#1085 And God Created Woman (1988)

Directed by Roger Vadim who also directed the 1956 Et Dieu… Créa la Femme that launched Brigitte Bardot’s career, And God Created Woman shares the same title, but brings a completely new story in an very edgy form to the 80s, resulting a catastrophic failure of a movie.

Life is tough for the characters of Rebecca De Mornay and Vincent Spano who play a woman prisoner on a parole, and a carpenter single parent respectively. And it’s oh so tough, and so melodramatic all the time. All sorts of emotional quarrels of love follow, so she decides to put together a rock band to pour all that agony into her songs, all while having erotic B-movie scenes with the carpenter and a famous politician played by Frank Langella.

Essentially a filmatisation of some 2-penny erotic novel I didn’t want to read in the first place, And God Created Woman is a remarkably bad movie – a piece of cinematic garbage that I can’t find any justification for.

80s-o-meter: 86%

Total: 4%

#1082 Can She Bake a Cherry Pie? aka Café New York (1983)

If you dislike indie artsy cinema, Can She Bake a Cherry Pie is precisely the kind of movie that would make you hate them even more.

Shot ad-libbing (or so it seems) in New York, the movie shows a recently separated woman and middle aged man entering a relationship where they have sex and go through their neuroses. Watching the movie felt as if I was 6 years old again and having to listen to the adults having a tediously long and boring talks. But it’s even worse than that; here the people are in their underwear while having these long, yawn inducing discussions.

And as if the movie wasn’t artsy enough, it’s interrupted from time to time with needless bits of Orson Welles doing a cameo as a magician trying to make some animals disappear as well as clips of the lead Karen Black singing various musical numbers in some local improv.

80s-o-meter: 71%

Total: 1%

#1081 Shanghai Surprise (1986)

Shanghai Surprise was supposed to be a sure hit: A comedic adventure taking place in the exotic 1930s Shanghai featuring Madonna and young Sean Penn, both guaranteed box office magnets.

The general finger or blame seems to point to Madonna – a pop star turned to actor – but despite being really uncomfortable in her role as a missionary, the real problem of the movie is that it’s just plain dull to watch. George Harrison who produced the film deemed necessary to write the soundtrack as well, and his Beatlesque pop songs just don’t work at all – not with the setting nor the era. Penn who has an uncanny ability to make any role his, can’t do much with the two dimensional frames he is given here and ends up creating some sort of weak pastiche from various men leads from classic romantic adventures, with a stub that pretty much looks like it was doodled on with a ball point pen.

Shanghai Surprise is an UK production that got picked up for the blog merely because of its leads and a little bit of personal curiousness – and I got a good reminder to be a little less curious in the future.

80s-o-meter: 55%

Total: 45%

#1022 A Little Sex (1982)

A newly married man keeps on landing on his dick on every woman that crosses his path in A Little Sex, an early eighties sex comedy.

The theme of the movie might’d still been somewhat relatable if the main male character wasn’t written in such a dull way: He’s portrayed as this whiny, poor thing that is forced to extramarital affairs by the sex craving women, instead of taking any of the initiative himself.

There’s somewhat interesting tension built between the couple as the dude finally is caught, but even that is quickly diluted in a disappointing, uninspired romantic comedy ending.

80s-o-meter: 78%

Total: 32%

#1019 Modern Romance (1981)

Modern Romance follows the on / off relationship between hemming and hawing urban male and her very patient girlfriend.

The movie is such a chore to watch. That overly neurotic male shtick might’ve been pretty cute back in the early 80s, but from the present day’s standpoint the cuteness just isn’t there. The guy tries to cover all of his bases while spying on her love, breaking up with her cold blood one moment and then demanding her back just to not to have to share her with anyone else, probably more sane person. Cute? Try possessive, smothering or borderline sociopathic. Nothing modern about it.

I’ve really dug Albert Brooks in his various roles throughout the years, but Modern Romance falls quite far from that list.

80s-o-meter: 73%

Total: 31%

#1007 Working Girl (1988)

I don’t know how I’d managed to avoid Working Girl for so long. My guess it that I somehow got the movie mixed up with Blind Date, the stinker of a romantic comedy that featured the hottest names in the Hollywood.

Mind you, this movie is nothing like the Blind Date. Starring Harrison Ford, Sigourney Weaver and Melanie Griffith the movie is a triumph especially for Griffith who plays the underdog of a business woman to such a perfection that us viewers can’t help but compassionate with her, and we really want to see her getting the lucky break she’s long time due for.

Romantic comedies can notoriously be sort of an agony for us men, but in the few special cases like Working Girl, they’re just plain old good movies first, and romantic comedies just on top of that.

80s-o-meter: 95%

Total: 93%

#1004 Grease 2 (1982)

Grease 2, the sequel for the original 1978 runaway musical hit starring John Travolta was a critical and a box office failure. Oh boy, I thought as I pressed the play on my remote, assured I was facing a torture even worse than having to watch through the original.

Pessimism be blessed, as the experience didn’t turn out to be nearly as bad as I’d anticipated. The movie is inept – that’s given – but it all seems to have been done in a good humour with a fair amount of tongue in cheek. Grease 2 does a remarkably bad work at establishing the early 60s setting and the movie never seizes to feel like 80s kids doing a cosplay of the former era.

Personally I count this only as a definitely plus for the movie.

80s-o-meter: 41%

Total: 48%

#994 Somewhere in Time (1980)

Christopher Reeve’s first movie since the hugely successful 1978 Superman, Somewhere in Time is a romantic drama with a time travel twist to it.

The movie relies heavily on its time travel bit and if that concept was stripped out of the movie, there just wouldn’t be much of a plot going on here: There’s the somewhat forbidden love between the two leads of different generations and the only real threat between the two lovers comes from the overprotective manager who just can’t provide much of a drama and the only real conflict between them is ultimately resolved with just a shrug of a shoulder.

The movie totally flopped at the box office, but has developed a cult following with the fans going as far as joining together to celebrate the historical dates presented in the movie.

80s-o-meter: 33%

Total: 51%

#900 Racing with the Moon (1984)

There’s no way around it; Sean Pean is quite simply one terrific actor. In Racing with the Moon he plays a small town boy on the brink of getting drafted and shipped to WWII, portraying the role of a rough on the outside, poetic in the inside boy who likes to play the piano and is secretly destined to things bigger than this old town. And does all this remarkably well and without a slightest sign of pretentiousness or insincerity.

Nicolas Cage, playing the role of his best buddy with a knack of always getting him in ways of trouble performs also strongly here and makes for a memorable screwup who misses direction in his life.

I’m always more than a bit suspicious when watching a period picture not based on historical events as they tend to just ride on the nostalgia factor, presenting the past as them good old days. There’s a little of that also going on here, but it never requires one to feel any real affection to the era. Racing with the Moon keep its focus tightly on the personas instead and manages to deal with universal themes of coming to age that are still as relevant as they were in the 40s.

80s-o-meter: 54%

Total: 92%

#874 Lucas (1986)

I’ve never seen a movie capture a teenage crush in such a honest, pure way.

Lucas is a movie about a boy of the same name whose peculiar life revolving around his peculiar hobbies changes the moment she meets Maggie who’s just moved in to the neighbourhood. They find themselves sharing the last days of the summer together before the start of a new school year and form an unlikely friendship that soon turns to a one-sided, hopeless love.

Corey Haim has never actually wowed me, but here he captures the essence of the misfit character in a magnificently three dimensional way, managing to make Lucas a tangible and often contradictory person by never sugar coating his shortcomings nor underlining his virtues.

The movie wanders too far into fiction towards its last minutes, but even that can’t diminish its accomplishments as one of the most heart warming portrayals of the high school life and of coming to age. Lucas reminds us of what was it like once to be hopelessly, head over heels in love, and in that sense it’s a truly a triumph.

80s-o-meter: 83%

Total: 90%

#859 Winter People (1989)

I’m not too big on period pictures unless they’re based on actual historical events, and Winter People ends up yet another movie where the decision feels uninspired and glued on.

The director Ted Kotcheff who gave us the superb First Blood and Weekend at Bernie’s is at lost here. He gets a very limited mileage out of his actors, who all seem to perform well beyond their skill level. The most cringeworthy performance comes from Jeffrey Meek, whose performance as the sadistic, drunk father comes across cartoonish and artificial, and his rockstar like looks feel extremely out of place given the era.

Kurt Russell fares ok as the clockmaker single parent, but clearly Winter People wasn’t the right vehicle for him either.

80’s-o-meter: 37%

Total: 48%

#855 Nothing Personal (1980)

Here’s a film that once again reminds me of how much I loathe much of the 70s cinema. Nothing Personal is a horrid romantic comedy shot in the end of the decade and released during the first months of 1980, thus unfortunately making it into this review site.

There’s very little to be liked here, and the few somewhat interesting themes of nature preservation and fighting against big companies are quickly bypassed by cringeworthy scenes of the two leads getting it on between the sheets in the spirit of the sexual revolution that was big at the time.

I can’t remember the last time I was so mildly entertained by a comedy. The only decent thing the movie has going for it is Dickerson, a weasel of a big company spokesperson played to perfection by the terrific Dabney Coleman.

80s-o-meter: 22%

Total: 12%

#852 Body Heat (1981)

A lawyer falling for a femme fatale plots to kill her husband in Body Heat, a critic acclaimed thriller that launched the career of the director Lawrence Kasdan, Kathleen Turner and one Mickey Rourke.

I admittedly hated the movie title that reeks of a cheap erotic thriller and the first half of the movie seemed to confirm this presumption. But it was after the murder that the movie really took off, turning out to be one of the best neo-noir movies of the era. Kasdan not only manages to have a good time with the genre and its clichés without the movie ending clichéd itself, but also successfully translates the elements of film noir to the present day.

I always admire the unexpected and mysterious qualities William Hurt manages to bring to his character, and in Body Heat he perfectly captures the timidness and uneasiness of a man who often goes over his head. Mickey Rourke greatly understays his welcome in the movie, appearing briefly as an arsonist.

80s-o-meter: 51%

Total: 84%

#851 Voyage of the Rock Aliens (1984)

Voyage of the Rock Aliens is made to spoof the swinging beach movies of the 60s with an element of extra terrestrial synth pop band traveling to study earth.

Wanting to be one of those crazy comedies, Voyage of the Rock Aliens makes an endless number of desperate attempts for humor. The most amount of wittiness you will see though is a convict attacking a cop with an electric can opener, and the cop then defending himself with a can of tomatoes, or a robot transformed to a fire hydrant then getting peed on by a dog. And both of these gags sound funnier in writing than they come out in the movie.

Much of the humor is built upon the fish out of water aspect of it all that grows stale already during the first minutes into the movie. There are also a lot of lengthy pop songs along the way, all of which have a strong vibe of if the soviet union had produced some music videos, and tried to pass them as the real thing.

Voyage of the Rock Aliens is one of those movies that is shoddy by design, and approach which sometimes works, but here the end result is just one cringeworthy mess.

80s-o-meter: 80%

Total: 3%

#844 It Takes Two (1988)

A young man on the verge of getting married departs from his ranch to the big city to buy a sports car of his dreams and runs into all kinds of trouble in It Takes Two, a lightweight romantic comedy with a somewhat patchy script.

Biggest problem with the movie is the lack of meaningful content and the resulting, obvious padding to make it meet the 75 minute mark. The movie does find its tone during the end, and even manages to have some elements of entertainment and coherency.

It takes two is an insignificant, fluffy movie that is impossible to recommend to anyone – but it’s not horrid either. In other words, if you happen to watch this movie from a cable tv without planning, chances are you won’t hate it.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 60%

#807 Perfect (1985)

I’m willing to admit it; I tend to judge a book by its cover, and a movie by its poster – and I was hating Perfect long before I pressed the play button.

It’s the poster’s combination of a sleazy tabloid cover with John Travolta paired with Jamie Lee Curtis in a aerobics leotard that gave me the association I was in for an eighties version of Saturday Night Fever, something I never imagined I’d have a stomach for. But, I was kind of wrong. There’s certainly a lot of eighties aerobics involved in the movie, but the movie is luckily not just about Travolta being tucked in a pair of tight spandex shorts performing gymnastic moves with a neon, sweat-soaked headband.

Instead, the movie follows Adam, a young, ruthless reporter for the Rolling Stone magazine who’s chasing after two stories, one of which will potentially hurt an aerobics instructor he has fallen in love with. It’s surely no Absence of Malice, but still there’s interesting aspects of a reporter having to weight in the ramifications of his actions while dealing with the issues like professional integrity and loyalty.

80s-o-meter: 86%

Total: 60%

#790 Her Alibi (1989)

When I began watching Her Alibi, I mistook it as a thriller – that’s the way it’s certainly set up in its first 15 minutes. But as the first elements of comedy start to appear, they’re certainly not of the subtle kind, and as the 30 minute mark closes in, it becomes clear that Her Alibi derives all of its humour from the same basic setup: The writer of cheap detective novels suspecting his new eastern european girlfriend to be an assassin, after his life, and the hilarious slapstick that ensues from this, including the novelist getting his bottock pierced by an arrow.

The script makes Tom Selleck come of as a total schmuck – if a lovable one – but doesn’t give her object of desire Paulina Porizkova even that: She feels throughout the movie as distant and rude to the viewer as she does to our hero. Porizkova’s inexperience as an actress is most obvious in the already so-and-so comedic situations where a seasoned comedienne could’ve possibly still done her bit to save the scene.

Ok, so the movie made me snicker a few times. The dinner scene was well prepared with the viewer set up to anticipate the coming up gag long before it takes place, and the final scene with the neighbour setting the record straight got a good belly laugh from me. It seems after this scene that the movie has a possibility to redeem itself, but woefully it just returns to the path of weak design choices, including the ending involving some actual clowns.

Because clowns are funny.

80s-o-meter: 83%

Total: 52%

#778 Goddess of Love (1988)

Vanna White, best known to the general public as the hostess of Wheel of Fortune stars in Goddess of Love, a made-for-TV romantic comedy. Although is safe to say the movie wasn’t destined to steal away any academy awards from the theatrical releases, it’s still somewhat passable as a real movie even if the obvious commercial break transitions are a straight giveaway.

The plot: Zeus turns Venus – the goddess of love – into a statue that turns alive in 1988 Los Angeles, causing all sorts of silly events and misunderstandings to unravel. For a plot this fluffy and trifle the movie is surprisingly entertaining, and even the suspension of how it all will turn out in the end is kept admirably.

While it’s impossible to recommend the movie to anyone and still save one’s face, for those who know what they’re getting into Goddess of Love offers solid 90 minutes of nonchalant – and totally trivial – entertainment.

80s-o-meter: 88%

Total: 67%

#775 Some Kind of Wonderful (1987)

A refreshing change in the endless stream of high school romantic comedies, Some Kind of Wonderful ditches the comedy and goes for the drama. It’s a mix of genres that often ends up melodramatic, cringeworthy and unintentionally funny, but John Hughes, who wrote and produced the movie with his impeccable Midas’ touch once again guarantees hitting the mood just right.

The movie deals about your usual teenage themes; insecurity, rejection and searching one’s identity. Plotwise the movie deals with being friend zoned, learning to grow and coming to terms with what matters the most in life. It all sounds a mouthful, but Some Kind of Wonderful never condescends to preaching but concentrates to telling the story in an entertaining fashion, and the themes presented here still feel fresh. Thanks to the humour being used sparingly, it manages to hit the target every time.

Eric Stoltz and Lea Thompson make for a strong leads with some genuinely good electricity going on, and my hat is off to John Ashton whose portrayal of the good willed father who wants the best for his kids, but constantly misses the mark is an absolute delight to watch. The chemistry between Stolz and Mary Stuart Masterson is kind of a hard sell, which cripples the credibility of the movie a bit. While it can be argued that Molly Ringwald who turned down the role of the tomboy Watts would’ve made a stronger candidate for the unlikely object of love, this is not a deal breaker in any way.

80s-o-meter: 96%

Total: 90%

#772 You Can’t Hurry Love (1988)

You Can’t Hurry Love is a fish out of water story about a young man moving to LA, trying to find a direction in his life while seeking for true love, mostly by trying to pass as a real LA cool cat. The story revolves around video dating which was a huge hit in the late 80s. These awkwardly shot VHS videos have been amusing people ever since they were uploaded to Youtube some 20 years later. Story is a strong word here though as the movie is more like loose scenes that somehow blend into each other.

For being a low budget movie, You Can’t Hurry Love has managed to gather some impressive cameos and song licences (not written for the movie, obviously); Charles Grodin makes a short but sweet visit as a disgruntled, condom-dispensing dad and Phil Collins’ huge 1982 hit song You Can’t Hurry Love can be heard as the title soundtrack for the movie. David Packer, formerly known to public from V the TV Mini-series and its sequels makes for a performance that’s synonymous with the movie itself: Unwitty but sympathetic and lovable.

You can’t hurry love isn’t obviously significant, nor even a good movie in any way – but somehow, one just can’t be too angry about it all.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 60%