What does the present day have anything to do with the 80s? If one were to ask me such a question, I would think that you’re absolutely silly to think otherwise! THe 80s might have been over 30 years ago, but our culture still relies on an expansive portion of what was achieved in the 80s, 90s, and so forth to present day. In terms of filmography, the relevance is regarded even more highly so, as some of the most iconic bildungsroman flicks and busts graced our Earth during this time. As a late 90s kid, I often struggle with those “Only [insert decade] Kids Remember These” memes, because quite technically, I was raised in the 2000s. However, as of late, I’m ditching the whole “belonging to a certain decade” jazz and have been immersing myself in movies of the past. Even though I’m a little removed from these movies, by watching them, I was able to almost time travel back and experience them in their glory. As kids, we might have watched these movies, but once again, as kids, we mostly saw them as movies from the past. Watch them again, at an age where you are the demographic they were targeting 20 years ago, and I know that so much more can be extracted from each movie. Even though many people may cite Star Wars, ET, Ghostbusters or Indiana Jones (notice how some of these titles resurface 20+ years later?) I want to shift focus onto a different area to help you embark on this journey…
1. Back to the Future series
I know, I know... I’m incredibly late with this, but Back to the Future is probably one of my all-time favorite movies now. Sure, I had seen clips of the movie as a kid, perhaps watched some of it in class when there was a substitute teacher, but I had never paid full attention to it to understand it thoroughly. Furthermore, after watching and raving about it to my peers, a good many had never been compelled to watch it (of course I forced them to later). Although it is somehow a poignant moment that Back to the Future Day has passed, October 21st will forever be infamous for the day that Marty McFly travelled into the near past, future, and far past to manipulate history. Upon watching this movie, I realized that this movie’s humor and action, melded with aspects of geeky sci-fi ideas and symbols of 80s teen pop culture cooked the special sauce to this movie’s success, so much so that watching the second and third movie (albeit good, but first takes the trophy) are worth sitting through for closure of Marty McFly and Doc Brown’s tales. As a college student in 2015 watching the movie, I can’t help but think of the interesting dynamic my situation creates as I watch them envision 2015 and revel in the cool rock-and-roll that was so prevalent!
Honestly this title doesn’t sound interesting, and its promotional poster with Christian Slater and Winona Ryder embracing in front of a blackboard backdrop barely helps with hinting at the focus of this movie. Also, it’s rated R, which might make you increasingly bewildered as to the reason I am including Heathers. However, I think this is the beauty of Heathers - it’s exactly what you would not have expected. From its facade, the story sounds a lot like the Mean Girls plot: new, smart girl enters a high school that is reigned by a popular and fake clique. In this movie, the clique is a trio of girls named Heather, which is why they are called Heathers. The movie takes a dark turn when Winona’s character Veronica and her boyfriend J.D., played by Christian Slater, kill one of the Heathers and frame it as a suicide.
They go around killing other people who piss Veronica off, all of whom happen to be part of the bullying, popular crowd at school. The satiric spin off the new-girl high school theme in favor of a incredibly darkly humorous movie blew my mind. This movie also pinpoints societal flaws like lack of understanding of mental illness, less-than-recommended parenting styles, and the silliness that takes place in high school - and quite truthfully, beyond that. Watch this movie with a friend, though - it gets hella disturbing.
3. Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure
I swear that’s as dark as this piece will go! So, on a more lighthearted note, the Bill and Ted franchise cannot be missed! For some reason, a lot of people haven’t heard of these guys, either, but I guess the bright side for me is that I can now talk about them! Think Back to the Future, but sillier and centered around high school, metalhead doofuses whose wit and ingenuity have you cracking up on the floor. Bill and Ted have a quirky habit: they always speak in superlatives and use long words like this: “We are going to fail most egregiously…”
One of my favorite scenes from the first movie is when they go back into time and meet Socrates, whose name they erroneously pronounce as “so-crayts.” They look him up in their textbook, and come across the quotation: “ "The only true wisdom consists in knowing that you know nothing.” Bill and Ted pause before they exclaim: “HEY! THAT’S US!”
4. Wayne’s World
Another 80s classic, this movie made it to the top 10 during its debut year. The shooting budget was $20 million, while box offices hit $183 million! This movie may take a little more background research than those that were mentioned, since this movie is exceptionally iconic and based on SNL skits in the time. This movie incorporates elements of cliche normal-guy-gets-girlfriend, teenage lewdness (in all good fun), and spins off scenes that we revel in their ‘glory’ to create a loving, off-tempo dynamic to the film. Also, if you’re a fan of Bohemian Rhapsody, be prepared to have a very different image in mind when Mike Meyers and crew decide to karaoke the sh*t out of that song.
And just like that, you have some of the most classic and teenage-angsty, rebel-against-parents-by-defying-some-science movies. The most poignant point is that in a few decades from now, the movies we hold as the holy grails of our time will be studied upon and seen as super old throwbacks to future generations...oh Lord...