Category Archives: Return to the ’80s Movies

Return to the ’80s Movies: Mr. Mom


Starring
Michael Keaton
Teri Garr
Martin Mull
Ann Jillian

Rated PG

Runtime 91 minutes

Released August 19, 1983

Synopsis: After he’s laid off, a husband switches roles with his wife. She returns to the workforce and he becomes a stay-at-home dad – a job he has no clue how to do.imdb

Last time I had seen this? Probably not since the mid-80s. I remember our family renting it. And I feel like I’ve seen it a few times on cable.

What I knew about this movie before watching it I definitely remember the premise, and some of the sight gags, such as Michael Keaton fighting with the vacuum cleaner, and him holding the baby over the hand dryer.

Review/Summary: Mr. Mom takes place in a suburb of Detroit, Michigan. Michael Keaton plays Jack Butler, an engineer at the Ford Motor Company. At the beginning of the film, Jack and his two friends, Larry and Stan, lose their jobs. Jack’s wife, Caroline (Teri Garr), lands a job at an ad agency. This leaves Jack at home to take care of their three kids. Hilarity ensues.  The first day, Jack has to go…food shopping!!! Everybody knows that men don’t know their way around supermarkets. Despite my sarcasm, the slapstick humor wasn’t too bad. The next day, craziness ensued around the house. Between a TV repairlady showing up, as well as an exterminator and a water heater repairman showing up around the same time, Jack struggles with an out of control washer machine, a kitchen emergency, and doing battle with a crazy, out of control vacuum cleaner named Jaws, there was total chaos.

In the meantime, Caroline is getting adjusted to life in the workforce. It’s not easy for her, as she has a sleazy boss, Ron (Martin Mull) that has the hots for her. Martin Mull gave a great Dabney Colemanesque performance.

Jack falls into a rut, dresses more and more sloppily, and starts socializing with the housewives in his neighborhood – including Ann Jillian’s Joan, who has the hots for Jack, and is constantly trying to seduce him.

One day, after Caroline comes home from work to find Jack and the neighborhood wives having a poker night, they had a fight. This part is a precursor to Beetlejuice. Specifically, where Jack says, “My brain is like oatmeal. I yelled at Kenny today for coloring outside the lines! Megan and I are starting to watch the same TV shows, and I’m liking them! I’m losing it.”

And here is the scene I am thinking of in Beetlejuice:

Then Jack finally gets his shit together during…what else..an awesome ’80s montage!!! This one is to the Rocky theme. The end of the montage is one of my favorite parts of the movie. I totally got fooled, and laughed out loud. You’ll have to watch the movie to see what I’m talking about.

At work, Caroline successfully pitched and advertising campaign to a hard-to-please client. The president of that company then wants her to fly to Los Angeles to help shoot a commercial. That does not go over too well with Jack.

Meanwhile, the car company that fired Jack is struggling. So they try to lure Jack back. But, he calls his old boss out on their dirty practices, and storms out.

The climax of the film comes when Ron tries to seduce Caroline in her hotel room, then Joan tries to seduce Jack at his house. Without getting into details, since this is an ’80s comedy movie, I don’t think it would be too spoilery to say that the movie has a good ending.

Does the movie stand the test of time? It does if you think the woman’s place belongs in the kitchen, and the man should be the sole breadwinner. Then this craziness would make sense. Otherwise, the theme is outdated to say the least. At least we can be confident that Hollywood would not try to remake this film. On the other hand, the humor is very good, and the cast is outstanding – especially Michael Keaton. If there’s anything timeless about this movie – it’s him.

Worth the Return? Yes!!! Even though it’s a little outdated, this was a very fun movie, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. I have already watched this a few times since I started this article, and am watching it right now as I write this.

Rating 3 Jaws and a Woobie (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)

mr_mom_02 mr_mom_02 mr_mom_02

Return to the ’80s Movies: Modern Problems (1981)

Starring
Chevy Chase
Patti D’Arbanville
Mary Kay Place
Brian Doyle-Murray
Nell Carter
Dabney Coleman

Rated PG

Runtime 89 minutes

Released December 25, 1981

Synopsis: Jealous, harried air traffic controller Max Fiedler, recently dumped by his girlfriend, comes into contact with nuclear waste and is granted the power of telekinesis, which he uses not only to win her back, but to gain a little revenge.imdb

Last time I had seen this? Never.

What I knew about this movie before watching it Almost nothing. I just remember the image of Chevy Chase with the white powder on his face and his hair sticking up all over the place.

Review/Summary: From the beginning of this Return to the ’80s Movies series, every movie I had watched was great – until now. Just after Caddyshack, and before National Lampoon’s Vacation, Chevy Chase starred in this movie as Max Fielder – a man whose life is slowly going down the drain. He is a nice guy, but his jealousy has driven his girlfriend, Darcy (Patti D’Arbanville), away. He still gets along with his ex-wife, Lorraine (Mary Kay Place).

Who wears short shorts? Chevy wears short shorts!

While out and about, with Max telling Lorraine about his problems, they run into Brian (Brian Doyle-Murray), an old friend of Max’s who hadn’t seen each other since high school. Brian became a paraplegic in the Vietnam War. Brian also had his caretaker, Dorita (Nell Carter) with him. While catching up, Brian runs a publishing company, and he is going to be having a press party for a very successful author named Mark Winslow, who writes self confidence books. Lorraine got excited because she loved his book, Get Behind Me and Stay There. So they accept the invitation to the party.

The party ends up being at a gay bar. Ha Ha!! Isn’t that freakin’ hilarious!?!? (if I knew how to do an eyeroll emoticon, I would have put one here). While Max heads to the bathroom (so he could go through the gauntlet of men HAHAHAHA!!!! oh brother), Lorraine and Brian hit it off. Max ends up running into Darcy, and an annoying suitor named Barry (Mitch Kreindel). Awkward!! Finally, Max and Lorraine meet Mark Winslow, played by the phenomenal Dabney Coleman. Max tells them how he just ran into Darcy and Barry. And we see Dabney Coleman at the top of his game, being a arrogant jerk. As Max is in the middle of excusing himself so he could talk to Lorraine alone, Mark dismisses him and walks away before Max could finish getting his sentence out. I was watching this by myself, and that part just made me bust out laughing out loud.

Max leaves as Lorraine stays to be with Brian. On the way home, Max gets stuck driving behind a nuclear waste truck. There is an open barrel with green nuclear waste goop pouring out of it and splashing Max’s car. It covers the car, and goes through the sunroof, also covering Max.

When Max wakes up the next day, he realizes that he has telekinetic powers. The rest of the movie is Max displaying his powers, and getting revenge on his rivals. There were some humorous parts, and Chevy Chase made awesome faces while using his powers. But overall, it was pretty predictable, so there was nothing too exciting.

The climax of the movie takes place at Brian’s summer beach house with Max, Darcy (who got rid of Barry), Brian, Lorainne, Dorita, and Mark. Dorita, who is really into voodoo, senses something wrong with Max. Max had been trying to tell Darcy about what was going on, but something had always happened which prevented him from doing it. Finally, at the big dinner scene, Mark antagonizes Max so much that he snaps, and shows off his powers to everybody all at once, using Mark as his example. Max then sees himself as a monster, and goes to his room.

Thinking that he is possessed, Dorita tries to do some kind of voodoo exorcism on him by spreading demon powder around his bed and doing some chants. This had no effect as Chevy Chase went all Original Saturday Night Live Cast, and snorted up all of the demon powder, and tossed Dorita around. Then we went go from The Exorcist to King Kong, as Max then heads up to the roof. Darcy followed him up to try to help. This was a dark comedy, but not that dark. Max did not have that tragic King Kong ending.

Does the movie stand the test of time? Sort of. I can’t see a truck with “Nuclear Waste” literally labelled on a truck, with green goop pouring out of it. And if that did happen, I can’t see it giving somebody telekinetic powers if it landed on them. If this movie was made today, there would be some other explanation of how the person got their ability. And I think the gay bar scene would cause all kind of outrage and protests these days.
The special effects weren’t too bad – especially for 1981. The green glow that was shown around Max in a couple of scenes didn’t look that great. But, the telekinesis scenes looked pretty good – even by today’s standards.

Worth the Return? If you can watch it for free, it is worth it. It wouldn’t be a total waste of time – especially with Dabney Coleman in it. If you want to see a good Chevy Chase movie, there are better ones to watch. But, you could do worse.

Rating 3 lines of Demon Powder (If not for Dabney Coleman, it would have been 2)

Let me know if you have seen this movie before and what were your thoughts?

Return to the ’80s Movies: Cloak & Dagger (1984)

Starring
Henry Thomas
Dabney Coleman
Christina Nigra
Michael Murphy

Directed by Richard Franklin

Rated PG

Runtime 1 hours 41 minutes

Released July 13, 1984 (with The Last Starfighter)
August 10, 1984 (by itself)

Synopsis: A young boy, with a penchant for spy thrillers and video games, finds himself in the middle of real espionage when he’s relentlessly pursued by spies after he comes into possession of a video game cartridge containing top-secret government info.imdb

Last time I had seen this? Probably around 1985. I either saw it on HBO or rented it whenever it became available. I had not seen this since then.

What I knew about this movie before watching it (again): I remember that I did love this movie when I was younger. I remember it being better than I expected. There was a lot of action, which I enjoyed.

Review: Cloak & Dagger was just as good as I remembered. Only this time, I have seen it from the adult perspective instead of a child’s/teenager’s. The movie stars Henry Thomas, who we all know as Elliot from E.T. the Extra Terrestrial. This time he plays Davey Osborne, a kid with a very active imagination. It also stars Dabney Coleman in a dual role – Davey’s father Hal, as well as Jack Flack, the man who always escapes. Usually when you hear that an actor or actress is playing against type, that means that they usually play a hero, but they play a villain in a particular movie. In this film, Dabney Coleman is playing against type. But this time, instead of playing a jerk, he is the hero. And he pulls it off beautifully.

Davey is an only child whose mother had just recently died. His father is a military air traffic controller, who does not spend much time with his child. So, this leads Davey to have an active imagination, as he immerses himself into fantasy world of Cloak & Dagger, a role playing game, as well as a video game. Davey always takes the role of Jack Flack, who also becomes Davey’s imaginary friend that just happens to resemble Davey’s father. Davey longs for adventure, and wants to be like his hero, Jack Flack.

One day Davey’s friend Morris (William Forsythe), who owns a video game shop, sends Davey and Davey’s friend Kim (Christina Nigra) on an errand.

Davey played it like a reconnaissance mission. So, when they got in the building, Davey and Kim went their separate ways. Davey is in a stairwell, and witnessed somebody being shot. Just before the victim died, he gave Davey a Cloak & Dagger video-game cartridge. Oh, let me correct myself. He handed Davey an Atari Cloak & Dagger video-game cartridge. Geez, first Henry Thomas was shilling Reeses Pieces in E.T. Now he is shilling for Atari! Product placement was alive and well – even back then. Anyway, the victim tells Davey that the cartridge contains important military secrets, that he must get it to the FBI. When Davey gets help and brings people to the crime scene, there are no assailants, and no dead body. Was Davey just using his imagination, or was this really happening?

I have to admit, I was kind of thinking the adults were right, and that this was all in Davey’s head. Even throughout the movie, I was thinking that the movie would end by showing that this whole thing was made up by Davey. However, I’m pretty sure that when I was younger, and first watched this, I just knew it was real. Man, I really need to get my own imagination back!

Throughout the rest of the movie, Davey is on the run from the people who are after that game/computer chip. With the help of Jack Flack (who only Davey can see), he constantly evades his pursuers. The action sequences are very good. , who were led by Michael Murphy. There is a pretty cool cat-and-mouse sequence on tour boats. And there was another close call at The Alamo. Finally, Davey has had enough, and does not want to play anymore. But, nobody told the big baddies. The finale is pretty action packed and intense.

Does the movie stand the test of time? The story itself still stands the test of time. However, as much as most of us hate to admit, video games have advanced just a bit since Atari’s heyday. I loved the action sequences. No CGI needed here! However, there was a special effect in the end that just looked horrible. It involved a way too obvious green screen. This also takes place at the height of The Cold War in the ’80s. Although it feels like a Cold War is returning, we are not totally immersed in the espionage world yet. Unfortunately, I would not be surprised if somebody does a remake of this movie. Especially in this unoriginal day and age when remakes of our treasured movies are running rampant.

Worth the Return? I think it is definitely worth a Return viewing! The story and action scenes are still outstanding, and it is fun to see an Atari game again.

Rating 4 Cloak & Dagger game cartridges

 

Please let me know if you’ve seen this movie and what you think of it. And did you have Atari or another type of game system? And did you have a favorite game? I would have liked to have Atari, but I had Intellivision. I did love my Intellivision. Some of my favorites were Astrosmash, Shark, Shark and Lock ‘n’ Chase (Intellivisaion’s version of Pacman).

Return to the ’80s Movies: Ordinary People (1980)

Starring

Donald Sutherland
Mary Tyler Moore
Judd Hirsch
Timothy Hutton

Directed by  Robert Redford

Rated R

Runtime           2 hours 4 minutes

Released           September 19, 1980

 

 

 

 

Synopsis: The accidental death of the older son of an affluent family deeply strains the relationships among the bitter mother, the good-natured father, and the guilt-ridden younger son.imdb

Last time I had seen this? Never. When this came out, I was 10 years old, and not exactly the target audience. I never saw this on cable TV. If my parents rented this, I probably would not have been allowed to watch it.

What I knew about this movie before watching it: I knew this was critically acclaimed, and that Timothy Hutton won an Academy Award for his role in this movie, which was also his first movie.

Review: 

Despite the fact that this won so many Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Writing, and as mentioned, Best Supporting Actor, this was a great movie! Normally, Academy darlings are long, boring movies to me. But, this was definitely an exception.

The story is about a family being torn apart after the accidental death of one teenage son, and the subsequent suicide attempt by the other. We watch how each member deals with the events that had occurred. Each relationship is interesting to watch – father/son, mother/son, husband/wife. There are some heartbreaking scenes in this movie, and you cannot take your eyes off of it. This was a very raw, emotional, and great movie. And anybody who comes from a dysfunctional family, at least on some level (and who doesn’t?), then there are definitely some relate-able attributes in this film.

Of course the writing outstanding. But, in my opinion, it was the acting that had the biggest impact on this movie. There were no weak links in this cast.

Most of the serious roles I see Donald Sutherland in, he is creepy. In this movie he plays a father and husband, Calvin, who is trying his best to hold the family together.

Do you remember Mary Tyler Moore as Laura Petrie on The Dick Van Dyke Show, or Mary Richards on The Mary Tyler Moore Show? Well, you’ll forget about all that after seeing her play Beth in this movie. As she and her family are falling apart, all she seems to worry about is keeping up appearances. Nothing wrong here! If this was a true story happening today, Beth would be one of those annoying people on Facebook bragging about how great her life is, even though you know she’s full of crap. As she is trying to keep up appearances, she is just making things worse.

Timothy Hutton won all kinds of accolades for his performance as Conrad. And he deserved every award he got. What is even more amazing is that this was Hutton’s first feature film. Personally, I don’t understand how he was nominated (and victorious) in the Best Supporting Actor categories at the Golden Globes and Academy Awards. The movie seemed to center around his character, so I would have thought he should have been in the Lead Actor categories. He would have won those too. Ah, Hollyweird politics! Anyway, it was very interesting to watch Conrad change throughout the film. You can see and feel him struggle with his emotions. He goes from trying to control his emotions to trying to deal with them. There is an incredible scene where he has a major emotional breakdown, which was his Oscar moment. The event that led to the breakdown, and the breakdown/breakthrough itself got me choked up.

And last, but not least, we have Judd Hirsch. At the time this movie came out, Hirsch was very popular starring in the sitcom, Taxi. His role as Conrad’s psychiatrist, Dr. Berger, seems to have been the inspiration for Robin Williams’ role as Dr. Sean Maguire in Good Will Hunting. Dr. Berger is caring but tough, and doesn’t take any crap from Conrad. If Timothy Hutton was nominated for the lead role (as he should have been), then Judd Hirsch would have won the Best Supporting awards.

Does the movie stand the test of time? Absolutely 100% yes! If anything, it seems like it would be perfect for this angsty day and age.

Worth the Return? Yes, I would highly recommend it. If you had not seen this movie in a while, definitely go and revisit it.

Rating
Five Mental Breakdowns

    

 

Please let me know if you’ve seen this movie and what you think of it.

Return to the ’80s Movies: The NeverEnding Story (1984)

As we begin the new year, you will be seeing some new series’ on this blog. I tend to mainly concentrate on music. Well, it’s time to mix things up a bit. I have been posting daily movie quotes recently. Now, I am going to try to do some reviews. To make things interesting, I will review movies that I had either never seen, or haven’t seen in a very long time. Writing reviews is not exactly my strong suit. I may not win a Pulitzer Prize for any of these, but I hope to bring back great memories for you. And I will try not to spoil anything. That sounds sill considering that these move have been around for 26 years at the very least. But, there may be movies that I review that you have not seen, and may want to check out.
Now, let’s Return to the movies. First up is…

The NeverEnding Story


Synopsis: A troubled boy dives into a wonderous fantasy world through the pages of a mysterious book. – imdb

Last time I had seen this? Never. And I don’t know why. I was thinking that I hadn’t seen it because I was too old. But, this movie was released in the U.S. on July 20, 1984. So I was still only 13 at this time of the year, and we still had HBO for a couple of more years. This just got by me somehow.

What I knew about this movie before watching it: There are 2 things I knew about this movie: The awesome theme song by Limahl (lead singer of Kajagoogoo), and the creature that you see the kid flying around on.

Okay, shhh. Put your cell phones on silent for the next 1 hour 34 minutes while I watch this movie. Oh wait, I need to do that, not you.

Review: The movie begins by establishing the fact that one of our main characters, a boy named Bastian (Barret Oliver), whose mother has died, and has a father who is a hardass played by Gerald McRaney of Simon & Simon (and some of you younger folks may remember him more as Major Dad).

Things don’t get any easier for Bastian as we find that he is bullied by a group of kids. Apparently, news of the Scut Farkus Incindent had not these reached these three little hellions, even though A Christmas Story marathon was just on television recently. Anyway, after Bastian escapes the dumpster he was just thrown in, the bullies go for round 2, and chase Bastian again. This time, Bastian ditches them by going into a bookstore.

It is in this bookstore that Bastian meets the grumpy bookstore owner. Grumpy begins to soften up a little as he learns that Bastian loves reading. A big book catches Bastian’s eye. When he asked about the book, the bookstore owner formerly known as Grumpy tells him that the book is “not safe.” After being lectured by a pain-in-the-ass father, being thrown in a dumpster by some bullies, and dealing with a grumpy bookstore owner, Bastian laughs in the face of “not safe!” When the bookstore owner is distracted, Bastian takes the book, and leaves a note saying that he is just borrowing the book, and will return it. He then heads to school, for which he is late. When he looks in the classroom, he sees that they are in the middle of taking a test. F**k that! Bastian heads off to a storage room in the school and begins reading the book called “The Neverending Story.”

Then we are transported to a land called Fantasia.

No, not that Fantasia! This one:

Fantasia is being threatened by a force called “The Nothing,” a void of darkness that consumes everything. The princess of Fantasia has fallen ill due to The Nothing. So, a young warrior named Atreyu (Noah Hathaway) is summoned to defeat The Nothing and cure the princess.
Atreyu heads out on this quest, and meets several creatures and character that help him along the way, such as the sneezy giant turtle Morla.

The iconic Falcor, which looks to be half dragon, half dog

and some gnomes

Atreyu goes through several trials. But, can he defeat The Nothing and rescue the princess before it’s too late? The answer lies beyond the boundaries of Fantasia. If you thought reading a Choose Your Own Adventure book was stressful, imagine what Bastian is going through as he reads this book that brings the term “Interactive” to a whole new level!

My Thoughts: Going into this movie, I thought it was going to be geared towards children. But, this is not the case. Even though there are children as the main leads, this is an outstanding Fantasy film for most ages. I think a couple of scenes may be too intense for very young children.

This was the first English language film directed by Wolfang Peterson (Das Boot, In the Line of Fire, Outbreak, Air Force One, The Perfect Storm). Boy, did he get his career off to a great start! The writing was outstanding. With this being pre-CGI I was kind of expecting the special effects to be cheesy. I was wrong about that. The special effects were great. Even though there were puppets being used for some of the characters, they felt very real. The gnomes, who were tiny, were played by real actors. Visually, it seemed pretty seamless to me when they were interacting with Atreyu. They only parts that seem kind of dated are the scenes with Falcor flying. You can obviously see the greenscreen.
One other issue I have with the film is that the ending wasn’t as strong as I had hoped.

Does the movie stand the test of time? Definitely! The story and lesson is timeless. Other than the flight scenes, the special effects are great. Some movies could learn from this movie, and not depend on CGI so much. The only other thing that could prevent this movie from standing the test of time is that the plot focuses on the fact that Bastian is reading this archaic thing called a book. This was back a long, long time ago when you had to flip over a page made of paper instead of just swiping a screen. It is pretty scary that a 6 month old baby could probably work an iPad better than me.

Worth the Return? Absolutely! If you have never seen this, it is definitely worth checking out. Especially if you enjoy fantasy films.

Rating
Four Flying Falcors

Well, if you made it this far, thanks so much for reading! Would you like to see more of these? How many of you have seen this movie, and did you like it?

Thanks to Forgotten Film’s 1984-a-thon last year, I have found a lot of movie bloggers, which I am now following. If any of you read this, and have reviewed The NeverEndingStory, please leave a link in the comments. I’d like to check them out.