Critics' Corner: All ‘80s, All the Time--at the Movies, Anyway

Critics' Corner: All ‘80s, All the Time--at the Movies, Anyway

Jun 04, 2010

Dave White and Jen Yamato never shut up. Today they are not shutting up about all the ‘80s movies glutting theaters this summer and beyond.

Dave: What year were you born?

Jen: 1981.

Dave: So your ‘80s were—

Jen: About The Smurfs and Jem and the Holograms.

Dave: And mine were about being punk rock at a college in West Texas and hating everything.

Jen: So what’s up with all these ‘80s movies? I thought we’d all moved on to ‘90s nostalgia by now.

Dave: I know. When you showed up for that movie the other night dressed in backwards jeans like those kids from Kris Kross I knew the tide had turned.

Jen: But Hollywood moves more slowly I suppose. Nostalgia washes up into the world in waves that move predictably with time. We’re hip-deep in the ‘80s now and in a few years the studios will catch up to the ‘90s and there will be a Fresh Prince of Bel Air movie. So anyway, Let’s discuss The A-Team.

Dave: Did you hear about that Rampage guy who plays B.A. Baracus?


Jen: No, what?

Dave: He’s going around saying “acting is gay” and bashing Vancouver and pretty much telling everyone not to look at him funny.

Jen: Um, excuse me, QUINTON?

Dave: Exactly. Actors being morons in public is always entertaining.

Jen: However, someone needs to say it: I pity the fool.

Dave: I just keep thinking of when Bill Murray says, in Stripes, “Lighten up, Francis.” In any case, he hasn’t soured me on wanting to see it.

Jen: Yeah, I assume it may give us just the right version of ‘80s stuff: big action, brawny heroes, that essential ‘80s swagger.

Dave: True. You’re right about that element of swagger. The ‘80s were a golden age of good dumb movies. But The Karate Kid remake fills me with dread. I smell bad dumb coming off that one. When I think of Jackie Chan’s ‘80s movies and how amazing they were, the thought of this film sends chills down my spine.


Jen: Tell me about it. I love the original Karate Kid (Karate Kid II is my fave), so I look upon the new Karate Kid with skepticism. It so misses the point. And at least Daniel-San was old enough to be interested in Elisabeth Shue; Jaden Smith is TWELVE. Also, if you watch the trailer, you see that they’ve “paid homage” to the original by swiping all of the awesome memorable scenes and making them seem super lame: “Wax on, wax off” is now “put on your jacket, take off your jacket.” UGH. And we haven’t even touched on the biggest issue – He’s not even learning KARATE!

Dave: I like that you get so torqued up. All I do when I see a poster or ad for Karate Kid is mentally go on a vacation to my favorite ‘80s movies, Sleepaway Camp and The Garbage Pail Kids Movie.

Jen: I like Earth Girls Are Easy.

Dave: Exactly. You know what I’m talking about. Just One of The Guys is another personal favorite of mine.

Jen: For me, the ‘80s had a special something that you really can’t re-create today.

Dave: Well, culturally speaking, what was happening while you were in your single digits was that all the horny excess of the 1970s was mutating. On one hand you had people who were trying to beat it all back into a more conservative shape, Ronald Reagan sort of dominating the mood and a lot of folks acting like he was some kind of godlike figure, but then on the other hand you had all these people doing tons of cocaine and acting like fools. Which brings me to Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps. Can’t wait to see that one. I don’t like most Oliver Stone movies but he’s a relentless agenda-fueled preacher so that’ll be interesting to watch.

Jen: Your ‘80s sound scary.

Dave: They were.

Jen: I’m more down for Predator-style scariness. Robert Rodriguez seems to be bringing that back. I want some “watch this guy get his face ripped off” scary fun.


Dave: Honestly, that would be great because the character of Predator has suffered in the Predator vs. Alien(s) movies and it’s morally wrong to disrespect monsters that way. All I think about these days when I see that poor sequel-abused creature is how Jason Castro, the dreadlocked guy from American Idol, is like what would happen if Predator had a human teenage daughter. That’s not a slam either; it’s a cool look.

Jen: I’m counting on this reboot to bring that mojo back. I’m anticipating bad-assery. And Adrien Brody! Oscar-winner Adrien Brody!

Dave: Actors like to work. And guy actors like to work with guns and yelling. Which is why you know that The Expendables took about five minutes on a conference call to set up. Everyone said, “I’M IN! I CAN LEAVE FOR THE SHOOT AFTER LUNCH! AND MY NAP!”

Jen: I think we’ve missed that gleeful violence done big that was the hallmark of Stallone and his pals in their heyday.

Dave: But I do wonder how they’ll approximate the reactionary, militaristic feeling of the actual ‘80s, that whole “Let’s go back to Vietnam and WIN!” tone that all those movies had either explicitly or implicitly.

Jen: Do we think of Knight & Day as being a part of this ‘80s lovefest? It’s got Tom Cruise after all.

Dave: In a way, yes. He’s a symbol of the ‘80s and I don’t think anyone’s enjoyed him lately in the same way that they did back then, before his brand was superceded by his personal life. Back then audiences could project all their own stuff onto him and it worked out much better.

Jen: For everyone.

Dave: Yes, so fingers crossed for Tom Cruise, you guys. He needs us more than ever. Toddlers go through Chanel huggies really fast. Those bills add up.

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