What the Hell Happened to Lea Thompson?

Lea Thompson 2014

Lea Thompson

Lea Thompson is best known for playing Michael J. Fox’s mom in the Back to the Future trilogy.  For most of the 80’s, she seemed like an actress poised for stardom.  But when the decade ended, Thompson’s movie career dried up.  From there, she transitioned into television.  First as the star of her own sitcom and then in frequent made-for-TV-movies.  Despite having worked steadily for more than three decades, Thompson never achieved A-list status.

What the hell happened?

Thompson - Little Mermaid

Lea Thompson as The Little Mermaid in 1979

As a child, Thompson took an interest in ballet.  By the age of 14, Thompson was dancing professionally.  She attended the American Ballet Theatre on scholarship and danced in more than 45 productions.  But Thompson ended her ballet career after the director of the ABT, Mikhail Baryshnikov (yes, him) told her that she was “a beautiful dancer, but too stocky.”  That must be the only time anyone has ever referred to Thompson as “stocky”.  Baryshnikov’s feedback along with nagging injuries convinced Thompson to pursue an acting career instead.

provided by MDT actress Lea Thompson - in a Minnesota Dance Theatre

Lea Thompson as The Mouse in The Nutcracker

In 1982, Thompson started appearing in TV commercials like this holiday ad for Burger King.  This Christmas ad co-starred Elisabeth Shue and Sarah Michelle Gellar.  According to Thompson:

“What was interesting about the Burger King thing was that I never knew that Sarah Michelle Gellar was on my lap. I knew that Elisabeth Shue and I had done commercials together, but… My daughter is on Ringer, the Sarah Michelle Gellar show, and plays her stepdaughter, and the first day I met Sarah there, she said, “You know, we’ve worked together before.” And I’m, like, “I don’t think so…” But she had her iPad, and she brought up that commercial. I just can’t believe that nobody had pointed that out to me before! What a great casting director, huh?”

Here’s another early commercial for Twix candy bars:

thompson - mystery disc

Lea Thompson – MysteryDisc: Murder Anyone? – 1982

Around this time, laser discs were coming on the scene.  MysteryDisc: Murder Anyone? was a laser disc game that allowed the viewer to play detective and try to solve a mystery by spotting clues in the movie.  Paul Gleason starred as the private dick trying to solve the murder of a wealthy man.  Thompson played the cutest murder suspect in the history of laser discs.

Next: Jaws 3-D


Posted on July 15, 2014, in Movies, What the Hell Happened?, WTHH Actress and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 149 Comments.

  1. Wow, great work LeBeau….12 pages!
    Lea Thompson and Mary Stuart Masterson…what a choice for Eric Stoltz.


  2. My father used to watch the Indianapolis Race car series before he died. He would always say that the most successful drivers were the guys who finished 4th, 5th, and 6th. Not the winners. The guys who finished near the top were consistent and always finished the race, year after year. The guys who won would be great when they won, but more times they did not finish at all. Consistency was the key to success.

    Lea Thompson has worked with some of the greats of Hollywood and she is still here doing the heaving lifting of some lesser roles. She managed to get back on the horse after the Duck movie and made a fine career of which she should be proud. 35 years and still a babe. Like the race car drivers, she my finish 4th, 5th, or 6th, but she finishes every time.

    Good for her!

    Another great article.

    Brad Deal


    • Thompson had the consistency that her romantic rival, Meg Ryan, lacked. Ryan got too close to the sun and fell to earth. Thompson just keeps chugging along seemingly unaffected by time or anything else.


  3. Another interesting addition to the series. I appreciate how you constantly hone your craft, Lebeau, when I read through these pages about an actress I remember only from Back to the Future. Yet she’s been in the steady-work crowd and continues to be.


    • Thanks, RB. There’s a certain amount of formula to these articles. I feel like I need to include a critical consensus and box office report on every movie when that info is available. And there’s only so many ways to do that. So that part can be repetitive. But I do try to mix things up a little each time. The articles have definitely become more comprehensive than when I started the series.


  4. In a way, this entry is more “upbeat” than most WTHHT editions! Lea T’s movie career may’ve (pardon me) faltered but she bounced back admirably in/with TV, working steady and not in (a lot of) crap! (Hey, better half-decent TV shows/movies than direct-to-DVD Gorgonzola…and let’s be real here–not all Direct-2 movies are crap and/or forgettable, but MANY of them are.)

    Why did her movie career falter? Too many mediocre and/or bomb movies, and LT’s “look” is gosh-darn All-American/WASP-y and perky, and Hollywood already had Meg Quaid and Helen Hunt to fulfill those needs.


    • You can also argue that Lea had to contend w/ her Burger King/”Back to the Future” co-star, Elisabeth Shue (before she “reinvented herself” in “Leaving Las Vegas”) as the go-to “gosh-darn, All-American, WASP-y and perky” young actress of that era. Perhaps, Lea made the mistake of not fully realizing that she was more gifted as a comedic actress (as evident in for example “Back to the Future” and later, “The Beverly Hillbillies”) and not try so hard to do things that weren’t entirely “true” to her real persona if you will. The movies in which she tried to play “against type” wound up flopping (critically and/or commercially), so it pretty much hurt her profile (in terms of at least, showing that she could carry a movie or be a bankable star w/o the BTTF franchise behind her) even further.

      I think that maybe Lea Thompson was also a victim of bad timing shortly after “Back to the Future”. Of course, her attempt at being a leading lady post-BTTF was a massive failure w/ “Howard the Duck”. But combine being apart of one of the biggest bombs (as well as worst movies in general) off all time as your first real starring vehicle, w/ “SpaceCamp”, which was marred by the real life Challenger tragedy, and “Some Kind of Wonderful”, which came out at the very tail end of the John Hughes/teen movie era. So in effect, Lea kind of got lost in the shuffle during what should’ve been the “prime” or near prime of her career.


      • I was surprised how many movies she made that just came out at the wrong time. Spacecamp and Some Kind of Wonderful have a lot of fans and could have been hits. But they just came out at the wrong time. If SKoW had come out 5 years earlier, Thompson could have been Molly Ringwald. Not that she would necessarily want that.


    • Confession: I was disappointed to realize just how successful Lea Thompson was after Caroline in the City. Since I almost never watch Lifetime, the Hallmark Channel or ABC Family, I was completely unfamiliar with her last decade or so of work. I had to ask myself if I could legitimately write up an actress who is currently appearing on a relatively successful show. But I figured it was worthwhile because a lot of people like me followed her movie career in the 80s and then completely lost sight of her.

      The one thing that really surprises me about her movie career is the lack of rom coms. For someone who is often compared to Meg Ryan, she didn’t take a lot of Meg Ryan roles.


  5. Wow, I had to watch that Burger King commerical from 1982 a couple of times. An at-the-time unknown Lea Thompson, Elizabeth Shue, AND Sarah Michelle Gellar, all in the same tv commercial? Consider my mind blown! Lea was right, “What a great casting director!”


    • When I find something like that while researching an article, I do a happy dance. There were a few great finds like that in this article. Thompson as the Little Mermaid? Score!


      • I think I did a happy dance while watching that BK commercial! Ha ha. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a tv commercial with not one, not two, but THREE future famous movie stars before! I’m eyeballing those other two young actresses in the background, wondering what ever became of them…. This is The Outsiders of tv commercials right here! You struck gold with this find, my friend.


        • The Outsiders of TV commercials! Good one.

          This was a really interesting article for me to write. A lot of these movies weren’t big hits. But there always seemed to be a good story. I loved the subplot with Eric Stoltz recommending Thompson for Back to the Future, then getting fired, then getting her a job on Some Kind of Wonderful where he was nearly fired again! And it turns out that leads to Thompson meeting her future husband. That would make for a pretty good movie.


  6. I’ve know that I’ve posted this before, but since Lea Thompson’s WTHHT is finally up, I’m certain that this will finally get a proper look so to speak:

    Hollywood is full of stories in which a successful movie brings an actor momentum and a bad movie winds up killing it. The career of Lea Thompson is one of those stories. Her performance as Lorraine Baines McFly in 1985’s Back to the Future featured not only her comedic timing but also her rare ability to make light of a very awkward situation between mother and son. Young men and young boys, including yours truly, grew a crush on this Plain Jane beauty with the sexy Minnesota accent ever since. Then just as BTTF appeared to catapult her into Hollywood’s elite, the infamous bomb known as Howard the Duck left her humiliated in the eyes of the industry and it has been a struggle since then. Yet, through all the bad Howard the Duck jokes, there was a wonderful talent who never let failure ruin her dream.

    Thompson’s determination to succeed came at an early age when her singer/musician mother and father divorced following her family’s move from Rochester to Minneapolis, Minnesota. She was the youngest of five kids and the difficulty of raising such a big family took a toll on their parents’ marriage. Thompson’s mother struggled to battle alcoholism while supporting the family by entertaining at a Minneapolis bar. To find her escape from the family struggles, Thompson pursued her first passion for dance by studying and practicing ballet. By her teens, Thompson performed in more than 45 ballets, dancing with the Minnesota Dance Theatre, the Ballet Repertory, and the Pennsylvania Ballet. Scholarships to the finest dance programs came thereafter. Unfortunately, a failed audition for ballet legend Mikhail Baryshnikov as well as a number of injuries caused Thompson to quit ballet all together and decided to pursue acting.

    Thompson’s girl-next-door looks helped her land dozens of commercials for Burger King and Twix. Movie roles soon followed as she made her debut in 1982 with the interactive laser disc movie game, MysteryDisc: Murder, Anyone? Thompson’s theatrical debut was that of another hopeless victim in the horrendous Jaws 3-D. While she could not swim or ski as the part required for the SeaWorld-set sequel, Thompson did engage in a serious relationship with leading man Dennis Quaid who also became her mentor. Thompson scored her first leading lady role opposite Tom Cruise in All the Right Moves. The film was a serious challenge for Thompson who not only had to re-experience high school in researching her part but also performed her one and only major love scene opposite Cruise.

    1984 brought more challenging roles as well as positive word of mouth to Thompson’s career. First came the role of one of the female Wolverines in the controversial Red Dawn which is one of the few times audiences get to see Thompson perform her own stunts in several action sequences involving horses and assault rifles. The other was the Cameron Crowe-penned The Wild Life which was a companion piece to his earlier hit, Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Appearing opposite Chris Penn, Eric Stoltz, and Rick Moranis, Thompson played Stoltz’s ex working in a donut shop while engaging in a fling with a married police officer. Even though the film did not match Fast Times‘ success, its studio Universal paid serious attention to Thompson and Stoltz for their next big summer blockbuster.

    Thompson was originally set to re-team with Stoltz as mother and son in Robert Zemeckis’ time travel comedy Back to the Future. After five weeks of filming, Stoltz was let go because of his low-key performance and was replaced by Michael J. Fox. While the on-screen chemistry between Fox’s Marty McFly and Christopher Lloyd’s Doc Brown was the centerpiece of the story, the chemistry between Thompson’s Lorraine and Marty was just as important. BTTF had a history of being passed over by studios due to the risque subplot of young Lorraine falling in love with unknowingly her teenage boy. Yet, the puppy love innocence of Thompson’s performance matched with Fox’s comedic awkwardness made for great comedy. The role also gave Thompson an opportunity to play two completely different takes on the same character as lovelorn teenage Lorraine in 1955 and the older chain-smoking Lorraine in 1985 which was a three hour makeup process that the twenty-three year old actress had underwent. Such hard working efforts of Thompson as well as the rest of the cast and crew made BTTF the highest grossing film of 1985.

    Riding on BTTF’s success, Thompson became one of the hottest young actresses in Hollywood. The year 1986 should have been another breakout year for her but it was the complete opposite. Her next film, SpaceCamp, was critically panned and suffered bad luck at the box office due to its release coinciding with the tragic Challenger accident which affected its marketing strategy. SpaceCamp’s failure paled in comparison to the George Lucas-produced adaptation of Marvel’s Howard the Duck. Thompson’s BTTF momentum helped her land the starring role of rock star Beverly Switzler, a role which required her to perform on the film’s soundtrack. Even more bizarre was her character’s physical attraction to the title character played by a midget in a duck suit. Regardless of the clunky premise and adult humor, Howard appeared to have all the makings of a summer blockbuster. Instead, the film made history as the one of the biggest misfires in film history which nearly bankrupted both Universal Pictures and Lucasfilm. Thompson’s career took a major blow; however, she vowed to not let the humiliation stop her from working much like she had after failed Baryshnikov audition.

    Thompson gained a slight career boost when she was cast as the object of Eric Stoltz’ affection in the John Hughes-produced Some Kind of Wonderful. She initially turned down the role of Amanda Jones until the failure of Howard the Duck forced her to take the next available job. While the film was seen as a quasi-remake of Pretty in Pink with the genders reversed, Thompson found real love in the form of its director, Howard Deutch, whom she is still married to today. She spent the rest of the decade in box office misfires such as Casual Sex? and The Wizard of Loneliness before reprising her role as Lorraine in Back to the Future Parts II and III.

    Motherhood came into Thompson’s life in the early 90s which put her acting career on hold. She returned to the screen as a conflicted doctor in the medical drama Article 99, the mother of the title character in the film adaptation of Dennis the Menace, and a brief cameo in The Little Rascals revival. Her most unique role of the time was the grifter trying to marry Jed Clampett for his money in the film adaptation of TV’s The Beverly Hillbillies. It was Thompson’s first role as an antagonist alongside Rob Schneider and her combination of comedic timing and evil sexiness made her Laura Jackson character someone audiences loved to hate. A complete opposite of every girl-next-door character she had played previously.

    Most of Thompson’s roles in made-for-TV movies went unnoticed until she became the star of her NBC sitcom, Caroline in the City. From 1995 to 1999, Thompson played a successful cartoonist from Wisconsin looking for love and friendships in the Big Apple. Thompson’s comedic timing was in full display for network television despite her initial fears of working a sitcom in front of a live studio audience. Her next major role was the Hallmark Channel detective drama series, Jane Doe, in which she played a soccer mom working undercover for the government. Thompson also took a stab at directing not one but two telefilms of the series.

    In recent years, Thompson has starred in the ABC Family series, Switched at Birth, and appeared briefly in Clint Eastwood’s J. Edgar opposite Leonardo DiCaprio. She also continues to attend comic conventions and BTTF documentaries and reunion events. Still as beautiful and as talented as she was 27 years ago, Lea Thompson never turned her back on acting despite hard bumps along her journey. She’s an exceptionally rare talent that we don’t see enough of in today’s generation of actresses.


  7. daffystardust

    just a few incidental notes:

    • we recently discussed how I’d first seen Ghostbusters on the big screen with folks from my church, well my church youth group also screened Red Dawn right after it was released on video. None of this seemed odd to me at the time. It was the Reagan era.

    -Thompson was ideal casting as Dennis the Menace’s Mom, but boy did they whiff on that production. Both the old TV show and the film versions insisted on casting a really fresh-faced and cute kid when the Dennis of the comics is a grubby, freckle-faced monster. The nature of the property does not scream out for a full-length film in the first place. More ideal would have been a series of comedy shorts shown before the studio’s family comedies. But I guess there’s little to no payback for the studio on that kind of project.

    • It’s very interesting to read/hear actors talking about how different forms of production and styles can impact their experience and confidence. Thompson’s comments here about Eastwood’s process and her nervousness about taking on a sitcom are the kind of thing I really love reading about.

    • The Friends crossover clips were a great find, because I’d never seen some of them before. Perry and Schwimmer really show off their chops and confidence in those clips.

    • I absolutely love the inclusion of Vince Guaraldi with no mention of it at all! Just dropped there to see if anybody gets the joke. Nice.


    • I am pretty sure the makers of Dennis the Menace had no idea a comic strip existed. They were adapting the TV show. In the 90s, every other movie was an adaptation of an old TV show. Especially Boomer faves. They made Leave It to Beaver and Car 54 Where Are You into movies! How the heck did we not get a Munsters movie in the 90s? I don’t know.

      I suspected that Dennis the Menace was an attempt to cash in on Grumpy Old Men. But they both came out in 1993. So that couldn’t have been the case.

      It blows my mind that Thompson landed a sitcom – not just any sitcom but one on the highest-rated night on the highest-rated network at the time – with no experience and no audition. That takes balls!

      I also had a theory that Thompson shifted gears to concentrate more on her family. But no. When her kids were born, she went from movies to TV which has an even more demanding schedule. Her career repeatedly defied my expectations.

      I’m glad you liked the clip. I wondered if anyone would even notice. I swear I’m just entertaining myself when I write these things. This is an example of what I was talking about with RB. I’ve done off-the-wall clips before. But usually with some acknowledgement. This time I thought it was funnier to just drop it in there.


      • When you mention shifting from movies to TV when you have children, I have heard several actors mention consistency as a primary concern. By which I mean :

        1. Consistency of income – you have a reliable paycheck as long as the show continues, and with a high-profile show like CitC, I imagine at least a year’s income would have been guaranteed.
        2. Consistency of location. You are reliably in the same place in the same city. This is helpful for babies, but even more important for older children, with considerations such as schools etc. This is particularly the case when the vast majority of network shows (especially then) shot in either LA or NYC.

        3. Consistency of hours / date : Generally (of course not always) your hours of work are comparatively predictable, and the arrangements for your children can be managed around those.

        Have consistently devoured your archives after recently discovering this site. Congratulations on some great work,

        The Batman completist in me is still amazed Chris O’Donnell hasn’t featured yet…


        • Those are some excellent points. TV can be more consistent than movie work. That’s definitely how it worked out for Thompson. On teh flip side, you have Katherine Heigl who wanted the shorter hours of movie roles. But that didn’t work out so well for her.

          I love hearing about new readers going back and reading over past articles. That is exactly what I had in mind when I started WTHH as a series. It’s how I consume series I enjoy. So, welcome!

          The only reason I haven’t written up Chris O’Donnell yet is that he is currently on a hit TV show. But his stay of execution won’t last (Batman) forever.


    • By the way, you have quite a fan on Twitter! 😉


      • Ha! Yeah, I guess that’s why I thought it was somebody I already know in person. As soon as she explained that she is a consistent commenter here I completely made the connection and knew who she was. Social media is a strange place sometimes, and Twitter’s keystroke limit can be a challenge.


        • No kidding. I write 12 pages about Lea Thompson! How can I be expected to say anything in 140 characters?

          I’m still learning the ropes on Twitter. It’s a strange new world.


    • jeffthewildman

      Right about Dennis The Menace. That version tried to smash together Dennis and Home Alone and the result wasn’t that successful. Smash was the result and not at the box office.

      Indeed, this reminds me of something I realized a couple of years ago. John Hughes writing/directing/producing career could be divided into the pre-and-post Home Alone eras.

      In the pre-Home Alone era he wrote, produced and sometimes directed some really good to great movies and some of the most iconic ones of the era. His best teen films (Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off) remain classics of that genre.

      When he tried to transition out of teen films into more mature subject matter, he wasn’t as successful and it became clear pretty quickly that audiences weren’t as enthusiastic. This led to him retreating to making cheap slapstick stuff for the kids.

      Of hid adult oriented films, the only one that can stand with his best teen ones is Planes Trains And Automobiles. I find myself recalling this quote from a review of She’s Having A Baby:

      “Watching it, you might almost get the idea that Hughes made so many teen-age movies–defiant teen-age movies, in which the adults were unregenerate villains–not because of studio vogues, but because, in some half-conscious, way, he saw conventional adulthood as a kind of living death: the end of humor, adventure and the death of romance.”

      Whereas Cameron Crowe was able to break out of teen tropes and still maintain a certain level of artistic integrity, Hughes was stuck.

      As for the article itself, excellent work as usual. Like you, I had no idea of how many of those made for TV movies Thompson was in.


      • Glad you liked the article. I actually skipped over a ton of TV movies in the last 10 years. There were just too many. I also omitted Thin Ice, a good caper movie starring Alan Arkin and Greg Kinnear. Thompson has a bit role as Kinnear’s ex-wife. She claims she got the role because of her cat. It’s a good movie if you get a chance to watch it.

        Hughes was really something. I think it was undeniable he was talented. But he was also the ultimate commercial hack. If something was a hit, he was going to milk it for all it was worth. His teen movies completely dried up. But then Home Alone was big so he spent the rest of his career chasing that. But his heart didn’t seem to be in anything post Curly Sue. He was just a writer/producer for hire.

        Speaking of Planes, Trains and Automobiles… Hughes was also a real self-serving asshole. He had petty feuds that lasted for years. He didn’t care that his whims impacted other people’s lives and careers. According to Martha Coolidge, Planes Trains and Automobiles was based on a story she told Hughes before he fired her. She had mentioned she was thinking about making it into a movie, but Hughes cranked it out before she could get around to it.


        • jeffthewildman

          Forgot about Thin Ice. Saw that during its brief theatrical run. Found it to be pretty entertaining if derivative of Fargo in spots.


        • It very much wants to be Fargo meets The Sting. It falls far short of both of those movies, but is still pretty good. The reveal at the end makes no sense at all, but the performances make up for that.


        • jeffthewildman

          This was what I wrote about it after I saw it:

          I wasn’t expecting much from Jill Sprecher’s “Thin Ice”. From the description it sounded like a bush league “Fargo”. And while it does borrow quite a bit from the Coen Brothers masterpiece, it manages to offer up some pretty good entertainment in its own right.

          Greg Kinnear stars as Mickey, an insurance salesman who’s seen better days. His business is on the verge of collapse, his wife has thrown him out on account of his numerous affairs and he’s desperate for money. He thinks he’s hit pay dirt when he finagles retired farmer Gorvy (Alan Arkin) into buying more insurance than he really needs. During one of his visits to Gorvy’s house, he discovers that the not quite demented yet not quite totally sane man has recently come into possession of a rare violin. Upon discovering how much the violin is worth, Mickey plans a heist. Of course, all perfectly planned crimes must go wrong at some point and it isn’t long before Mickey’s in over his head.

          For most of its relatively scant run time, Thin Ice is on target. It’s not until we get into the last 15 minutes that the movie goes off the rails and descends into a contrived piece of exposition. While Fargo ended on a short note that wrapped everything up neatly, this one goes on long after we’ve gotten the point and everything seems too coincidental.

          But where the script fizzles, the performances work. Kinnear does good as the sleazy yet not as bad as some other people Mickey. Like William H Macy’s character in the aforementioned Fargo, he turns to crime out of desperation and finds he has no talent for it. While not too different from his role in Little Miss Sunshine, Arkin is good as the geezer. The standout role though is Billy Crudup as Randy, a locksmith who ends up complicating matters a great deal for Mickey. Unfortunately Lea Thompson has too limited screen time as Mickey’s ex.

          No, Thin Ice is not a cinematic classic. But it does offer enough biting humor and punchy dialogue to make it worth your time.


        • I agree with every word you wrote.

          What I really liked about Crudup is that his performance could be viewed as over the top at points until the ending puts it in a new light.


  8. Great article as usual! Just wanted to point out something about the Red Dawn remake. They did not fight a Chinese invasion. It was originally filmed as the Chinese invading the US, but then the producers got worried China would get upset. So they changed it to the North Koreans, going so far as to digitally alter the costumes the soldiers were wearing!

    It sat on the shelf for a while and only got released because Chris Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson had become famous in the interim.

    I know this is a Lea Thompson article, but doing such an awful job remaking one of the most lovably cheesy movies of my childhood bugs me to no end!


    • I remember there being quite an uproar about the Red Dawn remake and how awful it was. Only Milius could pull off something as wacky as Red Dawn. Trying to catch lightning in a bottle a second time is pointless. It’s one of those, “what were they thinking” moves.

      Also Red Dawn was very of its time. Remaking Red Dawn is like remaking Mr. Mom – which is something that was also happening at some point.


      • skewedreality

        I actually really liked the original Red Dawn and subsequently refuse to watch the remake.
        To be fair, there are few Swayze movies from the 80’s I don’t love (Road House, Young Blood, The Outsiders)..great cheesy stuff.


        • My son and I loved the original Red Dawn. While the story may be a stretch, it exhibits loyalty, patriotism and all the qualities of our original Minute Men. The girls, Lea Thompson and the other (ahh, what’s her NAME?) were the consummate survivors who ultimately brought the fight to the enemy.

          As for the remake, the ChinoKorean debacle. I watched it with my son, and nearly cried. Why, why, why?! How could something so good, well maybe average, be made so bad? I mean not bad, but terrible. I had to send my boy to counseling over this…

          I love this woman. But then I love all women…

          Brad Deal


        • I never knew before that Jaws 3D was initially intended to be a parody. So, Spielberg hated the idea of a Jaws parody so much and threatened Universal because it would tarnish the legacy of the original, I presume? This was right when E.T. had been released and surpassed Star Wars as the biggest box office hit of all time for Universal, so he had all the leverage in the world to threaten them at that moment. No wonder they backed off on that parody. Although, watching that “Worst shark effect scene ever” clip you provided, I wonder if that scene was kept in as a subtle parody? Dear lord, that is the most shoddy special effects scene ever! I laughed while watching it, absolutely terrible. ha ha. I’ve seen the original Jaws countless times over the years, I’ve even seen Jaws 2 a couple times which was an ok flick, but I never wasted my time with Jaws 3D or Jaws 4: The Revenge. I think I’ve probably done myself a favor by avoiding those. Although, seeing Lea Thompson in a bathing suit has me second guessing myself….


        • The original title was Jaws 3, People 0. It was going to be a Mad magazine style parody. I’m not sure how much muscle Spielberg needed to flex. I don’t think it was ever a very popular idea within Universal. Everyone knew that once you did a satire, the franchise was over. And Universal wanted to keep making Jaws movies. Everything Spielberg touched (except for 1941) was gold at the time. So Universal wasn’t about to jeopardize that relationship.

          The shark that doesn’t move has the distinction of being the least convincing shark in any Jaws movie. Which is really quite an accomplishment.

          I would never recommend Jaws 3 or 4 except in a so bad they are good way. I have watched Jaws 3 a handful of times with no regrets. It’s fun watching all the cheap 3-D tricks that make no sense since you’re watching the movie in 2-D. Jaws: The Revenge is even more of a howler.


        • Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t it Jaws 4 that has one of the silliest movie bloopers of all time, that being MIchael Caine climbing out of the ocean, soaking wet, into a boat, and then in the very next shot sitting down on the boat bone dry?


        • That’s the one. He missed accepting his Oscar for Hannah and Her Sisters to film it. On the upside, they filmed in the Bahamas.


        • You know, I’ve seen that clip from Jaws 4 before of Michael Caine climbing out of the ocean, soaking wet, and then sitting down bone dry… Watching it again, from the clip you posted, after all these years I finally realized something: the guy climbing out of the ocean, soaking wet, IS NOT Michael Caine. It’s his voice over the scene, but not him: it must be a stuntman, paying his dues by climbing out of the water soaking wet. The only actual shot of Caine is sitting down, bone dry. I guess he was too much a big shot to, you know, do something pedestrian like actually get wet for a scene in a movie set around the ocean. That realization makes it even more funny to me.


        • He claims the only reason he made the movie was to get enough money to buy his mom a house. What a nice boy!


        • MIchael Caine is one of the few actors out there to outright admit he did a movie just for a paycheck. There’s not many of those out there that have done that. A few, but not many. Actually, that has me thinking, if you’re up for a little research that might actually make for a fun article, LeBeau!


        • Indeed it might. Thanks for the suggestion.

          I believe Caine has said he made Jaws 4 and The Swarm purely for the money.


        • I read a Caine interview where he said “I never saw Jaws 4- I understand its pretty bad- but I have seen the house I bought from it – and its great!!”

          You can’t dislike that honesty.


        • I can’t dislike Caine. 😉


        • Well, the girls seem to be in near constant danger of being raped. They cry a lot and Lea Thompson’s character falls for any guy who looks at her funny. I wouldn’t exactly hold up the female characters as role models. My problem with Red Dawn isn’t the implausibility. I’m willing to suspend my disbelief. It’s that the characters are paper thin and the entire thing exists in service of the fantasy notion that what keeps America safe is private gun owners. I don’t mind the pro-NRA slant, but the movie just doesn’t have a whole lot more to offer except for unintentional camp. Having said that, I understand why people love it. If you’re nostalgic for the Reagan-era, this is a huge slice of 80’s cheesiness.

          I have debated whether or not to watch the remake. Since I am not a fan of the original, I’m not at all concerned about seeing a favorite movie betrayed. It has such a lousy reputation, I’m curious to see if it can live up to it. As someone who thinks the original is actually a pretty terrible movie, I can’t imagine the remake being that much worse. But apparently, it is.

          I love Thompson too. Writing this article gave me even more of an appreciation for her.


        • That’s some great cheese!


  9. No, no, no Lebeau, it’s not how it is, it’s how you remember it that counts. It’s been years since I seen the movie but I remember everything perfectly. The characters are not paper thin, but completely fleshed out, the plot is well defined with no holes, and I had no need of any suspension of disbelief. And Americans don’t rape heroines, only the bad guys.

    In fact I remember everything now, Red Dawn was one of the most iconic movies of the Cold War. So don’t give me facts, just agree with me, ok? Otherwise I may have to re evaluate my entire value system.

    Lea Thompson or Jennifer Grey, you must choose….

    Brad Deal


    • lol – How can I argue with that logic?

      Without a doubt Lea Thompson > Baby. Don’t even need a second to think it over.

      Kidding aside, I agree that Red Dawn is one of the most iconic movies of the Cold War era.


  10. Another great article, lebeau. It makes me think what happened to her costar Mary Stuart Masterson. She seemed poised to be the next big thing, but then it almost seems like her movie career dried up.


  11. You left out Lea’s appearance on “The Larry Sanders Show”. It may be the only time she played herself! Halarious show!


    • I did. At a certain point, I start being selective about what to include. Otherwise, 2/3rds of most articles would be filled with TV and direct-to-video movies no one has heard of and I’d spend another 2 weeks researching. The idea is to capture the flavor of the post-peak career. Hit the highs and lows. That sort of thing.


    • I love this response:

      she made all the wrong moves?

      I hate this one:

      What the Hell Happened to writing one’s own words for Usenet?
      Won’t you ever stop shilling? This blog you shill for really sucks.

      Boo Adam H. Kerman. You “really suck”. Okay maybe not. I don’t know you. But words hurt. 😦

      I agree with this one:

      Nothing – we’re subjected to her weekly on the awful “Switched at

      Which is why if you read the article and not just the title, I framed the question specifically around her movie career.

      I stand up and cheer for TMC:

      That doesn’t exactly explain what the hell happened to Lea Thompson!? Where the hell does it say on UseNet, that you can simply post the link to another site (like it’s a requirement to post your personal opinion at the top every single time)!? And if you don’t like the blog that I “shill” then you can easily say how you really feel in the comments section of said blog.

      That Adam H guys again:

      . . . or I can never look at that blog ever again.

      Hey Adam, let’s not be hasty. Oh who are we kidding. Did you ever actually read the article in the first place? Do I care? No. I guess I kind of don’t. I guess I won’t miss you then. But if you ever want to drop by and talk, you’re more than welcome. We don’t bite.

      Oh wow. That got nasty!

      The internet is a scary place.


      • I wouldn’t worry about whatever some idiot says. Let Adam what’s his name put the level of work into his blog that you have, maintain consistent quality content not to mention vigilant weeding out of spambots – that alone sets this blog apart and made me a fan from the first article I read, not to mention setting a tone that is welcoming of all commenters… The Adams of the world would rather sit back and complain about someone else’s work because they aren’t about to do that work themselves.


        • WordPress actually has a system that catches the majority of the spam. It seriously blocks about 100 spam posts an hour! Daffy and I clean up the rest which is probably a dozen or so a day.

          I don’t seriously care what Mr. Adam has to say. I think he’s just lashing out at TMC. A lot of people do that because they don’t like it when people just post links. What’s it to them? I don’t know. I personally appreciate getting links to articles I might want to read. But haters gonna hate. Or so I am told.

          And thanks as always for the kind words.


        • What the Hell.. Is a UseNet? Who cares?

          Do I hate him? You don’t even know him..
          He reminds
          Now I know I hate him.

          From Tombstone (sort of)

          I go with RB. Screw these guys

          Brad Deal


        • Oddly enough, I hated a fairly easier time when I posted this on rec.arts.movies.past-films, when compared to


        • I think one assbag set the tone on the first group.


        • I responded, “That’s probably why the site averages over 10,000 hits a day and growing. Clearly, no one is interested in the topic.”


        • Another user on named Barb May has also recently been on my case in regards to me posting the What the Hell Happened to… articles (at least since I posted the Billy Zane one) because according to her/him, it constitutes spam (Barb didn’t like the fact that for the Billy Zane WTHHT article, I posted each and every link/page at the bottom of the opening paragraph) or some jazz like that:

          OK then spam-boy. You want a flame war? You got it. We’ll see how long
          you last. I bet the owners of the web sites you’re spamming for will
          have something to say about this as well, once they are advised of the
          fact that further promotion by you via USENET will affect them. Hosting
          companies will act against a web site that spams USENET, even when the
          owner insists he’s not the one doing it. Try me and see, asswipe.



        • Here’s a sampling of what Barb May said when I posted the Billy Zane article to

          Pathetic denial and childish name-calling won’t help you.

          You spammed and you were called on it. You know the challenge is valid
          and that’s why you can’t afford to ignore it. I’m going to move on now
          and I suggest you do the same. If you spam again you won’t be proving to
          anyone that you have a “right” to do it, but you will generate
          additional backlash that will not be good for the web site.



        • Everyone on the internet is so lovely.


        • “Nothing has happened.” kind of sums it up, doesn’t it? Maybe not in the way the commenter intended. It cuts both ways. Yes, she is still around which is definitely to her credit. Yep, she’s had amazing longevity. But when it came it her movie career: nothing happened.


  12. It seems that around the time Thompson was in Back to the Future, there were some actresses that had the “meh factor”. Not amazing actresses but not bad, pretty but not overly so, most movies were average, etc. Sort of a cookie cutter actress and they all seem to blend together. Anyone have any thoughts on this? Not being critical just throwing some thoughts out into the universe.


    • Isn’t that the purpose of an awful lot of actresses? Eye candy of a certain predictable type, usually to provide love interest / friend of love interest / potential murder victim, etc.? It depresses the hell out of me, but it seems that’s always been the way, and probably always will be.


  13. I don’t know what a “star” is, but looking back, I don’t know, Looking back, I’ve enjoyed the career of Lea Thompson. It’s an unusual industry, being creative but yet being told what you do from directors who are feel equally creavitive. Hey, but she did get married ( I LOVE “Some Kind of Wonderful”; yeah, I’m I guy, but a sensitive doofus at the same token::-).
    Nice write up Lebeau;excellent choice.


    • Traditionally, being a star means that you’re able to deliver an audience to your movies. It has very little if anything to do with being a good actor. The two are not mutually exclusive. But they are also not directly related.

      This is what I find interesting about the series. Every career is different. There are a lot of similarities. But when you get out the microscope and look at the fine details, each career is unique as a snowflake. Thompson’s career is one of the more interesting ones in the series that doesn’t involve atrocious behavior.


  14. Great read as usual! I spent almost 2 days reading every single one of your WTTH entries:) I got here from a Lifetime movie, and this is where I ended up:)

    I just remember her from Howard the Duck. I was born after it was released, so I used to watch it on VHS because my parents thought it was age appropriate. Which it wasn’t. But hey, duck boobs and interspecies dating is perfect for young children to watch. There was a lot of sexual content in it.I haven’t seen the movie in years, but that’s all I remember from that movie. And there are thousands of reviews you can watch online on that classic movie.

    And that’s the only movie I’ve ever seen her in. I don’t remember her acting, but I certainly remember her hair.

    It’s great that she found success on TV!


    • Yeah, I viewed “Howard the Duck” on HBO when I was a kid. I liked it fine, and I wasn’t aware at the time that it was a bomb. Then again, I was 10 when i first viewed it, so film reviews weren’t really a factor for me at the time (nowadays, they are a consideration and a reference, but never a deal breaker).


      • It wasn’t just a bomb. It was THE bomb. It was a huge embarrassment for all involved. It’s really amazing that Thompson was able to come back from it. It could have been her Showgirls.

        Reviews are rarely a deal breaker for a movie I really want to see. But they will determine whether or not I rush out and see a movie. Especially if it is something I am on the fence about. I do find that more often than not I agree with the critical consensus more than popular opinion.


        • I know what you mean. For myself, I become more interested if the film is considered either a masterpiece or a total stinker; I want to see for myself what the hype or vitriol is about.


        • Oh yeah. I recently watched Pet Semetary 2 partially as research and partially to see if it was really as bad as its reputation. I didn’t see how it could be. It was directed by Mary Lambert who directed the first one. How much worse could it be? Turns out it could be a lot worse. I had no idea it would be as howlingly bad as it was. Actors who I have seen do good work elsewhere like Clancy Brown and Anthony Edwards positively embarrassed themselves here. It was a true train wreck.


      • Superhero Rewind: Howard the Duck Review

        “Howard the Duck,” (1986). Lea Thompson, Jeffrey Jones. Directed by Willard Huyck.




          When she signed on to play Beverly, Lea Thompson was on a career high. She’d just had a breakthrough role, playing Lorraine McFly in the mega-blockbuster Back to the Future. The sky appeared to be the limit for her. Howard the Duck brought the dream crashing back to Earth. In a DVD interview, she admits being “devastated” by the movie’s box office failure, saying it felt especially weird coming off a major triumph.

          As fate would have it, that devastation would prove positive for Thompson. Eager to distance herself from the turkey with which she’d become associated, she decided it might be a good idea to take a part in a new movie that she’d already turned down. That part was Amanda Jones in the John Hughes-penned Some Kind of Wonderful. It brought her good reviews, and has gone on to become a teen classic. She also married the director, Howard Deutch.


          For the part of Beverly Switzler, the filmmakers thought that it might be a good idea to cast a real singer, rather than making an actress sing. They considered a number of professional vocalists for the role. Cyndi Lauper and Belinda Carlisle of the Go-Gos are among those who were thought of.

          Another was Tori Amos, who was not yet the beloved solo performer we know her as today. At the time, she fronted a band called Y Kant Tori Read. She had a great voice and a strong sense of how to perform onstage, which made her seem like an ideal Beverly.

          Amos was offered the job. Then Thompson, who was fresh off the massive success that was Back to the Future, suddenly became available. Producers courted her for the role instead, and Amos was shown the proverbial door. In the end, it really didn’t matter, as she went on to have a successful music career.


          Although reviled at the time, Howard the Duck has garnered an appreciative following in the intervening years. Screenings of the movie are almost always popular events — and sometimes they yield incredible nuggets of information.

          One such example took place recently. Howard the Duck screened at L.A.’s Beyond Fest, one of the biggest genre festivals in the country. They somehow snagged a 70mm print, giving fans a chance to see it in a format that few ever have. Lea Thompson turned out for the event and participated in a Q&A afterward.

          It was during this time that she dropped a bombshell. The actress said that she felt inspired by a female director, Patty Jenkins, taking the helm of a great big, successful comic book movie, Wonder Woman. With that in mind, she is thinking of going to Marvel and asking them to let her direct a remake of Howard. Maybe Thompson was only joking. Hopefully, though she was serious. We would totally pay to see that!


    • I’m so glad you found us. I love it when someone takes an interest in the series and goes back and reads up on the archives. That’s what I always had in mind for the series. Glad you enjoyed it. Reading them all in two days is pretty impressive!

      If you weren’t around when it was released, Howard was pretty crazy. The movie has an identity crisis. It’s completely inappropriate for kids. And yet it was sold as a kids movie. And there was a huge promotional push. Howard was everywhere. It was expected to be a Star Wars type smash because of Lucas’ involvement and the massive special effects budget. And then audiences realized that all those resources were used in the service of a topless duck and collectively as a nation we all went “Wha huh!?”

      If Howard the Duck is the only Lea Thompson movie you have ever seen, then you need to scrap your plans for the weekend and go out and watch Back to the Future immediately. The sequels are optional, but the original is mandatory.

      Red Dawn, All the Right Moves and Jaws 3 are extra credit. And if anyone has a copy of The Wild Life, I’m trying to track than one down myself.


      • Oh I forgot about Back to the Future! I’ve seen all of them, but I totally forgot that she was in the movie when I wrote that comment. I just remember her in Howard the Duck because other than Howard, the duck, she was really the only main visible star who was a human. And brain raped. Ugh the opening scene had duck breasts! And it was still marketed towards children! I believe it was PG, which was PG 13 for the 80’s, but it was still marketed towards kids.

        I remember watching the cartoon Transformer movies and I remember when Optimus Prime said the D word and I walked around the house in a daze. And that was rated PG as well.

        Haha I really didn’t have anything better to do. And I enjoyed the jokes in there that made it pretty interesting to read. Even on celebrities who I barely registered like Lea Thompson and a plethora of others, it was fun to revisit them!

        And I love the Seagal article! He’s such an insufferable bore I remember watching Under Siege all the time because my male cousins were obsessed with him. They’re still waiting for a comeback. But alas! I think they have given hope to the Seagal cult. Apparently he’s open to anything AKA Expendables 3;) So maybe my cousins can have a beacon of hope for the sad saga of Seagal.


        • Good, the first Back to the Future is on my list of universal movies everyone should be able to enjoy.

          Howard the Duck was definitely an odd mix. The source material was definitely not for kids. Not little kids at least. They took the lead character who had a nasty attitude and smoked a cigar and turned him into Donald Duck light. For those who don’t know, this is what Howard looked like in the comic books.

          The final movie retained just enough of that edge to be completely inappropriate for its target audience. But not enough to please fans of the character. It’s a prime example of what happens when you put special effects above everything else.

          I am glad you’re enjoying the series. It’s always a bit strange to me to think that a lot of readers are not as familiar with these actors as I am (with the exceptions being Seagal and Van Damme whose work I was barely familiar with at all). I try to include enough information that anyone can get a sense of what the careers were like even if they haven’t seen any of the movies. I like to think that the articles would serve as a good introduction or primer on the subject. If nothing else, I hope the jokes are at least marginally entertaining.


        • He looks a bit like Daffy Duck, but with a cigar in his mouth! I’ll admit that I’ve never heard of that comic book. I tended to stick with Wonder Woman, Teen Titans, Spiderman, Superman, Batman, Teen Titans, and Justice League comics instead.

          But of course, children watched it:) It was targeted towards children, but they could have still made it subtle instead of just… weird. I swear, it’s like a fetish movie. Was there that much innuendo in the comics?

          Seagal was everywhere in the early 90’s! But once you see one Seagal movie, you’ve seen them all.

          I know most of the male ones, but I don’t know too many of the female ones. I’ve seen them in the movies they were in, but they weren’t a huge focus in the movie. Like Leelee, Linda Fiorontino, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Daryl Hannah, Mira Sorvino, and Mena Suvari. I’ve seen their movies, but I never paid much attention to them. For an example for Leelee, I just paid attention for the shenanigans of Nic Cage in “Wicker Man”. Mena Suvari’s only role I know of is American Beauty, but Kevin Spacey was the star. The outlier would be Daryl Hannah who I adored in Splash, but I watched the movie for the plot, not as much for her, if that makes sense? And I didn’t recognize her in Kill Bill initially.

          And they are! I can understand the arc that the stars go through, and I’ll read an article and then realize that I’ve seen the movie! One thing’s for sure, I think that you could have a lucrative career becoming a PR agents for stars and helping pick out movies for them:) You have the research from examining a ton of cases! And the commentators also have more common sense in picking movies as well. I feel like a film buff after reading these articles and comments!

          I never knew any of those actresses’ names, but I was surprised that I had actually seen their movies!

          But I still haven’t seen anything by Guttenberg or Jason Patric. Other than that, I’ve seen at least one movie from each WTTH entries.


        • A DC fan like myself! We have to stick together. It’s a Marvel world. We’re just living in it. Anyone who lists Wonder Woman first is okay in my book!

          Personally, I have never read a Howard the Duck comic book. I remember them being around. I come from a big family and have uncles that aren’t that much older than me. Pretty sure my brainy Uncle Mike read Howard the Duck. From what I saw of the books, they weren’t suggestive (Red Sonya on the cover to the contrary.) They were irreverent. My understanding is that the books were filled with satire of other popular Marvel comics at the time and existential humor. Howard the comic book duck was very high brow at times. The central theme was that he was trapped in a world he never made. Meaning all he wanted was to be left alone to live a peaceful life, but because he didn’t fit in his hopes and dreams were always frustrated. This lead to Howard being somewhat surly:

          Disney sued Marvel because they felt the character looked to similar to Donald. The lawsuit ended in Howard having to wear pants. I find it amazing that this wasn’t covered as a parody. The courts have no understanding of comics and probably saw a comic strip character as being identical to a satire of said character. Then the movie basically turned Howard into Donald minus the speech impediment. And of course much later Disney bought Marvel so now they own both ducks.


        • Spider Man’s Marvel, but I only read a few after religiously watching The Amazing Adventures of Spider Man on Disney.

          And Wonder Woman is incredible! She was one of my,if not, favorite Super Heroes! I think I stopped reading when all the DC comics started having Alternate Universes. I’m getting back into comics through Avatar the Last Airbender and Young Justice, both of which I enjoyed.

          Millions of dollars used to get Howard to wear pants? If Marvel had known what the future held, I’m sure they would have drawn pants on him. That’s really strange! Did they appeal?

          Are they going to do anything with Howard? Or just keep the rights for years to come?


        • Yeah, I’m primarily a DC guy. But how can you not like Spider-man? I’m also a big fan of Captain America. You should never limit yourself to one publisher’s offerings even if you have a preference. They both put out there fair share of good stuff and more than their fair share of garbage.

          Wonder Woman is incredible. I feel like not enough people know that. I was very annoyed yesterday when it seemed like 9 out of 10 people loved the Xena costume Zack Snyder put her in for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

          No, Marvel caved. Disney lawyers are intimidating. I can’t blame them. They were David to Disney’s Goliath. They put pants on Howard and made it all go away.

          There’s been talk of a Howard the Duck reboot at some point. Supposedly there is something Howard-related in Guardians of the Galaxy. Whether it is a cameo appearance or an Easter egg, we’ll have to wait and see. He pops up from time to time in comics and sometimes gets his own mini-series or special.


        • So Bad It’s Good: ‘Howard the Duck,’ the Marvel Movie We’d All Like to Forget:

          By Jason Bailey on Aug 19, 2014 9:45am
          [So Bad It’s Good: ‘Howard the Duck,’ the Marvel Movie We’d All Like to Forget]

          Bad movies are not a simple matter. There are nearly as many categories of terrible movies as there are for great ones: there are films that are insultingly stupid (Batman & Robin), unintentionally funny (The Room), unintentionally, painfully unfunny (White Chicks), so bad they’re depressing (Transformers), and so on. But the most rewarding terrible movies are those we know as “so bad they’re good” — entertaining in their sheer incompetence, best braved in numbers, where the ham-fisted dramatics and tin-eared dialogue become fodder for years of random quotes and inside jokes. And in this spirit, Flavorwire brings you the latest installment in our monthly So Bad It’s Good series: Howard the Duck, the first big-screen adaptation of a Marvel comic book, which makes their subsequent films seem like the flowers that bloom beneath a heavy load of dense fertilizer.

          I’ve heard references to “one-joke” movies before, but the description has seldom been as accurate as it is for Howard the Duck. The joke, basically from beginning to end, is that Howard is a duck. That’s pretty much the gag — he’s from a duck planet that mirrors ours, but with all of the people and cultural references replaced by ducks (he has framed posters for Breeders of the Lost Stork and Splashdance, to give two of the most high-larious examples). Whenever one of those artifacts is revealed, or whenever he issues a would-be wisecrack like, “No more Mr. Nice Duck,” we’re expected to unhinge our jaws and roar with laughter. Because he’s a duck, you see.

          The majority of those references are packed into the scene-setting opening sequence, as our duck hero returns home from a long day of duck work, sifts through his duck mail, clicks through all the duck shows on his duck TV, and settles his attention on the latest issue of Playduck. Just as it becomes apparent that we’re about to watch this duck jerk off, the chair begins to shake (but not from that, luckily), and he and his easy chair are jettisoned out of his world and into ours.

          And then… well, it would be polite to call the sequence that follows his crash landing on earth inexplicable. He is picked up by eyeliner-wearing thugs. He is hauled into a music club. He is thrown out of said club. He is chased by a bonkers homeless woman. He is chased by a girl biker gang. These events simply pile-up on top of each other, like the highway accident in Nashville — or, more accurately, like the post-credit chase in screenwriters Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz’s last big hit, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Except without any logic. Or wit. Or stakes.

          But if you try to summarize the events of Howard the Duck — and after a couple of stabs at this futile enterprise, I’m electing not to — you just sound like a crazy person, because if Howard the Duck has one outstanding characteristic, it is not the neon ‘80s aesthetic or the corresponding crimped and teased hairdos or the utter creepiness of the titular duck himself. It is the film’s total lack of any logic. Events happen on screen, in a form that appears to have been organized by words and character names on pieces of paper, but all reason has been abandoned somewhere along the way.

          Why does all the culture shock only go one way? (Most everyone is stunned or amused by the sight of a talking, cigar-chomping duck in business suits and satin jackets, but he seems to have no response whatsoever to our world and its close resemblance to its own.) Why is his first stop the employment office, and how does he get a job? (Aside from being a duck, he’s got no social security number or identification of any kind — he’s kinda off the grid.) How does Howard keep winning fights against giant humans? (Ducks have brittle bones, you guys. You do not want a duck on your side in a fight.) Why does Howard freak out and accuse everyone of trying to make him a cannibal when he is brought a plate of eggs at a diner? (Eggs come from chickens. Howard is a duck.) Why do Howard and his lady pal Beverly decide to go to dinner at that diner with a man who has been possessed by a dark lord? When said dark lord subsequently kidnaps Beverly for some kind of interstellar womb hijacking, why does she not leap from the vehicle during any of the approximately 300 opportunities he provides? And why is she grossed out by his grotesque snake tongue, when about half an hour earlier, she seems to earnestly attempt to quite literally f*** a duck?

          Ah, yes, the duck sex. You see, in the picture’s most notorious scene, Howard snuggles into bed with Beverly (Lea Thompson, whose mid-‘80s specialty was apparently playing women who very nearly have sex that they really, really shouldn’t have). She’s wearing next to nothing, and complaining about her man troubles, so he playfully runs his fingers up her arms and proposes, “Maybe it’s not a man you should be looking for.” She purrs back, “You think I could find happiness in the animal kingdom, ducky?” And the saxophone music wails as she makes a beeline for his duck nipples.

          It is all very, very disturbing.

          During this scene, and many others, I found myself asking the question that Howard’s creators should have asked early and often: Who, exactly, is this movie for? The duck puns, numb-skulled narrative, and general goofiness of the enterprise indicate a family audience — as does the PG (not even PG-13!) rating. But that PG rating is an odd fit for a movie that not only features the aforementioned proximity to a human/duck sex scene, but two pairs of duck boobs (in the first four minutes, even), and a sequence where Howard seems to have found employment in some kind of hot tub f*** shack.

          To be fair, the original Howard the Duck comic books had a clear audience: grown-ups. But that wouldn’t do for executive producer George Lucas, who was expected to deliver a movie that everyone could enjoy (particularly considering the film’s then-considerable $37 million budget). He’d reportedly first considered adapting Howard after his first big success, American Graffiti, but made Star Wars instead; Katz and Huyck, who wrote Graffiti with him, stayed with the project all those years without ever getting, it seems, a grasp on the material. (It was Huyck’s last directorial effort; in the years since, he and Katz’s writing credits have only appeared on TV movies and the Lucas-produced flop Radioland Murders.)

          In retrospect, Howard’s ultimate legacy may just be that it was our first hint, all those years before The Prequels, that George Lucas was not infallible. It did have one very positive outcome, however: the story goes that Lucas was counting on Howard’s bang-up business to get him out of the debt he’d accumulated after Return of the Jedi, so when it tanked, he was forced to sell off some assets. Among them was a Lucasfilm animation subsidiary that Steve Jobs took over, and I think we can all breathe a sigh of relief that he let Pixar go.

          Marvel would, of course, prove a far more lucrative source for movie material than Howard indicated, and when (spoiler) the duck popped up, mostly as an in-joke, in the post-credit cookie for Guardians of the Galaxy, the comic-book sites went nuts: Does this mean Marvel’s going to make another Howard the Duck movie? And who knows, maybe they’d get it right this time. But let’s cross our fingers and hope not; the leftover juju is just too strong on this one. A confession, dear reader: this column is labeled “So Bad, It’s Good,” and most of the time, I stand by this label. But Howard the Duck is a painfully stupid, narratively inept, grotesquely overlong (it’s 110 minutes, for God’s sake) mess. It’s not so bad it’s good; it’s just so bad. So apologies for the false advertising, but if it wasted that much of my time, it only seems fair that I wasted a little bit of yours.


        • What the Duck?

          Well, you asked for it – MovieBob breaks down what exactly the infamous Howard the Duck film was all about.


        • Part of the problem with the Howard the Duck movie is that in the comics, Howard was quite frankly, a douchebag. But in the movie, they in essence tried to make him out to be a character that Michael J. Fox would ideally play.

          Also, the Howard comics were very satirical and self-referential. I suppose that in way, the Howard comics were sort of a intergalactic version of the Deadpool comics.


      • The Weird Marketing of Howard the Duck:

        We take a look back at how Universal promoted one of the first Marvel movies…Howard the Duck.

        One might say that Howard the Duck is one of the most (unfairly) maligned films of the 1980s. Despite that, this article may contain spoilers for one of the biggest, most well-received films of 2014, believe it or not. If you’re not caught up on your summer movie releases, perhaps this article isn’t for you. It’s just tough to discuss one of that decade’s more ambitious flops without discussing one of this summer’s biggest hits. Some of you may know why. Proceed at your own risk…

        Recently, Den of Geek UK writer Wil Jones presented a terrific article about why you should give the Howard the Duck movie another chance. As something of a Duckologist myself, I couldn’t agree with him more. The film is definitely stranger and funnier than you probably remember. So why was it such a bomb? Well, its flirtation with bestiality aside, I think one of the main reasons Howard the Duck flopped when it was released back on August 1, 1986, was that the marketing campaign was terrible. Let’s take a look…

        The first look audiences were given of the film is this bizarre teaser in which Lea Thompson’s Beverly Switzler character coos about wanting to fornicate with a waterfowl. By judging the movie on this footage alone, you’d be forgiven if you thought that Howard the Duck was an especially kinky teen comedy. As they proved with their previous script for Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, director Williard Hyuck and producer Gloria Katz were huge fans of wild tonal shifts in their work. For the second Indy adventure, the levity worked given that the film featured hearts being forcibly extracted from chests.

        But seeing how Howard the Duck is, above all else, a comedy, it is especially jarring when things get bleak (i.e. the Dark Overlord brutally executes a state trooper). Couple this with the almost sex scene between Beverly and Howard, and you’ve got a marketing nightmare on your hands. And so Universal tried to pitch the flick as a wild comedic adventure for the whole family with the full trailer:

        Wauuuugh! Okay, so it shouldn’t have to be said, but if the star of your movie is a 3-foot-tall duck, maybe don’t introduce him to the world by sleazily stating that his primary interests are “cigars and sex.” (Unless your film is actively courting the fetish/furry subculture).

        As a hodgepodge of so many genres, Howard the Duck was a tough sell to say the least. Making matters worse is the appearance of Howard himself. During the production of the film, many ulcers were spawned by fears that audiences wouldn’t pay money to see a film whose lead was a person in a duck suit. Therefore, the decision was made to hold back the appearance of Howard as long as possible. So now the marketing team had another issue to contend with: figuring out how to sell the film without being able to show Howard. Their solution to this dilemma? By focusing on his attitude instead of his appearance. Thus, the Duck Calls phone line was born.

        During the summer of 1986, you could dial 1-900-410-DUCK and listen to Howard tell you about the movie, its characters and his adventures on Earth. Some of these calls featured “conversations” between Howard and his co-stars that had the duck interacting with movie dialogue a la the novelty songs of Dickie Goodman. The puns featured in these ads are beyond painful, and Chip Zien, the voice of Howard, seems outwardly hostile to callers. Every day leading up to the film’s release a new recording was featured on the hotline…all of them equally terrible. Being a Howard the Duck super-fan back in 1986, I would have lost my mind had I known I could call Howard and have him berate me for for $1.99 a minute. Alas, I didn’t even know the phone-line existed until a few years ago when someone was nice/demented enough to upload all of the calls onto YouTube.

        Believe it or not, this wasn’t the oddest way Universal tried to market the film. That dubious honor goes to a promotional tie-in with Budweiser in which the King of Beers was named as Howard’s drink of choice on a special movie poster that was apparently a big hit with beer distributors and second run movie theaters on Skid Row. Sheesh.


        Then there was the soundtrack. A huge part of Howard the Duck’s enduring appeal is Thomas Dolby’s soundtrack to the film. From the great new wave of “Hunger City” to the low-rent Prince stylings of “Don’t Turn Away” and the genuine ear-worm that is the title track, the music of the movie has earned its own cult following over the years. But did you realize there was actually a music video made for the “Howard the Duck” theme song?

        Once again, Universal’s hesitance to show off their lead is on display. Oddly enough, this clip was released around the same time that the film hit theaters, making their unwillingness to spotlight Howard even more confusing. By this time, the duck was out of the bag as it were, so why not just embrace his goofiness? Howard’s loss was Tim Robbins’ gain, as the future Oscar winner gets some valuable mugging time in front of the cameras here.

        Universal’s lack of confidence in Howard the Duck also resulted in there not being much merchandise based on the film. Other than the aforementioned soundtrack, a line of Topps trading cards, a candy dispenser, and some books — including Ellis Weiner’s smart novelization of the flick — there wasn’t much for Howard’s few fans to purchase in the summer of 1986. Even from Marvel Comics, who crapped out an awful adaptation of the flick and a new, Steve Gerber-less, issue in which, irony alert, Howard finds himself coping with his new fame. (Note to Funko/Super 7: Can you right a wrong and please do a Howard the Duck Re-Action Figures line?)

        So here we are, 28 years later to the day and Howard the Duck is suddenly a viable property again. Whether his appearance in Guardians of the Galaxy is just some quick fan service or a harbinger of a redemption that is yet to come, it is most welcome to have him back. Hopefully the powers that be will treat him better this time around…



          Lea Thompson (“Beverly Switzler”): It was a really big deal to be able to audition for it. I was in Huntsville, Alabama shooting SpaceCamp, trying to buy jewelry so I could look like Madonna. Willard and Gloria were super jazzed that I dressed up for my audition at their house.

          Lea Thompson: I like “Hunger City.” They’re all pretty good songs.

          Lea Thompson: There was always the thing hanging over my head that they might dub me. They weren’t really sure about my voice, so I worked really hard on that. I didn’t have any vocal training, and the worst thing is that I didn’t stand up for myself. I should have done a couple things in different keys.

          Lea Thompson: The hardest thing was that I had to learn how to play guitar. We shot the movie for six months and I never had a day off. I was always rehearsing, or recording, or doing something. I was so exhausted by the end. Holly Robinson was a really good singer. They were all more accomplished musicians than me.

          Lea Thompson: I had an amazing hairdo and it was a nightmare. I don’t even know how I have hair on my head. Six months of crimping. They’d spray it with Aqua Net that would come off in white clumps. It was ridiculous. I remember saying, “Just get me a wig,” and they were like, “That’s too expensive.” How could it be too expensive to get me a wig? Recently the hairdresser from Howard worked on my TV show, Switched at Birth, and I literally had a physical reaction. My hair got scared.

          Lea Thompson: All the sequences took a really long time to film. It was a strange time for special effects. I have the feeling that actors that are in Star Trek and Fantastic Four don’t work as long as we did back then. We had to do more of the special effects in real time. They just took forever. Nobody was coming in and computer animating the whole thing. I just didn’t exist. If it were ten or twenty years later, it would have been much easier on the actors.

          Lea Thompson: People were too obsessed with the duck working. I kept saying, “Just shoot so we only see the back of its head.” My nickname was “Dawn” because they would shoot this duck’s close up before mine, and they’d shoot mine at dawn. It’d be like, one take. It was all about that stupid duck. That was brutal.

          Lea Thompson: When they had to do the love scene, I was like, “I can’t do this scene with a kid.”

          Lea Thompson: There’s one scene where we are in the diner – it took three weeks to shoot that. That’s insane. The scene where we’re at the very end and the Dark Overlord is there. We were filming in that huge, cold bunker for a month, and there’s no place colder than San Francisco when you’re in a mini skirt and a torn blouse.

          Lea Thompson: In my entire thirty-four year career in Hollywood, I’ve only really lost my temper once – and that was to George Lucas. We were shooting the big sequence on stage when I’m singing “Howard the Duck.” I was really nervous and the hair and makeup people were freaking out, and freaking me out. He came in the trailer and was like, “When are you guys going to be ready,” or something like that. It was perfectly nice, but I remember looking in the mirror and seeing a thermometer. I turned red and said, “I will come as soon as I am ready!” I’m super-embarrassed and want to apologize to Mr. Lucas right now. Maybe that’s why I’ve never been cast in a Star Wars movie.

          Lea Thompson: The way they voiced the duck on set was so mechanical. It was impossible to tell jokes that way. It was very difficult for us as actors, and especially as comedians, because we had puppeteers doing jokes. Maybe they were actors, but they weren’t great comedians. Then you’d have to try and pick it up. It was really difficult to be funny. If you can have the actual voice actor saying lines for the character on set, like Bob Zemeckis did with Roger Rabbit, it really helps. People tend to underestimate the power of timing.

          Lea Thompson: The reviews didn’t matter that much to me. What was really upsetting was how badly it did at the box office. It was upsetting that nobody went because you knew how expensive the movie was. Back to the Future and Howard the Duck opened very close to being within a year of each other. It was an experience to go through such a hit and such a bomb in the same year.

          Lea Thompson: The comic books were so great, and inspired, and floppy, and messy. The movie was too smoothed out. It was a difficult tone to hit.

          Lea Thompson: I had just done a love scene with my son in Back to the Future and nobody seemed to be too upset about that. I thought it was hilarious. That’s my sense of humor. My biggest regret about that scene is that it the reason my kids have never seen me sing “Howard the Duck” in front of the giant egg. They have to turn it off at the love scene.

          Lea Thompson: I’m happy with my performance. I worked my butt off and I sold a lot of absolutely impossible things. That was our job. I sold that duck. I was in love with that duck, which was nearly impossible to act. I’ve never been ashamed of my work in that movie. That was some of the hardest work to do.

          Lea Thompson: It’s funny to me that people keep acting like I care when someone puts it down. So many people tell me they love the movie, sometimes with tears in their eyes. I see more of that in my real life, so when people are snotty about Howard the Duck, I just tell them that a lot of people really liked it, and that means more to me than people who want to try and make me feel embarrassed or bad about a movie I think I did good work in. I didn’t edit it, I didn’t write it, and I didn’t create the duck. I did the best job I could and I’m proud of that.

          Lea Thompson: Trust me, there are a lot of bad movies being made. To be in one that has been remembered so well is kind of a feather in my cap.

          Lea Thompson: It was great to see Howard the Duck in Guardians of the Galaxy the way I always imagined he should look. He was just like in the cartoon, floppy and grungy. Watching it made me feel like I had made the silent movie version of Ben-Hur and then got to see the one in Technicolor.

          Lea Thompson: I’m a hundred percent sure they would not want to associate with the first Howard the Duck if they made a second one, but that would be so badass. “We don’t care what you think, we’re making a new one.” I think they should, but with CGI and a great actor doing his voice. Someone who could improv, and then they could animate to that. That would be cool.

          Lea Thompson: It’s cool that we’re still talking about it after thirty years. That’s pretty badass, as far as I’m concerned.


        • ‘Howard The Duck’ Indirectly Led To ‘Toy Story’ And Other Facts About The Cult Favorite Flop


  15. “Fresh Prince’s” Alfonso Ribeiro, Lea Thompson are expected to go “Dancing”:

    Ribeiro and the “Back to the Future” star are reportedly joining a cast that includes Olympian Lolo Jones, soap opera hunk Anotonio Sabato Jr. and Janel Parrish from “Pretty Little Liars.”


  16. lebeau my buddy and i had this debate i think caine is better actor then connery he thinks otherwise also he think caine was never a lister even though he top leading man from 60s to 80s


  17. Lea Thompson: Suddenly, She’s Everywhere, but Don’t Call It a Comeback:–suddenly–she-s-everywhere–but-don-t-call-it-a-comeback-202711903.html

    It is not your imagination that Lea Thompson seems to be all up in your pop culture these days.

    She paid homage to her role in the Back to the Future movies with a DeLorean in her Dancing With the Stars performance last week, then again later in the week by riding a hoverboard in a cameo appearance in the series premiere of NBC’s A to Z. She also plays Nicolas Cage’s wife in the new Left Behind movie, and her ABC Family series Switched at Birth will return with a Christmas special this year and Season 4 in 2015.

    But while it’s true there’s an uptick in just how frequently Thompson is gracing screens big and small, don’t call her sudden omnipresent status a comeback. As the actress herself points out, she never went away.

    “I was on a red carpet the other day and two people said to me, ‘You quit acting to raise your children.’ What? I’ve been working all along,” she tells Yahoo TV.

    A quick check of IMDb illustrates what she’s saying. Though best known for playing Lorraine Baines in the Future trilogy, for her title role in the 1995-99 NBC comedy Caroline in the City, and for playing Miss Amanda Jones in the beloved 1987 teen romance Some Kind of Wonderful (directed by her future husband, Howard Deutch), Thompson has worked consistently for the last three decades, including a stint on Broadway in Cabaret, guest spots on series like Ed, Greek, Family Guy, and CSI, starring in and directing installments of the Jane Doe movie series for the Hallmark Channel, and big-screen projects like J. Edgar.

    Her children, in fact, have followed in mom’s footsteps, and co-starred with her along the way: Daughters Madelyn and Zoey Deutch played her daughters in the 2011 movie Mayor Cupcake, and the three will co-star again next year in the indie film The Year of Spectacular Men. Madelyn wrote the script for Spectacular Men, and will co-star in History Channel’s highly-anticipated 2015 Texas Rangers miniseries Texas Rising. Youngest daughter Zoey, who also guest-starred on Switched at Birth, already has her own fans after playing Sarah Michelle Gellar’s stepdaughter on the short-lived CW drama Ringer, and with big-screen roles in Beautiful Creatures and Vampire Academy. Next, she’ll co-star in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused pseudo sequel, That’s What I’m Talking About.

    “Hollywood wisdom is that, you know, if you’re over 50 and you’re a woman… if you’re over 40, if you’re over 35 and you’re a woman, it’s all over. It’s surprising to me that I get to continue to work. It’s an amazing blessing,” Thompson, 53, says. I just try to say yes to stuff — things that scare me, like Dancing With the Stars, because I love to perform, and I love to help people feel things, and I’m just so lucky that I still am able to do that.”

    Scary though the prospect of DWTS was, Thompson said yes almost immediately after receiving the producers’ email invitation to compete on Season 19.

    “It takes a lot of vulnerability to just do something that you’re not that good at, and also, the whole reality show aspect is daunting, because you just don’t have any makeup on [during filmed rehearsals]… it’s just really exposing. But I just felt like, let me do this for all those moms out there who need to try something new, and that’s what I did,” says the actress, who studied ballet throughout her childhood.

    “I called my family first, because I know it’s hard on the family, since I don’t have any time right now, and because it’s so public. I also called my friend [DWTS alum] Gilles Marini, who’s on Switched at Birth with me, and [another DWTS alum] Marlee Matlin, who’s also on Switched at Birth with me… I called all my friends and they were like, ‘You’ve got to do it. It’s the most amazing experience you’ll ever have in show biz.’ And that’s been true. It really is an amazing experience.”

    This week’s competition promises to be an emotional experience for Thompson. For “Most Memorable Year” week, she and partner Artem Chigvintsev will perform to Luther Vandross’s powerful ballad “Dance With My Father,” in a tribute to her late stepfather, Rob E. Hanson.

    “This week is Most Memorable Year, and I’ve had so many beautiful, beautiful, lucky, lovely years, but I chose a year that was very hard for me,” Thompson says. “I’m doing a modern dance in tribute to my stepfather, who passed 11 years ago. I still think about him every day. He loved dance, so I’m doing a dance for him.

    “I feel really defined by the lessons that I’ve learned and the people that I love who have left their mark on me. He was this person that I thought was the coolest person in the world. He was just fantastic. That’s the story I picked, and Artem has created a really, really beautiful dance. It’s really sweet and really personal. It’s something different, and I feel proud that last week Bruno said that I’ve done such diverse [dances]. This whole experience will be worth it for me if I can show that people you love can still look down and see what you’re doing. [And] if I can make it through without crying, it will be awesome.”

    Thompson also hopes Monday’s performance will resonate with viewers and that they will vote to keep her and Chigvintsev in the game. She says the toughest part of competing on Dancing With the Stars for her isn’t the physical challenges, but the emotional ones, as she tries to play catch-up with some of the other competitors who have bigger social media fanbases than she does.

    “The athletic part is actually not killing me as much as I thought it would. It’s more the mind game, because they’re always changing the rules, and it’s like, you need to go on Twitter for this, you’ve got to go on Facebook for that. When you’re up on stage, they might put you in jeopardy and make you dance,” she says. “It’s an opportunity for personal growth to not get freaked out because somebody else is good and [to] not worry about all the things that you can’t control.”

    She also hopes to remain in the competition through this week so her DWTS schedule will overlap with the beginning of production on the new season of Switched at Birth, and her ever-expanding TV families will get to spend time together.

    “We’ll have to rehearse on the Switched at Birth stage, and I know they’re going to love Artem there,” says Thompson, who will continue to direct episodes of Switched at Birth in the new season and has talked to A to Z producers about returning to that series to direct an episode.

    Which would make for a schedule where that hoverboard she zoomed around on in the A to Z pilot might come in handy.

    “Actually, doing that hoverboard stuff was really hard,” she laughs. “It’s like doing crunches on wires. Everybody thinks it’s easy, as they’re looking at you hanging on a wire with the thing glued to your legs, but no. You don’t have to balance. You just have to crunch, pull your legs up so it looks like you’re moving. Now I have much more respect for the people who did it in Back to the Future.”

    Dancing With the Stars airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on ABC; Switched at Birth Season 4 premieres in January 2015 on ABC Family.


  18. No idea. I always liked her. She has a cute, girl-next-door look and I would have preferred her in all the brat pack movies in place of Mare Winningham. Who’s that? EXACTLY.


  19. Lebeau,

    Lea’s all over Youtube on Dancing With The Stars….I wish my wife and I could dance even half as good.

    WTH is for actors who could not get their career into gear…Lea’s career is in cruise control. Sometimes things are not what they seem. Sometimes people are screw ups and can’t help themselves, sometimes they are in the right place at the right time, sometimes they are lucky. But time will separate the wheat from the chaff. Lea is far more successful then most of us realized. We would never have known if you had not written your article.

    Maybe you should have another heading, WTHWIT. What The Hell Was I Thinking? Where you could reclassify actors who are found to be competent upon closer review….

    I think maybe the movie industry could use more people like Lea Thompson.

    Thanks for the article.

    Brad Deal

    How about an article about Joan Allen?


    • I am not a DWTS aficionado but when the show started I thought the rule was no professional dancers. They have obviously abandoned that rule long ago. Thompson’s background in ballet has to make her a favorite to win. Plus the fact that she’s still completely adorable.

      A lot goes into my selection process. First, I try to think of someone I haven’t seen in a while or someone suggests someone they haven’t seen in a while. Then I start looking at filmographies, background stories etc. If I see they are on some big network show that was off my radar, I’ll usually put a pin in it and come back later. Since Thompson was on Separated at Birth, I considered holding off. But she had so many movies I wanted to write about in her filmography. Jaws 3-D, Red Dawn and Howard the Freaking Duck! I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to write about Howard the Duck.

      As I dug in, I found all kinds of great stories. I really enjoyed reading about the misfortunes of Eric Stoltz. Seems like he kept getting her jobs only to get fired himself. And then the man who almost fired him a second time turned out to be Thompson’s future hubby. This article has some of my favorite stories in it.

      Even as I started the article, my thought process was that Howard the Duck tanked her career. Caroline in the City kept it on life support and then she scraped by on Lifetime movies. Which is kind of accurate but also kind of misses the point. I didn’t realize just how steadily Thompson worked in TV for the last several decades until I really dove into the article. While she may not have had the most successful movie career, her career is a smashing success by any reasonable standard.

      Any time I write an article one of two things happens. I either come away with more respect for my subject or less. There is always a reclassification of some kind. More often than not, I come away with a new appreciation for what the subject accomplished. That was definitely the case with Thompson. She’s incredible.


      • Ok Lebeau, I get it. Respect. But now I want to know about Eric Stoltz. It’s unfair to throw out teasers about a WTHH for a guy who gets fired but also gets others hired…..?? And a match maker too? WTH? This sounds like the very definition of a WTHH type guy.

        I gotta have it. Write more articles…don’t sleep, don’t eat, just write.

        But not too much. Life’s a marathon, not a sprint


        What about Joan?


  20. I’d equally just as wonder what happens to tabloid tattlers carrers who likely intended to start out as serious journalists when they post obnoxious shite like this.

    What the hell happened to lebeau’s carrer?! Who is lebeau?


  21. Bob,

    LeBeau’s career is going along just fine. He provides a high quality product for free. I have been following his writings for several years now and find his articles entertaining and well worth my time. He regularly get ups to 400 replies in his comment sections; this doesn’t happen with unhappy readers. If you feel you can do better then step up and write something. I bet LeBeau would post it if you maintain his high standards, otherwise keep your non-sequitur comments to yourself.

    Brad Deal


  22. Really enjoyed your pieces on several of my favs from the 80s.

    I happened to catch Lea on stage in Houston in 2000 playing Sally Bowles in Cabaret. I think it was the end of the touring show:

    She was fantastic! Didn’t realize she could sing and dance, too.


    • Glad you enjoyed the article and thanks for the link. Thompson sure does stay busy, doesn’t she! I’d have liked to have seen that show.

      The 80’s and 90’s are the wheelhouse of the series. Lots of good nostalgia to sink your teeth into.


  23. Good article lebeau. I just found your column so my apologies for a late comment on Lea Thompson.

    Back in late 90’s I worked in Marketing for an automotive company. We decided to use Lea as a spokesperson for a national sales event we were having. It was always interesting hearing the feedback from the production people about what some of these stars are really like on set. The feedback we got back on Lea was that she was one of the nicest and most professional people they’d ever worked with. As an example, there was a small accident during filming where a boom hit her pretty hard in the head. Instead of any drama, apparently she just bounced right back up, laughed it off and continued the shoot. She was a favorite of the crew.

    I’m just guessing, but I’d say her longevity might have a lot to do with her professionalism and lack of pretentiousness.


    • An attitude like Thompsons will get you far in any line of work. So will her smile. Together, it’s no surprise she’s had such a long career.


    • Lea Thompson somehow seems to be one of the least “troublesome” WTHHT entries (in that you’ve rarely if ever, heard a seriously or remotely negative thing about them personally or professionally) thus far. The only others that I can immediately think of that you can argue about is Lacey Chabert, Raplh Macchio, Elisabeth Shue (outside of maybe, her role, replacing Claudia Wells as Jennifer Parker in the “Back to the Future” sequels), and Rick Moranis.


    • I wonder if anybody else has seen Lea Thompson’s more recent recurring role on CBS’ “Scorpion” as Katharine McPhee’s con-artist mother?


      • I occasionally catch that show, so I have; it’s nice to see her, and I think she’s done well with the role. As it was said before, Lea Thompson isn’t a very divisive figure (I find her rather pleasant actually), it’s just that her career has been pretty quiet for some time.


  24. Some brave soul is assembling a chronological Back To The Future cut:

    By Joe Blevins@joe_a_blevins

    Sep 18, 2015 •1:32 PM

    Vimeo user Michael Suich (TheMikeSwitch) has a dream, and it involves Robert Zemeckis’ much-obsessed-over Back To The Future trilogy. “I wanted,” he writes “to do a chronological edit of Back To The Future—meaning the order that Hill Valley experienced events.” Now, chronological fan edits are not strictly a new phenomenon. People have been tinkering with the timeline of Pulp Fiction for years, and there must be a few chronologically-ordered Memento cuts out there, too. But Back To The Future offers unique challenges to the fan editor, as its main two characters, Rick And Morty progenitors Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) and Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd), take active steps to alter the space-time continuum, meaning that there are multiple, parallel versions of “reality” in the series. At one point in the middle of the trilogy, there are even multiple Docs and Martys running around the same version of 1955 Hill Valley. And what of Grays Sports Almanac 1950-2000, a time-altering document so powerful it can bend history as easily as one can bend a paper clip?

    Nevertheless, Michael Suich has bravely sallied forth with his Back To The Future chronology project and has offered viewers a preview of it on his Vimeo channel. And while you’d think that the finished version of the project would have to begin in 1885, when Hill Valley was still being assembled, as depicted in Part III, Suich’s preview takes place in 1955 and draws its footage from the first and second films in the series. While poor Michael J. Fox tries to retrieve that pesky Grays Sports Almanac from the principal’s office, only to be “rewarded” with a well-used copy of Oh Là Là instead, Crispin Glover bravely manages to rescue Lea Thompson from all-but-certain parking lot sexual assault at the hands of Thomas F. Wilson. Meanwhile, Billy Zane is busy being Billy Zane in the background. If Michael Suich continues this Back To The Future project, he might do well to heed the suggestion of a Vimeo commentor: “I recommend going with a split-screen for simultaneous events.” That could make for a fascinating, if dizzying, video experiment.


  25. According to a book I’m reading, “Marvel Comics The Untold Story” its mentioned that after Howard the Duck bombed miserably there were rumors that Universal executives Frank Price and Sidney Sheinberg had actually exchanged blows in their offices, each blaming the other for the embarrassing $45M failure. There’s countless box office faliures over the years but how many I wonder actually have caused studio executives to actually come to physical blows?


    • Probably quite a few executive have likely come to blows over projects that have underachieved, since so much is on the line: lifestyle, business reputation, profits, and ego. I imagine things can get heated.


    • I wonder. Maybe more than we would think. One in five? 😉


    • I wonder if “Howard the Duck” kind of pigeonholed Lea Thompson as that cute actress who gets involved squicky type of romances. In “Back to the Future”, she as her teenaged self, unbeknownstly she falls for future son. And then in “Howard the Duck”, she falls for an anthropomorphic duck. The key difference is that most people actually liked “Back to the Future”.


      • I don’t know, I thought her character in “Some Kind of Wonderful” (Eric Stoltz, on the outside with “Back to the Future”, on the inside with this film) both worked and was atypical. Unlike most folks, maybe “Casual Sex?” did her in when it came to feature films. At least she married a director and had TV to fall back on.


      • I don’t think enough people saw Howard the Duck for it to have had that kind of impact. What happened is that after a movie like Howard flops, the blame gets spread around. As the most prominent human star, Thompson was more or less uncastable on any big movie.


  26. TV Video Vault – The ‘Filler Flops’ of NBC’s ‘Must See’ Thursday Night ComediesL

    Yet another one of NBC’s terrible 90s single person in the city shows, Caroline in the City was about a successful cartoonist named Caroline (Lea Thompson) and her various romantic misadventures. While NBC did not demand that the show be written well, the network went out of its way to make Caroline a success. During its first season, it aired between Seinfeld and ER, a coveted time slot that could’ve made a test pattern a top 10 show. The series also featured crossover episodes with Friends and Frasier, as well as a host of celebrity cameos. And to put the cherry on top of the sundae, Caroline had a Sam and Diane style relationship with her colorist Richard (Malcolm Gets). As it turned out, Caroline simply couldn’t draw a large audience outside of the Must See TV lineup, and the Peacock Network finally threw in the towel in 1999.


  27. Movie Legends Revealed: How Did ‘Back to the Future Part II’ Change Actors’ Rights?

    MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: Crispin Glover sued the studio that produced “Back to the Future Part II,” leading to a change in actors’ rights.

    With “Back to the Future Day” a week away, I figured I’d spotlight a legend about the 1985 hit film and its sequels. Crispin Glover co-starred as Marty McFly’s (Michael J. Fox) father George McFly, whom Marty meets when he accidentally travels to the past from 1985.

    The movie was such a success that Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment decided to make a sequel (heck, they decided to make TWO sequels, which were film consecutively to save money). Glover, however, wasn’t happy with the amount of money that they offered him for the sequel, so he ultimately decided not appear (as you might imagine, Glover and the film’s producers have differing ideas about who was being unreasonable over the financial terms).

    In the second film, “Back to the Future Part II,” screenwriters Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale partially explained away George’s absence for part of the film by using a plot that involved an alternate timeline in which George had been killed.

    However, there were two other parts in which George showed up: One was in the future and the other in the past, when Marty returns to the setting of the first film.

    In both sequences, they used actor Jeffrey Weissman as the new George. In the future scenes, they distracted audiences from the change by having George appear in scenes upside down. When you add in the “old man makeup,” it’s easy to confuse the two actors.

    In the past sequence, however, they went even further: They were already reusing old footage from the original film as part of the plot in which Marty returns to the past. So Glover would appear in some of these scenes through footage from the 1985 film. As a result, they needed to make Weissman look as much like Glover as they could, so they had him wear prosthetics; in addition, they made certain to obscure his face as much as possible.

    Glover took issue with this and sued Universal Pictures over what he felt was, in effect, an infringement of his rights. The studio was using his likeness without his permission. We did an old TV Legends Revealed involving Vanna White that also dealt with this “publicity right,” the right to control how your image is used by others in commercial endeavors.

    Nowadays, you can’t do what filmmakers did in “Back to the Future Part II” did. However, while Glover’s lawsuit was certainly the inspiration for the change, I think there’s a clear misunderstanding that Glover won the lawsuit that led to the change. That’s not the case.

    Glover and Universal settled the lawsuit for an undisclosed cash payment to Glover. SEPARATE from the case, the Screen Actors Guild added clauses to its collective-bargaining agreement that states filmmakers can’t use an actors’ likeness in their film without his or her permission.

    So Glover certainly deserves credit for bringing the issue up for discussion and almost certainly leading to the Screen Actors Guild making the change.

    Therefore, I feel that the legend is…

    STATUS: Basically True


  28. What Happened to Lea Thompson – 2016 News & Updates

    Last fall, Back to the Future celebrated its 30th anniversary. One of the most iconic sci-fi movies of its time, the Back to the Future trilogy followed Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) and Dr. Emmett Brown (Christopher Lloyd) through their time-travelling adventures. One of the most prominent characters through the series is Lorraine Baines-McFly, Marty’s mother, played by Lea Thompson.

    Thompson was in a variety of well-known movies during the 80s, but during the 90s, transitioned to television and fell off the map. However, the actress is still on TV every week with ABC Family’s Switched at Birth. What else has she been up to since her role in Back to the Future?

    Lea Thompson Before the McFlys

    Born in 1961 in Minnesota, Lea Thompson developed a love of dance early in life, studying ballet. She was dancing professionally by age 14, and was offered multiple scholarships for her ballet. However, Lea Thompson’s height gave her doubts about her ability to be a ballerina, so she switched her focus to acting. After performing for a number of Burger King commercials and in a live-action video game, Thompson was cast in Jaws 3D, released in 1983.

    When auditioning, Lea Thompson made claims about having acted in other movies and that she knew how to water-ski. In truth, she was new to film-making, and didn’t even know how to swim. This didn’t stop her from giving a solid performance, and in 1984, was in All the Right Moves, The Wild Life, and Red Dawn, where she played one of the teen insurgents.

    Lea Thompson as Lorraine McFly

    Lorraine McFly is by far Thompson’s most famous role, which she reprised for Back to the Future II (1989) and Back to the Future III (1990). Throughout the series, she goes from an unhappy lower-middle class housewife, to a happy upper-middle class housewife, to remarried widow, and finally back to being happy and rich.

    On October 21, 2015, to commemorate the pivotal day in Back to the Future II, Lea Thompson and other cast members attended a special screening of the movie.

    Lea Thompson during the 90s

    In 1986, Thompson starred in two other science-oriented films, SpaceCamp and Howard the Duck. Based on the surrealist Marvel comic of the same name, the film is objectively a trainwreck, largely attributable to a variety of production issues. However, the film is considered a cult classic, and a wonderful way to inspire nightmares.

    Lea Thompson also had starring roles in Some Kind of Wonderful, Casual Sex?, and The Wizard of Loneliness. In 1989 she had a featured role in the TV movie Nightbreaker, starring Martin Sheen, which marked the earliest point of her transition to television. That year she also married film director Howard Deutch, who had directed Some Kind of Wonderful.

    In 1993, she was the mother in Dennis the Menace and the villain The Beverly Hillbillies, starring Jim Varney, based on the eponymous TV series. The next year, on November 10, 1994, Lea Thompson gave birth to her daughter Zoey Deutch. Zoey would grow up to appear in a number of TV shows, most notably Disney’s The Suite Life on Deck.

    In 1995, Lea Thompson returned to TV to play the title character of NBC’s sitcom Caroline in the City. She won a People’s Choice Award for Favorite Female Performer in a New TV Series, with the show winning Favorite New TV Comedy Series. The show ran for four seasons, and focused on Thompson’s characters life as a cartoonist living in Manhattan. Thompson also appeared as Caroline in an episode of Friends, while that same night Matthew Perry portrayed his Friends character, Chandler Bing, on Caroline in the City.

    Lea Thompson 2000 – Today

    Thompson took a short break from acting in the early 2000s, returning in 2002 with For the People, where she starred with Debbie Morgan (Angie Hubbard from All My Children). The series, a rough remake of the 1965 cult hit, was cancelled after one season. During the early 2000s, Thompson was also in several episodes of the NBC’s Ed, and was the victim in an episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit in 2004.

    In 2005, Lea Thompson began to star in a series of Hallmark Channel movies, where she played Jane Doe, a secret agent-turned-housewife. There were a total of nine Jane Doe movies produced between 2005 and 2008, with two of them (Jane Doe: The Harder They Fall and Jane Doe: Eye of the Beholder) being directed by Lea Thompson.

    After the series ended, Thompson was in several movies, though without a major role. She also made her second video game appearance (the first being MysteryDisc: Murder, Anyone? in 1982) with Mystery Case Files: Shadow Lake, where her youngest daughter Madeline Deutch also had a role.

    Lea Thompson on Switched At Birth

    Since 2011, Lea Thompson has been the main mom in ABC’s Switched at Birth. In the show, Thompson’s character learns her daughter was actually switched with another baby at birth, and invites her biological daughter and her mother to live with Thompson’s family. The show had the highest rated premiere ABC Family (now Freeform) has ever had with the show receiving consistent Teen Choice nominations, winning a Peabody Award in 2013. The show is most well known outside of its viewership for being the first (and still only) mainstream television series to have multiple deaf and hard-of-hearing characters, and scenes shot entirely in American Sign Language.

    The show has run for four seasons, and while each season has done slightly worse than the previous, the show is still doing very well for its timeslot. Earlier this month, actors on the show were sharing pictures of the first days of filming, with an anticipated airing date sometime in April. Without giving anything away, the first few episodes are going to revolve around Lea Thompson’s character and her in-show husband dealing with the revelations their daughters learned at the end of Season 4.


  29. Future of Movie Stars: Who Will Shine? Who Will Fade Away?

    I just saw the new Richard Linklater film “Everybody Wants Some!!” and I really, really loved it. I was laughing throughout. But there were a lot of great performances. It was basically a who’s who of hot guys from teen(ish) shows (Glee, Pretty Little Liars, Scream Queens, Teen Wolf, etc.).

    Glen Powell was really hilarious throughout the movie. I enjoyed him in (the mostly terrible) Scream Queens so I wasn’t surprised, but I hope to see more of him.
    I was a fan of Blake Jenner’s on Glee and I’d like to see more of him too.
    I’ve never seen or heard of him, and had to Google, but Temple Baker was also really funny in it. No idea if he’s been in anything else!
    But honestly, the person I look forward to seeing the most is Zoey Deutsch. Her part isn’t large (it’s very dude-heavy), but she has charm to spare and I can’t explain it, I just really liked it everytime she was on screen. I expect to see a lot more of her. She’s also Lea Thompson’s daughter!

    Mar 31 2016. 7:00 pm

    She definitely has charisma and girl-next-door charm, like her mother did.

    I think she’s prettier than her mother was, but you can still pretty much see how she’s her daughter. I think she’s got a pretty great future ahead of her.

    I honestly thought it was going to suck, but the critics seem to be loving it.


  30. Zoey Deutch told #Conan a great story involving her mom Lea Thompson’s near duck dalliance


  31. The inside story of MadTV, Fox’s rowdy, lowbrow SNL knockoff

    From the start, MadTV was more diverse than the traditionally waspy SNL, and its humor was broader, ruder, and less intellectual. And MadTV had its sights set firmly on SNL and its large, enviable audience. Pretty much everyone interviewed for the article agrees on those particular facts. But from there on, opinions differ as to the show’s tone and content. Blaine Capatch, a writer for the series, maintains that the producers of MadTV “weren’t trying to offend anyone.” Sullivan, on the other hand, contends that “MadTV was not afraid to be mean. That was our goal.” As evidence, she cites a particularly vicious Caroline In The City spoof that definitely did offend actress Lea Thompson, who was portrayed as a vacuous ninny.


  32. Lea Thompson Returns to Howard the Duck

    Thirty years after she starred in the waterfowl’s failed film, Lea Thompson is once again hobnobbing with Howard the Duck.


    • Lea Thompson Talks ‘Howard the Duck,’ Claims Her Crown as First Queen of Marvel

      Lea Thompson couldn’t give a quack about what you think of Howard the Duck, the puntastic 1986 Marvel Comics-based action-comedy that ran afowl of movie critics and has lived in film infamy ever since. The George Lucas-produced movie has a fan base out there, and that’s good enough for her.

      “People love that movie!” Thompson said of “HTD,” as she likes to call it, during a Facebook Live interview with Yahoo Movies (watch the full interview below). “They’re releasing it again in Blu-ray or something… They don’t just do that because they’re nice.” (The film was made available on Blu-ray for the first time last May.) “It’s a hilariously bizarre movie,” Thompson continued. “The only thing that I can say that I don’t like about it is that I thought it was a little long.”

      The film, which featured the Back to the Future breakout as a Cleveland singer who helps the anthropomorphic duck acclimate to life on Earth, runs 110 minutes, which is still well short of the average runtime of today’s Marvel movies, including the two Guardians of the Galaxy films that have briefly resuscitated Mr. HTD.

      “I love that it’s had a resurgence, and I love all the fans,” said Thompson, who was promoting her new L.A. Film Festival directorial effort, The Year of Spectacular Men. “Because they’re iconoclasts. They don’t like to be told what to like and what to hate.” (Editor’s note: Take that, James Gunn!)

      And Thompson is proud of her own place in the Marvel’s movie world, years before it was known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe. “I am the first Marvel queen, ladies and gentlemen!” she proclaimed. “I am the queen with the crimson hair and the guitar, doing my stunts with my short dress with no kneepads. Ladies and gentlemen.”


      • Hey, it was the 1980’s, and in that era it seemed certain actresses wanted to play singers/rock stars (Diane Lane, Rebecca De Mornay, Lea Thompson). I think it’s fun stuff (okay okay, De Mornay’s “The Slugger’s Wife” wasn’t fun stuff, but in theory…).


  33. Hilariocity: Jaws 3D (1983)

    Chris Stuckmann reviews Jaws 3D with his good friend, Matthew Brando.


  34. Lea Thompson

    The actor: Lea Thompson’s first taste of success came in the field of dance, performing with the American Ballet Theater and other notable companies during her teenage years, but in the early ’80s, she switched her focus to acting. The decision proved to be a wise one, as Thompson quickly became a hot commodity, earning roles in such classic ’80s films as Back To The Future, Some Kind Of Wonderful, and, uh, Howard The Duck. Currently, Thompson can be seen in the ABC Family drama Switched At Birth.


  35. “Some Kind of Wonderful” Turns 30 Years Old This Month

    a.k.a.: the movie that was supposed to make up for Andie not ending up with Duckie in Pretty in Pink the year before:


    • Where Are They Now? The Cast Of Some Kind Of Wonderful


      Lea Thompson originally turned down the role of Amanda Jones, the girl from the poor part of town who nevertheless gets to hang with the rich kids because of her beauty. The actress had already achieved major success playing Marty McFly’s mom in Back to the Future, and she wasn’t sure the character was all that interesting. Her feelings changed after her next intended blockbuster, Howard the Duck, bombed miserably. Post-flop panic, coupled with a rewrite that gave Amanda some added depth, convinced her to change her mind. It turned out to be a good decision, since this is one of the characters she’s most associated with.

      Since Some Kind of Wonderful‘s release, Thompson has remained a busy actress. Aside from the BTTF sequels, she went on to appear in a slew of movies, including Casual Sex?, Dennis the Menace, and, more recently, Clint Eastwood’s J. Edgar. She also had a hit TV series, Caroline in the City, that ran for four seasons on NBC. Thompson was even a contestant on Dancing with the Stars in 2014, where she came in sixth place. Currently, she can be seen playing Kathryn Kennish on the Freeform cable network show Switched at Birth.

      Thompson’s off-screen life has been equally notable. She married SKOW director Howard Deutch. Together, they have two daughters, one of whom, Zoey Deutch, stars in the films Everybody Wants Some!! and Before I Fall.



      Directed By: Howard Deutch
      Written By: John Hughes
      Cinematography By: Jan Kiesser
      Editor: Bud Smith & Scott Smith

      Cast: Eric Stoltz, Mary Stuart Masterson, Elias Koates, Lea Thompson, John Ashton, Craig Sheffer, Molly Hagan, Maddie Corman, Candace Cameron, Scott Coffey, Chynna Phillips

      A young tomboy, Watts, finds her feelings for her best friend, Keith, run deeper than just friendship when he gets a date with the most popular girl in school. Unfortunately, the girl’s old boyfriend, who is from the rich section of town, is unable to let go of her, and plans to get back at Keith

      For me this was the end of the John Hughes rainbow. At least when It came to teen films As it had a cast that wasn’t usually associated with his movies. He also neglected to direct this film even though based on material that was obviously written by him.

      It seems after this film he went into mainly direct and wrote more middle aged comedic movies or family friendly films that involved kids. It seemed like this phase of his writing was over or maybe he said all that he had to about the subject and as he got older he got further away from that age and those feelings. As maybe these films were the daydream version he always wanted to live out or at least see play out.

      Molly Ringwald even rejected playing one of the leads which seemed to have damaged their working relationship. As she was his muse and he seemed to write primarily only for her, but she wanted to grow up out of these types of roles and work with other filmmakers. Maybe a piece of him was hurt and never recovered. As he seemed to rarely write teen films ever again. As he had no reason to, there was no one. He was writing for or to anymore.

      The film was originally supposed to be directed by Martha Coolidge but she dropped out right before filming was due and director Howard Deutch stepped in, recasting roles that eventually were played by Craig Sheffer and Lea Thompson from original actors Kyle Maclachlan and Kim Delaney. Lea Thompson was offered the role originally but turned it Down. After HOWARD THE DUCK flopped. She took the film just to have some work.

      To this day I still wonder if Kyle Maclachlan would have a different career if he had played the rich a**hole boyfriend villain of this film. Though at the time would have been perfection

      I remember seeing this film in The theater with my dad. I was too young to really understand the themes of the movie, but it is a film that I have returned to watching again and again over the years.

      It sets itself apart from Hughes other scripts by injecting a more seriousness into the material where as before class and social economics played a role but never seemed as serious as in this film. Also the other scripts seemed more like escapist fun no matter how serious you took them or how serious some of the material was for some of the audience. Here while there are comedic moments this film seemed more adult and cynical. It also kind of a dreamer type film. Even as he slyly names the main characters. Who are all References to the band THE ROLLING STONES As the plans of the characters of this movie seem kind of Murky or silly. The one that actually makes sense is the father pressuring his son to go to college. Though how it relieves itself is admirable I doubt that would make it to a modern day film. Not to mention it is relieved far too easily.

      Just as the date at the end seems to almost be a battle of wills. As each tires to impress each other but also lambast each other for perceived roles yet proving each other wrong and offering up some depth.

      It has the material of a romantic comedy as here the lead character goes through all of this trouble to get the girl of his dreams. Meanwhile always overlooking the tomboyish best friend who is obviously in love with him and even sacrifices herself to be their chauffeur on their dream date.

      It might be Eric Stoltz in a rare lead role who plays the material so seriously that it seems his angst is all internalized Making this character less happy go lucky and more serious. He seems angry half the time (which supposedly Stoltz was as he wasn’t a fan of Deutch as the director) Which is what we are not used to in leading roles in movies like this. That makes the film seem a little more adult though still a teen film at heart. He is not the typical leading man for films such as these. Though he is left with a memorable wardrobe. That seems more pretentious at the time which works for the character as when we all were young and dressed better then we needed to at times to impress irks amongst the many. Overdoing it especially on dates.

      Though there are quite a few other elements that make his movie a favorite and a nostalgic film film for me that keep me coming back. The film’s attitude seems to favor outsiders and the working class. Where as they seem to play second fiddle to the kids at school they outnumber them in the film. Not to mention the neighborhoods and locations feel loved in and not the usual suburbs where the houses look like pieces of modern art or like they more have been built then inhabited. They always seemed to look like great places to visit and study. As they seem untouched.

      This breaks down to two characters In particular first Duncan played by Elias Koates. This performance the first of his I have ever seen. He is young in Thai film cast out of New York. (As was Maddie Corman who plays Stoltz’ younger teenage sister) He is alive in his performance throughout mainly a bully yet comedic relief. He is always moving to a rhythm that seems his own. He also seems to be having fun one of the only few in the film who is lighthearted but you never forget his toughness. A find for the 80’s only without the catchphrase and looks more age appropriate. Though I will note most of the cast all look questionable in age of their characters. He is by far one of my favorite performances in the film. Plus though he looks like a skin head his crew is diverse but also made up of the only minority characters throughout the film. They have no lines and were cast as they were local high school football players and towered over most of the cast which made them more intimidating.

      Then there is Mary Stuart Masterson. An actress who seemed to disappear from films after the 90’s bit before that seems to be everywhere. I am not going to lie. I had a huge crush on her in this film. As it seemed like a reverse version of PRETTY IN PINK. As she is this film’s Duckie only the film give the original ending of PINK, with the best friend finally getting the boy. Her friend. Not only that they have a monumental loss even before the final scene where they pledge their feelings for one another. I remember her look was iconic as she was the cutest tomboy I had seen on screen. With the short haircut the drum set in her room. She knew how to fix cars and she had multiple piercings. Not to mention not only was she tough you could see her vulnerable side. And those tasseled red leather gloves I have never forgotten. The thing about her performance I only noticed now is that Masterson plays it like her character is coming out of the closet by revealing her feelings for Eric Stoltz character as she almost seems pained to admit her feelings though obvious. So even as most characters seem to believe her character is gay. It seems like she is struggling to admit she is straight. Looking at it another way, it could be seen as her character having to admit that she even has feelings.

      Though at least the film gives her other scenes to be in that are more aimed at the comedic. She seems an early icon for eventual Tom boys of today. Especially in attitude and fashion. There are a couple of scenes with her that are heartbreaking and she conveys all the emotion strictly in her face and body language. So that while this might not be the best material. She is giving it her all.

      As usual in John Hughes movies (let’s face it though he didn’t direct the film has his fingerprints all over it. As he did pretty much design the blueprint) there are adults around. It only one who is the main character played by John Ashton who is gruff but seems more a comedic device. It was also one of the last times I remember seeing him in movies as it seemed as the 90’a came in he started not being on screen as much or at least not in the films I watched. Though he has never officially retired.

      This felt like the ending of an era or at least the beginning of the end. As all teen movies before this whether serious or silly all had a playfulness about them and an easiness when it came to defining certain characters or groups. If that was the filmmakers or the studio who knows, but even watching movies at the time I noticed it was getting a bit harder to lump characters into one group or characteristic as far as film representation went. So that In The following years while a good teen film would come along every once in A while that actually felt authentic and passionate there were a lot that felt more like product and not having any insight. They were just put out there to try an either infiltrate or attract a particular market and viewer. As maybe the ones that mattered you had a feeling that the filmmakers actually cared about the characters.

      Watching the film over the years has put me in my place also as scenes I remember being bigger and longer. I realize were actually simpler and shorter.

      One of the reasons this film might mean so much to me is that this was one of those films where I was starting to understand films more. They weren’t just for entertainment I could start to see levels and themes. Which is strange as this is one of Hughes more simpler films where pretty much everything is spelled out or explained. Not that much subtlety in this film.

      Another factor to notice in the film is that most of the teenagers dress more like adults of what most adults would wear more to work. Where as it seems like today’s teenagers wear more age appropriate clothes unless forced or a special occasion.

      I was even a fan of the soundtrack as over the credits the band Lick The tins covers the song falling in love with you by Elvis Presley. As a kid I loved this version. I used to rewind and watch the credits just to hear it before I went to school. While I enjoyed the film I never had the desire to buy the soundtrack. Now I just wonder why there is a Scottish version of the song playing over the end credits.

      I believe that Martha Coolidge could have made a different and maybe even better version of this film, but for all it’s dysfunctions it stays itself and is off centered enough to admire. Though obviously not by intention or design.

      It would have been an interesting change of pace for Martha Coolidge to direct as she might have given the film a different appeal. As she also directed well know. Teen movies of the 80’s such as VALLEY GIRL and REAL GENIUS. Both films with tremendous appeal and not only focused on different social classes intermixing but usually being on the side more of the outsider characters –It might have helped or worked against the film that the movie poster looked more like an album cover a some kind of pop/new wave band of the 80’a trying to look dramatic.

      What makes the film seem more serious is that as usual when it comes to John Hughes movies is that Most of the characters all seem to be searching to prove something. It might be that hey are at the age still looking for themselves but finding the finding the edges to their character are starting to take some kind of shape and it scares them as hey want to be their best bit something more then whatever they are at that time they are in currently.

      It would have been interesting as many of these films don’t have the female perspective behind the scenes and especially a more noteworthy one like this film. Though this film seems more like the cousin from out of town compared to his other films. As it stands now it is a great romantic film that seems to build and remember that towards the third act.

      Grade: B


  36. Lea Thompson wow! Still beautiful as EVER!


  37. Lea Thompson on her feature film directing debut, working with her daughters

    Lea Thompson has more than 30 years of experience in Hollywood, but
    recently she added a new title to her resume: feature film director.

    Lea Thompson stars in “The Year of Spectacular Men” alongside her
    daughters Madelyn and Zoey Deutch.


  38. Like

    • My mother would’ve loved a game show like that: wow, towards here end there, she was watching Game Show Network, watching old school “Match Game”. She was sweet like that, liking…man, I know i sold that TV on the cheap , but I didn’t want to deal with it. Still can’t imagine a life without my best friend either:-(


  39. Where the cast of Dennis the Menace is today

    Lea Thompson – Mrs. Alice Mitchell

    You probably remember Lea Thompson as Marty McFly’s mother (whose 1955 incarnation crushed on her own son, creepily enough) from Back to the Future, or as Caroline in Caroline in the City. In Dennis, she was Dennis’ mom, always on the hunt for a good babysitter since she and her husband both work far more than they’d like to.

    Thompson has been steadily active since Menace, appearing in both TV and film. She’s been in Beverly Hillbillies and Little Rascals, which along with Menace, completed a trilogy of films based on characters your parents (and possibly grandparents) enjoyed as kids. Most recently, she just wrapped up an extended five-season stay on the ABC Family (or Freeform) series Switched at Birth, where she played the mother of one of the children who was, well, switched at birth. She also just finished a two-season (series-long) job voicing a character on Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero, proof that when you hire Lea Thompson, you get her for the long run.


  40. After my ceiling collapsed (yeah, not a banner year for me at all; maybe I should rename myself Bruce Banner, and Hulk out. Or rename myself Bill Bixby), a lot of my media stuff got broken, but yet my VHS tape of “Some Kind of Wonderful” survived. Wow, I love the characters in that film, I think they are so well-intentioned and sweet. It makes my heart smile. There’s a love story with Lea Thompson behind the scenes too; I like that as well. We need love in life, otherwise, what’s the point of caring?



    I think the window for that passed, but I do think Mandy Moore could have something like Lea Thompson’s career, doing a lot of supporting roles in movies and t.v. shows, usually as the Mom. That kind of career tends to have pretty good longevity.


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