“The Best Comedy of the Year!” 1980’s

The first two posts of this series took us back through cinematic humor from today’s genre confusion and obsession with idiots and into the 1990’s which featured a greater proliferation of quality comedy writing and the unfortunate origins of some of today’s most disappointing trends. Now I step into Reagan era comedy with both anticipation and trepidation.

The years 1980-1989 contain both the end of my childhood and the entirety of my teenage years. This means that for more than half of the decade, I did not get to choose which films I got to see at the movie theater. Also, the 1980’s featured the explosion of home entertainment options, but this didn’t really get going for my family until about 1987. So while I saw each of my yearly selections from 1986-1989 on the big screen, the rest of these, I’ve had to catch up with on video or cable and only some of that happened during the 80’s.

My opinions of big screen comedy may be inexorably tied to my own development through this era as my expectations were first established and then subverted. Nobody experiences everything in exactly the same way. But I’m going to keep hold of some of my opinions here with all 32 teeth.

1980 – Airplane!


I remember my parents going out to see Airplane! based on my Dad’s enthusiasm. It might’ve been the first big screen comedy they’d seen together since Blazing Saddles, an experience my mother did not remember as fondly as he did. A western full of farting cowboys and racist old ladies did not appeal to her. Nowadays I mostly have to drag my parents to the movies at Thanksgiving or Christmas, but when my brother and I were kids they were apparently looking for excuses to get out of the house more often (hmmm…that’s odd…). When they returned from Airplane!, I got a glimpse of what the aftermath of that 1974 date to see Blazing Saddles must have been like. My dad was gleefully recounting some of the sillier moments in the Abrahams & Zucker genre spoof while my mom tried desperately to humor him and steer the conversation towards something else. My father agreed that the film was probably not appropriate for us youngsters. Not yet. But soon. Soon. Now this was tantalizing. And when I finally did get to experience Airplane! on video a few years later at a friend’s house it did not disappoint. I’m sure this was one of the scenes my parents split on.

Other 1980 comedies: My choice for second place in 1980 would be the wonderfully obscene Kurt Russell/Jack Warden flick Used Cars. Unfortunately, that movie eventually runs out of gas by its end (I know…sorry). It is worth mentioning that I consider two of 1980’s most beloved comedies to be very overrated. While both The Blues Brothers and Caddyshack have individual moments of comedy gold, large stretches of what are supposed to be wacky comedies bore me or just leave me cold. That’s the thing about comedy. If you don’t win your audience over you can really fall flat. And these fall flat for me in too many spots. Maybe their enthusiastic fans left me expecting too much.

1981 – Arthur

It wasn’t until sometime in the late 80’s when I caught up with Dudley Moore’s alcoholic millionaire Arthur on cable at my grandparents’ house. This was a time when drunkards were still considered funny in mainstream opinion, but who are we kidding? Most of us have been to college. Drunkards are hysterical. Few more so than Dudley Moore. He had been sharpening his comic chops since the early 60’s alongside Peter Cook in “Beyond the Fringe” and a series of television and film productions. Moore and Cook are consistently mentioned as top influences to modern British comics, most notably, the cast of Monty Python. While Cook’s work appeared to suffer because of his drinking, Moore was able to parlay feigned alcoholism into an Oscar nomination for his work in Arthur. Although Moore lost to Henry Fonda, his costar John Gielgud actually took home the golden statue for his work as Arthur’s terse-toungued valet. I would later embarrass myself in my college acting class when Arthur was my only association with Gielgud’s career. Apparently he’d done a little bit of work on the stage.

Other 1981 comedies: Mel Brooks’ History of the World: Part I has its moments, but has to be considered a shortfall in comparison to his classics. Stripes is another well-loved comedy of the era that I just don’t understand the fuss over. I promise I love Bill Murray, but his brand of smirky anti-authority in Stripes has not aged well and I find myself sympathizing with Warren Oates’ Sgt. Hulka. And that’s coming from a commie liberal.

1982 – Tootsie


One of the first movies I rushed out to rent after our family got a VCR was the Dustin Hoffman comedy Tootsie. Maybe some of the comedy went over my head at the time, because I remember being a little disappointed that a movie about a man in a dress wasn’t a lot wackier. Subsequent viewings have done nothing but improve my opinion of Tootsie, and I now consider it to be one of the modern masterpieces of American comic film. This is despite the treacly and fully embarrassing Dave Grusin song “It Might Be You” blazing a path of awful through proceedings. Aside from Hoffman, the cast also boasts an exemplary group of performers including Jessica Lange, Terri Garr, Dabney Coleman, Charles Durning, Bill Murray, and Sydney Pollock, with a cameo by Geena Davis. There have been a great number of cross-dressing comedies over the years, from the wonderful (Some Like it Hot), to the horrendous (White Girls). It is a staple of humorous story-telling that was employed by great playwrights such as Shakespeare and Oscar Wilde. Tootsie finds itself among the greats of the sub-genre. If you’ve never seen Tootsie, you’ll want to skip the video below because it is a major spoiler, but if you want to experience it again, please enjoy!

Other 1982 comedies: Two recommendations are the Peter O’Toole vehicle My Favorite Year, which tips its hat to the golden age of live television and Cameron Crowe’s retelling of his venture as an underground high school student, Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

1983 – A Christmas Story


Okay, so we’ve all seen A Christmas Story about a thousand times on cable television by now and it has become a part of our national vocabulary. Honestly, its status as a permanent fixture every holiday season almost worked against it. I’m sure plenty of you reacted to the picture here with some version of “Oh no! Not that again! Enough already!!” I sympathize. I really do. But if we’re honest with ourselves, there’s a reason Ralphie and company have overtaken It’s a Wonderful Life as the most beloved Christmas movie nationwide. A very good reason. It is very close to perfect. Based in part on the Jean Shepherd book “In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash,” this film was initially only a modest success, but gradually built up a reputation through repeated airings on HBO, TBS, and WGN. A Christmas Story manages to tell a fully-developed story of American sentimentality without sacrificing the inclusion of genuine holiday and family annoyances and with a nearly unprecedented series of odd, funny, and touching scenes. The thing is so tightly written that it is hard to come up with a scene which feels either unnecessary or lacking in strong entertainment value. I’m going to spare you a video on this one because, well, at this point do we really need it?

Other 1983 comedies: It is a testament to A Christmas Story‘s strength that it beat out the impressive list of comic films that 1983 produced. The one which will probably get the most love in the comments section is National Lampoon’s Vacation starring Chevy Chase, but the one I very nearly rated first is the Martin Scorsese/Robert DeNiro/Jerry Lewis dark satire The King of Comedy. It’s like Taxi Driver for funny men. Adding to 1983’s fantastic offering are Michael Keaton in Mr. Mom, Steve Martin in The Man with Two Brains, and Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd in Trading Places.

1984 – This is Spinal Tap


This is Spinal Tap is another comedy whose continuous presence has gradually worn thin for some people. Comedy prospers in part because it surprises, and it doesn’t help that the cast has trotted out in its costumes every time one of them needed to pay some back taxes. In Spinal Tap‘s favor is that it pretty much invented a whole comedy genre for modern audiences. The “mock-umentary” (or, if you will, “rock-umentary”) was a clever premise which had been used before, but was particularly effective for director Rob Reiner and has been used time and again by other filmmakers since. The Office, on television, is a very good example of a comedy influenced by this element of the Spinal Tap production. But this would not have developed if the bits, jokes, and scenes had not been so brilliantly funny and prescient. Who among us didn’t laugh ruefully when U2 visited Elvis Presley’s grave in their overblown 1988 documentary Rattle and Hum just as Spinal Tap had four years earlier? Christopher Guest has since taken the ball and run with it in later improvised comedies like Waiting For Guffman and Best in Show, but This is Spinal Tap remains the crowning achievement for this kind of filmmaking.

Other 1984 comedies: All of Me (Steve Martin and Lilly Tomlin) and Top Secret! (Val Kilmer).

1985 – Lost In America

As has been mentioned on Le Blog by Lebeau, Albert Brooks is a hugely underrated treasure. I guess he just never really fit the image Americans were looking for in their comedians. I don’t ever remember him looking young. Even at his peak onscreen when he was in his mid 30’s, the impression he left was of someone nearly a decade older. Also, Brooks is an intellectual from a Jewish family. Comedy audiences through most of his film career got what they seemed to need of that from Woody Allen. That’s some competition. Probably Brooks’ most perfectly realized film is the “Yuppie Easy Rider” flick Lost In America. Brooks stars opposite Julie Hagerty (Airplane!, What About Bob?) as a couple who decide to drop out of their typical American suburban lives and travel the country in a Winnebago. They don’t get very far. Lost in America was a mild hit, but did not deliver the kind of success that would have vaulted Brooks into a different stratosphere in his career.

Other 1985 comedies: This was a very tough one. Terry Gilliam’s Orwellian film Brazil is in strong competition with 12 Angry Men as my favorite film of all time, but while it is very funny in spots, Lost in America is more clearly a comedy. John Cusack’s suicide teen comedy Better Off Dead does not measure up to either of these, but is definitely worth a mention. Check it out if you haven’t seen it yet.

1986 – Little Shop of Horrors

Another comedy film that sits near the top on my list of all-time favorites is the movie version of Menken and Ashman’s off-Broadway musical Little Shop of Horrors about a killer plant, which was itself based on a low-budget Roger Corman film of the same name. Menken and Ashman would go on to pen the songs for Disney’s “comeback” animated musicals The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast, revitalizing the art-form for several years after. Little Shop of Horrors, however, is a black-hearted satire of early 60s monster movies that seems like it could never have been sold to a movie studio if it hadn’t been such a hit on both off-Broadway and Broadway alike. As it turns out, studio cowardice scrapped the film’s original, darker ending and replaced it with a neutered version that excised the play’s show-closing anthem. Thankfully, DVD came along and made that original ending (which was practically finished before timid execs wussed-out) available for all to see. First it was released in black and white on a short-lived DVD version in the late 90s and has just recently become available on Blu-ray disc in a full color rendering that has additional musical accompaniment. This film version stars Rick Moranis, Ellen Greene (who reprises her Broadway role), the voice of Levi Stubbs, and Vincent Gardenia, and features cameos by John Candy, Bill Murray, Christopher Guest, Jim Belushi, and the incomparable Steve Martin as Orin Scrivello-D.D.S.

Other 1986 comedies: Back to School, Ruthless People, and ¡Three Amigos!, all fun comedies, but none are iconic.

1987 – Raising Arizona

When Joel and Ethan Coen paired to write and direct the crime thriller Blood Simple in 1984, audiences couldn’t have dreamed that the pair was capable of something with the hilarity of Raising Arizona. Twenty five years later, we all know what versatile filmmakers the Coen brothers have proven to be. Nicolas Cage and Holly Hunter star as a mismatched married couple. He is an ex-con with a penchant for holding up convenience stores who is trying to go straight now that he’s married and she is a member of the local police. Marital bliss is interrupted by the revelation that they can’t have children until a local businessman and his wife are blessed with quintuplets. Well the solution is clear, right? The ill-advised crime is kept light-hearted by the implication that no matter what position he is put in, the little fella they steal is never in real danger and is cared for by everyone who comes into contact with him. This includes not just Cage and Hunter’s characters, but a pair of old prison buddies played by John Goodman (Argo) and William Forsythe (Boardwalk Empire). The goofy and action-packed proceedings are presented with consistently idiosyncratic camera work and editing, adding to the off-kilter feeling of the whole.

Other 1987 comedies: Another really strong year, featuring The Princess Bride, which I’m sure will garner preference form some folks, and a couple of very good Steve Martin flicks, Roxanne, and Planes Trains and Automobiles.

1988 – Dirty Rotten Scoundrels


Steve Martin was on an absolute hot streak that made Dirty Rotten Scoundrels the ninth excellent comedy he’d appeared in over a ten year period. It is easy to forget what a big star Martin was through parts of three decades. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels was a rare case in which a remake of a previously released film actually surpassed the original both in quality and success. In 1964, Bedtime Story had starred Marlon Brando and David Niven, focusing more on the romantic elements of the story. With Michael Caine on board as Martin’s co-star, director Frank Oz’s version was decidedly more wicked and boasted many more laughs. This is made even more surprising considering that the remake was originally intended as a vehicle for Mick Jagger and David Bowie. Thank goodness we got the version we did. Martin’s more external comedic performance was predictably excellent, but Caine was something of a revelation for audiences who were more recently used to seeing him in romantic and action pictures and comedy performances which had generally cast him as a harried man in above his head. His Lawrence Jamieson is an oily suave con man whose malevolent nature roils deliciously under the surface and he proves a fantastic comic foil for Martin. One of the more famous bits came from Martin, pretending to be Caine’s “special” brother in order to chase away bilked heiresses.

Other 1988 comedies: 1988 has to be considered one of the greatest years in the history of film comedies, with huge laughs coming from Kevin Kline and John Cleese in A Fish Called Wanda, Michael Keaton in Beetlejuice, Kevin Costner and Tim Robbins in Bull Durham, Eddie Murphy in Coming to America, Tom Hanks in Big, Leslie Nielsen in The Naked Gun, and John Cusack and Tim Robbins in Tape Heads. Take a good look at that list. We have not seen anything like that in any year we have yet researched.

1989 – Heathers

As a nineteen year old whose high school experience had been a bit of a mixed bag, the teenaged revenge comedy of Heathers appealed greatly to me. The rebellious and underground tone of the film was only enhanced for me because its distributor found mainstream theaters unwilling to show it (the fact that it starred relative unknowns didn’t help). So I had to drive from suburban Virginia Beach into “the city” of Norfolk, Virginia to see Heathers at the Naro cinema, an old cinema with a balcony and big bright marquee which showed mostly art house fare and re-releases of film classics. Found in this manner, my friends and I felt like we were in on a secret that was meant expressly for us and people like us. The preppies and jocks lampooned in the movie were certainly not the types who would have been willing to eschew the mall for a seat at a sophisticated city art house theater. We were really self-important dicks. That said, Heathers is pretty funny, anyway.

Other 1989 comedies: Heathers managed to beat out the Woody Allen-aping When Harry Met Sally, the Jeff Goldblum/Emma Thompson comedy The Tall Guy, and Weird Al’s delightfully sophomoric UHF.

And there go the 80’s-

As the 1980’s passed I found more and more quality comedies crowding into individual years. I just can’t see any recent year having the sheer quantity and variety of either 1988 or 1983. I expect that some of my choices will meet with vociferous and well-reasoned disagreement. That is what happens when you’ve got so many yucks to choose from.


Posted on February 23, 2013, in Best Comedy of the Year, Movies, reviews, trailers and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 22 Comments.

  1. Danielle Charney

    Amazed you have left out Trading Places and Down and Out in Beverly Hills – and for the record- I know the Spinal Tap Trio- none of them have ever needed to pay back taxes- they bring it out because it’s been hugely demanded and they have a blast doing it- as for the films of Christopher Guest – they are all the way up there- IMHO- I don’t know how old you are but guessing from your choices- you are speaking to an audience of 30 somethings


    • I didn’t mean to suggest that they were literally paying back taxes with their Spinal Tap appearances. It was a joke. If I was in Spinal Tap I might never do anything else. Ever. But the constant appearances don’t do anything to lessen some of the Tap fatigue that has set in in some quarters.

      I did include Trading Places.

      I haven’t seen Down and Out in Beverly Hills since 1987. It didn’t impress me much then, but I’m open to giving it another shot. I like Dreyfuss and Nolte.

      I am 42. Born in 1970. 19 years old in 1989.


      • I go back and forth on Trading Places. There’s a lot to like. But then it goes off the rails at the end where they are all on the train. Aykroyd in black face, Jim Belushi in a monkey suit… What started off as a smart social satire devolves into a mildly offensive live-action cartoon. I like it, but feel it’s slightly over-rated.

        Like you, I watched Down and Out in Beverly Hills when it was new on video. I didn’t get what all the fuss was about. Maybe I was too young. I will also be the first to admit I don’t get Bette Middler. If she’s the draw, there’s no point in me revisiting the movie.

        1970 was a great year for blogger births. 😉


  2. Another great list. We’re not as in synch as we were in the 90s, but even where I disagree, we’re not that far off.

    1980 – You can’t argue with Airplane! I think I actually saw Airplane 2 first. Amazingly, that didn’t ruin the experience of seeing the first one. I can only imagine how audiences must have reacted in 1980.

    1981 – I have to admit, I never really got Arthur. I guess I just don’t find drunks all that funny. As funny drunks go, Moore is great. But the movie doesn’t do much for me. The first half of Stripes is pretty hysterical. But the movie falls apart at the end.

    1982 – Wait, what? Woody Allen is in Tootsie? Are you sure about that?

    I had the opposite experience with Tootsie. I loved it immediately. But I grew less fond of it over time. This is no reflection on the movie itself. I just watched it way too many times as it was one of the few movies in our Betamax collection.

    I have a tough time chosing between Fast Times and Tootsie. They are both great films.


    • 1983 – Yeah, I winced when I saw A Christmas Story. It’s one of those movies I enjoyed when I “discovered” it but has become less cool as everyone else got on the bandwagon. It’s a great movie, but not one I watch very often any more.

      83 was a good year for comedy. In addition to Vacation, Trading Places, The Man With Two Brains and Mr. Mom we got Meaning of Life, Risky Business, Strange Brew and Zelig.

      Of those, I’m going to side with Vacation on the basis that it makes me laugh the hardest.

      1984 – I think we all have a friend who drove Spinal Tap into the ground. It’s a great comedy, but saying “This goes to 11” isn’t funny any more.

      You left off Ghostbusters and Beverly Hills Cop!

      1985 – I do love Lost in America. I recently rewatched it and it’s still great today. Just as topical as ever.

      I will throw out The Sure Thing and Fletch.


      • 1986 – Little Shop has only gotten better over time.

        Ferris Bueller is probably more iconic than Little Shop. And arguably a funnier movie. But I’ll take Little Shop personally.

        1987 – I mentioned in the Nic Cage article that I liked Raising Arizona, but was not a member of its cult. I’m going to have to go with Princess Bride. Quite a decade for Rob Reiner!

        Probably worth mentioning Spaceballs and Throw Momma From the Train.

        1988 – What a great year! I liked Dirty Rotten Scoundrels quite a bit. But A Fish Called Wanda is one of my all-time favorites.

        1989 – I can’t argue with Heathers. Great movie. But I do like When Harry Met Sally a lot. So different it’s impossible to compare them.


  3. Great topic, Thank you! In your defense here, we could go on all day with comedies from the 1980’s. There were so many great ones. I My favorite was “Ruthless People” (1986) which you mentioned, and for 1980, “Nine to Five” comes to mind. We must be about the same age according to your writings. I was 12 at the start of the 80’s and 22 at the end. 🙂 Good times!

    PS – I loved “Heathers” and this makes me want to go back and see it again, It’s been a long time. So dark it was and so well done.


    • Ruthless People definitely had a lot going for it. The scene in which they think they’ve sent a video tape of a murder to the (?Mayor? DA?), but it’s really him having an affair is one of the funniest of the decade. “That poor woman!” Ha ha ha ha!!
      Unfortunately, the big laughs are too widely spaced out and the film never really delivers on its dark promises. That leaves it short of what I would call “greatness” for a movie comedy.
      Not all of the films I am mentioning are great. I’m going to have to go back and do a full tally once I’ve made it back to 1959.


  4. We all seem to be in agreement that 80s were comedy GOLD. Why this is, I can’t say, but it’s so true, you can’t argue with Airplane, Tootsie, and others. My #1 vote goes to the first in the Griswold family saga, Vacation. In fact, all of the Vacation series. For whatever reason, damn the 80s were the decade to laugh at the movies. “The Sure Thing” is also a longstanding fave and I need to replace my old VHS tape with a DVD.


  5. Another random thought. Back then Woody Allen used to irritate the heck out of me as an actor. As a result of that initial reaction, I’ve always liked him more as a director than a performer. Leading man material, he is not. However with the passage of time now appreciate his brand of humor. Still don’t buy him as a leading man, though.

    Having way too much fun rereading the posts and watching the clips instead of doing my taxes.


  6. “When Harry Met Sally” (1989) was on TV last night. I had forgotten just what a sterling comedy that was. Interestingly, while it’s still very watchable, it’s not as rip-roaringly funny all these years later, even though the writing was very original at the time. Maybe that’s it, there were so many derivatives of this movie that the concepts have been overdone. Excellent writing, soundtrack and cinematography. Fine performances by Ryan, Billy Crystal (another WTHH?), Carrie Fisher and the criminally underrated character actor Bruno Kirby.


    • Actually, When Harry Met Sally was already VERY derivative when it was released. You can go through point by point and show how most of it was modeled on Woody Allen movies. It was this quality which made me decide to go for the more original “Heathers” in 1989.
      Of course I love WHMS anyway because it was done really well.
      …and I agree with you that Bruno Kirby was terribly under appreciated. So sad that he passed away.


      • See, this is where you have knowledge as opposed to my opinions 🙂 I was influenced by writers who gave WHMS credit for additions to pop culture such as the concept of the “high maintenance” relationship. That may well have been derivative, for all I know. And indeed, it was sad about Bruno Kirby being so young, in his 50s and such a delightful talent. Even if this scene was derivative, the “Wagon Wheel Coffee Table” has got to be classic. Every scene that contained all 4 actors remains a thrill to watch.


        • Kirby was a terrific supporting actor. He’s definitely missed.

          I do think WHMS had a huge cultural impact. It defined the modern romantic comedy. It just did so with borrowed ideas.


      • I love WHMS too. But I have always jokingly referred to it as When Robby Ripped Off Woody… I give WHMS credit for bringing a more sophisticated rom com sensibility to the main stream. Few have managed to copy Woody so well.

        I love both WHMS and Heathers, but I would also give Heathers the edge for being more original,


  7. What about Prizzi’s Honour, Bull Durham, The Witches Of Eastwick ?


  8. I wasn’t a big fan of The Witches of Eastwick and it wasn’t very funny. Prizzi’s Honor has funny moments and I like it pretty well, but I guess I just didn’t feel like it fit in here.

    If you look at the “other 1988 comedies” section, you’ll find that I did mention Bull Durham. Seeing as I live in Durham and go to see the Bulls play now and then, it would’ve been a HUGE oversight!

    Thanks for reading!


  9. 1980-Can’t argue with Airplane. Others: Caddyshack would be a definite runner-up. As for The Blues Brothers, while I consider it a classic, that’s as much for the music as it is for the comedy. It does both well. But I can’t quite file it securely in either category.

    1981-Not too sure about Arthur. It’s okay. But I can think of a few from that same year I’d put ahead of it. The Albert Brooks Modern Romance maybe.

    1982-Tootsie by far. Others: Fast Times At Ridgemont High

    1983-Trading Places by far.

    1984-A high quality year for comedy. I’d definitely put Spinal Tap at the top. Others: Ghostbusters, Beverly Hills Cop and Repo Man.

    1985-A few possibilities for that year. There’s Scorsese’s dark comedy After Hours, Real Genius and the aforementioned Lost In America.

    1986-Along with Little Shop, there’s Ferrie Bueller’s Day Off and Ruthless People. Of those, LS has definitely aged the best.

    1987-Raising Arizona by far. Others: Good Morning Vietnam, Planes Trains And Automobiles and The Princess Bride.

    1988-A Fish Called Wanda takes the top spot. Others: Bull Durham, The Naked Gun and Beetlejuice.

    1989-Agreed on Heathers. Others: The Fabulous Baker Boys,


  10. I’ve put an asterisk beside those films that I’ve watched or re-watched in the past few years, so that they can be distinguished from nostalgic memories that might change today.


    9 to 5 – wickedly hilarious battle of the sexes
    Private Benjamin – friendlier to the military than Stripes
    Oh, God! Book II – so-so; shows John Denver was as integral to the success of the original as George Burns
    The Nude Bomb – shows even the original Get Smart cast can disappoint- badly


    The Cannonball Run – just good fun
    Stripes – agreed, if every soldier was like Bill Murray, the army would collapse
    Time Bandits* – awful; would I have liked it if I’d seen it as a kid?


    Fast Times at Ridgemont High* – brilliant, funny, and insightful
    Night Shift
    Tootsie – very funny, but edged out
    Six Pack – passable but apparently not memorable
    Annie – so-so, but sustained by classic songs
    Grease 2 – not good, but watchable (at least the first time)


    Risky Business* – earns its classic status
    Superman III – down from II, but still enjoyable
    Two of a Kind – passable; not as awful as some reviews would suggest


    A year with a half-dozen good comedies.

    Sixteen Candles*
    Romancing the Stone*
    The Toxic Avenger
    The Brother from Another Planet

    Probably a shock not to see Ghostbusters leading that list. While I enjoyed it, I don’t remember liking it any more than these others, and decided not to put it at the top just because it has bigger stars or a greater reputation. I’d probably want to rewatch it (and the others) to see if it stood out, and to be more certain about ranking movies I haven’t seen in a long time.

    The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension – Had a cult following (obviously including FASA’s Battletech staff), but seems to be fading, though there is talk of a reboot (of course). I had a friend in the cult; after catching it on TV, didn’t join it.
    Cannonball Run II – don’t remember this very well, just that it didn’t compare to the original and neither did the new Menudo theme

    Latter half of the decade to follow…


  11. 1985

    Brazil – I will consider this a comedy, and a wicked satire. I first saw this on TV with the studio’s happy ending, and I’m a little sad that’s not the “real” ending. (Wonder why we didn’t see more of Kim Greist.)
    Desperately Seeking Susan – truly a keystone of the 80s; Rosanna Arquette shines, and Madonna’s film career never looked more promising
    Back to the Future – The critics raved for this one, so it was enjoyable but a little disappointing. I suspect that for many of those critics, it had 50s nostalgia working for it.
    Lost in America – good; had to watch this for the same course as The Graduate
    The Jewel of the Nile – all right; another inferior sequel
    The Goonies* – awful; perhaps if I’d seen it as a kid- but maybe I’d already outgrown it by 1985?


    Crocodile Dundee – There are signs that this movie may not be standing the test of time, not necessarily because it is being reconsidered by its 80s fans, but because it isn’t appealing to new generations. But I still like it.
    Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
    Something Wild* – unlikeable protagonists, but they face consequences
    Ruthless People* – funny and a modest hit, but does not seem to be holding its place in the culture; does rely on some unlikely coincidences
    Peggy Sue Got Married* – liked it well enough, but faded from memory quickly
    Ferris Bueller’s Day Off* – a smarmy user who has the nerve to claim that his self-centered hijinks are for the benefit of his “friend”


  12. 1987

    Robocop – Laughs spiced by biting satire; a masterpiece (unlike the abomination Starship Troopers)
    Adventures in Babysitting
    The Princess Bride – Another case of a movie considered a classic by some, which I remember enjoying but not to that extent. I certainly don’t go around quoting lines from it. I did like it enough to get it on disc in the past few years, so I’ll have to get around to re-watching it.
    Cherry 2000* – pretty good for a B-movie


    Feels like another rerun of the bracket game!

    As noted, this was a year full of very good comedies. I would consider the top two to be true classics.

    Bull Durham* – you don’t have to like sports movies to love this comedy
    Who Framed Roger Rabbit
    Coming to America
    A Fish Called Wanda – hilarious, but don’t remember quite as fondly as many of your readers, it seems
    Beetlejuice – I liked it, but don’t remember as much from it as I did from the films above. That may or may not mean something.
    I’m Gonna Git You Sucka
    Working Girl
    Earth Girls Are Easy
    Hell Comes to Frogtown

    Bringing up the rear:

    The Adventures of Baron Munchausen – As far as I remember, I didn’t connect with the material. I didn’t hate it, I was just apathetic.
    Crocodile Dundee II


    Another strong comedy year. I could easily shift around the top three.

    The War of the Roses – went back and forth with Heathers, but finally made the contrarian pick
    Heathers – going with this as 1989 instead of 1988
    When Harry Met Sally…*

    Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure – had a cult following, but my impression is that it is losing cultural mindshare
    Back to the Future Part II
    Say Anything…
    Do the Right Thing
    Weekend at Bernie’s – clearly inferior to all of the above, but fun
    Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! – boring


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