The Legend Of Billie Jean, Less Than Zero & Private School Movie Reviews

Welcome to my 80’s Quickie Movie Review Special! I’m catching up on reviewing the things I’ve watched the past couple of years and, since these three were from the same decade (the BEST decade), I’ve decided to stick them together. One is a film I saw at the time & really liked but hadn’t re-watched in years, one is a throwaway film that was exactly what I expected for its sort of genre, and one is a film I’d badly wanted to see for years & found to be a big disappointment after finally seeing it for the first time now. Here we go!

The Legend Of Billie Jean (1985)

Directed by Matthew Robbins

Starring: Helen Slater, Keith Gordon, Christian Slater, Peter Coyote, Yeardley Smith

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A Texas teenager cuts her hair short and becomes an outlaw martyr with her brother and friends.

My Opinion:

I did watch this on TV several times in the 80s & I really liked it but it never became an all-time favorite like other movies from the era (even though Christian Slater, one of my big teen crushes, was in it). It was a lot of fun watching it again with the hubby several months ago, though, and it’s gone up in my estimation due partly to nostalgia and partly to being older & able to appreciate things such as the female empowerment going on (which will have gone straight over my head when I first saw this at the age of 13 or so). It reminds me a bit of the same sort of theme running through the little known 1982 Diane Lane film Ladies And Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains and the two would make a great double feature. Any female bloggers want to come over to my place for a movie night? We’ll watch these two. Bring lots of popcorn! No pillow fights, though – we’re not going to feed any male fantasies. They can just go watch Private School (review below). 😉

I love Helen Slater (she’s a definite girl crush) and it’s hard to imagine anyone else playing Billie Jean. I like the City Slickers connection with both Slater & Yeardley Smith (Lisa Simpson) also being in that together (love that movie!). I also like that this movie has a period scene on my list of My Top Ten Period Scenes In Movies & that I get to link to that post again. Ha! There are great songs in this like Pat Benatar’s awesome Invincible (the movie’s theme song) & Billy Idol’s Rebel Yell. Oh, that plot synopsis above is pretty crap so here’s a bit more if you’re curious: Basically, Slater & Slater (no relation IRL!) are a poor brother & sister in small town Texas. C. Slater’s motorbike is trashed by local hoodlums & H. Slater demands that the (rich by small-town standards) father of the main hoodlum boy pay for the repairs. After the father instead attempts to rape H. Slater, C. Slater accidentally shoots the asshole in the shoulder. The siblings & their friends then go on the run & H. Slater’s Billie Jean ends up a media sensation & heroine outlaw to all those who believe in how she stands up for what’s right. Through it all, her only demand is that her brother’s motorbike repairs be paid for by the prick responsible. It’s actually a great, simple story & I can see why it has achieved a sort of cult status.

I do really like The Legend Of Billie Jean even though it’s not one that I watched 1,582 times as a teenager. It’s a must see if you love movies from this era but somehow missed out on it. I’m not sure how a younger generation might feel about it but it has aged slightly better than some other movies from its time so it may be worth checking out if you like the sound of it.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Less Than Zero (1987)

Directed by Marek Kanievska

Based on Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis

Starring: Andrew McCarthy, Jami Gertz, Robert Downey Jr.

Music by Thomas Newman

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film stars Andrew McCarthy as Clay, a college freshman returning home for Christmas to spend time with his ex-girlfriend Blair (Jami Gertz) and his friend Julian (Robert Downey, Jr.), who is also a drug addict. The film presents a look at the culture of wealthy, decadent youth in Los Angeles.

My Opinion:

I didn’t see this movie at the time as I suppose I was a little too young for it but then I just never managed to catch it on TV or anything. Anyway, it’s a movie from 1987 starring big 80’s actors so I’ve of course been wanting to see it for almost 30 years now (yikes! I’m old). I also loved the big song from this movie (a cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s Hazy Shade Of Winter by The Bangles) and I saw that video full of clips from the film so many times that it almost felt like I had seen the film. Was the movie worth the long wait? No, it wasn’t. Damn – what a disappointment. I was surprised to find it quite boring, especially as the novel is from such a controversial author. I think it was one that needed to be seen at the time as it’s not at all shocking nowadays.

The film is about rich California kids & Robert Downey Jr is a drug addict whose friends try to help him when his family give up on him. Downey Jr was fine as was McCarthy, I suppose (I never liked McCarthy – he’s so boring & bland. He’s like an American Hugh Grant). I’m a fan of Gertz mainly because of my love for The Lost Boys but she feels the most miscast of the three. None of them feel quite right in their roles, though, and the story isn’t very hard hitting for one about drug addiction. The story just kind of meanders & the sex scenes with McCarthy & Gertz felt awkward – talk about less than zero chemistry.

I’ve never read a Bret Easton Ellis book so can’t compare this movie to the novel but I don’t like the film American Psycho & what I’ve read of the book sickens me while I absolutely hated The Rules Of Attraction film & found it extremely offensive. I’m not normally easily offended (I’ll get into this a bit more with Private School) but, considering how much the author’s other adaptations have pissed me off, you’d think Less Than Zero would at least have some balls. This is probably the most tame “drug addiction” movie I’ve seen. Very disappointing. I watched this several months ago & barely even remember it now. Good soundtrack, though! I do remember appreciating that.

My Rating: 5.5/10

Private School (1983)

Directed by Noel Black

Starring: Phoebe Cates, Betsy Russell, Matthew Modine, Michael Zorek, Ray Walston, Sylvia Kristel, Kathleen Wilhoite

Music by Rick Springfield

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Private School is a 1983 teen oriented sex comedy film. It follows a teenage couple attempting to have sex for the first time.

My Opinion:

Being the age that I am, I saw plenty of teen sex comedies while growing up. It’s difficult to watch them nowadays without cringing. I suppose it was a very different experience to be a girl watching them in the 80s as opposed to a boy. It’ll seem strange to females nowadays but, in my day, we didn’t give teen sex comedies much thought. It’s amazing that we didn’t find them offensive & I’m happy that they’re, for the most part, a thing of the past. Private School certainly isn’t a “good” movie but, if you really love 80’s sex comedies, it’s worth a watch. It’s better than crap like Porky’s and the girls (whose boobs we see plenty, yes) are fairly decent characters instead of just feeling like victims for the horny male characters (like in movies such as Revenge Of The Nerds with its rape scene that would never be allowed in a movie nowadays. Yikes). I didn’t find Private School offensive & there’s certainly enough nudity in it for horny males everywhere so I think it gets the right sort of balance for both sexes to be able to watch it. But, of course, we get no male nudity. No surprise there!

***WARNING: SOME BOOB PICS BELOW****

Yes, we get a guy spying on the girls in the showers. But, nowadays, he’d take pictures & stick them online. 80’s sex comedies usually don’t feel sinister in the same sort of way that the few modern day films do. We also get the guys dressing up as girls & sneaking into the girls’ dorm. They’re so obviously boys, though, that the girls just have fun messing with them. Especially the below girl, who surprises everyone with a topless ride on a horse. I’m sure it was a very popular scene with young male viewers.

By the way – in looking for pics for this post, I discovered that the topless horse rider (Betsy Russell) is Jigsaw’s ex-wife in the Saw films. Speaking of movies that I find offensive, I find stuff like the Saw films far more offensive than 80’s sex comedies. Yet movies with excessive violence are more readily accepted by society while the briefest flash of a nipple starts riots (way to go, Janet Jackson!). It’s a fucked-up world. Private School is a pretty forgettable film (unless you’re a 13-year-old boy) and it sure as shit isn’t very good but at least the female characters are treated like human beings & have personalities. They’re actually stronger characters than the boys, who are quite dull.

Oh! And Kathleen Wilhoite (in the above photo with the lovely Phoebe Cates) is in this. She’s such a “hey, it’s that girl”. She’s also in Road House. God I love Road House! Road House is “good bad”. Private School is just kind of “meh bad”. I love that I got a Road House mention in here.

My Rating: 5/10

Love these songs!!! Soundtracks from the Eighties are the best. And you get clips from the movies as well. 🙂

Pretty In Pink (1986) Guest Review

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This review for the John Hughes Blogathon comes from Rob of Movie Rob. 🙂 Thanks again, Rob! Let’s hear his thoughts on Pretty In Pink

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“We don’t have none of this stuff in the boy’s room! Wait a minute! We don’t got none of this… we don’t got doors on the stalls in the boy’s room, we don’t have, what is this? What’s this? We don’t have a candy machine in the boy’s room!” – Duckie

Number of Times Seen – 1 (12 Mar 2014)

Brief Synopsis – A poor high school girl is pursued romantically by a rich kid and also has a best friend who is in love with her. She must decide between the two.

My Take on it – I can’t even explain why I’ve never gotten around to seeing this one being that I am a big fan of most of John Hughes’ 80’s teen movies.

Because of this blogathon, I was inspired to finally watch it and I must admit that I somewhat regret never having seen this back when I was a teenager myself.

What’s good about that now is that Hughes was so adept at making us feel as if we were a character in the movie whether it meant spending Saturday in detention, taking a day off of school to have fun or even wanting to be part of the popular crowd that watching this movie made me feel as if I was once again back in High school in the 80’s.

I always liked the Molly Ringwald kinda girls and hated the preppy guys so I could relate. I could probably actually compare myself in some ways to Duckie since I was always friendly with a number of girls in my class who I had hoped would eventually turn into something (but never did) and ultimately felt spurned when they would one night talk about how much they hated so and so and then a few days later would be going out with him.

Never could understand that. (still don’t cause none of them ever married those guys)

John Hughes himself was very upset about the fact that the studio forced an ending of the movie on him that he didn’t want. I agree that this ending was not what I had hoped for. This actually lowers this movies rating a bit for me.

The cast for this movie is filled with numerous up and coming young brat packers; Molly Ringwald, Andrew McCarthy, John Cryer, James Spader and Gina Gershon.

Nice cameo by the Diceman, Andrew “Dice” Clay.

Bottom Line – A pretty good Hughes film that once again perfectly captures the high school mood and makes us feel like we are back in time to our teens years. Great cast of brat packers who still are around 30 years later.
Recommended!

Rating – Globe Worthy

Pretty In Pink (1986) Review

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Pretty In Pink (1986) by Me! Cinema Parrot Disco finally wrote another review for this blogathon!

Directed by Howard Deutch

Written by John Hughes

Starring:
Molly Ringwald
Harry Dean Stanton
Jon Cryer
Annie Potts
James Spader
Andrew McCarthy
Kate Vernon
Andrew Dice Clay
Kristy Swanson
Alexa Kenin
Dweezil Zappa
Gina Gershon

Plot Synopsis:
Romeo And Juliet. With 80’s Hipsters.

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My Opinion:

You all know I love my John Hughes teen films but I’ve never loved Pretty In Pink QUITE to the same degree as The Breakfast Club or Sixteen Candles (my review for that HERE). I re-watched this a few days ago for the first time in years to see if my opinion would change. It didn’t, really, but I still appreciate two of the best characters that John Hughes created (Jon Cryer’s Duckie & Annie Potts’ Iona). And, as usual, some classic quotable lines that Hughes always did so well.

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I think the main problem is that I never could fully relate to these characters. The main theme here, “rich vs poor”, isn’t something I really experienced in my extremely tiny Midwest American town. The (three!) families in town who had a bit of money still weren’t exactly rich by big city standards. High school popularity was based, mainly, on things like being good at sports. And I suppose sluttiness. So… I really had no chance at popularity either way. 😉

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As for the “original hipster” look of Andie & Duckie’s clothes… Again, I couldn’t relate. I’d like to say I had the balls to dress like that back in high school (well, except for her ugly ass prom dress at the end) but dressing like that in my little farming community would have made me an outcast. Individuality wasn’t considered a good thing! For today’s teenagers, however, I’d want them to watch something like Pretty In Pink & realize that being a “Duckie” really is the way to be. Don’t conform, teeny boppers! Did I just say teeny boppers?? God I’m old…

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Molly Ringwald is okay here, even if I can’t fully relate to her. If I had to choose the Hughes Ringwald character I was most like as a teen, it would be the socially awkward Samantha in Sixteen Candles. But at least in this one she’s possibly the strongest character in that she does stand up a bit to the rich bitches (but still gets too silly over a boy). And she’s not an annoying popular snob like in The Breakfast Club (who can relate to that??). But, as mentioned before, it’s Duckie & Iona who really make this a better film overall. Unfortunately, for me, the biggest thing that doesn’t work in Pretty In Pink is the romance.

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I mean… Andrew McCarthy?? Reaaaaaally? I’ve never understood having a thing for him. Give me Jake Ryan any day! Plus Ringwald & McCarthy just have zero chemistry here. Unlike with Duckie. So… Okay – everyone knows the ending to this but I still feel like I shouldn’t come right out & say it. But I think it’s pretty widely known that most people weren’t happy with the ending. Well, that’s why Hughes went on to make (the Pretty In Pink remake, basically) Some Kind Of Wonderful which I think isn’t quite as good of a film but I still prefer in many ways. I’ll review that next week. As for Pretty In Pink, I do still like it A LOT as it’s typical of the Hughes way of writing that I loved so much but the overall story & the romance just don’t quite speak to me in the way they did in his other teen films. Oh, and great use of things like New Order. As always, John Hughes knew how to choose the right music for his movies!

My Rating: 8/10

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Pretty In Pink (1986) Guest Review

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This review for the John Hughes Blogathon comes from Kim of Tranquil Dreams. Thanks for being a part of this blogathon, Kim! Let’s see what she thought of Pretty In Pink. 🙂

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Pretty in Pink (1986)

Director: Howard Deutch

Writer: John Hughes

Cast: Molly Ringwald, Jon Cryer, Andrew McCarthy, Harry Dean Stanton, Annie Potts, James Spader

Andie Walsh (Molly Ringwald) is a poor girl living with her father (Harry Dean Stanton), a man that dwells in the past and won’t accept the fact that his wife has left him. She is smart, gets good grades and works at a records store for an eccentric owner, Iona (Annie Potts). The school she goes to is above her level in society and for this, she is usually made fun of along with her childhood friend, Duckie (Jon Cryer). Duckie has had the longest crush on her but is scared to express his feelings, however, when she starts falling for a rich guy called Blane (Andrew McCarthy), he feels betrayed. However, Blane and Andie are also encountered by problems of their own on a social level and to find a balance to be accepted in each other’s world.

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I’m going to confess right here and now that I’m a total newbie to John Hughes. Although, I mean I knew about his movies before I knew about him. Home Alone was kind of my thing when I was a kid and probably for the rest of the kids in my generation. But, full on John Hughes writing and all, I have to admit, Table 9 Mutant is the one who woke me up to it by first introducing me to Sixteen Candles and the very awesome Jake Ryan. So, Pretty in Pink seemed like the good choice to review for her John Hughes Blogathon.

Enough of my rambling, Pretty in Pink is a fun movie. Its not quite so well-written as Sixteen Candles if I had to put them next to each other but its still a good watch. The story is somewhat of an 80s version of a Cinderella story with a twist. Despite that, it targets also the social differences between class and money. For that, it deserves a lot of praise.

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What really works for me in this has to be the characters though. Molly Ringwald is awesome in her role as Andie Walsh. After watching her in Sixteen Candles and this one, there is undeniably something very special about her as a young actress. She captures this really nice charm in all her characters. At the same time, the guys in this are pretty great also. Jon Cryer plays Duckie, Andie’s best friend who has this massive crush on her. He is that dorky, nerdy, weird/awkward boy that does all these silly things but never gets the girl but somehow, he’s funny and supportive and that makes me want to cheer for him even though I knew the other guy would get the girl. The other guy is Blane, played by Andrew McCarthy. I spent a good bit of the first part when he appears thinking if I thought he was cute. Something about the way he looks at Andie that makes me really adore him. Its because of that, it builds the chemistry between him and Andie’s relationship.

Pretty in Pink is not the best John Hughes movie but it definitely has some lovable characters (or even relate to). Its a nice take on the poor girl meeting the rich boy and going through all the difficulties not step mother related but rather the bigger realistic issue of friends and social class. I’d still say its worth the watch and I’d totally recommend it 🙂

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