I was sitting around contemplating this post a few weeks ago and decided to watch the 10 films I’ve listed below again. I decided to do this after being a bit peeved after watching one of them and noticing I didn’t quite feel it as much as I did back when I was younger. I’ve limited it to films I saw first up to age 17, the “legal” age for rated R. This list is also in reverse order. All viewings recently were at age 34.
This is #10-#6. I will publish #5-#1 tomorrow.
#10 License to Drive (1988) – Age when first seen – 11. Where first seen? Theatre.
Ah, the Coreys (Corey Haim & Corey Feldman)! What child of the 80s-90s did not see a film starring the Coreys? I was a big fan and its obvious as you read this list as they appear a few times. This was their first film where they were advertised and marketed as the reason to see this film. It’s also notable for being the film debut of Heather Graham, who is one woman I can say without hesitation that has gotten remarkably hotter (if not any better at her craft) as she ages. The plotline is really simple. Boy takes drivers test. Boy fails drivers test. Boy can’t bear to reveal to his parents (or friends) that he failed. Boy goes out with friends for the evening without license. Hilarity ensues. Supposedly. I loved this film when I first saw it with my 11 year old mind. It’s also notable because it may be one of the only times I got any friction from my mom on what we were going to see. She knew it was probably going to be crap, but took me to see it anyway because I wanted to go so bad. I had the poster on my wall and counted down the days to go see it. It didn’t disappoint me at the time.
Does it hold up? Oh, hell no. I watched this again a few nights ago and I could barely get through it. The plot is somewhat believable, but the hijinx that ensue are completely and totally implausible, especially the end, which is one of the stupidest ideas ever put to film. It also has some really painful subplots involving Haim’s sister and anarchist boyfriend, and awful performances by Carol Kane and the aforementioned, Graham. I also hated the performance of Richard Masur, who played Haim’s father. It really is a pile of shit that I don’t care if I ever watch again. The one positive that still holds up is Haim’s performance. His comedic timing was pretty spot-on, and it’s a shame that his life turned out the way it did. Feldman also plays the sidekick to a tee, but he was my favorite of the pair at the time and I remember being disappointed his role wasn’t larger when I first saw it. At age 34, I just wanted the damn thing to be over.
#9 Adventures in Babysitting (1987) – Age when first seen – 9. Where first seen? Rented the VHS.
I remember I really wanted to see this movie when it was out in the theatre, but for some reason, I didn’t get the chance to. I finally did when it came out on videotape and I remember keeping the tape late and incurring a large late fee which pissed my parents off, but I watched it every day that I had it. I tended to gravitate towards films that put young people in journeys and this was exactly what the title stated. Girl’s boyfriend cancels on date. Girl decides to babysit. Girl’s friend calls girl to tell her she ran away from home. Girl decides to take the kids she’s babysitting with her to the big bad city of Chicago to rescue friend. Time for hilarity. I enjoyed this film because it was fast paced and I thought Elisabeth Shue was “cool”, which was my 9 year old mind’s definition for “hot”. I also really enjoyed the two male characters in the crew of kids. One of which, Keith Coogan, I watched all of his films and always enjoyed his work when I was younger. Whatever happened to him anyway? The film is interesting for some early performances by actors that are still working and recognizable today. One noteworthy element to this film was that it really got me to want to see what Playboy magazine was all about. I watched it probably 5 days in a row after renting the tape, so I clearly loved it at the time as that didn’t happen often.
Does it hold up? Sort of. Shue’s performance is quite good and it’s a bit of a surprise she didn’t have a longer lasting career with better roles (Leaving Las Vegas is total shit). Notable actors that appear in this film are uber-80s douchebag character actor Bradley Whitford as Shue’s boyfriend, Penelope Ann Miller as incredibly annoying runaway friend (I commented during my age 34 viewing that she should’ve just been left in Chicago), and Vincent D’Onofrio as a mechanic who reminds the Thor-crazed little girl of Thor. It’s amazing how that guy has let himself go. I didn’t dislike this film as much this time around as much as I disliked the film at #10.
#8 The Lost Boys (1987) – Age when first seen – 9. Where first seen? Rented the VHS.
This was the film that started it all for the Coreys partnership. It was also a movie that made me hate Kiefer Sutherland, simply because he was so good at playing an asshole. This was also one of the first vampire films I ever saw that had a vampire as a “good guy”. Keep in mind this was well before that Angel asshole or any jackass named Cullen became popular. My mother is quite a fan of horror and science fiction and she actually went to see this in the theatre. It flew under my radar at that age, but she decided to let me watch it when it came out on videotape later that same year. Boy, was that a mistake, but I’ll explain why in a bit. The film’s plot is easy to summarize. Family moves to new town. Older brother sees hot chick who he really wants. Ends up hanging out with some really bad dudes. Younger bro suspects something and learns that the town is a bit of a haven for vampires. Uh oh. Blood-sucking ensues. I thought this movie was totally awesome when I saw it at 9 and for quite a few years after that, it was my #1 all time favorite if anyone asked. The day after I watched it, I decided to become a vampire hunter myself, and I hand-made business cards advertising my new business and passed them out by putting them in neighbor’s mailboxes. This didn’t sit too well with the two old ladies that lived down the street, who got scared and actually called the police. Back during the heyday of VHS, I eagerly anticipated this film’s arrival on the “previously viewed” shelf so I could buy it. I got my mom to buy it for me the day that happened.
Does it hold up? Absolutely it does. The acting is great all the way around and the different take on vampire lore and the introduction of “half-vampires”, is an interesting concept. There is not a bad performance in this film. It’s fast paced, not very gory bar one scene, and is really a lot of fun. It’s also got Jami Gertz back in the day and she is someone who has not aged a bit if you’ve seen her recently. She’s still a stunner. The one negative I would say is that it is a bit dated in some respects. Haim’s character wears the most dreadful 80’s outfits you can think of, and the gang of vampires look like rejects from a Whitesnake video. That’s not to mention the greaseball shirtless saxophone player rock star dude who made me laugh out loud when I watched this a few nights ago. If you can get past the fashion, which I was able to easily, this is still a rock solid horror film with (at least at that time) a different twist on vampires. It’s also got Kiefer Sutherland in one of his best early roles. Jami Gertz though…love her. The soundtrack is pretty good too, even today!
#7 Revenge of the Nerds (1984) – Age when first seen – 7. Where first seen? HBO.
This movie is notable for one specific thing that I will share in a moment, but it’s also notable for being a movie I watched sneakily and while watching, knew I wasn’t supposed to be watching. It’s a pretty simple plot about a group of, well, nerds, who arrive to college and, well, get revenge against the evil jocks who make their lives a living hell . It’s a pretty positive story when looking at it from afar and parallels can be found in all walks of life. Robert Carradine and Anthony Edwards are pitch perfect as the lead nerds (I remember laughing so hard when I saw Edwards on E.R.) with Ted McGinley playing a smarmy quarterback and the always awesome John Goodman as the evil football coach perfectly. I saw a few firsts in this film. One was marijuana. I knew, even at 7, that the scene where marijuana is used, wasn’t cigarettes. And the second, was vagina. While you don’t quite get the view you get in porn, this was absolutely the first time I ever saw a woman’s private area, albeit covered in hair. “We’ve got bush”, and “Hair pie”, were two things I learned to quote early on and continued into middle school. I really enjoyed watching this when I was a kid, and it was one of those few movies that even up through college, if I ever came across it on TV, I would watch it even if it was the 500th viewing.
Does it hold up? This is a bit hard to answer. While I felt watching it this time around that it was entertaining, you can’t help but notice how different things were in the 80s. There are a lot of stereotypes in this film that absolutely would not fly in film today, most notably the depiction of the Omega Mu sorority, which is literally the fat girl sorority and the depiction of the Asian character, which I don’t think would fly this day in age. The end “musical revue” that the nerds put on absolutely does not hold up to the test of time. It’s amazing to me this film is almost 30 years old. One thing that holds up is John Goodman’s performance, which was quite remarkable watching now. He’s much younger, still huge, but he’s got a great intensity to his performance. Carradine’s charisma is also rather great and it’s easy to see why his character, Louis, is seen as a hero, despite a scene that would probably be considered rape anywhere in the world. Julia Montgomery was a total fox as well. I definitely enjoyed the viewing this time around, but being an adult I can totally see where the actions of the heroic nerds would get themselves into shitloads of trouble if actually occurred. The jocks too, but the nerds seemed to actually have more moments of “wow, they’d totally be arrested for that”. I also totally hate the “Wormser” character and Poindexter kicks ass.
#6 The Goonies (1985) – Age when first seen – 7. Where first seen? Theatre.
“Goonies never say die!” “Even more amazing than the time Michael Jackson came over to your house to use the bathroom?” “It’s our time down here!“. Ahh, The Goonies. This was one of the first movies that I was able to quote endlessly and I wanted more than anything to be in their crew. I was lucky to have a mom that took me to see this when it was in the theatre. I loved it immediately and I still love it today. It’s also the only film that I completely wore out the first VHS copy I had of it. The plot is far fetched, but very easy. Kids neighborhood is getting closed down for a golf course. Kids find a map to a pirate’s treasure. Kids go to find it. Bad guys chase kids. Adventure and comedy ensue. This is one of the first movies that I really remember seeing the first time. I was actually mad when it was over and I wanted to go see it again the next day (didn’t happen). It’s directed by Richard Donner, who at the time was not known for making adventure films for kids. It’s also got performances by actors who found work well into their adult years, including Sean “Samwise Gamgee” Astin, Josh Brolin who’s blossomed into an excellent actor, as well as featuring the perennial to this list and one of my favorite film characters of all time in Mouth, Corey Feldman. It’s also got the appearance of two characters who are still referenced throughout pop culture in Chunk and Sloth. Just to note, this is the movie that inspired me to write this list in the first place.
Does it hold up? Without question it holds up. It’s a timeless story with excellent performances by almost everyone in the film, great pacing, and lots of cool things that make both kids and adults eyes go wide. I had not seen it in about 15 years before I decided to watch it a few weeks ago, and while I enjoyed the trip down memory lane, I noticed myself nitpicking it for the first time ever. This is a film that I know backwards and forwards. I can quote the characters in almost every single scene and I believe its a film that every kid should get a chance to see when they’re young. It’s very imaginative and a lot of fun. The nitpicking comes from the numerous plot holes and questions I was asking myself. “How does Mikey know where to begin the search?” “How come the map is basically forgotten about 1/4 of the way into the film until they hit the organ?” “How come we never see a good shot of the map?” “Yep, Martha Plimpton has always sucked.” “If Willy’s gold sets off the destruction of the cave, why didn’t Willy escape back in the day?” Despite these newly discovered negatives, it does not take away from my memory of the film, nor did it ruin this return viewing.