#1525 Made in Heaven (1987)

Made in Heaven is a movie narrated in two acts: in the first act we see the protagonist as a young boy heading off to California, getting killed in an accident, ending up in heaven and falling in love with another soul.

In the second act they both have been born again, unaware of their previous lives and mutual time together in heaven, and the thrill the movie offers to the viewers is of course the hope of their life lines somehow intertwining, perhaps leading them to find each other once again.

I have to admit I found the movie incredibly dull and slow paced for most of its running time, but the final events did admittedly get to me to the extend of turning the overall experience quite positive. Clearly this concept of soul mates has something special going for it, only if the endless taxiing before final payoff of a takeoff was crafted just a bit more exciting.

80s-o-meter: 55%

Total: 61%

#1521 Sweet Liberty (1986)

Watching Sweet Liberty I quickly realised the benefits of writing and directing the movie that you yourself star in: you get to play a well liked college professor who rides a motorcycle, fences, has written a bestseller that’s to be filmed by a film crew visiting the town and get to make out with two women – one of them who no other than Michelle Pfeiffer.

But Alan Alda’s writing is also snappy, full of interesting events and especially interesting characters, each of which strong enough to support a movie is own.

It’s especially these characters that almost seem to write themselves that make the movie easy and satisfying to watch. Even if Alda’s screen presence is totally enjoyable, his strongest suits are definitely off-camera.

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 83%

#1520 Partners (1982)

When I first learned about Partners, a comedy about two cops – one straight, one gay – going undercover to a gay community as a couple to solve a mysterious chain of murders, I could not but to cringe. I’ve witnessed on numerous occasions how gays have been portrayed in the 80s and 90s comedies, and it’s generally not pretty.

Partners isn’t devoid of these stereotypes, but in general it’s quite kind with its approach, poking an equal amount of fun of the projudice of the society was well as the inept police force and his womanising partner.

In the end Partners makes for a refreshingly different and charming buddy cop movie that earns my recommendations, but people that are easily offended of stereotypes should probably steer clear

80s-o-meter: 85%

Total: 83%

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#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%

#1517 Reform School Girls (1986)

A 1986 take on the women prison exploitation movies popular in the 70s, Reform School Girls aims to poke fun of the genre by playing with clichés and turning all the knobs all the way to 11. But it does so only partially.

All the prisoners are of course (adult) models tippy-toeing around the reform school dorm just waiting for an excuse to go to have a shower with the other girls, and Edna, the head of the ward pictured in that awesome poster is set to make everybody’s life miserable.

Women prisoner exploitations were already quite far fetched, super heavy on clichés and caricatures for characters, so the humor here falls very short. As in, not funny at all. But in its poor genre Reform School Girls is actually well above average, even if not successful as a satire.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 61%

#1515 The January Man (1989)

The January Man is an odd one, starting with its casting. Not that the cast itself isn’t up for the task, but it’s just the combination of them that does not seem a typical selection for an a-list action movie. Same goes with Kevin Kline acting as the lead: he does the work adequately, but somehow I feel like he wasn’t among the top-5 choices for the role. This becomes obviously clear in the moments he is represented as a top notch cop; no matter how hard I tried, I could not buy it for a second.

Same goes for figuring out who the killer was, which would’ve taken me some giant leaps of faith and perhaps even more imagination than the writers had.

Although coming across more as an actor than an actual cop, there’s no denying that Kline possesses a great secret presence, and despite (or, thanks to) all the fluffiness the movie does make for a very easy, weirdly enjoyable watching experience.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 65%

#1507 Robot Ninja (1989)

If many of the main stream movies gained in quality from being released towards the end of the 80s, the same goes for the indie movies as well. Had Robot Ninja been released in 1982 it would’ve probably been unwatchable mess, but now the overall production quality (for a low budget movie) and the 80s style of it makes it more enjoyable and definitely closer to something that one could consider as a cult movie.

Mind you, this is still not a good movie. It is totally stupid and silly, and mostly relying on totally overboard gory special effects, but it does have that guilty pleasure aspect to it that I can relate to some people enjoying. That being said, the movie wasn’t exactly my cup of tea.

There is a definite star in this show as well, though: A Commodore Amiga 500 home computer is present in many of the scenes, which alone makes the movie worth checking out for the fans of Amiga. I know you’re out there!

80s-o-meter: 87%

Total: 40%

#1505 The Chocolate War (1988)

The very definition of a storm in a teacup, The Chocolate War studies the weird power play and hierarchy inside a Catholic Private School.

The movie gets surreal from the get go as we see Brother Leon (John Glover) with his unorthodox ways of teaching and ways of publicly disfavouring students who don’t yield to his kind request of selling out a record number of chocolates door to door. Adding to the tower of power are The Vigils, an openly secret student society who usually pull of harmless pranks but are now forced to form an alliance with Brother Leon to make his fundraising dream come true.

Although the whole world of Catholic schools is alien to me, the cliques shown in The Chocolate War are easy to identify with, representing the glass walls of politics and group dynamics I trust we’ve all run into at some point of our lives.

80s-o-meter: 41%

Total: 60%

#1490 Smithereens (1982)

Smithereens is a low budget in the production depicting a young girl in the early 80s New York punk scene who’s determined she is destined for greatness, despite lacking any talent to make it.

Instead, she tries to hang around local small time music celebrities and makes one bad choice after another that cost her her apartment, friends and generally always seem to take her further away from recognitions she’s after.

I found the movie slow and mostly uninteresting to watch, but it did stick with me later on, thanks to its sincerity, and quite original plot – so, not a total stinker.

80s-o-meter: 86%

Total: 52%

#1484 Track 29 (1988)

A spiritual predecessor to Requiem for a Dream, Track 29 follows a downward spiral of one relationship and a woman, married to a narcissistic doctor who enjoys his model railways and getting whipped by one of her nurses.

As you might’ve guessed, Track 29 is one of those weird movies that are as detached from the reality as its characters. Rather than a drama, it’s one of those super dark comedies that really doesn’t make one laugh, even once.

I was excited to see Gary Oldman as one of the leads. I guess you could say he performs his part as the annoying ghost of the past so well that I loathed him already in a few minutes, which again made sitting through the movie far more unenjoyable than it should’ve been.

80s-o-meter: 68%

Total: 38%

#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%

#1470 Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling (1986)

In the 1980 the comedian Richard Pryor famously set himself on fire while on a drug induced psychosis and sustained severe burns. It’s from this setup that Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling, a semi-biographical movie of Pryor starts.

Directed and starring Pryor, he plays a stand-up comedian much like himself. While definitely boosted up in the 80s by the Pryor being a star everyone knew, the movie holds very little interest to anyone not aware nor fan of Pryor. There’s no real common thread running through the movie and I’m not sure why the movie was made, other than for some sort of personal self-examination.

Fans of Pryor likably will dig this one as well, others might want to steer clear.

80s-o-meter: 70%

Total: 22%

#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%

#1451 The ’Burbs (1989)

Shot in the legendary Universal back lot, The ’Burbs is one of those perfect 80s family movies that lets us a sneak peak into the life of a neighbourhood in the suburbs where a tempest in a teapot is just about to be unleashed as a new suspicious family moves in to disturb the peace.

Tom Hanks, Bruce Dern and Rick Ducommun create an unlikely trio of family guys who stick together even thought they don’t share much more in common other than the same street address. Corey Feldman joins the show to do what Corey Feldman does the best: being the laid back dude often breaking the fourth wall.

The ’Burbs balances well between creating big drama out of small elements, suspense and comedy. It is debatable if the movie needed its last minute plot twist (I’d been totally content without it), but otherwise the movie does very little wrong.

80s-o-meter: 95%

Total: 90%

#1449 Curse of the Pink Panther (1983)

The untimely death of Peter Sellers in 1980 left the director Blake Edwards unable to milk the Pink Panther franchise even further. Well, almost.

I honestly thought I was through with the franchise after having to sit through the 1982 Trail of the Pink Panther, but there was another Pink Panther movie released the following year, Curse of the Pink Panther. Instead of relying solely on old material like Trail of the Pink Panther, Curse of the Pink Panther aimed to reboot the franchise with a new young inspector of the American origin.

Truth to be told, Curse of the Pink Panther nor its lead Ted Wass aren’t entirely horrid, but already at this point the success of the past movies overshadow any attempts, and the movie might have felt somewhat more fresh as a completely standalone film instead.

80s-o-meter: 65%

Total: 24%

#1445 Dr. Heckyl and Mr. Hype (1980)

I hated Dr. Heckyl and Mr. Hype – a tired word play if I’ve ever seen one – as soon as I heard about the movie, and that feeling got more intensive upon seeing the film poster.

Again, that feeling deepened as soon as the first few moments passed, The movie was just as inept and useless as I’d anticipated.

There’s not much positive to be said about the movie. It’s not as bad a shipwreck as the 1982 Jekyll and Hyde… Together Again, but it’s just bad in various other ways; if neither one of these movies would have seen the light of the day, we’d been better off as the human kind.

The shit they greenlighted at one point of time, sheesh..

80s-o-meter: 22%

Total: 4%

#1444 Bloodstone (1988)

An Indiana Jones inspired B-action adventure taking place in an exotic location much in the vein of Firewalker and Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold, Bloodstone has one interesting aspect going for it: it’s shot in India with shared Bollywood casting.

The experience works and Bloodstone’s Indian born actors make a decent work with their roles, and the movie looks solid overall.

Like many other similar adventure films, Bloodstone can be at times entertaining, but also totally unsubstantial and forgettable.

80s-o-meter: 82%

Total: 71%

#1442 The War of the Roses (1989)

I haven’t been shy on saying about how Danny DeVito is one of the Hollywood’s unsung heroes, that has never received the critical acclaim he should’ve – both as a director and an actor. The War of the Roses, his second feature film after Throw Momma from the Train is once again a good looking, well directed piece of cinema where it’s only the manuscript that runs out of steam before the end.

A black comedy about a couple going through the most devastating divorce ever evolves from a love story into a spiral of revenge that in the end devours them both. But it seems that the story lacks one more step in evolution; the characters become more and more two dimensional caricatures – until the last showdown that manages to revive some more dimensions to them.

The War of the Roses is a good movie with a constant feeling of huge untapped potential that the movie never quite redeems, and although the leads Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas perform well on the screen, it’s DeVito himself whose appearances always leave me hungry for more.

80s-o-meter: 89%

Total: 75%

#1435 Grunt! The Wrestling Movie (1985)

Grunt! The Wrestling Movie and its poster has a good 80s Mad Magazine parody written all over it, but it turns out to be quite a tame take on the show wrestling that really peaked during the mid 80s.

The movie is shot in a mocumentary style with lots of shaky footage and interviews to reveal if the new wrestling star called The Mask is in fact a guy called Mad Dog that disappeared from the face of the earth a few years earlier. These mocumentary bits are then cut into actual matches with the movie’s stars battling against each other.

Thing is, show wrestling is already so entertaining and over the edge that in comparison everything seen here pales in comparison. For my entertainment I’d much rather watch some actual 80s WWE WrestleMania matches.

80s-o-meter: 90%

Total: 36%

#1434 Cookie (1989)

An organised crime racketeer Dino (Peter Falk) is released from prison and goes out to claim his ill earned money from his former partners of crime who don’t want to give that money to them. At the same time his daughter Cookie (Emily Lloyd) who has had to live without a father turns out not loving him, but hating instead. Now Dino has to get his money and the love of his daughter back and also choose between his mistress and his wife.

This is once again a mob movie that begs the movie to side with the main character against the authorities and for this needs a lead that the viewer can feel that sympathy for, and Falk definitely fits the bill: there’s nothing so vicious he could not do and to get away with it by doing his trademark underdog Columbo schtick.

Falk remains the only strong point in the movie and I found most aspects of the movie very unoriginal, as if the Susan Seidelman had traced over a caricature that has been traced over countless times before, and failing to add anything of her own there.

80s-o-meter: 80%

Total: 41%