Legend of Billie Jean
Let’s talk about Helen Slater, an actress whose career peaked with her second movie, The Legend of Billie Jean. In doing so, I’ll talk about a thing I like to call the Alba Window, in that Ms. Slater did not make the most of hers.
The Alba Window is a point in an actress’s career where she is the Hot New Thing, and as such, a fair amount of high profile work gets thrown at her. Now, probably the smartest thing an actress can do with her Alba Window, if she doesn’t think she can pull a Charlize*, is to book every single one of these jobs that she can fit into her schedule. Because sooner or later—probably sooner—those jobs will dry up, and work will be harder to get.
*- A “Charlize” is when an actress shows she has the performance chops above and beyond the initial impressions. Continue reading
The Last Dragon
I should say, for the point of accuracy, that the actual title of this movie is Berry Gordy’s The Last Dragon. Berry Gordy, of course, was the legendary record producer, songwriter and founder of Motown records. He is a giant of the music industry.
He is not a giant in the film industry. Mind you, his earlier forays into filmmaking are not lacking in prestige. Lady Sings the Blues and The Wiz are solid works. The Last Dragon was, to date, his last time in the producer’s chair, and it’s somewhat infamous in its absurdity.
I swear, every once in a while I’ll go over a film and think, “All right, THIS movie is the apex (or perhaps ‘nadir’) of 80s-ness. No movie can be more 80s than this.” And then I find out that it’s a false bottom, and there is something EVEN 80s-er than that.
I think Fast Forward is truly the bottom. It is as 80s as possible. But maybe there is something more 80s. And that frightens me.
Just One of the Guys
Some movies are pretty easy to pitch on a High Concept level. “High school girl pretends to be a boy” is all you really need to know about this movie. I mean, once you know that, you pretty much have the gist of where it’s going. Continue reading
Is there a movie that is more 80s in its essence than Spacecamp? I mean, in addition to being a team of Plucky Young Misfits, there’s a cute robot. Plus, it all rests on a pretty big gimmick.
So, here’s the gimmick of Spacecamp: teenagers accidentally launched into space. Hijinx ensue. But not typical teenager hijinx. In fact, this movie kind of bombed because in between production and release, there was the Challenger explosion. So marketing a Wacky NASA Accident movie was… problematic.
Dennis Quaid had a pretty good run as a leading man in the late 80s, and while he dipped, he did come back later pretty solidly in his later years, carving a decent niche for himself in those “So you couldn’t get Harrison Ford” roles. Which were also his bread and butter in the 80s. Tell me Tuck Pendleton in Inner Space didn’t have Han Solo in his DNA.
But reaching the top of the marquee does mean paying your dues, and one of Mr. Quaid’s dues was definitely Dreamscape.
It’s Valentine’s Day, and therefore we look to a more romantic movie, or at least a bad movie I’ve seen many times that has an element of romance to it. And so we come to Gothcha!, a movie that tries to be romantic in that sort of 80s-era way.
So we start out with Anthony Edwards being the king of some sort of campus-wide paintball assassination game that could only happen in the eighties. I mean, you needed that strange combination of casual neglect and reckless behavior for a bunch of college kids to be able to run around campus with realistic looking guns, and no one really bats an eye about it. It makes no sense, but it’s a set-up we need so the finale works. Which is… well, I’ll get to that.