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Aug 17, 2010

Fletch's Favored Five: 1985 in Film

Now, the eighth in a continuing series in which I count down my favorites from a particular year in film. Previous entries:

1984 * 1991 * 1997 * 1988
* 2002 * 1993 * 1990

I'm going to use Wikipedia to kickstart my brain, year by year, and I'll throw out a Favored Five here and there. If you want to refresh your memory in a similar fashion, just go to Wiki and type "[four-character year] in film." Here's the one for 1985. I won't pretend that Wiki is the end-all, be-all of filmic knowledge or that these yearly lists are 100% accurate, but they're an excellent place to start and a great resource.

Holy hell! It figures that the year smack dab in the middle would encapsulate the 80s so well. If I didn't know better, I'd swear that 90% of the films that define this decade were released this year - many of which won't even be making my Favored Five. Nevertheless, it appear as though 1985 is the home to many of my favorite movies of all time.

As is the case with just about any year I've covered in which I was but a wee lad for it (I was eight years old for much of 1985), I've seen most of the cheese and few of the prestige films. Though really, the Academy Awards were dominated by four films that year, with The Color Purple and Out of Africa receiving 11 nominations each, and Prizzi's Honor and Witness nabbing eight apiece, and I've seen half of those four, so I'm not doing all bad.

Good luck picking your five from 1985 - it's tough!

Notable movies not yet seen:
The Color Purple
Fandango (for Andy)
Kiss of the Spider Woman
Prizzi's Honor
Rambo: First Blood, Part II
Real Genius
St. Elmo's Fire

Honorable mentions:
The Breakfast Club
Rocky IV
Vision Quest

5. Better Off Dead - Whither Savage Steve Holland? I'll never understand why this man didn't become a star. His first two films are this one and One Crazy Summer, aka two Hall of Fame 80s movies and probably the two biggest reasons that you know John Cusack's name. This one's awfully campy and occasionally becomes that which it parodies (the absolute ending is brutally cringeworthy), but the writing is just so absurd and dark that it demands to be appreciated. You've got to love a comedy in which its protagonist wants to commit suicide, you just have to.

4. Teen Wolf - Films 4, 3, and 2 on this list are pretty far ahead of number 5 and pretty far from number 1, but each lumped pretty tightly in my heart. The separation I've gone with here lies mostly in terms of their general craftsmanship.

Teen Wolf, for example, practically feels like a made-for-TV movie. The effects are far from awe-inspiring and there's not a star to be found in the cast outside of Fox, who even then was still know mostly for Family Ties. (It was actually released while Back to the Future was still in theaters, but I get the feeling that it was filmed prior and released to capitalize on BTTF's success.) It's all very small, even down to it's star stature (heyo!).

But boy is it memorable. Pamela Wells, her 35-year old boyfriend, the immortal Jerry Levine as the even more immortal Styles, "Boof," "Chunk" "Chubby," Coach Flinstock's three rules for life, "Give me a keg of beer" - where does it end? Even a crappy Saturday morning cartoon was spawned (and, admittedly, watched a few times by yours truly) by Wolf, not to mention the Jason Bateman-starring sequel that no one cares about.

An epic of my childhood right up there with The Karate Kid. And no, my name is not Bill Simmons (for the three people that might be thinking that right now).

3. The Goonies - Then there's this one. Just as memorable and lovable, but with it, much higher production values and much, much more. I wanted to be Mikey when I watched this flick: he was just a few years older, lived in a sweet Northwestern town (I always wanted to live near a forest), had a sweet group of dorky friends, and got to hunt for secret pirate treasure, for chrissakes!

It's quite possible that the kids of today won't care for The Goonies like the kids of the 80s did. To them, I say, "Goonies never say die." "Hey!! You!! Guys!!" "The marijuana goes in the top drawer. The cocaine and speed go in the second drawer. And the heroin goes in the bottom drawer. Always separate the drugs."

2. Back to the Future - And now, to the one that's most likely the number 1 choice of 95% of the people that will read this. Aiden recently gave this a fresh look, and no surprise that it walked away with a 9/10. Many would give it a 10, and deservedly so - Bob Zemekis crafted one of the last, best adventure flicks we've had not named Indiana Jones (and there was really only one more of those to come), an amazingly richly detailed film filled with humor, action, kickass music, and Huey Lewis. For all of the times I've seen BTTF and its sequel, I still feel like I haven't seen them nearly enough (strangely, I've never seen the third al the way through).

1. Fletch - As if this was ever in doubt. Amazingly, this post will mark the first time that Fletch (the movie) will be used as a post label, which means that for nearly four years, I've barely spoken a word about one of my all-time favorite films and the inspiration for my online alias. How in the hell did this happen?

As you might have guessed, I actually didn't get into Fletch as an 8-year old, but rather during my later high school years, when my then-best friend and I would watch it religiously. Over that time, I advanced to the point where I might be able to act the film out for you in its entirety. I won't tolerate any opinion that derides this as some cheesy 80s comedy, though; certainly, the music is dated (if lovable) and the outfits (who wears short shorts?) can be questionable when compared to today's climate, but damned if this isn't one hell of a script! So many jokes piled upon jokes, they fly at you like insults from Don Rickles (more timeliness!). I could go on and on about all of the things I love about Fletch (Gummy! Dr. Rosen Rosen! The familiar red Oldsmobuick of Mr. Arnold T. Pants, Esq., "Far as you know."), but I'll spare you.

8 people have chosen wisely: on "Fletch's Favored Five: 1985 in Film"

Alex said...

Well, I'm disappointed that Brazil didn't make the cut since that's one of my absolute favorite movies, but you mostly redeemed yourself with the inclusion of Better Off Dead, one of my favorite comedies. Considering it also gave us classics like Commando, The Sure Thing (another cute Cusack movie), Trancers, and Desperately Seeking Susan, I'd say 1985 was a pretty great year!

I still haven't seen the entirety of Fletch (sorry) but the parts I did see were quite enjoyable!

Kano said...

Well, I am definitely in that 95% you were speaking of. Back to the Future has to be the top pick here for me. And, I would have to move The Goonies up to #2. I am not sure how the rest of the list would turn out.

Also, give Real Genius a shot when you get a chance. Highly cheesy, but a pretty solid and funny flick.

Daniel Getahun said...

You had me at BTTF. You lost me at The Breakfast Club not being in the top 5!

Fletch said...

Alex - well, Brazil did make the honorable mentions, at least, and like we've said, this was a pretty good year for some top movies. No shame in where it's at, especially considering I've seen it many, many fewer times than any of my top 5.

Kano - I've meant to give Real Genius a shot - I'm sure I'd dig it. Accidentally got Top Secret instead a long time ago, and boy does that one suck. Didn't even finish it.

Daniel - Again, Breakfast made the honorable mentions. It's great, I think I just came upon it a bit too late to really, really love it like most do. And I've always been a Ferris guy.

Daniel Getahun said...

Well I knew that it was honored, but...well let's just say that between Teen Wolf and Fletch this really is representative of YOUR favored five, which of course is what it's supposed to be in the first place. So I should just keep my mouth shut!

WampaOne said...


Maybe you haven´t see St. Elmo´s. Still, I quoted half that movie on the shoutbox during my day at SOTSG. For instance, did you know there are more people in law school right no that tere are lawyers on the planet?

Breakfast Club, as well as St. Elmo´s, is a must top 5 from 85, and the whole decade too.

If Vision Quest is that movie with Matt Modine beeing a wrestler, it´s a good one. Not top five, but a must see. Wampa recommends. Now, Rambo II, not. Stick with the original.

Goonies and BTTF are great choices. I respect your decision to include Fletch there, but it does still bothers me that some prime spots were taken away.

Say hello to the guys for me. It´s possible, however unlikely, that I may find a way to get back in full time around november.


Fletch said...

Wampa! Praise the maker!

It would be weird if I were to watch St. Elmo's Fire and find myself quoting along with it on my first viewing, wouldn't it? Sounds like that might be a definite possiblity, though.

I KNOW you'd have Breakfast Club up there; isn't the principal just about your favorite non-SW character of all time?

Yes, Vision Quest is the Modine/wrasslin' flick. Surprisingly well-done, and I like seeing the young Linda Fiorentino.

Said hi for you already. I know everyone would love to see more of ya. MTFBWY...always.

Reel Whore said...

Great choices, one and all. My fave line: "an amazingly richly detailed film filled with humor, action, kickass music, and Huey Lewis" Having Huey Lewis totally made BTTF for me, love them!

I sifted thru the Wikilist and here's a few of my faves not mentioned; Death Wish 3, Invasion USA, The Last Dragon and Pale Rider.

You should totally give Real Genius a shot. I saw it for the first time this year and it rocked.

BTW, how did Ewoks: The Battle for Endor not make your list?!