If you were a child of the 80s, you surely have your own list of 80s movies that you love. I know I do. It’s hard coming up with top 10 of the most significant 80s movies — not my favorite, not the best, mind you — and then putting them in any type of order. I know you’ll disagree with the sequence, or disagree with the movies included, so feel free to share your thoughts. I won’t bite anyone’s head off.
10. Purple Rain (1984) Prince was huge — like HUGE — in the 80s and this movie (as bad as it was) was a pretty big deal. Girls couldn’t get enough of Prince, and here was the chance to see him uninterrupted. Why we wanted to see so much of this petite (seriously petite) androgynous man is beyond me.
9. Footloose (1984) I have a confession. I never saw Footloose. I wasn’t a huge Kevin Bacon fan when I was a teenager and the premise of the movie just didn’t appeal to me. Come on, a guy in a small town who just wants to dance? Seriously? But I couldn’t leave it off the list because it certainly did have an impact. I mean, they even remade it.
8. Karate Kid (1984) This movie cemented Ralph Macchio as a teen idol. (Yes, teen idol, as in his face was plastered throughout magazines like Tiger Beat and Teen Beat — real magazines.) And who doesn’t love the story of the underdog who beats all odds and snatches victory from his bullies?
7. Back to the Future (1985) This movie was a big deal. It was smart and funny and charming all at once. (It didn’t hurt Huey Lewis’ career, either.) Back to the Future put Michael J. Fox on the map and introduced us to the ever-bizarre Crispin Glover (thanks for that, by the way). The sequels didn’t come close to matching up, of course, but you can’t judge the original based on that.
6. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) “Bueller, Bueller?” If I had a nickel for every time I heard that…I’d have a lot of nickels. For the sake of full disclosure, no one that I know who ever played hooky has ever had a day that measured up to Ferris Bueller’s. Of course, we weren’t driving a Ferrari and going to baseball games, art museums, and French restaurants with a pit stop at a parade, either.
5. Dirty Dancing (1987) Come on, now. This movie doesn’t real need a description. Patrick Swayze at the height of his hotness, the whole good girl-bad boy romance, and dancing that leaves you short of breath. Don’t forget, nobody puts Baby in a corner.
4. Pretty in Pink (1986) Another wildly popular Brat Pack movie that featured Molly Ringwald. Pretty in Pink is an installment in the John Hughes’ franchise and has developed a cult following. The movie — once again — features a theme of kids from the wrong side of the tracks who are bullied by the kids from the right side of the tracks. The soundtrack is also worth mentioning, especially Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark’s “If You Leave.”
3. The Outsiders (1983) What needs to be said about The Outsiders, really? This movie was based on the wildly popular novel by S.E. Hinton and featured everyone who’s anyone — C. Thomas Howell, Rob Lowe (I think girls wore out their VCR’s pause button to slow down the scene when he got out of the shower with a towel), Patrick Swayze, Matt Dillon, Tom Cruise, Ralph Macchio…it was a feast for teenage eyes.
2. Sixteen Candles (1984) Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall, John Hughes. Any combination of these three ingredients pretty much meant success in 80s movies. This movie, yet again, presents a storyline of the “geek” or the outsider who is shunned/ignored/ostracized by the cool kids…only to overcome this obstacle and be victorious in the end. This time it meant the frustrated, lonely teenager winning the most popular (and quite handsome) boy in their high school.
1. Breakfast Club (1985) This is the be-all, end-all of 80s movies. Sure, it was about teenage angst and bullying and cliques and all that fun teenage “stuff,” but it was wrapped up in such a fun, pretty package that you didn’t feel like you were being spoon fed a cliche about youth. Breakfast Club was pretty much the most important of the 80s movies.
Urban Cowboy (1980)
St. Elmo’s Fire (1985)
Risky Business (1983) Tom Cruise dancing in his underwear? Ray-Bans? ‘Nuff said.
All The Right Moves (1983) Tom Cruise, a buff football player? Oh, and there’s another must-pause scene in which you just might get a peek at him completely naked. Come on now.