Sunday, June 13, 2021

Junesploitation 2021 Day 13: '80s Comedy!


  1. Woody Allen's ZELIG (1983, DVD).

    Prominent early 80's talking heads (Susan Sontag, Saul Bellow, etc.) and living participants giving on-camera testimonials, along with a know-it-all narrator (Patrick Horgan, a replacement for John Gielgud) and plenty of B&W archival footage and photographs, explore the phenomenon of the life and times of one Leonard Zelig (writer/director Woody Allen). The son of Yiddish vaudeville performers, Leonard's low self-esteem and wish to blend with his surroundings developed into a mutant-like ability to physically and intellectually emulate the people he made contact with. Whether growing a giant stomach to hang around fat guys, turning Chinese when hiding in Chinatown, becoming a society snob when debating with F. Scott Fitzgerald or talking like a psychiatrist when locked in a mental hospital, Zelig is both everybody and nobody given his lack of a personality of his own. Helped by kind psychiatrist Eudora Nesbitt Fletcher (Mia Farrow in only her second collaboration with Allen), Zelig goes from the Roaring 1920's through the mid-1930's Depression becoming an object of fascination, ridicule, hatred, legal disputes and ultimately the forgetfulness of a fickle public that moved on to the next fad, celebrity gossip or scandal-of-the-week hype. As one of the talking heads asks about the present circa 1983 (which also applies to 2021), have things really changed that much from then to now?

    Most cinephiles don't think of Woody Allen as a technically innovative filmmaker, but "Zelig" is the most jaw-dropping example of a fictitious documentary feature I've ever seen. Cinematographer Gordon Willis ("The Godfather" movies) and a small army of lab technicians skillfully mix stock footage, still images (archival, manipulated or both), newspaper layouts and music (vintage a new Dick Hyman tunes meant to sound like 20's era pop jazz) to make it seem Woody Allen hung out with Calvin Coolidge, stood behind Hitler and lived to tell the tale and was a Mexican mariachi singer. Only the 'waiting at bat behind Babe Ruth' gag looks phony, a forgivable flaw in an otherwise convincing presentation that puts "Forrest Gump" to shame. Horgan's narration has laugh-out loud deadpan jokes (including one hell of a running gag about nobody reading Melville's "Moby Dick"), but I personally love that Allen knew his own limitations and kept the Peter Sellers-like disguise routine limited to seconds of silent footage and still photographs. A lean and tight 79 min. running time makes sure "Zelig" doesn't outstay its welcome. 4 UPSIDE-DOWN GERMAN PLANES SETTING A CROSS-ATLANTIC WORLD RECORD (out of 5).

  2. Spike Lee's SHE'S GOTTA HAVE IT (1986, Netflix) for the first time.

    Lee's first feature, an Ernest Dickerson-lensed B&W (except for a musical/dance sequence shot in ultra colorful hues) low-budget romantic comedy exploring the perception of young, attractive and smart Stuyvesant, Brooklyn twenty-something Nola Darling (Tracy Camilla Johns) from the points of view of the three men and one woman she has ongoing relationships with. Though they all mean well, it's clear the arguments to Nola from Greer (John Canada Terrell), Mars (Spike Lee), Opal (Raye Dowell) and Jamie (Tommy Redmond Hicks) about why she should dump everyone else and be with them are self-serving and only reflect their perception of her. But it's not like the counselor ("Law & Order's" S. Epatha Merkerson) she visits, her father (Bill Lee, who also composed the film's jazz-heavy score) or Nora herself know what she's all about.

    Except for one bordering-on-rape scene that hasn't aged well at all, "She's Gotta Have It" is a hilarious portrayal of men's insecurities about females they idolatrize without truly knowing who they are. And unlike most 80's romantic comedies, it has aged well and feels more timeless/modern than its 35 years betray. 4 THANKSGIVING DINNER TURKEY SLICES (out of 5).

  3. CROCODILE DUNDEE (1986, Showtime) for the first time.

    A monster hit upon release ($328 million worldwide gross on a $9 million budget), most people only remember "Crocodile Dundee" for the 'That's a knife!' line exchange (74 minutes in) that single-handedly turned Paul Hogan from an Australian TV personality into a worldwide celebrity. Seen 35 years later, its amiable 'fish out of water' formula reminds me of a "Tarzan" movie with the "King Kong" twist of having the survivalist king of the Australian Outback come to New York at the behest of attractive American reporter Sue Charlton (then-future and now-ex Mrs. Paul Hogan, Linda Kozlowski). Unlike the dumbed-down cartoony sequels that followed (don't ask me why I've seen them and never bothered with the original), there's a joy and simplicity to the narrative in "Crocodile Dundee." It's basically two jungles (the Outback for the first 45 minutes, New York for the second half) and their inhabitants passing judgement and standing between Mick and Sue expressing their true feelings for one another. Like "The Karate Kid," this is a movie that knows when to cut to credits the moment it needs to end (which still caught me by surprise). :-)

    Too bad that, like Tom Cruise casting Nicole Kidman for "Days of Thunder" with an eye toward marriage, writer/producer/star Paul Hogan has average-at-best on-screen chemistry with the leading lady he personally selected. Most of the meant-to-seem innocent Dundee-isms deliver chuckles, but a few are problematic (grabbing a tranny's junk?! :-O) or haven't aged well (driving drunk with a cabbie). The on-location New York scenes and Reginald VelJohnson stealing every scene he's in as a limo driver add-up to an amusing time waster. Not too many big laughs here, just enough heart and consistent smiles to make it worth a viewing. 3.25 DRUNKEN KANGAROO POACHERS WITH BUSTED-UP RIFLES (out of 5).

  4. Agent 000 and the Deadly Curves (Agentti 000 ja kuoleman kurvit) (1983, dir. Visa Mäkinen)

    From Finland's foremost schlock auteur Visa Mäkinen, who made oodles of parodies and sex comedies in the 80's. What I thought was gonna be a James Bond parody turned out to be more of a Bond pastiche but with a slightly more humorous tone. Not a particularly good movie, but it's not that terrible, considering its budget was probably about 1% of a Bond movie's budget.

    The movie was "the Finnish Blues Brothers" in that they totaled more cars shooting it than any Finnish movie before, which might sound impressive in isolation, but watching the movie, that meant maybe a dozen cars. There's also one English-speaking henchman for no reason other than they got Roger Moore's regular stand-in for the bit part, which was marketed at the time as a big get.

    Dragnet (1987, dir. Tom Mankiewicz)

    All I knew about this one beforehand were the two stars, they're cops, it's based on an old TV show, and there's a rap song. Imagine my surprise when I realized the plot is about a pagan cult who wear goat masks and sacrifice virgins!

    The interplay between Aykroyd's straight-laced cop and Hanks' loose cannon goes a long way, even though the script is a little lackluster at places.

    Beverly Hills Cop (1984, dir. Martin Brest)

    Boy, they don't make 'em like they used to. This is total comfort foor for me. Eddie Murphy is one of my favorite movie stars ever, the movie moves at a clip and this soundtrack slaps!

    1. Tom Mankiewicz directed "Dragnet"? :-O You just made me want to see this movie, something I've never felt before. Feels weird. ;-)

  5. Charles Shyer's BABY BOOM (1987, HBO Max) for the first time.

    One of the many Hollywood movies that came late in the 80's about (a) babies landing in the laps of unprepared adults ("Three Men and a Baby") and (b) career women juggling work with family life ("Working Girl") that combined both trends, "Baby Boom" might just be a live-action pilot and/or predecessor to TV's "The Simpsons." Why? Because Elizabeth (Kristina and Michelle Kennedy), the adorable baby that New York City business executive J.C. Wiatt (Diane Keaton) inherits from a cousin she barely knew, doesn't age for the duration of the movie. Yes, it's an early female empowerment fantasy written and produced by Nancy Myers ("Something's Gotta Give," "It's Complicated") and directed by her then-hubby Charles Shyer (1991's "Father of the Bride"). But really, someone explain to me how Elizabeth remains the same age/size as when we first meet her when at the very least one year (based on the changing seasons after J.C. moves to Vermont) if not many more years (about what it would take for the 'building a business from scratch' montages to turn a profitable venture) have passed. Not a deal breaker, just a sign that "Baby Boom" didn't make me laugh enough to distract me from such a jarring continuity faux pas.

    Harold Ramis gets third billing for a handful of minutes acting as J.C.'s boyfriend, and somehow playwright Sham Shepard got talked into playing sexy doctor in a small town. Tiny roles by a handful of known faces (Pat Hingle, Sam Wanamaker, James Spader in an early yuppie scum role, Victoria Jackson as an absent-minded nanny, etc.) come and go, but "Baby Boom" is mostly Diane Keaton bumbling around with a baby until the inevitable joys of motherhood take over. There's a "Money Pit"-in-Vermont vibe early in the second half, and throughout you wonder why Bill Conti bothered to compose the soundtrack. At least I found another movie I can recommend to my folks (they adore Keaton), but this one hasn't aged well ($3 million for J.C.'s business??!! :-O). 2.5 FILLED-TO-THE-BRIM APPLESAUCE CLOSETS (out of 5).

  6. Another Juneploitation '80s comedy day means another round of teen sex comedies.

    SPRING BREAK (1983, dir. Sean Cunningham)

    This was not an intended re-watch, but when I saw that the film was back on Prime, I thought it would a good appetizer in a beach sex comedy double feature. Though the comedy is not of the highest quality, there is a spirit of camaraderie with the cast that makes Spring Break a fun experience. There is no story, just a bunch of college guys in Fort Lauderdale for a good time. They drink, they meet girls, they drink some more, and then meet some more girls. It is a true party movie. There are also a bunch of ‘80s comedy tropes thrown in. With this second watch, I was looking more at the time than before. As these teen sex comedies go, this would be a decent deep cut if you have watched the more famous ones already.


    As Private Resort begins, there is a seemingly endless parade of women in skimpy bathing suits. Geez, I thought, it is one those type of films. Then the humor kicked in and I ended up having a good time. Being in the right mood for some silliness is required. The film is farce, with each ridiculous scenario getting more convoluted and absurd. Johnny Depp and Rob Morrow are two friends staying at a Florida resort trying to get laid, but their plans are disrupted by some bad decisions and bad luck. As one messy situation builds to the next, the stakes are raised. There is a sequence featuring Andrew Dice Clay trying to cheat on his girlfriend that features great timing, and the crazy finale is handled well. Hector Elizondo is good as a jewel thief, and the ineffectual head of security made me laugh several times. Not a classic but a film that can entertain and one that could only come out of the 1980s. Apparently at that time sexual harassment was just another hassle of working.

    I doubt this a movie that Johnny Depp or Rob Morrow talk about much when discussing their careers.

    1. The music that kicks in when there's a chase (and there's an awful lot of chases in "Private Resort") always makes me laugh. Such a guilty pleasure, one of the first movies I got to see (and tape on VHS, which back then meant endless rewatching) from new-to-me HBO back in '85. :-D

    2. I can imagine a film like Private Resort playing a lot on HBO at that time.

  7. History of the World, Part I (1981, dir. Mel Brooks)

    The Rome sequences are easily my favourite part of the movie. The rest of the movie is enjoyable enough, but those Roman gags really crack me up.

    “Annual Orgy and Buffet. First served, first come.”

    “Did you *try* to bullshit last week?”

    “Bring me a small liar!”

    And of course, “Walk this way!”

    1. And the Oedipus Rex scene, "Wassup, Motherfucker??!" :P Thank you to my high school literature teacher for putting me in the position to appreciate that joke.

  8. Teen Witch, dir Dorian Walker, 1989

    This is a movie I wish I had watched it as a kid. It felt like a movie I should have nostalgia for. It's absoutley delightful.

    Top That.

    1. It definitely hits differently if you watched it as a kid.

  9. Ödipussi (1988 - Vicco von Bülow)
    This is one of two movies by the German cult classic comedian "Loriot" (aka Vicco von Bülow), who is somewhat of a heritage asset of post-WWII-Germany. This movie premiered in East-Germany and West-Germany on the same day (which no movie ever did before or after). While I had to chuckle a couple of times, I don't think this movie would work for foreign audiences - but prove me wrong if you like. :D

    3 out of 4 uncomfortable family dinners.

  10. My Tutor (1983, dir. George Bowers)

    Wow, ok. I didn’t really know what I was walking into here. Of course it was going to be a sex comedy... look at the year, look at the title! Start off with an opening credits for 3 minutes of leave-nothing-to-the-imagination jazzercise followed by naked breasts every 3 minutes on screen. I suppose the producers wanted to make sure the audience got their moneys’ worth.

    Indecently rich teenager Bobby (Matt Lattanzi) is failing his French final, so his dad (Kevin McCarthy, smarmiest fucking man ever created) hires a knockout blonde tutor (Caren Kaye) to help him pass so he can attend Yale. B-plot is his best friends trying to get him laid for the first time, one of which is CRISPIN GLOVER! This movie’s historical value is the super early Crispin (before Friday the 13th and BttF) and while they do give him absurd costumes and a haircut that makes him nearly unrecognizable, he had not yet fully evolved into Supreme Weirdo.

    The film is fairly predictable enterprise and I checked out for the large number of repetitious scenes of Bobby trying to lose his virginity and failing, then stalking the tutor as she skinny dips in the enormous swimming pool at Bobby’s mansion. At about the halfway mark I got very uncomfortable at the amount of teenage female bodies the film was ogling, and then the light-hearted sexual assaults and really turned against the film. Sure, this movie is history and wasn’t considered retrograde in its time, but this is was regrettable watch for me.

  11. Stripes 1981
    Ghostbusters 1984
    Scrooged 1988

    I love Bill Murray in his prime. I can’t believe how old these movies are now. I’ve watched them all SO many times. Eddie Murphy was great and he was a bigger movie star, but Bill Murray was the funniest actor in movies in the 80s.

    1. I know the feeling. When I watch movies from the early 1980s anymore, I cannot help thinking about the current ages of the young actors. Time moves on, but the movies keep them young.

  12. The Gods Must Be Crazy (1980)

    There's whole rabbit hole of criticism about this movie which was made by a white South African during the Apartheid era, which is unabashedly embracing the "Noble Savage" and "White Savior" tropes.

    Leaving that (important criticism) aside for today, I was glad to re-watch what I thought was the funniest movie ever when I last saw it in the early 80's. I appreciate how it blended the 3 story lines until they all came together quite deftly in the end. It's funny throughout much of it, with a mix of different comedy styles, from the "fish out of water" of Xi, to the slap-stick of Dr. Steyn. You'd think the "lets speed this bit up" gag would grow old, but it really doesn't and contributed heavily to the screwball feeling of the whole thing.

    You know the plot: Meek and conservative Dr. Jekyll devises a formula that turns him into horny party animal Mr. Hyde. This has all the ‘80s sex comedy tropes, all well as lots of Naked Gun-style visual puns. Actor Mark Blankfield reminds me early Jim Carrey, in that he’s tall with long gangly limbs and he makes just walking around into slapstick shtick. There are a few deeply-buried interesting ideas here, such as the Jekyll formula being a metaphor for drug addiction, but the movie’s way more into horny slapstick than it is being a real movie.

    30 days of Chinese fantasy movies, day 13
    Modern-day treasure hunters dig up an ancient princess’ tomb, only to discover she’s not only still alive but has deadly vampire-like powers. Along the way there are flashbacks to olden times for the story of how the princess came to be cursed. This would be a good one for the Twilight fanbase, as there’s a lot of romantic longing looks between characters. This is a pretty thin plot to be honest, but it does build to something of an exciting and dramatic climax. It’s… fine.

  14. Private Lessons

    Dan Greenburg has written plenty of books, including the Zack Films and Secrets of Dripping Fang and has had several of his books made into movies, including the Elvis Presley film Live a Little, Love a Little (plus Foreplay, Private School, The Guardian and the movie we’re about to discuss, which was based on his book Philly).

    It’s directed by Alan Myerson, who was O.K. Corrales in Billy Jack and directed Police Academy 5, as well as episodes of Ally McBeal, Friends, The Larry Sanders Show and more. In case you’re wondering, “Does Alan Myerson know comedy?” the answer is yes, as he’s one of the people who helped found The Committee, which counted folks like Howard Hesseman, David Ogden Stiers, Carl Gottlieb, Rob Reiner and Del Close.

    Private Lessons made me question my younger self. To wit: when you’re fifteen years old, the opportunity to lose one’s virginity to Sylvia Kristel seems like a dream come true. But when you’re getting close to fifty, you start to cringe at scenes where she tries to lure this film’s protagonist into a bathtub or makes out with him in the back of a limo. It doesn’t seem like a fantasy any longer. It feels wrong.

    Philip “Philly” Fillmore (Eric Brown, Waxwork) is a 15-year-old high school student whose father has left him alone for the summer with the only supervision coming from Lester the chauffeur (Howard Hesseman) and Nicole Mallow (Kristel), the family’s new French maid. Sure, Kristel is really Dutch, but we’re not here to quibble about her nationality.

    All of her seduction games with our newly pubescent protagonist are a ruse. She’s an illegal alien who Lester is using in a scheme against Philly and his father. Once they have sex, she’s going to fake her death and Lester will help Philly bury her body. Then, the kid will have to steal ten grand to keep the mysterious demise of Nicole a secret.

    The weird thing is, even when Philly busts Lester, he ends up letting the guy keep his job. Once you also see this movie through the eyes of someone from 2021, you realize that Philly is a rich white kid who is going to grow up to be a creep, empowered by the knowledge that he was able to subjugate those in castes below him and still get to repeatedly struggle snuggle with the woman who was once Emmanuelle, despite the fact that she states numerous times in the movie that she feels guilt for having taken his innocence. He has no innocence to speak of, as the last scene in the film shows, where he boldly inquires for a date with a teacher who already informed him that she found his intentions upsetting. I guess money can solve so much, but I wouldn’t really know.

    Now for the fun parts.

    This movie was Jack Barry & Dan Enright Productions, who usually stuck to producing game shows. They even used one of their announcers, Jay Stewart, to do the trailer’s voice-over. Barry received a lot of hate mail for this film from loyal viewers of his shows who were disgusted by the content of Private Lessons. As a result, he never made another film again.

    Yet even more intriguing was the fact that this was the first picture for Jensen Farley Pictures, a subsidiary of Sunn Classic Pictures. Yes, after years of making movies just for America’s families, Jensen Farley would release stuff like The Boogens and another movie where an older woman — Joan Collins! — would deflower a younger man, Homework.

    I can’t even imagine the music budget on this movie, because it has everything from Air Supply’s “Lost In Love” to Eric Clapton, Earth, Wind and Fire, John Cougar and “Hot Legs” “Tonight’s The Night,” and “You’re in My Heart” from Rod Stewart.

    It’s also the American debut of Jan de Bont, who would go on to make Speed and Twister.

    I despise Eric Brown even more now, because not only did he get to do multiple love scenes with Sylvia Kristel, but he did the very same thing in They’re Playing With Fire, except that that time, he got to appear with Sybil Danning.

    PS: I totally forgot that Pamela Bryant from Don’t Answer the Phone! is in this.

  15. Private School (1983)

    One of many many many many ‘80s teen comedies in which the shenanigans and pranks and whatnot are pretty much all sex crimes. You know the drill, horny teens spend around 90 minutes trying to find ways to see each other naked. Lather, rinse, keep rinsing in full view of leering camera, repeat.

    Not the worst of its kind, but also pretty far from the best. There are some talented people involved like Phoebe Cates, Kathleen Wilhoite, Matthew Modine, and (much too briefly) Ray Walston, there are some terrific songs on the soundtrack, and there’s a metric ton of nudity (hello Betsy Russell riding a horse while topless, that scene alone would have made this my all-time favorite movie if I had seen it when I was 12). If you’re in the right mood it could be a good time but for a comedy it’s pretty short on laughs.

  16. Seems Like Old Times (1980)

    First Time Viewing. I watched this because I wanted more Charles Grodin. And he doesn't disappoint here, especially during any interaction with dogs. (According to IMDB trivia, Grodin received a Razzie award for Worst Supporting Actor. What the hell?) I'm not normally a Neil Simon fan, but I enjoyed this. Goldie Hawn is really delightful. More than anything else, I was struck by how there's absolutely no difference between the snarky investigative reporter played here by Chevy Chase and the snarky investigative reporter he played in "Fletch" a few years later. They're virtually the same character.

  17. Private School (1983)

    Hilarity fails to ensue.

  18. Out Cold (1989, dir. Malcolm Mowbray)

    Bizarre black comedy starring John Lithgow, Terri Garr, Randy Quaid and Bruce McGill. It's not really "funny" but I think it's supposed to be amusing based on the dark situations and mean characters. Terri Garr and Bruce McGill play a monstrous married couple, Lithgow is a meek butcher and Quaid is a bumbling P.I. Death and hijinx ensue mainly based around a frozen body in a meat locker (get it, Out COLD?) I was entertained by it but found it very odd and unlike most other movies. Recommended if you like the cast, or enjoy really black comedies.

  19. Comedies Dirtiest Dozen(1988) Dir: Lenny Wong

    A concert film featuring comics who routines were deemed to raunchy and kept them off the tv and the talk show circuit. Pretty hit or miss as to be expected from any old stand-up special. A lot of the jokes aged for very poorly or I aged well. Who knows? Just saying some stuff may sound troubling. Worth watching for the early Chris Rock appearance and Thea Vidale and Bill Hicks sets. Worst for me was Jackie Martling who laughed more at his jokes than the audience.

    The quote that held up the worst?
    "if the world were a perfect place we'd all be Bill Cosby"
    Tim Allen during the credits

    Its on tubi

  20. NIGHT PATROL (1984)

    Man, this was bad.

    1. Did that movie star Murray Langston...aka "The Unknown Comic"...because if so, WHY DO I KNOW THIS!

    2. You are correct! It's about his career as the Unknown COmic while balancing his career as a...cop?

  21. Up The Creek. (VHS rip..yup...its true).

    This is one of those flicks that probably benefits from nostalgia and rewatch as a 14 year old as opposed to actual content. The writing is poor..the execution is passable...but i cant help but love this 'slobs beat the preppies' soft T&A 80s comedy. i feel like if i was planning a double bill, this one would play perfect with One Crazy Summer and/or Making the Grade.

    Thanks F This Movie Programmers for this category. The 80s has sooooo much cheezy comedy goodness within!

  22. Despite often mixed results, this is still one of my favorite Junesploitation days.

    PRIVATE RESORT (1985, dir. George Bowers)

    A "just finished filming Nightmare on Elm Street" Johnny Depp and his buddy stay the weekend at a Private Resort and try to get laid. I won't pretend there are is absolutely no dumb '80s fun to be found here, but it's almost never funny and the cast just isn't much fun to hang out with. It wore out it's welcome pretty fast and I was mostly checked out by the third act.

    WEEKEND AT BERNIES (1989, dir. Ted Kotcheff)

    First-time-watch of this classic I'd heard about my whole life. Turns out it actually lives up to the hype! I enjoyed pretty much everything about this movie. It's really funny, the leads are great, and the beach atmosphere is just perfect. But let's be honest, we all know it's Catherine Mary Stewart who makes the movie. Loved this one!

    1. Though Private Resort is a bad film, the thirteen year old still inside me was not too critical. The film really tries to be funny, at least. I guess I was in the mood for the silliness of everything. I have seen '80s comedies much worse than this.

  23. Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama (1988)
    Directed by David DeCoteau

    Horror-comedy. The first 10 minutes are archetypes from Revenge of the Nerds trying to watch an initiation ritual where young nubile pledges are paddled by the sisters. Followed by more time watching said coeds shower. Haven’t been titillated by this sort of thing since five years before this movie came out. When does the comedy start?

    One thing is clear to satirize something well, you have to be smarter than the material you’re satirizing. This isn’t. Egregious use of cuing music to tell you when the funny part is. The director has 151 films under his belt working for Corman and Charles Band. This is so not for me, but who am I to criticize. I’ve never made any films, and from what I understand, it’s not easy.

    At least, not easy to do well. Linnea Quigley provides welcome energy to the film. Movies like this don’t really exist anymore. Teens might see 3 pairs of breasts during the film, and that was a big deal pre-internet, before you could just navigate to Pornucopia in your web browser. I have no doubt in a theater full of people in 1988 this would be way more enjoyable than streaming in my house in 2021. But no, not great. But extra points for using one of the peeping toms heads as a bowling ball. Once I actually started watching it with someone else it did sort of perk up. Maybe this is why comedies are dead, commercially: there’s no group movie-going experience. We’re all stuck at home streaming.

    No, actually an audience wouldn’t have helped. It’s pretty unfunny. “Goddamn that fucking imp!” In the words of the great poet Nigel Tufnel, “There’s a fine line between stupid and clever.”

  24. Risky Business (1983)

    This is the big one, arguably the most egregious blind spot I'm taking care of this month.
    First things first, the movie's a tenuous fit for today, because it's not much of a comedy. It's more like a dramedy that sometimes goes to pretty dark places - I suspected as much, having read opinions and seen clips over the years, but really wanted to check it off the list, so I went with it anyway.
    With that out of the way, the movie's really good. Like, really good. Its sarcastic coming-of-age narrative is essentially Ferris Bueller meets Goodfellas, and the acerbic tone together with some impressive cinematic flourishes (p.o.v camera at the airport, music breaking off when the car engine dies) elevate it well above the average 80s teen fare. The most crucial ingredient, obviously, is the Cruise of it all. The supporting cast does a great job (Rebecca De Mornay is seductive and enigmatic, Joey Pants is intimidating without ever going over the top), but this is a one man show through and through. Parallel to the evolution of his character, we're pretty much witnessing the Tom Cruise persona being formed right in front of our eyes, to the point that by act three he's practically Jerry Maguire, ready to take over the world. Which he did, shortly afterwards. It is one of cinema's true blue "a star is born" moment, to be sure.

  25. Something Wild, dir Johthan Demme, 1986

    No surprises. This movie is truly wonderful. Though if you had told me that Ray Liotta had ever looked that fresh faced I would have never believed you.

  26. Ruthless People (1986)

    This was interesting. In many ways, it's very typical of comedies of the time, huge coincidences and whacky misunderstandings. But then you'll catch a uniformed cop playing tennis in the background of a serious scene and be reminded that this is very much a Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker film. There's some very good comedic performances here, especially from Bette Midler, but I was a bit thrown off by the meandering tone and a story that really pushed the limits of credulity. I suppose all would've been forgiven if it made me laugh more. I still recommend it tho.

  27. I'm Gonna Git You Sucka (1988)

    Blaxploitation parody that was definitely funnier because I just watched Shaft (1971).

    It was a bit uneven for me. Plenty of full laugh out loud moments. But then it seemed to drag at times. Totally worth a watch though.

    I'm left with the eternal question: How DID he go to the bathroom with all those gold chains?

  28. Crocodile Dundee (1986)

    Hadn't seen this since the 80's/90's sometime, and I had forgotten how much of it takes place in Australia. Really fun to re-visit (except for a couple uncomfortable and dated bits), and Paul Hogan brings a ton of charm to the role. This might have been the first movie in which I saw cocaine use.

    Crocodile Dundee II (1986)

    Oh All the joy and charm are gone. They're going against a drug gang for some reason, and the whole thing just plods along. This was a mistake.

  29. One Crazy Summer(1986) Dir: Savage Steve Holland

    The second collaboration Holland and Cusack gave the world. I like "Dead" just a little more but still a dumb funny movie. I miss kitchen sink movies like this where they do anything for the laugh. Bobcats "twins" speech is still the highlight. Odd Fact about the movie? Uncle Frank was one of the writers on 'Nightmare on Elm Street 3'. Its on a Warner archive disc.

    While watching this I realized that Stephanie Hodges was in Comedy's Dirtiest Dozen with Bobcat Goldwait. So I decided "why not go ahead find another cast member of "Unhappily ever After"? Sadly the only other major cast member that appeared in a movie that may qualify as a 80's comedy was Nikki Cox. There was 2? Mac and ME or Purple People Eater. So here we are.

    Mac and Me(1988)Dir: Stewart Raffill MSTK3000 The Gauntlet Edition

    The plot is ET. The sponsors are McDonalds. The MSTK guys are good. If you like whistling aliens or big macs I say give it a go.

  30. Vacation (1983, dir. Harold Ramis)

    A movie I have seen a bunch in pieces but this is actually the first time I set out to watch it straight through. Very funny with some pretty problematic bits (a typical John Hughes problem).

  31. Porky's (1982, dir. Bob Clark)

    This has always been a huge blind spot for me. I think. I was sure I had never seen it, but then we started watching it and I felt like I had. I still don't know if I ever did before now. Amazing that this was such a huge hit in 1982.

  32. Girls Just Want to Have Fun (1985) - This could have used more jokes and less proto-Dirty Dancing romance. Aside from the novelty of seeing pre-teen/teen versions of Jonathan Silverman, Shannon Doherty, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Helen Hunt, this really didn't work for me.

  33. National Lampoon's Vacation (1983)

    Been a while since I watched the original. I grew up on European Vacation, Christmas might have the most actual heart, and Vegas has Ethan Embry and some good dumb laughs. Chase and the movie as whole are comparatively subdued here in a lot of respects which I think somehow makes Vacation maybe the "best" movie of the series but also probably my least favorite.

  34. Clue (1985)

    Had time for a 2nd movie today and this was just an easy one to throw on that was readily available. I don't have much to add to any discussion on Clue, as I think it's generally accepted as these days as being great. It was an easy comfort food watch for me today.

  35. The Wild Life (1984)

    I officially have a new favorite for the month. This just became an all-timer for me. Excellent cast and my goodness, Chris Penn. One of my favorite performances ever and i don’t think i’m overreacting after just watching this. i laughed, out loud, more than a couple of times and he’s so endearing it almost moved me to tears at times. I have such a soft spot for hangout movies and the only thing I can really compare this to is dazed and confused though it’s obviously not that, nothing is or can be, but the weaving in and out of different characters summers, the rock and roll soundtrack, the feeling of nostalgia for a place and time you weren’t a part of but yet the movie connects with experiences you HAVE had. Incredible film. i hope i’m not overselling it, but i loved it.

  36. Scrooged (1988, dir. Richard Donner)

    80s Comedies are synonymous with Bill Murray! Gotta be honest, I am not sure this movie would have worked nearly as well if it were anybody but him. I was impressed with the makeup and practical effects and the opening scenes with the fake TV programs was GOLD!

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  38. Go for it (Nati con la camicia, Enzo Barboni, 1983)
    Terence Hill and Bud Spencer enter a truck stop, a plate of beans is ordered, and punches start flying. Soon after, they're mistaken for secret agents and sent on a dangerous mission. The Hill/Spencer duo is always engaging, and I like their shenanigans a lot more than the Bond parody stuff. But I'm starting to suspect I might not be a big fan of spoofs...

    Beverly Hills Cop (Martin Brest, 1984) (last seen probably around 1995)
    Damn, this movie is pleasant. And far less goofy than the French dubbed version led me to believe for so long. I'm taking the opportunity to pay hommage to Med Hondo, Eddie Murphy's French voice, who was nothing short of a legend (you have to understand, we all watched our childhood action movies dubbed in French, so he basically *was* Eddie Murphy -and vice versa- to us) and passed away in 2019. He also dubbed Carl Weathers, Ernie Hudson, Fred Williamson (among others), and the Ben character in both Night of the Living Dead movies. I found out when he died that he'd also directed a bunch of films about colonialism, racism, slavery and the working class, which I'd love to find out more about.

    Dead Heat (Mark Goldblatt, 1988)
    I wasn't crazy about the movie as a whole (great premise, which it does very little with, possibly for budgetary reasons), nor was I about Joe Piscopo's performance, but there's a couple of really satisfying scenes (Chinese food coming back to life, one character litteraly melting away), and the best surprise of all: Vincent Price (and his perfect, delightful, playful delivery) doing more than just the tiny cameo I was expecting. I've always loved and admired how he never seems to look down on any of the movies he's in; this one is a prime example of that.

    (sorry about the edit; unacceptable misspelling)