Six movies from the 80's that didn't age well

Thursday, May 19, 2011
You could make this list for any decade, but the eighties featured so many movies that were hugely popular that were so clearly 'of their time'. I have not included any John Hughes films in this list only because of their nostalgic quality. There are other movies I am sure could be on this list, but I think this six represent the eighties in all it's yuppy, baby boomer angst, Grandpa Reagan loving goodness.

6. The Big Chill
The Big Chill features what would become a who's who of movie stars, including Kevin Costner's wrists. Good performances, check. Good music, check. Interesting story? Umm, not so much.

What The Big Chill really is a bunch of self absorbed thirty something baby boomers talking about how hard life has become. While sitting in a giant gothic southern house. All of which have had varying degrees of success. With college degrees that didn't cost an arm and a leg. You just know that some of these atypical yuppies became atypical pro republican, anti estate tax tea partiers in the new century. Because 9/11 changed everything.

5. Beverly Hills Cop
There is really nothing wrong with Beverly Hills Cop. It's a good movie, save for some of the jokes that are specifically from the eighties. Eddie laughing at two guys in leather outfits, shockingly similar to the one he wore in Raw leaps to mind.

No, I blame the Beverly Hills Cop series for letting Eddie figure out that all he needs to do is show up and flash a smirk and get paid millions of dollars.

4. Rocky IV
In which Rocky Balboa, along with Ronald Reagan (we assume) defeats the Soviet Empire by fighting Dolph Lundgren. Hindsight gets this one on the list. The idea of the American underdog defeating the big bad evil empire seems pretty ridiculous. The Soviets were starving and six years later they would be gone.

This is prime 1980's propaganda, from the training montage showing Rocky training in Siberia (and outsmarting the KGB at every turn) and Ivan Drago training in some high tech gym, cheating by getting steroid injections. Which is hilarious, considering Sly would be arrested years later for being in possession of HGH.

3. Staying Alive
Did the pitch go something like this? “I know, let's make a sequel to Saturday Night Fever. Tony is now living in Manhattan trying make a living as a professional dancer on Broadway. And let's get Sly Stallone to write and direct.” How many drug mules did it take for this to sound like a good idea? Clearly, Nancy Reagan's 'Just Say No' anti-drug campaign had not reached Hollywood when this this idea was pitched.

What we end up with is a film where every dancer looks like a refugee from Olivia Newton John's 'Physical' video and John Travolta pumped like a pro wrestler. The recipient of the three Golden Raspberry awards. In spite of that distinction this film was the number six grossing film of 1983.

2. Star Trek IV – The Voyage Home
Sure, this is one of the most beloved of the TOS movies, but boy does it look dated. I will admit, I have always had a problem with some of the bits in the movie. The thing that bothers me the most though is the 'punk' dude that Spock nerve pinches on the bus. That dude looks nothing like the punks of the day... or any day. He is strictly a Hollywood stereotype of a punk. The song playing on his boom box is equally preposterous:
Just where is our future, the things we've done and said!
Let's just push the button, we'd be better off dead!
'Cause I hate you!
And I berate you!
And I can't wait to get to you!
It's not just punk that bugs me. The whole sequence downtown San Francisco looks ridiculous now, whether it is the clothes or the corny cold war nuclear wessal jokes.

1. Cocktail
From the pink neon on the poster, with the goofy tag line “When he pours, he reigns”, this movie represents the excess that was the eighties. Set in a very fictional world where bartenders are the equivalent of rock superstars, Cocktail has every trope from eighties films in the bag.

From a montage where Cruise's character goes from crappy TGI Fridays bartender to bartending god. Somehow they end up in the Caribbean, where they meet girls, have sex and Cruise falls in love. He loses the girl because of his immaturity, he goes back to New York, learns to grow up and get's the girl back.

I know, this pretty much sums up almost every Tom Cruise film in the 80's and 90's. Cocktail is particularly bad, winning the Golden Raspberry awards for Worst Picture and Worst Screenplay. Cruise was even nominated for worst actor. This movie also features the bastardized 'Beach Boys Lite' song Kokomo which makes me weep for Brian Wilson everytime I hear it.


  1. I hated seeing some of these on your list! Voyage Home? It's our soft and touchy feely save the planet Star Trek...And I still love the Big Chill. I know...they really were whiny about their success, former- wanna be hippies but you do have a glimmer of hope at the end that they left their spouses, dropped their corporate sponsors, gave their money to charity and voted for Obama.

  2. Leroy Lynch9:46 PM

    I liked your list, probably a whole lot more 80s films that could have been added.

    Wanted to make a passing comment on "The thing that bothers me the most though is the 'punk' dude that Spock nerve pinches on the bus. That dude looks nothing like the punks of the day... or any day. He is strictly a Hollywood stereotype of a punk."

    If you want to read more on this, check out the exhaustive list of Punk related films in the book "Destroy All Movies". Book may now just be out of print, but is well work tracking down. Has many examples like that one, and well the films from the 70s, 80s & 90s that got it right.


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