#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%

#1561 Lassiter (1984)

Lassiter is a hit-by-the-handsome-stick gentleman cat thief living in London on the verge of WWII that ends up recruited against his will by FBI to break into the heavily guarded German embassy to steal gems from the nazis.

The plot puts further pressure on Lassiter and his relationship with his love interest (Jane Seymour) as he first has to seduce the nazi femme fatale (Lauren Hutton) to gain access to the base.

40-year old Tom Selleck handles the role with expected charisma and the movie portrays well the era – or at least the movie version of it – without redundant underlining or overselling.

80s-o-meter: 5%

Total: 73%

#1559 Uphill All The Way (1986)

Imagine any Burt Reynolds’ action comedy of the late 70s / early 80s, change the setting to the wild West, take out Reynolds and any other notable star – and you’ll end up with Uphill All The Way.

Roy Clark and Mel Tillis – both unknown to me – lead this cowboy Cannonball Run, going from one hardship to another, even more boring one.

Reynolds actually visit that set in a quick uncredited cameo as a poker hustler, which only confirms there was some some of connection going on behind the scenes.

80s-o-meter: 8%

Total: 14%

#1556 Mr. North (1988)

Anthony Edwards appears in Mr. North as Theophilus North, a young bright student who arrives at a wealthy Rhode Island community with big plans. He soon starts to leave lasting impressions on the locals, some of which he befriends with, while other take him for a miracle healer, thanks to his natural tendency of stacking up static electricity.

Mr. North is one of those period pictures that heavily relies on nostalgic scenes of the yesteryear’s America: a small knit together community helping each other, old money, people dressed up smartly and innocence. And it works out for the movie, making it somehow soothing and relaxing to watch.

But if one’d take the concept to the current day, thus stripping out the nostalgia and the related glamor, there wouldn’t just be much of a movie going on here.

80s-o-meter: 3%

Total: 40%

#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%

#1554 The Escape Artist (1982)

Here’s something I always look forward to when watching these 80s movies: to find a relatively unknown gem of a movie. The Escape Artist tells the story of a son of a famous escape artist who wants to follow his late father’s steps, while also learning what really happened to him.

Griffin O’Neal (the son of Ryan O’Neal) plays the young illusionist thrown in the adult world so convincingly that it was astounding to find out he wasn’t hired based on his magician skills, but only learned the basics for the movie. Griffin is a natural on the silver screen and no doubt ramps up an already decent movie quite a bit, and I was therefore saddened to learn about his troublesome life ever since as it seems to me we lost quite a great skill here. Raul Julia makes for one of his best characters as the slick son of the mayor who form a duo with the young magician, constantly trying to outwit one another.

The Escape Artist is – well, magical – coming of age movie of one exceptional young man on an exceptional journey, relying on his exceptional skills and wit.

Much recommended.

80s-o-meter: 75%

Total: 91%

#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%

#1551 The Sting II (1983)

A sequel for the 1973 The Sting starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford, The Sting II loses all of its star power that no doubt helped to leverage the original scoundrel comedy to success.

But what The Sting II loses in Newman and Redford, it gains in Jackie Gleason who is a perfect fit for the role of the gang leader aiming to pull off a boxing match scam of a century.

The movie establishes well its 1940s New York era, and Gleason’s persona and the natural appearance of the golden era star no doubt helps to sell this idea. While not exactly match for its predecessor, The Sting II makes for a totally worthy heir to the original.

80s-o-meter: 2%

Total: 70%

#1550 Stranger Than Paradise (1984)

Considering how much I loved Jim Jarmusch’s later Down by the Law, I really looked forward to seeing Stranger Than Paradise, its indirect predecessor. In fact I was looking forward to viewing it to a small audience in an makeshift Spanish open-air theatre, but changed my plans for another movie in the last minute.

Luckily too, as Stranger Than Paradise turned out nothing like the witty and quirky Down by the Law was. This is a story of two friends who take a road trip to Cleveland to meet up with a cousin, then travel back with her, lose some money and win it back. And .. well, that’s about it.

Nothing much happens meanwhile, and Stranger Than Paradise turned out to be one of those artsy black and white indie movies with much too long scenes of people just sitting still and smoking cigarette and staring into the distance as their lips slowly chap. The very kind of movie that movie snobs watch in their private movie sessions, always laughing a few seconds too early and too loud to the unfunny jokes to underline they are the only ones sophisticated enough to appreciate them.

80s-o-meter: 30%

Total: 24%

#1541 Emerald Cities (1983)

A disjointed indie movie about a woman who leaves her home and her father dressed up as a Santa Claus in Death Valley. Father then follows him to San Francisco through various small towns in a road movie fashion.

While the movie would have been ok’ish small budget project, it’s constantly interrupted with excerpts from TV news, faked interviews, movie clips and miscellaneous footage from concerts, which makes it very hard to following the plot, and the movie.

I liked the few quirky moments in the movie, but as Emerald Cities finally ended I could not help but cheated as a viewer.

80s-o-meter: 61%

Total: 17%

#1536 Glitch! (1988)

One more movie out of the movie factory named Nico Mastorakis, I honestly suspect that Glitch was initiated by first renting out the luxury Malibu seaside mansion, and only secondly trying to come up with the movie.

The plot and events are so ridiculous that it feels they just made it all up as they went along. There’s two losers, one of them turning back and forth from a moron to a genius after hypnosis treatment, a few baddies, and perhaps most importantly to the production team a wide array of bikini babes who likely signed up for the movie for no compensation for their petty 15 minutes on a silver screen.

With Glitch Mastorakis has reached the unimaginable goal of coming up with a movie too fluffy and silly for my taste. While the movie has its few passing moments, it’s just much too hollow shell of a movie to really enjoy.

80s-o-meter: 91%

Total: 21%

#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%

#1531 Porky’s (1981)

A Canadian sex comedy about 1950s High School teenagers was a huge success upon its 1981 release, and interestingly perhaps more American than many of its similar USA releases.

Most of the elements typical to the sub genre are there, and don’t provide much more than what you’ve used to

Porky’s would go on to spawn two sequels, Porky’s II: The Next Day and Porky’s Revenge, released in 1983 and 1985, respectively.

#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%

#1527 Avenging Angel (1985)

A sequel to the Angel, Avenging Angel picks up the story a few later after the events of its predecessor, with the heroine now off the streets and working as a lawyer. I found the setup interesting and the whole Angel character now much stronger: instead of being just a gun happy lolita on a revenge spree, she is well spoken, confident and intelligent. This coupled with her background and her street knowhow makes for an interesting character that at best writes itself.

Playing Molly (’Angel’) Stewart this time around is the gorgeous Betsy Russell who fits the role perfectly, and would be my pick of all the Angel actors. The tone of the movie is lighter than with its predecessor, and it introduces some actual comedic elements and segments I wasn’t completely sure were the series needed, but I didn’t mind them much either.

As a completely average (in a good way) 80s action comedy, Avenging Angel is by far the strongest and most entertaining movie of the series.

80s-o-meter: 90%

Total: 72%