There was no decade like the 1980s. Movies, Music and Television were just entertaining. Nothing was too extreme and everything was in-between the lines. Twitter wasn’t there to raid movies. Rotten Tomatoes didn’t have an endless list of random opinions.
It was a much simpler time. Even though some things from the 80s can be pinpointed as inappropriate now, back then we just enjoyed it all. Here is a list of ten entertaining movies from those oh-so-special block of ten years.
1. Innerspace (1987)
Joe Dante is one of the most unique directors of the 80s when it comes to Horror and Sci-Fi (Gremlins, Explorers). In his most unique film, he tells the story of a bad boy scientist (Dennis Quaid) whose to be shrunk down and injected into a rabbit. Instead, the lab gets hijacked and he’s injected into — Martin Short, a clumsy supermarket clerk in one of his earliest film roles. Quaid can be nothing but a hype man to Short who’s forced to shed his cowardice and gain bravery in the most dangerous situations as someone wants to steal the shrinking technology for themselves. Together they’re one hell of a team.
What ensues is action, comedy and the most unusual buddy film in cinema history. Also in an early film role, Meg Ryan plays Quaid’s former beau who Short goes to for help. Dante makes it all come together beautifully. No film has come along since that’s anything like it because it can’t be duplicated. And it surely can’t be topped.
2. Moonstruck (1987)
Life is truly funny sometimes. What we expect to happen doesn’t always work out. In Moonstruck, Cher’s plays a middle-aged woman whose humdrum life revolves around her family. When her fiancée asks her to invite his estranged brother (Nicolas Cage) to their wedding, her life gets turned upside down. She meets her fiancé’s brother, an off the wall angry and defeated man who bakes bread in a basement. Cher soon learns the meaning of true love.
With Cher and Nicolas Cage, you’d expect something quirky or abnormal. What you get is a masterpiece by the legendary Norman Jewison who directed such classics as …And Justice For All and In The Heat Of The Night. This film about fulfilling marriages, with Cher about to enter an unloving one, sets us up for what should be disaster. But it shows that happiness can be found in the strangest places.
3. Roxanne (1987)
Many people may not know that this film was adapted from the 1897 play, Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand. Steve Martin would pitch his version to studios and some of them didn’t even know what Cyrano was. At a time when Steve Martin could do anything, he chose a character to do just that. He shines bright with his charm that wins over the beautiful Roxanne (Daryl Hannah). His cachet befriends the not-too-bright fireman (Rick Rossovich). Martin stars as well as penned the screenplay. He is absolutely brilliant as “C.D.” Bales, his name attributed to Cyrano’s. He plays the fire chief in a little town which seems he also rules over because of his poise.
In a long career of funny characters, this one stands out for Martin because it’s his most likeable. Everybody loves him. He’s friendly, funny and a guy you can have a beer with. He just may need a straw. You cannot forget his prosthetic nose because everyone always mentions it. Usually by slip of the tongue. But there are times when Martin draws you in so much, you envy him. You want to be him. He can climb houses, tell off a bully at a bar, and save the town from a big fire. Because of his special facial appendage. In a way, he’s a modern-day superhero.
4. Scrooged (1988)
One of the best film adaptations of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” is this updated version in the world of Television Programming starring Bill Murray as a TV Executive in his most underrated performance. Here Murray does what he does best – being the snob until he sees the error of his ways. With the usual moments of hilarity to be expected in any Murray film, more pathos than usual can be found. This is due in large part to Richard Donner, one of the great Hollywood Directors of the 80’s. From The Goonies to the Lethal Weapon franchise, the balance of comedy, action and heart always made his work entertaining.
Be on the lookout for hilarious scenes with David Johansen and Carol Kane as two of the ghosts who confront Murray. Any moment with the charming Karen Allen is to be treasured along with an early performance from the great Alfre Woodard. Also look for cameos from Murray’s three brothers through the film. It’s easy to forget this incredibly entertaining film is meant to be a cautionary tale about those of us who give up on life and how we can easily turn things around for the better.
5. Always (1989)
What happens when we die? Many films have made a guess, but the most intriguing is in Steven Spielberg’s most underrated film, Always. A remake of the 1943 drama, A Guy Named Joe, this version has that mystical tone that only Spielberg can attain. Love and friendship are the stars that fill this cinematic sky, but the true theme is letting go. A familiar theme utilized by him seven years earlier in the classic. E.T., The Extra Terrestrial.
The 1959 Doo-wop song from The Platters, “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes” catches the love of the two main characters in a way that pleases the cinematic palette. Always was part of a trilogy of adult-themed films for Spielberg which included The Color Purple and Empire Of The Sun. Up to this point, Spielberg had been known to make movies for young people but at this time, he was proving himself as a great director of all kinds of films.