Xanadu is a pure, sweet romantic musical fantasy down to the kissing animated fish. Wait…what? You know, like the man dressed like a spider crawling under women’s legs. Huh? Xanadu is a fever dream: crazy imagery and chaos that seems awesome but when you wake up, you realize none of it made sense. But, just Olivia Newton-John sings, it’s hard to deny that Xanadu is, indeed, “magic.”
’80s Movies: A Guide to What’s Wrong with Your Parents podcasters Riley Roberts (pictured above) and Tara McNamara give their take on the roller disco musical fantasy that will leave you both humming and scratching your head. They cover the What the Heck elements, what makes it hold up, and how – even in a squeaky clean PG film, it delivered another chip in the Gen X psyche.
Give the podcast a listen and then check out our Xanadu guide page for the full explanation of what went right and went went wrong.
The founder of ’80s Movie Guide, Tara McNamara, will interview actress-director Lea Thompson for “Iconic ’80s,” a week-long special airing July 22-27 exploring the ’80s through its movies on HDNET Movies. The duo provide insightful discussion on each film in the lineup, which includes St. Elmo’s Fire, Stripes, Short Circuit, Christine, and more.
It’s also a Some Kind of Wonderful week because the event takes place during the 30th wedding anniversary of Lea Thompson to that movie’s director, Howard Deutch; the couple met while working on the film (Amanda Jones DID get the guy she wanted, did you expect anything else?) Thompson shares insights on what it was like to work on John Hughes’ final teen film. She also talks about working with prolific ’80s producer-director Ivan Reitman on the comedy Casual Sex?, the first studio film to acknowledge AIDS.
Additionally, Thompson shares stories about what it was like to be an actress during that decade and what it was like to work with other ’80s icons like Steven Spielberg, Cameron Crowe, Robert Zemeckis, Patrick Swayze, and Michael J. Fox.
Interview snippets are airing on the network NOW to remind viewers of the upcoming movie marathon. HDNET Movies shows films uninterrupted and unedited, just as they showed in the theater. They lean toward showing ’80s movies, box office hits and award-winning films, often packaged in creatively-themed memorable movie marathons. Enjoy the ’80s movies and insider info – and support 80sMovieGuide.com! – by watching and sharing your thoughts on social media Monday, July 22- Friday, July 27.
This weekend, Field of Dreams celebrates its 30th Anniversary by returning to theaters for a special Father’s Day screening June 16 and 18 as part of the TCM Big Screen Classic with Fathom Events. Truly, it’s hard to name a movie that’s more appropriate for that holiday – in fact, it’s a movie that will make the most hardhearted lug shed tears. Director Phil Alden Robinson talked to me about what makes the movie so magical.
‘80s Movie Guide: Tell me what was it about the book “Shoeless Joe” that captured your imagination and you knew you wanted to make a movie from it?
Phil Alden Robinson, writer-director of Field of Dreams: The book wasn’t like anything I’d ever read before it had such original situations and characters. There’s a moment, I think it’s on page 2 in the book when Ray says to his wife after hearing the voice once, “I think I have to plow under our corn and build a baseball field.” And, I was all ready for the wife to do the stereotypical “oh, you can’t do that.” But in the book she says, ‘Well, if you feel you have to, then do it.’ And I thought, wow, I’ve never seen this character before. It was really the character of the wife that first opened my eyes to realizing something very different was going on with this story.
“It was really the character of the wife that first opened my eyes to realizing something very different was going on with this story. “
’80sMG:Annie is the most supportive wife in the world – tell me about crafting Annie and was there ever anyone who wanted you to write her differently?
Phil Alden Robinson: What’s interesting is that in my first draft, I did what the book did, which is, Ray hears the voice once, goes to her and says I need to do this and she says okay. What worked in the book did not work in the screenplay. I realized I needed to give Ray – not Annie, but Ray – a little more doubt…I needed him to acknowledge for the audience, “Okay, this is nuts, I really can’t do that.” That’s why he hears the voice a few more times. It was saying to the audience, we know this is crazy, we acknowledge that, and come along for the ride.
‘80sMG: This film is so different, especially different than what we see now. Tell me about the fight, if there was one, to get this movie made.
Phil Alden Robinson: It wasn’t much of a fight, they all just said no.
“I have a framed letter on my office wall that’s a piece of coverage from one of the studios saying you can’t make a movie out of this, it would just seem ridiculous.”
It really took Larry Gordon, who was at Fox, and Scott Rudin, who was working with them – both very smart, interesting guys – they loved the book and they took the leap of faith with me that we could make it into a movie. It didn’t seem to me to be so far-fetched. When I read the book, I just kept seeing these really visual scenes and really compelling characters and surprises every few pages. The plot would carry in a way that the very best movies do. I always thought, this is such a movie. It just took some executives who understood that who saw it also.
80sMG: Do you think that’s what J.D. Salinger saw in it as well and was so quick to act to prevent being a character in the film? [In the book, J.D. Salinger is the author Ray seeks out to join him on the journey.]
Phil Alden Robinson: The publisher of the book got a letter from Salinger when the book was published saying, “We reserve our right to take action if you exploit this book in any other medium.” What’s interesting is that in that letter it says, “Our client protests this fictitious and sentimental portrait of himself.” And, I thought, that’s perfect. He’s really pissed off that it was sentimental!
“Interestingly enough, I didn’t want to use J.D. Salinger in the film anyway.”
Phil Alden Robinson: I thought it would take you out of the movie. I thought, we’ve asked the audience to take enough of a leap of faith with us and now to have someone play J.D. Salinger felt like one crazy thing too far. So from the first draft, I’d always envisioned a different character in that role.
‘80sMG: I thought it might’ve given more attention to J.D. Salinger, the fact that he protested it, which then everyone would know.
Phil Alden Robinson: The funny thing is that’s what Bill Kinsella said [the author of “Shoeless Joe”]: “What fascinated me about Salinger is that he made himself more famous by rejecting fame!” And that interested Bill, so Bill wrote about that. And Bill found in two Salinger stories, a character named John Kinsella. Bill thought, that’s my in. I’ll name the main character after myself and he finds these Salinger characters named after his father.
‘80sMG: So, you fictionalize J.D. Salinger and make him an entirely different character. What about the other real-life ballplayers you then had to fictionalize? What was the responsibility you felt, or did you feel any?
Phil Alden Robinson: We used the names of the original Black Sox players. We took real liberties with portraying them. Certainly, Shoeless Joe in the movie speaks with real eloquence, almost poetically. In real life I think he was illiterate, he certainly wasn’t someone who spoke that way. But, it was a work of fiction so I didn’t really mind. We got a little bit of criticism from a small corner of people that Ray Liotta batted right-handed when the real Shoeless Joe batted left-handed. I have to say, I truly didn’t care.
“There’s nobody alive who has seen Shoeless Joe swing a bat.”
But, everybody has seen a professional baseball player swing a bat, and I had an actor who looked like a professional baseball player when he swung a bat from the right side, but not from the left side. So, it was a pretty easy decision for me. When we did get the criticism, I remember saying to someone, you know, there is a bigger inaccuracy no one has picked up on in how we portrayed Shoeless Joe: the real Shoeless Joe Jackson is dead and we show him walking around, talking to people! It’s fiction, folks!
‘80sMG: Well, that brings up…I love the quantum physics of it all! Tell me about the thinking that went into the timelines. Back to the Future and Bill and Ted, and all these time travel movies…they think very deeply about it! Did you think about it?
Phil Alden Robinson: I did think about it and what I finally came around to believe is that the less we explain and the less logical framework we gave to the magic, the more magical it will be. What we’re asking for the audience is to not sign on to our version of events, but just experience something that doesn’t have an explanation and see where that takes you – because that’s the journey the main character has to go on. Ray is not given by the voice a road map, or an explanation, or a logical underpinning for what he has to do. He’s just told to take a leap of faith, do this thing he knows is crazy, and see what happens. And, I thought that to be true to that vision, we had to do that also. We had to say to the audience, we’re not going to tell you what it means, who the voice is, where it comes from, and why it’s talking to him.
Someone at the studio came up with the whole quantum physics of it all, and I said, “I don’t know where this magic comes from. If I knew and I put it in the movie, I think it would hurt the movie.”
“I think it’s better letting the audience decide for themselves what it means.”
And, we did change things. “Moonlight” Graham actually died in the late ‘60s and I had him die in 1972 simply because I wanted to have a Nixon poster in the shot.
‘80sMG: Why was that?
Phil Alden Robinson: Well, I gave Ray and Annie a little more background in the ‘60s than the book did because I thought, just from my own experiences, it sort of explained the counter culture background, it helped explain why Ray and Annie were so open to taking this leap of faith. I’ve always been interested in what do we do with the youthful ideals when we’re no longer youthful? For those who cut our teeth in the ’60s, and thought we were so groundbreaking and rule-breaking and iconoclastic, how do you carry that through into adulthood? In a way, that’s what Ray’s story is about.
‘80sMG: And, what we look
at is the generational differences and the way people see things. I find that
people born in the mid-‘40s are so different than those born in 1950.
Phil Alden Robinson:
‘80sMG: And, you really
tap into that. I was wondering in the PTA meeting about book censorship. It’s
also in Footloose. I was a teenager at the time, and I don’t remember…was that
really going on?
Phil Alden Robinson: Oh my goodness, yes. They were banning books! Certainly “Catcher in the Rye” was banned in schools. And, “The Wizard of Oz” did because it celebrated witchcraft, in the minds of some folks. I believe there were some schools that banned “The Diary of Anne Frank.” It’s nuts! And, I needed something to connect Annie and Ray to Terence Mann, because his was a completely new character. I had to give Annie a reason to connect to him that didn’t involve hearing the voice or seeing a vision. She had to have something more real world, so I thought, the banning the books was kind of a cool thing in this moment. It really allowed that character to spread her wings and show what she’s about and what she’s doing with those feelings when she was younger.
‘80sMG: Kids like me in the ‘80s, we found our parents were pragmatists, who preached, “What makes you so special? You need to just buckle down and grind it out.” Whereas, the parents who were born in 1950 started “You can be anything you want to be, you can do anything you want to do!” Will you speak more about how that thinking affected Ray and Annie?
Phil Alden Robinson: That is a good question…I was born in 1950 and I always felt that my generation may have been the first to not give up those things that defined us as teenagers when we left our teens. In other words, my parents, when they grew up, they stopped dancing the Charleston and they stopped saying “23 Skiddoo” or whatever it was they used to say. And, they put on grown-up clothes and got jobs and had 2.3 kids. My generation, we were teenagers who were very proud of the fact that we wore our hair long and we wore blue jeans and we questioned authority, and we just didn’t stop doing that. I think that’s very interesting and very freeing in some ways, and in other words, it’s challenging because it delays coming of age. I was always interested in finding that character, and Ray was that character for me, that I could explore that with.
“What do you do with those ideals when you’re no longer a teenager, do you have to give them up? “
Here’s a guy who obviously felt for a while he had to grow up. He has a wife and a child and the responsibility of a farm. And now, here’s this opportunity: this voice and this vision come to him, and he thinks, this may be my last chance to see if I can still be that person. And he uses it as an example to be the opposite of his father who never did a spontaneous thing in his life or an illogical thing.
‘80sMG: What was going on
with you at this time at the time you wrote the book and wrote the script.
Usually, we want to write about things we know. I was curious if your
relationship with your parents or your father played into it?
Phil Alden Robinson: I
had a pretty good relationship with my folks and my dad. Probably my happiest
memories of was childhood was playing catch with my dad on the lawn on a summer
night. He took me to my first baseball game. I still have pictures of me at
Ebbets Field in my little Dodger uniform at 5 years old. So the notion of a
father and son connecting over baseball was something that very powerful to me.
Fortunately, I didn’t have the estrangement that Ray had with his father, but I
sure knew a lot of people who did.
‘80sMG:This isn’t just a story about a father and a
son, it’s also a story about a father and a daughter. It seems like the obvious
choice was to make Ray have a son. How did you decide to go with a daughter and
did anyone ever try and get you to change that?
Phil Alden Robinson: In the book, it was a daughter, and I liked that it was not on the nose. Someone at the studio did suggest, “Hey, why don’t you make it a son?” And I thought it was too on the nose. I liked there was something the father and daughter could connect over.
‘80sMG: “If you build
it…he will come.” How often have you thought of that phrase? What has it come
to mean to you? Did you expect to be talking about this film 30 years later?
Phil Alden Robinson:It doesn’t come into my brain. I often
hear it misquoted, there are websites devoted to the conspiracy theory that the
line was originally “they will come.”
‘80sMG: That’s probably because entrepreneurs hear it as encouragement. I know having started a few digital properties, that phrase is in my mind all the time…although it doesn’t always come to fruition!
Phil Alden Robinson:The act of creation is a total act of faith. You can’t do it unless you suspend your pessimism. If I do this, it will work somehow. One day when we were shooting, I woke up a little early in this half dream state. I had this epiphany. I called our producer, “Larry, Larry, I figured out what the book is about! It’s about art: the artist is someone who has a vision, who uses the materials at hand, who perseveres even when it threatens the stability of his family, some people can see it and some people can’t…”
“Don’t you ever tell anybody that!” Larry Gordon said. “If the studio thinks this movie is about art, it’s over!”
‘80sMG: I know you didn’t
expect to get Kevin Costner – who were you thinking of for the role?
Phil Alden Robinson:
We had a long list of actors who were the right age and we were going through
the list and putting it in order. We had our priorities and the studio had
certain feelings. It was a long process of discussion, at which time an
executive at Universal saw Kevin and told him, we have this script we like and
told him about it. He read and said, “I like this!” It came together very fortuitously.
Kevin was originally at the top of our list, and they said he said just got
done doing a baseball movie [Bull Durham,
and so the thinking was there’s no way he’d
do another baseball movie]. Kevin’s very resistant to conventional wisdom,
he really marches to his own rhythms and he’s willing to take the consequences
if the decision doesn’t work out.
‘80sMG: How was Amy
Madigan cast as Annie?
Phil Alden Robinson: That
was tricky. We could not make up our minds. We read every wonderful actress at
that time. We had callbacks on a lot of them, they came back and read with
Kevin. We screen tested three or four women, and I still couldn’t make up my
mind. I said to myself, “Who is Annie? Annie is spunky. Amy is spunky! Amy is
‘80sMG: And what about Gaby Hoffman? She’s the most
precocious child actor of the era and you got her at the beginning! [Field of Dreams was Gaby Hoffman’s first
Phil Alden Robinson:
She showed up at a casting in New York and everyone fell in love with her.
‘80sMG:Working with Burt
Lancaster must’ve been awe inspiring but a bit of a moviemaking generation gap
– was there anything you learned from him, or he from you?
Phil Alden Robinson: Part of my thinking was that I wanted a movie star from a different era for that role because the real Doc Graham was a star in his town. I thought juxtaposing a movie star from a previous generation with Kevin who was really just reaching the heights of movie stardom in his generation, would be a really fun thing to do and it would balance the scene well, that there would be someone of great stature that Ray would be dealing with. Burt, when I first met him at the read-through he showed up and took me aside and said to me, “I want to wear a little cap and a little mustache.” And I said, “why?” He said, “I don’t want to look like Burt Lancaster.” I said, “Okay!” He had certain things already worked out in his head. There was a little piece of physicality that he liked doing, which was to start to walk away and then stop and turn back, and he worked that into a couple of scenes. It was very interesting seeing how they used to do it. He’s not a method actor, he’s not someone whose loose and feels like, well let’s see how the moment plays out. He’s someone who likes to work it out in advance and know how he was going to do it. And, it was hard. He was not in great health, it was summertime, it was hot he was wearing that heavy wool jacket – which I so regretted having to make him wear, but we were kind of stuck in that.
“Burt toughed it out, but it wasn’t easy.“
‘80sMG:I’m curious, what was going on in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s where there were so many baseball movies? And, movies focused on the 1919 World Series?
Phil Alden Robinson: I think it was just the backlog. For so long, baseball had been considered box office poison, and an awful lot of filmmakers grew up loving baseball and just had these ideas. Major League  got made, which was really funny, Eight Men Out  and us , and Bull Durham of course. I just think it was filmmakers had a passion for telling these stories. There wasn’t a meeting where the studios all decided, I guess these are commercial. It was quite good. I think it was kind of lovely, we all helped each other.
From the look of the first clip to come from the remake of Child’s Play, the film is more creepy and less campy. Mark Hamill leaves everything Luke behind to voices serial killer doll Chucky at his most disconcerting. Take a look: do you think it’ll improve upon or destroy the legacy of Chucky?
Coming up with Father’s Day gift ideas gets more challenging every year, but here’s what most dads want: quality time with their kids, a shared experience, to create a memory. Seeing Field of Dreams on the big screen makes for a perfect Father’s Day outing, and a special opportunity for dads to introduce a new generation of sons and daughters to a film that, pretty much, all dads love. What makes the day even more special? When you WON tickets! That’s right, we’re giving away FIVE PAIRS OF TICKETS!
Field of Dreams returns to theaters for two days to celebrate its 30th anniversary, which is also near the 100th anniversary of the infamous 1919 Chicago “Black Sox” World Series scandal that is so pivotal to the film, stirring Ray’s desire to set right the wrongs of the past.
On Sunday, June 16 (Father’s Day), at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m., and Tuesday, June 18, at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. (local times), more than 600 theaters will screen the Kevin Costner classic. It’s all a part of the TCM Big Screen Classics series and TCM’s Ben Mankiewicz will provide insights before and after the film. Of course, you can get tickets at the theaters, the Fathom Events website, or RIGHT HERE BY WINNING A PAIR!
To enter, Follow Us and/or ReTweet/Repost at @80sMovieGuide (no limit on entries) on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Leave us a message about why you love or want to see Field of Dreams! Five winners will be selected to win a pair of tickets good at the AMC or Regal Theater of their choice and on the date and time of their choosing (subject to availability) on June 10. Enter now …and good luck!
With Missouri, Alabama, and other states banning abortion, Dirty Dancing has never been more important or more relevant. Made in 1987, Roe Vs. Wade was decided law and women had won the battle to control their own reproductive rights. However, screenwriter Eleanor Bergstein felt a time might come when Americans needed a reminder of why the law was passed.
Dirty Dancing is a fun, coming-of-age, dance movie with a plot that hinges completely on obtaining an illegal abortion. Viewers are reminded of why abortion is the only means of survival for some women who, in desperation, will put themselves at risk to end their pregnancy. In our podcast, mother-daughter movie critics Tara McNamara (Gen X) and Riley Roberts (Gen Z) examine the film through a modern lens, looking at the abortion plotline as well as why the uncomfortable age difference between Baby and Johnny played well with young, female audiences.
And, for more details on the history of Dirty Dancing and Bergstein’s clever strategizing of how she could relay a story about the importance of giving women agency over their own bodies and decisions, go to our Dirty Dancing page here: https://80smovieguide.com/dirty-dancing/
UPDATE: Winners have been selected. Congrats to Debbie D., Travis C., Crystal C., John C., and Elizabeth B.! Watch for our next give away!
been 35 years since Daniel-san crane-kicked his way into the hearts of Mr. Miyagi and moviegoers everywhere. So, as The Karate Kid enters its midlife crisis, it Waxes On with a new 4K Ultra HD Restoration and a return to movie theaters everywhere! On March 31 and April 2, the ’80s bully revenge classic will be back up on the big screen (you could never keep it down, even if you sweep the leg). Better yet, the theater experience offers a sneak preview for Season 2 of “Cobra Kai” (which, in our experience of covering entertainment for 15+ years, is the best reboot to a film EVER…and that is not hyperbole).
You can buy tickets at Fathom Events or any movie ticketer…or you could WIN A PAIR from us! We will have FIVE WINNERS! So, you have a great chance of winning. To enter, follow us on Twitter or Instagram or Like Us on Facebook along with a Karate Kid message so we know you want the tickets. Already a follower? Share this page on your own social media account (even as a repost of our message). Every effort gets an entry. Things you need to know? 1. Tickets are only available at AMC or Regal theaters, so be sure you have one near you that’s showing the film. 2. We pick the winner on March 22 and will need to secure the winner’s information to pass on to Fathom no later than Monday, March 25.
Mystic Pizza is an anomaly among ’80s teen movies: it was written by a woman, about three women who had healthy attitudes toward sex – sort of. By 1988, the pendulum had swung from the orgy-filled ’70s to the good-girls-don’t sexual conservatism. That confusing perspective is on full display in Mystic Pizza, where best friends and sisters JoJo (Lili Taylor), Daisy (Julia Roberts), and Kat (Annabeth Gish) engage in sex without hangups but, at the same time, give and take all kinds of slut shame.
We explore that angle in our ’80s Movies: A Guide to What’s Wrong with Your Parents podcast, along with the sociological change that was taking place among young people and the changing attitude of what they are supposed to do with their life after high school. Please give it a listen and, let us know what you think in the comments below. You can currently stream Mystic Pizza on Hulu, Epix and Amazon Prime. And, read up on all the behind-the-scenes info of Mystic Pizza including what made it so rad and so wrong on our Mystic Pizza page: https://80smovieguide.com/mystic-pizza/
In Brett Kavanaugh’s testimony countering his 1982 high school rape allegation, he said that the high school yearbook editor tried to project the image that the school was “Animal House, Caddyshack, and Fast Times at Ridgemont High.” Any teen who lived in the ’80s can back up that those films were wildly important to Gen X. In the ’80s, a day wouldn’t pass without hearing at least one boy quoting one of these films. By the way, no one was quoting the upstanding citizens of the film — they most quotable quotes came from the numbnuts of the groups. “Hey bud, let’s party!” from Jeff Spicoli (Sean Penn), “Whoa, did someone step on a duck?” from Al Czervik (Rodney Dangerfield), and “My advice to you is to start drinking heavily” from Bluto (John Belushi), just for starters.
The goal of ’80s Movie Guide is to address how the media and pop culture influence the opinions we hold, the choices we make, and how we see the world. Movies are immersive experiences and thus, more than any other medium, have the ability to subconsciously inform the viewer on how to conduct themselves. Teens and children are always looking down the road – if you’re 7, how do 10-year-olds act? If you’re 10, what do the cool 13-year-olds do? If you’re 13, what are 17-year-olds doing and how can I be sure I’m in the right group to do that? If you’re 17, how should I behave when I’m 20?
That’s why ’80s movies are so, so damaging to an entire generation. We are not saying Kavanaugh did or didn’t violate any women, but we are saying that the stories coming from women about the 1980s are entirely accurate. Moreover, when you examine ’80s movies, you see where a world might exist where both Kavanaugh and his accuser, Dr. Christine Blasey-Ford,are both telling the truth. Let’s do a brief overview, focusing on Animal House.
Animal House put the “teen sex comedy” genre into motion with a film described as “the wildly obscene antics of a college frat house.” Some of those antics include Bluto (John Belushi) climbing up a ladder to be a peeping tom gawking at a room full of girls getting undressed. He moves his ladder to get a better look at one woman. After staring at her for quite a bit, he falls off his ladder – how funny! Oh, boys will be boys!
Delta Tau Chi faces a probation hearing, charged with “individual acts of perversion so profound and disgusting that decorum prohibits us listing them here.” Fraternity leader Eric “Otter” Stratten offers this defense: “The issue here is not whether we broke a few rules or took a few liberties with our female party guests. We did. (Wink.) But you can’t hold a whole fraternity responsible for the behavior of a few sick, perverted individuals!”
Otter is the hero of the film, the cool guy. Here are some examples of his behavior (all played for laughs):
He pretends to be engaged to a girl who recently died to play on the sympathies of her sorority sisters into having sex with him and his friends.
He has sex with the drunk wife of the university’s dean, proving there’s no greater revenge than screwing your enemy’s woman – he impressed her at the grocery store with a line about the size of his cucumber.
He proves that theory again when he “scores” with the girlfriend of a rival by harassing her with lines like, “Can I massage your thighs while you eat?”
Additionally, it promotes racism. It shows drinking and driving. A college professor introduces his students to drugs. Four young men abandon women and leave them with no way to escape in a situation set up as dangerous. It’s implied a sweet young man knowingly has sex with a 13-year-old. Lout Bluto throws a young woman into a stolen car against her will caveman style … the next scene shows her arms around him while he drives, the graphic telling us they got married and Bluto became a Senator.
Oh, and there’s this – Larry “Pinto” Kroger debates whether or not he should have sex with a drunk, unconscious girl. Ultimately, he makes the right decision, but it does validate the thinking that he has a “right” to have sex with a drunk, unconscious girl. Pinto is a virgin, portrayed as not as masculine as his friends, which is why the movie implies he can only “get” a sexually forward 8th grader who has consumed so much alcohol she almost needed to have her stomach pumped. The scene isn’t appalling because Larry makes the right choice, the scene is appalling because it tells young viewers that if you don’t take advantage of a passed out girl, you’re soft, a pussy, a “homo”:
Animal House does have equal opportunity disrespect – authority, blacks, and pledges are all disrespected alongside women. Remember, though, this is the film that sets the entire genre into motion.
With Animal House, college campuses changed everywhere…and with that, so did high schools (because kids reach upward). Debauchery in whatever form became cool. The movies that followed took the cue from Animal House.
The year after Animal House, the PG-movie Meatballs was released. Starring another “Saturday Night Live” star, Bill Murray, Meatballs is about a summer camp who keeps losing the camp competition to the nearby rich kids camp. The story focuses on the lives of the campers and the camp counselors and has the typical kind of leering lechery one expects from an early ’80s film. It may not have been intended as a movie for kids, but since it covers the difficulties of kids at camp, it was accepted as a kids movie. In other words, many, many children watched it and the movie’s catchphrase — “it just doesn’t matter” — became something kids chanted amongst each other on playgrounds. A troubling scene exists that seemed to raise no eyebrows at the time. Murray’s character Tripper aggressively tries to convince fellow counselor Roxanne to sleep with him. She repeatedly tells him no, to get off of her, that she will scream, and he doesn’t stop until their boss walks back into the room. Today, we recognize that as attempted rape. In 1979, that was just a guy “taking a swing.” By the way, Roxanne continues to interact with Tripper. She doesn’t call the police. She doesn’t report it, even to her boss. Take a look:
Perhaps that’s what led to Little Darlings (1980), starring two of America’s young darlings, Kristy MacNicol and Tatum O’Neal, as two 15-year-olds competing to lose their virginity first at summer camp.
Meanwhile, the guys behind Animal House made Caddyshack (1980)and disrespectful cinema really starts to take hold. Caddyshack features a golf groupie named Lacey Underwood (Cindy Morgan) who sleeps with everyone. Fun fact: Cindy Morgan, who played Lacey Underwood, did not want to do the nudity. Writer-director Harold Ramis was okay with making the change, however, uber-producer Jon Peters (one of the most powerful producers then and in Hollywood history) told her if she didn’t go topless, he’d make sure she never worked in Hollywood again. Now, when you search “Cindy Morgan” and “Caddyshack,” porn sites come up with her topless scenes with comments sections full of pervy messages.
Then, in Nov. 1981, Porky’s emerged. And that changed everything. Disrespectful is one element, but the boys will do anything to get laid concept really took off. The teen sex comedy was officially BORN. And, with success, it began devolving. We got…
The Last American Virgin (1981) – get girls drunk to have sex with them…and they don’t deserve your respect because girls love being mistreated.
Zapped! (1982) – beloved TV stars Scott Baio and Willie Ames get telekinetic powers and use it to make girls clothes fly off!
The Tom Cruise-starrer Risky Business (1983) – in the money is power ’80s, a teen becomes a pimp and turns his family home into a whore house, what a savvy businessman!
Revenge of the Nerds (1983) – having sex with the girl of your rival is the best revenge, even if you have to trick her (ps – she LOVES being raped)!
Class (1983) – whoops, I’m a teen who just slept with my best friend’s mom!
Blame It on Rio (1984) – whoops, I’m an aging man who slept with my best friend’s teen daughter whom I’m vacationing with but she totally wanted it!
Bachelor Party (1984) – made teens wonder why there would be a goat at a wild party and set the expectation that bachelor parties should be out-of-control hedonism from thereon out.
Sixteen Candles (1984…and YES, IT IS A TEEN SEX COMEDY) that ends in rape but she loved it…etc., etc.
Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982) is, in many ways, the antidote to those films. Written by Cameron Crowe and directed by Amy Heckerling, a woman (*gasp*!), it shows how difficult it is to be a teen and how much kids PRETEND they’re having sex so they appear cool, but in truth, are unprepared for it. Great message, but that’s not what young viewers took away from the film. They remember Brad’s fantasy scene that shows Phoebe Cates removing her bikini top. They also inaccurately remember that girls just want to get laid and guys are there to accommodate, by any means. In fact, here’s what teens remember:
Jennifer Jason Leigh explains how the MPAA unwittingly forced the movie to make changes that perhaps would have altered the movie’s takeaway message.
So, whether or not Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted Dr. Christine Blasey-Ford, only they know. But, the scenario that a boy and his friend thought it was funny to take advantage of a woman sexually? Pop culture and the era supported teen boys to think such behavior was acceptable. It’s entirely likely if they did what Ford alleges, Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge wouldn’t have lost a wink of sleep over it or even remember it later because, after all, boys will be boys. The culture suggested there was nothing wrong with that type of behavior. They were expected to “take a swing” – and why not? Of course, she’ll like it.
Luckily, times have changed. Let’s keep it that way.
Today is the 34th Anniversary of The Karate Kid, a movie that continues to resonate with the kids of the ’80s…and Millennials and Generation Z. The film about a bullied teen (Ralph Macchio) who is trained in self-defense by a wise, elderly karate master (Pat Morita) spawned sequels, a spinoff, an animated series, and currently, the fantastic YouTube series “Cobra Kai.” Why does it work?
It’s the ultimate fantasy: taking on and conquering a bully.
The magical mentorship/friendship/surrogate parent-child relationship between Daniel and Mr. Miyagi.
The Crane Kick finale
Another reason The Karate Kid resonated with ’80s teens was that it represents how Generation X sees itself: an underdog, a latch-key kid who had to deal with life’s obstacles without a parent around, and who succeeded through hard work. ’80s MOVIES: A GUIDE TO WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOUR PARENTS podcast explores this and how today’s teens view this movie today. Listen to the end: Gen Z co-host Riley Roberts (pictured above) gives substantial and shocking insight of what it’s like to be a teen in today’s drug-filled high schools. Click HERE to check out our comprehensive guide to The Karate Kid.