Some Good Ones
Rob Lowe penetrates (or is he penetrated by?) the world of Canadian hockey. Patrick Swayze costars, and if you squint real hard you'll see Keanu Reeves in his first big movie.* Definitely not great, but watchable. This movie is extremely homoerotic at times.
2. Pretty in Pink
This movie is so 80s it wears a Thriller jacket. It also knows the words to every song by Duran Duran.
And by the way, was there any 80s movie that Harry Dean Stanton wasn't in? Damn, the guy was in everything!
Pretty in Pink is still good, still a big influence on Spider-Man: Homecoming, and if it doesn't give you high school flashbacks I'd be surprised. For the record, and in all honesty, I didn't go to my high school prom, and no, it's never kept me up nights.
3. The Manhattan Project
John Lithgow plays a nuclear physicist trying to clean up the mess created by a "boy genius" who builds an atomic bomb using stolen uranium. The young protagonist is one of the stupidest smart people ever, and the security in that plutonium enrichment facility is a joke. Reminded me a lot of 1983's WarGames, though not nearly as good.
Ah, Kerri Green. Once upon a time, I was madly in love with Kerri Green. Of course I wasn't much younger than Corey Haim was when he filmed this movie, so I suppose it's excusable. Kerri Green, where are you now?
Lucas is the story of a socially awkward boy (Haim) who's in love with his high school classmate (Green). But Green's in love with Charlie Sheen, so you can guess how that goes. Pretty in Pink is a more stylized version of high school, whereas Lucas is probably more like how it really was.
5. At Close Range
Still a great movie. Two brothers (Sean and Chris Penn) get into trouble after reuniting with their father (Christopher Walken). It's an interesting portrait of crime in small town America.
Damn, Sean Penn was jacked back in the day.
6. Black Moon Rising
Tommy Lee Jones stars as an ex-burglar working for the government. Linda Hamilton costars as a car thief who stumbles across the "Black Moon," a supercar with a jet engine. It doesn't suck, but it feels a lot like a TV movie.
And here's the thing: Why does Tommy Lee Jones think it's a good idea to hide the tape inside the experimental car? He must have passed a thousand hiding places between the office and the gas station - why pick the experimental car?
7. Children of a Lesser God
William Hurt stars as a teacher in a school for the deaf. Marlee Matlin, in an Oscar-winning performance, stars as the young woman he tries to help and ultimately falls in love with. The "synth wash" soundtrack wears out its welcome, but it's still an excellent movie.
Director Walter Hill channeled his love of the blues into this film about a young New Yorker seeking fame as a guitar player, and an old man looking for redemption. I have a strong dislike for the macho bullshit present in Hill's 48 Hrs. and Streets of Fire, but in Crossroads he was at his best. It probably helped a lot that Hill didn't write the script.
Can you imagine how hard it was for Steve Vai to mess up that solo? He must have wanted to be in this movie real bad.
You see? White guys can play basketball! Gene Hackman stars with Barbara Hershey and Dennis Hopper in this story about an Indiana high school basketball team that takes it all the way to the state finals. The scenes with Hackman and Hopper together are the best parts of the movie.
Quicksilver's like a more adult version of Rad (see below). Kevin Bacon stars as a stock broker turned bike messenger, with a brief appearance by a much younger Larry (Laurence) Fishburne. It ain't The Godfather, but it's not bad. It should be noted that even though this came out only two years after Footloose, Bacon has referred to Quicksilver as "the absolute lowest point in my career."
11. Mona Lisa
Whatever happened to Bob Hoskins? Did Who Framed Roger Rabbit kill his career so completely? Whatever the case, he's on much firmer footing in Mona Lisa, a movie about an ex-convict attempting to re-unite with his daughter after a long stretch in prison. It's Neil Jordan's third film, and shares many themes with his later smash success, The Crying Game.
Years before The Silence of the Lambs, Michael Mann directed this film adaptation of Thomas Harris's novel Red Dragon. I have the feeling that it was a little too "police procedural" for audiences back in 1986 (i.e. it's pretty slow), but it's still a good movie with some interesting twists.
Some Bad Ones
Despite having Sidney Lumet as director, this story of a campaign consultant's daily life is like watching paint dry. Gene Hackman and Denzel Washington give memorable performances, but it's not enough to make this movie interesting. For a much better movie that covers similar territory, I recommend 1972's The Candidate.
2. The Clan of the Cave Bear
God damn Neanderthals! Raping our women! Or wait - if Daryl Hannah is a Cro Magnon, is she really one of "our women?"
The intricacies of human evolution aside, this movie is just boring. I get the argument that the archaeological record wasn't the point, but even for 1986 it looks cheaply done, and the story is badly executed. I have the feeling that the book was much better.
3. Ruthless People
Rolling Stones theme song. I f*&king HATE 80s Rolling Stones. And you know what I hate even more than 80s Rolling Stones? Judge Reinhold. Something about that guy makes my skin crawl.
This movie was a big hit in 86, but I've never understood its appeal. The acting is completely over the top, and none of the characters are sympathetic and/or interesting. Some of the scenes are still funny, but the plot's too convoluted for its own good.
Perhaps one of the whitest movies ever made, this one's about a small town paperboy with BMX dreams. The pacing (or lack thereof) is a mess, and it gets pretty slow in places. Some scenes border on "so bad it's good" territory (especially the "bike dance" part), but others are just BAD. Fun Fact: Hal Needham, the director of this movie, also did Smokey and the Bandit and Cannonball Run.
5. Howard the Duck
If this movie had just been FUNNY, all would have been forgiven. As it is, it's striking how few laughs one finds in a movie about an anthropomorphic duck from another planet. Tim Robbins probably wishes he could forget about this one, even if he's the best thing in it.
And Leah Thompson. That great degenerate of Western cinema! Not only does she attempt to have sex with her own son in Back to the Future, but in Howard the Duck she attempts the deed most fowl! Sure, she looks amazing in her underwear, but let us refrain from bestiality!
I wonder what James Gunn would do with Howard the Duck. I'm not a big fan of the Guardians of the Galaxy, but it's interesting to speculate upon how he might have made the same material into an entertaining movie.
One That's So Bad It's Good
1. Never Too Young to Die
John "Full House" Stamos, George "007" Lazenby, Vanity (!), and Gene "Kiss" Simmons as Ragnar the Hermaphrodite. Need I say more? Stamos plays a low-grade James Bond, and there are a whole heap o' motorcycles. Wait - if Lazenby plays a spy in this movie does that make it... canon? Does Ragnar the Hermaphrodite inhabit the same cinematic universe as James Bond?!?!**
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*It's actually his second movie, but who's bothered to watch "One Step Away" recently? It doesn't even have a Wikipedia entry!
**In case you're confused, Lazenby was the star of "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" in 1969. He was the "interim Bond," and only appeared in that one Bond film before Connery returned in 1970.