning After is a thriller about a has been actress who keeps on drowning her sorrow to the wine and finds herself blacking out often, only to one day wake up and find herself laying next to a man, stabbed to death.

After the interesting start The Morning After does not provide anything substantial and plays until the end without much surprises. The chemistry and eventual relationship between the leads Jane Fonda and Jeff Bridges is a hard sell, and it’s mostly Bridges’ typical enjoyable screen presence that carries the movie until the finish.

80s-o-meter: 84%

Total: 60%

#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%

#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%