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The 20 Most Likable Movie Characters Of The 1980s

10 December 2013 | Features, Film Lists | by David Zou

likable movie performances

Anyone who’s familiar with 80s knows it’s the golden age of teen comedy, those likable movie characters could always put a smile on your face. Sci-fi and action movie leads in the 1980s were not like those in today’s movies, they always finished the job beautifully and won you over with their likable personalities. Heroes/Heroines then were those humans you could always feel and relate and love, one reason was that the characterization was well-written, the other was those likable guys/girls were played by good actors/actresses at the most “likable” period in their careers, they became the characters. Let’s take a look back at some of the most memorable and lovable movie roles from the 1980s movies.


20. Risky Business (1983)


The Nice Guy: Tom Cruise as Joel Goodson

The Charm: It’s debatable how much The Cruiser’s charm would later descend into smarm, but here all it takes is one flash of that toothy smile, and another of his undies, to sell him as a kid who’s having the time of his life.

If the story of a student turned pimp is a satire of Reaganomics, Cruise’s startling charisma inadvertently makes it a wish fulfillment fantasy for the go-getter Eighties.

Most Likable Scene: Fielding a Ivy League interviewer in one room, while the rest of his house has been turned into an inpromptu brothel.

It’s funny ’cause it’s true.


19. Bill And Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989)


The Nice Guy: Alex Winter as William “Bill” S. Preston Esq. and Keanu Reeves as Ted “Theodore” Logan

The Charm: Most influential statesmen are dour workaholics – but not the Two Great Ones. For Bill and Ted, not being excellent is most heinous, which is why Wyld Stallyns must be allowed to party on, dude!

Best of all, these guys educate as well as entertain. Bet’cha never knew that Napoleon was crap at bowling before.

Most Likable Scene: Bonding with So-crates through the universal language of philosophy: “All we are is dust in the wind, dude.”


18. Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)


The Nice Guy: John Candy as Del Griffith

The Charm: John Candy’s cuddly image made him instantly likable amidst the cold-hearted yuppies of the decade; as avuncular slob Del Griffith, this conflict becomes explicit as he’s mismatched with highly strung Neal Page (Steve Martin).

Unpretentious, over-enthusiastic and accident prone, Del is Page’s worst nightmare. For us, though, Candy is a constantly comforting presence.

Most Likable Moment: When Neal lets off steam with a rant about Del’s endless anecdotes, the big fella responds with heart-on-sleeve sincerity…

“I could be a cold-hearted cynic like you… but I don’t like to hurt people’s feelings. Well, you think what you want about me; I’m not changing. I like… I like me. My wife likes me. My customers like me. ‘Cause I’m the real article. What you see is what you get.”


17. Drugstore Cowboy (1989)


The Nice Guy: Matt Dillon as Bob Hughes

The Charm: In The Outsiders and Rumble Fish, Dillon had the looks and the charisma to become his generation’s James Dean, but looked to have squandered his rep until Gus Van Sant gave him an unlikely comeback.

As pharmacy-robbing addict Hughes, Dillon isn’t exactly heroic – but he brings such wasted grandeur to the role that the combo of amiable slacker comedy and tender vulnerability becomes strangely endearing.

Most Likable Scene: Bob lays down the drug fiend’s rules for avoiding bad luck: “If I ever see a hat on a bed in this house, man, like you’ll never see me again. I’m gone.”

“Why a hat?” asked bewildered junior addict Nadine (Heather Graham). “Because that’s just the way it is, sweetie.”


16. The Goonies (1985)


The Nice Guy: Jeff Cohen as Lawrence “Chunk” Cohen

The Charm: Although The Goonies is an ensemble piece, nobody seems to have told Cohen, who steals the show with the fat-wobbling Truffle Shuffle and his wide-eyed gullibility.

Uniquely among the gang, Chunke even gets his own subplot, forging a sweet friendship with fellow lost soul Sloth (John Matuszak).

Most Likable Scene: Captured by the vicious Fratelli family, Chunk is ordered to “Tell us everything!” So he does.

The highlight is his fake puke anecdote: “all the people started getting sick and throwing up all over each other. I never felt so bad in my entire life.”

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