#1066 How to Beat the High Cost of Living (1980)

How to Beat the High Cost of Living has been the longest project for me to watch so far. I remember picking it first up over ten years ago, watching the first 30 minutes and forgetting to finish it and then a few years later giving it another try only to leave it unfinished again.

I kind of understand why this was. Although the movie is not that by itself, there’s just nothing engaging enough here to keep the interest up; three housewifes struggle with money problems, set up a heist and pull it off with a few mishaps along the way, none of them too amusing.

The cast is strong with the strong woman trio as the lead and Dabney Coleman in a supporting role – but all of them have starred in much better movies since.

80s-o-meter: 61%

Total: 46%

#1065 Best of the Best (1989)

USA national karate team goes against team Korea in Best of the Best, a totally ridiculous, unrealistic, sports movie about an unlikely karate team.

Sports movies can be a bore as they stick to the plot of an underdog making it through difficulties to the final victory and then try to masquerade this one way or another. Best of the Best on the other hand does not shy away from clichés, it fully embraces them: There’s the unlikely team, an old shoulder injury that you know will come back haunting later, over the top acting, and a final showdown with an opponent guilty of killing your brother! The only thing missing from the arsenal of clichés is if the last match would’ve ended up with some unorthodox special move.

Eric Roberts seems a weird pick for the lead role at first, but he actually makes for one menacing looking fighter in his ponytail – and gives an excellent performance that’s just the right amount over the top.

80s-o-meter: 95%

Total: 88%

#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%

#1063 The Lonely Guy (1984)

I saw The Lonely Guy during the 90s when I was in my early teens when contemplating on getting me a girlfriend, and remembering how the story spoke to me already back then. Watching the movie now, it’s that same theme of ending up alone and coping with it any which way one can that still feels fresh today.

But, I’d forgotten about the later half of the movie where the lonely guy writes a book about his experiences, becomes famous and consequently an ex-lonely guy – and it’s from this point on that the movie becomes tediously average. It’s a shame; thanks to snappy writing and the awesome comedy talent of Steve Martin and Charles Grodin the lonely guy schtick was nowhere getting old at this point.

Nonetheless, it’s the strong first half alone that still easily warrants watching the movie.

80s-o-meter: 86%

Total: 80%

#1062 Out of Bounds (1986)

Out of Bounds was Anthony Michael Hall’s attempt to break out of the numerous nerd roles he got typecast to during the first half of the 80s.

As such the movie is a success and young Hall makes a surprisingly believable action lead here, much better than the performance he would give two years later in Johnny Be Good, his another 80s movie outside the geek mould. Sure, there’s some overacting involved and everything is oh much too touch on the streets of L.A., but this has more to do with the style of the movie itself and Hall isn’t the worst culprit here.

I liked the movie. Cinematography, action and all the good kind of 80s movie clichés were well presented and Jeff Kober who was formerly unknown to me creates certainly one of the more menacing and memorable movie villains out of one’s worst nightmares. Out of Bounds was generally forgotten upon its release and wasn’t available on DVD, but finally got a proper high definition release on Amazon’s Prime Video a few years back.

80s-o-meter: 92%

Total: 81%

#1061 Young Rebels (1989)

Young Rebels follows the action that follows when one man goes on a rampage against a violent drug cartel.

There’s nothing much to cheer about here. Young Rebels is a cheap, amateurish mess that seems to settle for copying badly things seen on other action films rather than aiming to create something of its own. In fact, the shoddy camera work makes it look like someone from behind the iron curtain had a thing for American action movies and decided to make his own fan fiction. Although the movie is shot with some proper gear, I couldn’t spot one single scene with the white balance set correctly; the film goes from green to yellow to blue hues, over and underexposed even during the same fight scene.

As it goes with B-movies, a lot of padding is added in cutting room to make the footage run the full 90 minutes. Young Rebels features multiple nude and strip soft porn scenes that can run for minutes without contributing anything to the plot.

80s-o-meter: 80%

Total: 17%

#1060 Munchies (1987)

Be it an extra terrestrial, slasher killer or furry little creature, every time some character becomes hugely popular in movies the copycat products start popping up left right and center. After the huge success of Gremlins, we’ve had to stomach through Critters, Ghoulies, Hobgoblins and now Munchies – which might the weakest link of them all.

The foul-mouthed Munchies come from outer space, resemble noticeably the full grown Gremlins, are far too interested in woman mammaries for being aliens and multiply once cut in two. And boy do the people start cutting them. The resemblance to Gremlins stop here as Munchies are remarkably badly animated and never manage to feel nothing but hand puppets.

As there are only very little horror elements here (the threat posed by them seems like a minor annoyance at the best) coupled with how the movie fails to deliver any laughs, Munchies can’t possibly be perceived nothing but a failure. It kind of works at times when the creatures stay hidden, but takes a deep nose dive as soon as they appear on screen.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 39%

#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%

#1058 Who’s Harry Crumb? (1989)

Word of warning: What follows is a biased review as Who’s Harry Crumb happens to be a comedy I’ve seen a countless times as a kid and had a huge crush on the young Shawnee Smith.

John Candy is Harry Crumb, an eccentric private detective hired to investigate a kidnapping case, and lots of physical comedy and disguises ensue. Think Fletch’s idiotic but more sympathetic brother and you got a hang of Crumb.

Watching the movie now some 25 years later the movie still works fairly well thanks to the great comedic work of Candy and Jeffrey Jones, and aided by Tim Thomerson and Barry Corbin in the side roles. I couldn’t help but to notice how raunchy it was which was surprise as the movie seems otherwise aimed for the 12-year old audience. On the other hand I can’t remember being bothered by this as a kid at all.

While I’m being totally generous with the rating, it’s believe it’s much deserved every time your old favourite does not let you completely down.

80s-o-meter: 92%

Total: 85%

#1057 Best Defense (1984)

A cautionary example of two wrongs not making the right, Best Defense is a movie that got a bad reception when shown to test audience upon its completion and in a panic attempt to recover the project the studio decided to fix things by hiring young Eddie Murphy to star in additional segments then glued haphazardly on top of the original movie in post production.

Yeah, it wasn’t a good call at all. On top of spending a staggering amount of $ getting Murphy, the added shots of him driving around in a malfunctioning tank in desert contribute nothing to the movie and make an already so-and-so movie a total mess.

Without the butchering, Best Defense would’ve landed safely as one of the mostly harmless comedies of the 80s, but now it will only stand out a warning example of too many cooks annihilating the broth.

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 37%

#1056 The Hollywood Knights (1980)

The Hollywood Knights follows a gang high school fraternity of the post–World War II baby boom generation during one long halloween night of 1965 as they go around playing nasty pranks to teachers, policemen and fellow students.

Considering that the pranks aren’t particularly funny, nor creative – pissing to a punch bowl is as high brow as it gets – they are showcased far too much in the movie. The real human interest story of the young couple played by Tony Danza and Michelle Pfeiffer is bypassed with a few quick shots and does not get the attention it deserves. Same goes for the story of Jimmy, one of the Hollywood Knights, who’s enlisted and heading to Vietnam unbeknownst of the horrors that await there. Although this part of the movie is better handled, I would’ve liked to see more even more emphasis on this side of the story.

What makes this movie is not its plot, characters nor even its humour, but the way it successfully invites the viewer to be a part of this one wild night as one of the Hollywood Knights.

80s-o-meter: 55%

Total: 68%

#1055 Nobody’s Perfekt (1981)

You remember those older, round backed, worn out VHS tape cases in a distant corner of a video rental store that nobody really checked through anymore? Nobody’s Perfekt is a typical movie you’d find stacked in a pile like this.

Three fellows suffering from minor mental defects wreck their car on a pot hole and take a revenge on the city hall, specifically the mayor. Their cunning plan includes stealing a cannon and hitching a ferry and they end up on the tail of a bunch of criminals doing a heist.

The movie is generally good natured, but mostly with witless gags with the punch lines visible miles away. A random customer checking out the video might’ve been somewhat content with the selection back in mid 80s, but unless you identify as one, it’s best to leave this one at the video rack.

80s-o-meter: 74%

Total: 19%

#1054 Micki & Maude (1984)

A man in a severe baby fever impregnates his wife and lover at the same time in Micki & Maude, a period piece of a comedy done in the era when sexual revolution was just turning to baby boom.

As you’d imagine, most of the comedy here is derived from the close calls of the two brides almost bumping into each other, and ending up having a labour together which feels such a predictable move that it felt tired instantly the scene had started. Although, there is one recurring gag, involving a great sweatshirt that does pay off in the end providing one of the better belly laughs of the movie. Much of the carrying of the movie is done by the lead Dudley Moore, who manages to pull off the despicable role while remaining lovable and funny, and it’s easy to seem what a complete disaster the film could’ve been in more unexperienced hands.

Micki & Maude has the much too common problem of cooking up a drama much too big to be resolved in a satisfactory way, leaving the writer no options but to weasel out of the situation with a wishy-washy, lukewarm solution in the end.

80s-o-meter: 81%

Total: 62%

#1053 Volunteers (1985)

Tom Hanks and John Candy star as Peace Corps volunteers send to a small Thai village to build a bridge in Volunteers, an adventurous, never-quite-funny comedic take on The Bridge on the River Kwai, something of an odd target for a parody.

It takes quite a while for the Volunteers to find its tone of voice; it’s only towards the last 30 minutes of the movie that it starts to be enjoyable. Before that the movie feels much disoriented and shoddy and the bad camerawork where most subjects seem out of focus and oddly framed. It seems that the movie can’t really make up what it’d want to be, exactly; even the elements of crazy comedy are tried out at one point when the characters start reading the subtitles superimposed to the screen, which seems bit of a faux pas.

If I was to judge Volunteers only by its end part, it would rate nearer the 80 point mark as it manages to press many feel good buttons in the last minutes. But as a whole the movie can’t really be recommended, even if you’re a fan of the comedy of Hanks or Candy.

80s-o-meter: 78%

Total: 61%

#1052 Hero at Large (1980)

Hero at Large is an innocent little tale of a aspiring actor who tries to make the ends meet by posing as a super hero, until he one day stumbles upon a robbery that he stops. He then finds a new direction to his out of stepping in to help people while getting intimate with the lady next door.

It’s a movie that wouldn’t be made today – heck, it probably wouldn’t warrant even a single TV episode: Writing is sloppy and none of the event really make too much sense or follow logic. Other than the movie logic, that is.

Hero at Large is something of a relic of its time, but at least it’s a good hearted and benignant one, for all that it’s worth.

80s-o-meter: 74%

Total: 59%

#1051 Jumpin’ Jack Flash (1986)

Jumpin’ Jack Flash is probably the best known of the Whoopi Goldberg’s 80s comedies. And it is a pretty well-rounded, sure shot of a comedy – that’s just somehow even a bit too well-rounded and tame.

What I did find distracting watching the movie after a long while is how Goldberg is either forced or wilfully performing some kind of female Eddie Murphy schtick here. Gags like getting loud and foul-mouthed or making an embarrassing public scene are all too familiar from movies like Beverly Hills Cop or 48Hrs. I’ve always found Goldberg a good actor that succeeds better in the moments when she is not loud nor obnoxious.

All in all it’s a pretty wishy-washy ride. But also so good willed that it’s easy to forgive most of its shortcomings.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 73%

#1049 Far from Home (1989)

Father and daughter run out of gas and get stranded on a lone town in the middle of the desert in Far From Home, an interesting little thriller that saw a limited theatrical release upon its release.

What makes the movie interesting is not its setting nor the plot, but the good kind of movie-like quality of the small town and its trailer park that gets borderline abstract at times.

For a thriller the movie fails to deliver any kind of suspense and even when the killings take place, they seem more humorous than something that would have you on the edge of the seat. Matt Frewer and Drew Barrymore make for a solid and believable pair as the father and daughter, but the two young trailer park brothers both seem badly directed or complete miscasts for their roles.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 70%

#1048 The Legend of the Lone Ranger (1981)

Western movies were quite a craze starting from the 30s all the way to the 60s, after which they fell out of style in the 70s. The Legend of the Lone Ranger was an attempt to bring back Lone Ranger – the masked wild west hero that made his original debut already in the 30s – to the Star Wars generation.

It did not go down well. But then again, it wasn’t a valiant effort to start with.

Cinematography wise the movie looks like it belongs way to the past and its clearly not positioned right for its target audience: The film is much too violent for the youngsters and much too childish and lame for the grown ups. It takes ages for the Lone Ranger to appear and while the movie picks up the pace towards the end, it’s just too little, too late.

80s-o-meter: 24%

Total: 31%

#1047 Gotcha! (1985)

Like mentioned numerous times before, there was a hangup in the 80s to do movies based on Europe. Paris in particular was a popular location, due to its romantic and mysterious reputation to the US public, with many dreaming to travel there one day. Unfortunately the European locations rarely translated well to the American cinema and the endless number of films with out of the water US citizen involuntarily getting into all sorts of mishaps are often only tedious to sit through.

Gotcha! breaks this spell .. sort of. I don’t find the locations fascinating, but they do feel less distracting than usual. It’s an interesting little espionage story that manages to pull off something refreshingly different.

Young Anthony Edwards proves he can carry a full length feature film as the sole lead, most likely somewhat saving Gotcha from total oblivion.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 74%

#1046 Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn (1983)

Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn is officially a sci-fi movie taking place on some distant planet, but don’t let a few latex masks and flying vehicles fool you: This is another one for the pile of the dystopian, post-apocalyptic desert action films.

The movie boasts somewhat better production values than its competition with modified cars, costumes and limited special effects, but the story itself is so uninteresting that I had a hard time keeping alert while watching the movie.

Unlike many other shoddy sci-fi titles of the era, Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jared-Syn does not really have any sort of cult following, probably due to not being shoddy enough to be any kind of guild pleasure. The film is also available as a shoddy 3D version, which does not really add to the experience at all.

80s-o-meter: 58%

Total: 22%