Friday, March 26, 2010

For the Weekend: It's 80s Time!

I have been in such an 80s mood since writing about "Romancing the Stone" on Monday, that I thought I'd suggest more 80s comedies for you to watch this weekend.  And the great part?  All these films can be seen instantly on Netflix right now (including "Romancing the Stone")!  So let's see how many of these movies you remember...

Can you tell me who Johnny 5 is?  He starred alongside Ally Sheedy and Steve Guttenberg, king of the 80s, in 1986's "Short Circuit."  The robot, Number 5 (later changing his name to Johnny 5), who was struck by lightning and brought to life, and brought up that perplexing question "what exactly does 'alive' mean".  Originally written as a dark high-tech thriller, where Number 5 was the villainous, escaped robot-on-the-rampage, "Short Circuit" morphed into a high-tech comedy instead, and forever imbedded Number 5 in our brains.  So much so, that the similarities between Wall-e's design (you know, from 2008's "Wall-e") and Number 5's were immediately noticed by everyone, even though the creators say he was not the inspiration for Wall-e (a pair of binoculars was).

How about the movie that introduced Dennis Quaid to Meg Ryan?  That's "Innerspace" from 1987.  Also starring Martin Short, it's the story of a lieutenant (Quaid) who is shrunk to the size of a speck of sand in a secret experiment.  However, after bad guys break into the lab to steal the technology, the only remaining scientist escapes and injects him into an hypochondriac store clerk (Short).  Together they must fight of the bad guys and save the lieutenant's life.  Quaid and Ryan married four years later in 1991, becoming Hollywood's cutest couple (until their divorce 10 years later).

Can you name the 80s movie that recently made a comeback as a new television series?  "Parenthood" from 1989 was the brain child of director Ron Howard, writers Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel, and producer Brian Grazer, based on their experiences as parents.  (Collectively, they had 14 children between them.)  Starring the great ensemble cast of Steve Martin, Mary Steenburgen, Diane Wiest, Jason Robards, Rick Moranis, Martha Plimpton, Keanu Reeves, and a young Joaquin Phoenix (oh, sorry, I should say Leaf Phoenix, his name then), this film was great success, earning over $100 million domestically alone.  It also garnered an Oscar nomination for Diane Wiest for Best Supporting Actress and one for Randy Newman for Best Original Song.  Newman said his song "I Love to See You Smile" was inspired by Steenburgen's smile herself.

So, get out those neon leg warmers, some buttery popcorn, and your computer, and watch some gems from the 80s this weekend.  Have a wonderful weekend, everyone, and I'll be back Monday.

(Post-tidbit:  "Parenthood" was first made into a television show in 1990, and starred some then-unknown actors like Leonardo DiCaprio, David Arquette, and Thora Birch, as well as having an unknown writer on the show, Joss Whedon.  However it did not last past its first season.)


  1. Innerspace will always have a special place in my heart because it was the first time I ever saw Meg Ryan on the big screen.
    Thanks for bringing back a happy memory.