atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#1934: 1980s teenage love comedies

The Sure Thing is my all-time favorite movie and I know it by heart. But it's not the only movie of its genre that I like.

Here's the list, no particular order:

Can't Buy Me Love
Secret Admirer
Better Off Dead
One Crazy Summer
Hot Pursuit

It's not surprising that John Cusack stars in many of them. Before he got into his "Acting!" phase, he played likable characters anyone could relate to, and he did the sort of teenage everyman role rather well.

Cusak's "Acting!" phase is why Say Anything is not on that list. (Besides, it's not a comedy.) His desire to play "edgy" really screwed up the character of Lloyd Dobler, and it didn't work in many of his movies which followed. It was fine in Grifters but failed in Tapeheads.

But the first two movies on the list starred others. Can't Buy Me Love starred Patrick Dempsey (now a "hunky" character on Grey's Anatomy) and Amada Peterson (who dropped off the face of the planet). Seth Green played Dempsey's younger brother.

Secret Admirer starred Lori Loughlin and Kelly Preston. (C. Thomas Howell played the male lead in that movie.)

All these movies are full of some genuinely funny moments. None of them are art for the ages but they're entertaining.

Even as mindless entertainment, Secret Admirer had a flaw. The premise was that C. Thomas Howell's character, Michael, got a love letter on the last day of school, and this love letter ends up causing chaos and confusion not just amongst him and his friends but amongst his parents and their friends. Fred Ward played Lt. Fimple, the hardcore vice cop father of Kelly Preston's Deborah Anne Fimple, and the love letter ends up making him and Michael's mother think their spouses are cheating on them.

The stuff with the parents could have been excised entirely from the movie and not had any deleterious effect on the plot. Having it in the movie only interrupts the flow of the main story.

However, without that, one of my favorite moments would not be in the movie. There's a scene where Michael has taken Deb on a date; during their date, Lt. Fimple and Michael's mother try to catch Michael's father and Deb's mother cheating. On his way home Fimple sees Michael's father going the other way and runs into another car; and so as Deb kisses Michael goodnight we hear the sound of Fimple's unmarked car rattling and scraping up the street.

Fimple gets out, slams the door, and storms up the walk trying to light his cigarette and muttering curses to himself.

Michael offers, "Uh...good evening, Mr. Fimple."

Fimple grinds out, "Fuck you!" around his unlit cigarette and goes into his house.

I love it. Michael has no idea what's going on; he blinks at Fimple's explosion but kind of shrugs it off.

Lori Loughlin turns in the best performance in that movie, IMHO.

There's also a scene where Michael's best friend, Roger, is working at a burger joint to pay for repairs to his van; and after he politely gives a random customer his food, the guy screams, "Hey, thanks, zitface! Aaaah ha ha ha ha!" before peeling out. That one always gets me.

Can't Buy Me Love had an interesting message; the only thing marring that movie was the scene near the end where Ronald defends Kenneth from the jocks. The applause bit was too much; drop that and it'd be fine. Besides being hot, Amanda Peterson has a marvelous voice.

Hot Pursuit is notable for having Jerry Stiller play a bad guy. That was an interesting casting choice, but it worked well.

Favorite line: "That is democracy! I'd like my pina colada now, per favor, move it!"

Better Off Dead and One Crazy Summer rely more on slapstick and caricature. They're entertaining movies but they make only a token effort at having serious moments, unlike the others. They're less "romance" and much more "comedy", but at their cores are love stories which is why I include them in this category.

...I haven't seen any of these movies for years. I ought to track down DVDs of them. I've got Can't Buy Me Love, The Sure Thing, and Better Off Dead already. Secret Admirer is the one I've really wanted to see of late.

I probably only like these movies because they were made when I was still in high school (or shortly thereafter).

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