Ten Underrated Movies from the 80’s Every One Should See

Nothing has ever been quite as enjoyable to me as going to the movies. From the smell of popcorn to the hush that falls over the crowd as the previews start, except for that one person that won’t shut up behind you. You know the one, she keeps talking on her phone about her life, her friends, what her dog did to her rug…whatever lady, no one wants to hear about your stupid dog when the previews are showing. The previews are awesome, they are like 12 (seriously, I counted 12 last time I went to a movie) mini-movies before the feature attraction and you are ruining the experience for me by your constant blathering. I’m pretty sure people like her are the reason duct tape was invented in the first place.

I went to my first movie when I was three years old, it was a double-feature The Fox and The Hound and Star Wars and I have loved going to the movies ever since.  Of course going to the movies and watching a movie at home are vastly different experiences; unless you have your own home theater…which I don’t, but I’d gladly let anyone buy me. Nevertheless there are a few movies I want my kids to see. Movies that I loved, that I want to pass on to the next generation, and movies that are so awesome I want my kids to love it as much as I do, movies that were so transcendent the defined a not just one generation, but several.  This was the inspiration behind my list, these are movies I want my kids to see…when they are old enough…so that they aren’t forgotten.

For the purposes of this list I limited the choices to movies that were made in the 80’s, I’ll make a list for movies made in the 90’s and 2000’s, Unforgettable Movies from the 80’s, Best all time Christmas movies…you get the idea.  For most movies I have also included my favorite quote(s) from the movie.  A lot of movies I didn’t put on the list because they aren’t underrated at all…people still love them, the movies in this list are the movies that could easily be forgotten. The movies that you see in the $5 bin at Walmart and are like, “I remember that movie. What was it about?”

10.  Uncle Buck

Plot Synopsis: Uncle Buck has a reputation for being unreliable and a bit of a slob. It is therefore with reluctance, his sister-in-law agrees to leave Buck looking after the kids (two harmless youngsters and a rebellious teenager) when she visits her sick father.

Favorite line:

Bug: Ever hear of a tune-up? Hee hee hee hee hee.

Buck: Ah, heh heh heh. Ever hear of a ritual killing? Ah, heh heh heh heh heh

This is one of my all-time favorite John Candy movies. The way he transforms throughout the course of the movie from an unreliable slob to a big goofball, with a heart of gold is what makes this movie such a joy to watch. I wish I had an Uncle Buck.

9.  Dead Poets Society

Plot Synopsis: English professor John Keating inspires his students to a love of poetry and to seize the day.

Favorite Line:

John Keating: Sucking the marrow out of life doesn’t mean choking on the bone.

Some movies are great because of their context and some are great because they are a great story that transcends any label you try to put on a movie. They are the kind of movie that rolls around in your head for days after seeing it, that resonates from a very deep place within you, and carries an eternal truth that changes how you see things.  Dead Poets Society was the first movie that did this for me as I first saw it when I was entering a very formidable time in my life.

8.  Ordinary People

Plot synopsis: The accidental death of the older son of an affluent family deeply strains the relationships among the bitter mother, the good-natured father, and the guilt-ridden younger son.

Favorite Line:

Calvin “Cal” Jarrett: Don’t admire people too much, they might disappoint you.

Honestly there is no reason I should like this movie, heavy dialog, lots of family drama, but I do, I think it’s a great movie in fact, although I didn’t see it until 2002 or so when my wife was in college and she had to watch it for a class, I’ve liked it ever since. I even read the book because of the movie.

7. The Goonies

Plot synopsis: A group of kids embark on a wild adventure after finding a pirate treasure map.

Favorite Line:

Chunk: I smell ice cream.

This movie is a great bit of nostalgia for me, I thought it was a great adventure movie when I was a kid, now I watch it a see all the cheeseball elements to it, but it’s still a fun ride.

6. Adventures in Babysitting

Plot synopsis:  Chris Parker agrees to babysit after her date stands her up. Expecting a dull evening, Chris settles down with three kids for a night of TV… and boredom. But when her frantic friend Brenda calls and pleads to be rescued from the bus station in downtown Chicago, the evening soon explodes into an endless whirl of hair-raising adventures! Babysitter and kids leave their safe suburban surroundings and head for the heart of the big city, never imagining how terrifyingly funny their expedition will become!

Favorite Line(s):

Brenda (from a phone booth at a downtown Chicago bus station): Chris I’m begging you, it’s really scary here. I’ve just seen three people shoot up, a bald Chinese lady with no pants on, and there’s this old guy outside who wants his bedroom slippers!

Old Man: Get out of my house!

Brenda: [kicks out a small box and the guy’s slippers] You just moved!

Again it’s a goofy adventure movie, maybe a tad more plausible that the previous entry.  Interesting side note: I didn’t know who Thor was until this movie.

5. Sixteen Candles

Plot synopsis: A young girl’s “sweet sixteen” birthday becomes anything but special as she suffers from every embarrassment possible.

Favorite Line:

Long Duk Dong: Married! Jeez.

Okay, by this point you’re beginning to think I love John Hughes movies…and you’d be right…but in my defense Adventures in babysitting wasn’t really a John Hughes movie he just directed it…or produced it, I forget which.

4. Joe Vs. the Volcano

Plot synopsis: When a hypochondriac learns that he is dying, he accepts an offer to throw himself in a volcano at a tropical island, and along the way there, learns to truly live.

Favorite Line:

Patricia: My father says that almost the whole world is asleep. Everybody you know. Everybody you see. Everybody you talk to. He says that only a few people are awake and they live in a state of constant total amazement.

Technically this movie was released1990 putting it on the 90’s list, but had to have been made in 89 right, so I’m leaving it on this list. This is the first of two Tom Hanks movies in my list, but the only one that also stars Meg Ryan. There aren’t many movies that leave you in awe of life and, for me, this is one of them.

3. Big

Plot synopsis: When a boy wishes to be big at a magic wish machine, he wakes up the next morning and finds himself in an adult body literally overnight.

Favorite Line(s):

Bank Teller: [cashing Josh’s first paycheck] Okay, so how would you like that?

Josh: [he and Billy discuss it privately, then return to the window] Three dimes, a hundred dollar bill and 87 ones.

Bank Teller: [pause] Okay… [takes out stack of $1 bills] One, two, three, four…

This is Tom Hanks best movie of the 80’s…hands down…its sweet and funny and reminds you to not grow up too fast.

2. UHF

Plot synopsis: A local public station gets a new owner. The station becomes a hit, with all sorts of hilarious sight gags and wacky humor.

Favorite Line:

Raul: Badgers? Badgers? We don’t need no stinking badgers.

I love this movie so much I have not only the original VHS but also the DVD as well. It’s Weird Al…in a movie…I think that pretty much says it all don’t you?

1. Airplane 2: The sequel

Plot: A faulty computer causes a passenger space shuttle to head straight for the Sun. Can Ted Striker save the day and get the shuttle back on track–again???

Favorite line(s):

Dunn: Uh, Captain, I’m picking up an overheat in the computer core.

Clarence Oveur: How serious is it, Mr. Dunn?

Dunn: Uh, I can’t tell sir.

Clarence Oveur: Well you can tell me – I’m the Captain.

The original Airplane! gets all the glory, heck I’ve blogged about it before. But Airplane 2 is every bit as good, and even though it’s the same style of humor, has some better gags.

Well this is my list…10 movies from the eighties that I hope we don’t ever forget about. Movies that are every bit as good as the classics from the 80’s that we could never forget about…but that’s for another blog post.

What are some of your favorite underrated movies from the 80’s?


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