Everyone loves to make fun of the 1980s for the cultural silliness that took place -- jelly sandals and bracelets, words like "tubular," and ridiculous TV shows like "ALF" and "Small Wonder" -- but the decade was a high point in the history of movies. Directors like John Hughes, Steven Spielberg, Ivan Reitman, and George Lucas spent those years making the movies that defined a generation ... and would inspire countless reboots. Sometimes, it's best to go to the source: Here are six must-see movies from the decade that ushered in some radical changes in entertainment.
'The Breakfast Club' (1985)
"The Breakfast Club," written and directed by quintessential '80s director John Hughes, set the bar for high school movies -- an impressive feat, considering most of the movie takes place in a library. "The Breakfast Club" is about five teenagers from different walks of life -- a jock, a burnout, a mean girl, a geek, and a reprobate, each an archetype of their social standing -- all forced to sit through detention for an entire Saturday. The movie's message that all teenagers deal with insecurities and hardships, regardless of how popular, rich, or smart they are still resonates, and the comedy surrounding the drama is timeless.
'The Goonies' (1985)
"The Goonies" has been so popular that ever since its release, fans have regularly made the trek to Astoria, Oregon, to visit the iconic locations where it was filmed. Although Steven Spielberg was only involved with the story development and didn't write the script, his influence shows -- "The Goonies" is a fast-paced treasure hunt as a group of kids search for a fabled pirate. The movie sparked catchphrases, cast reunions, and even video games that fans, ahem, treasure to this day.
'Say Anything...' (1989)
In the same way "The Breakfast Club" is the gold standard for high school movies, "Say Anything..." is the movie by which all other romance movies are measured, and with good reason. It's not just the iconic boombox scene -- although the image has become a cultural shorthand for declarations of love -- "Say Anything..." earns its stripes through its drama, sweetness, and the performances of then-fledgling actors John Cusack and Ione Skye. Following in the footsteps of "Romeo and Juliet," "Say Anything" tells the story of a pair of perfect lovers kept apart by circumstance -- and remains a parable on why love is worth fighting for.
"Ghostbusters" remains a beloved classic -- so much so, that when the trailer for the 2016 reboot launched, incensed fans made the online preview the most disliked video on YouTube of all time. The controversy spoke to just how good the original is: Bill Murray's sardonic wit, Dan Aykroyd's subtle silliness, and Harold Ramis's straight-faced deliveries are the perfect foils for the supernatural plot. Although Sigourney Weaver and Rick Moranis come close to stealing the show, it's the epic scale of the last half-hour of the movie that makes "Ghostbusters" one of the best cinematic experiences of the '80s.
'Stand by Me' (1986)
Based on the short story by Stephen King, "Stand by Me" became a fan favorite for its dark portrayal of four boys in the 1950s who sneak away on a trek to see a dead body. Part coming-of-age story, part road-trip movie, "Stand by Me" is really about the friendships forged by the four boys (Wil Wheaton, Jerry O'Connell, River Phoenix, and Corey Feldman), and how they support one another as their journey takes some dark and unexpected turns. Everything about "Stand by Me" -- the writing, cinematography, acting, and even the soundtrack -- is near perfect, making the movie one of the best of the decade.
"Fletch" is a modern detective story about a reporter looking to expose a drug trafficking ring -- but the movie mostly shines as an outlet for star Chevy Chase as he plays a variety of different characters while investigating undercover. Chase has said repeatedly that Fletch was his favorite role, and it's easy to see why: The movie features the actor in his element, with outrageous characters, silly props, and his trademark physical comedy. While the plot is unnecessarily complicated, it ends up not mattering, as each scene is more ridiculous and funny than the last.
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- Say Anything Movie Review & Film Summary
- The Classic Film: Ghostbusters (1984)
- 15 Things You Probably Didn't Know About 'Fletch'
- Movie Review : 'Stand By Me' A Summer Standout