Thursday, October 14, 2010

Movies That Defined a Youth Part I

I love me some movies, and always have.

The first movie I remember ever seeing, like, ever was The Muppet Movie.  I believe I saw it in the theater with my mom's BFF, Cathy Costillo, in 1979.  And it was cool.  I also remember seeing The Shining at a drive-in with my sister and my sister's boo (mom wasn't too happy I was taken to that one) and then Any Which Way You Can. 

Of course I saw movies all along as a kid, but the floodgates opened in 1987, when on my birthday, I was given a television and this device that allowed you to put shows on videotapes, that being a VCR.  And in 1987, that VCR was the size of a Daihatsu.  No joke.

And to add to the joy of moviedom, we had not only Showtime, but HBO in our house.  As a result, much of my allowance was spent buying blank videotapes, usually around $5 for like, two or something.  Now, at Wal-Mart, you can get a pack of 10 for about four bucks. 

Give it a year or two, and I had at least a hundred movies on video--if you used LP (lengthened play), you could put three movies on the same tape.  Yes, SP (standard play) was much better quality, but why have great quality with not as much when you can get decent quality with much more?

And with that came a few movies that I watched over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over.  Remember, kiddies, there was no interweb (I was still two, three years away from my first interweb experience, that being Prodigy over at Greg Avant's house), there was cable and then... well, outside.  That's it. 

So, since its my website, and I love talking about movies (and lets face it, about myself... ask anyone.  better yet, ask me) I thought I'd give you a list of films that I would say defined my youth... and when I say "youth", I mean the time period that I was cognizant of what I was watching, say around 7 years old in 1982, to about 1989 or 1990.  How about a fifteen movie countdown?

15... "Ferris Bueller's Day Off"... Personally, I think "The Breakfast Club" is a superior movie, ranking on The Dave100 list, but Ferris was my first excursion into the world of John Hughes.  How much fun is this movie, though highly improbable.  "Danke Schoen" on a parade float?  Really?  Being something like 12 when I saw it, I seriously had no idea who sang it, and wondered for years if Matthew Broderick did it.

Personally, I think this is one of those films that rests on its reputation.  Don't get me wrong, its a fun movie and I still get a kick of out some of the parts--that Charlie Sheen cameo is priceless--but if you haven't seen it recently, go re-watch it.  You might find yourself thinking "Ya know, this movie isn't as good as I remember it being..."

14... "Mannequin"... Before she became the ho-ish chick on "Sex in the City", Kim Cattrell was actually attractive and somewhat respectable as she played Emmy, a woman from back in the day who befell a curse that kept her as a mannequin for centuries.  Enter Andrew McCarthy, who was riding his four years of popularity (I think Andy Mac is due for a comeback) who does windows for a department store, and there's Meschach Taylor who plays Hollywood, the over-the-top stereotypical gay designer and there's that guy from Police Academy and one of the Golden Girls and.... you know what, it doesn't matter.  Watching it recently, I can report to you that the movie a) doesn't hold up, b) gave us that awful Starship song "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now" and c) is horrendously acted... and it rules. 

13... "Howard the Duck"... My my, how tastes change.  When I saw this movie on HBO, it was all I could watch.  Every time it came on, me and my cousin April would watch it.  It was so funny, I mean, he was a Duck!  And he came to Earth and was friends with that pretty chick from "Back to the Future" and there was potty humor and fart jokes and he's a duck!  How funny!

However, some years later, when watched from an older set of eyes, perhaps a little more discerning in what's good, what's good crap and what's simply crap, I must say... Oh em gee this movie is horrible.  I mean, absolutely terrible.  In every possible way, from the bad special effects to the bad acting to the bad plot to that really awkward, really uncomfortable scene when Lea Thompson and Howard get all cozy and though it doesn't show it, it alludes to somewhat personal things happening... which isn't an issue, except that HOWARD IS A DUCK.  I really have no plans to ever seen this piece of crap again.  And for that matter, this might be the final time its ever mentioned on this website. 

12... "Wall Street"... You'd think that a movie concerning life on Wall Street in New York City, set in 1987, wouldn't hold up, considering this entire profession rests on information, technology and the like being as up to date as possible.  Perhaps no American sector has changed as much as the twenty plus years since this movie was set to the present day.

And yet, it does hold up.  I didn't understand it, really, and to be quite honest, I still don't get alot of what is happening in this film, but what I do get is Michael Douglas' sheer brilliance as Gordon Gekko.  I still love this film, and consider it to be my 57th favorite film of all time. 

11... "Working Girl"... Now let's discuss a movie that does NOT hold up.  I have never found Melanie Griffith to be either pretty or a good actress, as she always looks and sounds exactly the same... thankfully, though, this flick has more that just Melanie to support it.  Harrison Ford and Sigourney Weaver, two people who are both pretty and possess great acting chops, carry her in this.

Its so dated, though.  I mean, the hair is atrocious, as are the outfits, the green lettered black screened computers and Alec Baldwin.   But, at its heart, "Working Girl" is a sweet story of "nice girls do finish first".  And yes, that is a young Kevin Spacey playing the jerkweed in the limo.

10... "Eddie Murphy: Raw"... becoming a Christ Follower some seven, eight years later, I gotta tell you, I should have never watched this movie at 12 years old.  Especially watching it enough to be able to quote most of it verbatim.

I would actually put my radio boom box stereo up to the television and hit "record", so I'd have an audio version of it.  Then, when we had free time in Music Appreciation class, me, Clay Fulford, Daniel Stephenson, Jason Smith and Greg Avant would go and listen to it in the majorette room.  No, the majorettes weren't there, I'm sorry to say, as I would have skipped Raw to hang out with Emily Ausley. 

9... "Good Morning Vietnam"... I'm not sure what it is about this film that made me watch it so much, but I just liked it.  At least then, anyway.  Robin Williams is frantic and all over the place, Forest Whitaker is a great sidekick and its funny, then serious, then funny then both.

Now?  Not so much.  I tried to watch it... oh, its still a well made film, I just couldn't get into it.  But that soundtrack rules.

8... "Ghostbusters"... Did you know that back in the day, you could rent VCRs?  No, I'm being serious.  And they weren't the big sail barges like I ended up getting in the late 80s, they were this big plastic case with a top loader that you put the tape in... I cannot imagine what today's youth would say if they saw such a thing. 

When this movie was released on video (and many people forget that it sometimes took years for the video release, not just months later like today) in 1986, my sister rented not only a VCR, but this movie for her and her kids to watch, then invited me to her house to watch it.  For whatever DHR-phone-call-deserving reason, my mama and papa didn't let me go.  I was so upset, I started crying... not just because I wanted to see "Ghostbusters", but also because I knew that if those rugrats saw it before me, they'd spend the next few weeks reminding me how cool the movie was and how I hadn't seen it yet.  Which they did.

And yes, this movie is cool and it completely holds up.  I daresay the ensemble of Aykroyd, Murray, Reitman, Moranis, Weaver and Ernie Hudson is one of the ensemble casts in history.  It works on every possible level, from effects to creativity to being something just so different (at the time). 

Try saying "Who ya gonna call?" in a crowded room, and see how many people say "Ghostbusters!"  Its a catchphrase that will never, ever die. 

Coming up... what movie made me beg my parents to wake me up to see the last 15 minutes, what movie kept me from sleeping with my arms off the side of the bed and what movie warned me not to [mess] "with the babysitter"?  Find out. 

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