25 Years Ago In Film: A Celebration Of Classics From 1985
It's difficult to believe the first month of 2010 is already over, considering it just felt like yesterday that I was ringing in the new decade. The end of January signals that the year is truly starting to pick up pace, but before it does I thought it might be appropriate to look back a little bit, well 25 years to be exact.
I'm going to climb into my cinematic time machine, as I frequently like to do, and travel back to 1985, one year before my own birth, to discuss some of its top grossing movies. Compared to some of the top grossing stories of the modern era, many of 1985's most successful films didn't have serious political or social messages.
Instead they dealt with teenage angst and common issues faced by America's youth. Two of the most popular movies in 1985 came from the creative genius of the late John Hughes. No one spoke better for the teenage heart and mind of the 80s than Mr. Hughes.
Many of my own favorites from '85 express that same adolescent state of mind Hughes knew so well. These films are lighthearted fare that makes me feel young and silly in a good way whenever I watch them.
Pee-wee's Big Adventure
Anyone who grew up watching "Pee-wee's Playhouse" on television can understand the appeal of this delightfully wacky character played by Paul Reubens. Even if Reubens has engaged in some questionable off-screen behavior, he gives Pee-wee a childlike sense of wonder and spirit for adventure that seem comically out of place in an adult body.
When Pee-wee's precious bicycle is stolen from him, he sets out on a nationwide search for his beloved two wheeled beauty. Along the way he meets an entertaining cast of characters that he befriends, including a biker gang that initially wants to kill him, but changes their mind after a display of his dance skills.
Director Tim Burton brings a certain madcap visual flair to this incredibly goofy story, that's well supported by the zany music of Danny Elfman. A prime example of this combination can be seen as Pee-wee's sanity spirals out of control. After his bike is stolen, he can't avoid bicycles everywhere on screen, as Elfman's music seems to propel him into a hilarious state of delirium.
The first of two films on this list starring Anthony Michael Hall, "Weird Science" is every nerdy guy's dream story. Wyatt (Anthony Michael Hall) and Gary (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) are two geeky high school guys who don't have a clue about talking to women. Left in the care of Wyatt's jerk older brother Chet (Bill Paxton), a freak storm provides the electricity they need to create the perfect woman.
Lisa, portrayed by Kelly LeBrock, has magical powers and a knack for getting the boys for trouble. She's not an entirely bad influence however, since she teaches them to relax and to have confidence in themselves. At the end of the day, she teaches the boys how to be young men, and how to start enjoying their adolescence more.
John Hughes wrote and directed this combination teen comedy, science fiction, romance, and fantasy film all rolled into one. Hughes's ability to capture the teenage awkwardness and struggles is impeccable, as well as his talent for keeping his movies upbeat, while the characters reach important self-discovery.
What can be said about this movie other than it's just a good old fashioned, fun? A group of young up-and-coming child actors combine forces to form a group known as the Goonies. Present are a young Sean Astin, Josh Brolin, Corey Feldman, and Jonathan Ke Quan best known for his role of Short Round in "Indiana Jones in the Temple of Doom."
The Goonies find a treasure map to "One Eyed" Willy the pirate's treasure and they set off on an adventure to retrieve it. They hope to use the money to save their neighborhood from demolition for the construction of a golf course. A family of criminals, known as the Fratellis, also after the "One Eyed" Willy's booty, gives the Goonies some competition for the loot.
Action movie director Richard Donner is at the helm for this children's adventure film which is a distinct advantage. Donner has the added help of Steven Spielberg for the story and Chris Columbus for the screenplay. Combining the efforts of Spielberg and Columbus, two men who know how to tell captivating stories that engross children is just pure gold, treasure pun definitely intended.
The Breakfast Club
John Hughes's second entry on the list is probably his most well known film. You can't even hear the name "The Breakfast Club" without thinking of the 1980s or the "brat pack," who comprise the cast of this movie.
For anyone who hasn't had the opportunity to view the classic, the movie is about a group of high schoolers thrust together for a Saturday detention in the school library. From all walks of life, none of these students traditionally get along or socialize in the same circles. It's their experience together in this library detention that forms a unique bond between them however.
Through conversation, they open themselves up profoundly to one another, bearing their hearts and souls about their person trials and tribulations. The teens learn important lessons about the meaning and value of friendship as they come to understand each other better.
Hughes became a voice for the youth of a generation with "The Breakfast Club," because it spoke to issues young people faced on a daily basis. The truths that Hughes reveals in "The Breakfast Club" don't just apply to teens of the 80s though; his are universal ones that teenagers today can learn from and identify with just as easily, which is part of the reason why this movie is so special.
Back to the Future
What would it be like if you traveled back in time and got to know your parents when they were in high school? That's a question Marty McFly knows the answer to all too well. Marty accidentally travels back in time from 1985, to 1955 in a time machine created by his inventor friend Doc Emmet Brown.
After Marty accidentally disrupts the moment his parents first meet each other, it's up to him to get his parents together, prevent the bully Biff from terrorizing his father, and to somehow get back to his own time before he messes up the past any further.
"Back to the Future" is an incredibly entertaining movie because of its phenomenal special effects and presentation of time travel itself, as such an accessible idea. As a director Robert Zemeckis shines with the support of Steven Spielberg producing. Another major part of the appeal for the story though is Michael J. Fox in the role of Marty. As Marty, Fox is the guy every kid hopes he grows up to be: he plays guitar, he skateboards, and he doesn't let bullies push him around. Marty McFly always came a close second in my book to Indiana Jones in terms of characters that I idolized growing up.
Story by Starpulse contributing writer Evan Crean, a movie trivia guru and trailer addict with a practically photographic memory of actors and directors. Get a first look at the movies premiering each week, which ones will be worth your $10, which ones you should wait to rent and which ones aren't worth your time.
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