Review

  • This movie is pretty much like all the others of its kind, so I won't comment on it in general. Instead, I'll talk about how it falls into the same trap that so many other "nostalgic" movies do.

    Too many people believe that a decade is the same all the way through, forgetting that the cultural scene changes all the time, not just at the end of each decade. For example, most of us think of the 60s as the hippie decade, even though the counterculture didn't come along until about '66. Many think of the 70s as the disco decade, even though that music didn't make its debut until '76. The cultural consultants on this movie apparently believe that the mid-80s represent the entire decade, which is, of course completely wrong: 1980 and 1989 may have been in the same decade, but if anybody takes the time to compare the music, clothes, hair, etc. from these two years, he'll quickly discover that they were very different.

    As Colette Corr, the previous reviewer, pointed out, this movie doesn't make any distinction between the late 80s (when the film starts out) and the mid-80s. The first thing I'll look at is the music. Rick Springfield was most popular in the mid-80s, and his song "Jessie's Girl" was released in 1981--by 1987, no teenage girls were interested in him (although, as Linda Blair can attest, HE may have been interested in THEM). Michael Jackson? The song "Thriller" was released in '82, and the video was made in '83--YEARS before this movie starts out. During '84, Jackson's _Thriller_ album was so over-hyped and so overexposed that by the following year, NOBODY wanted to listen to him anymore. In fact, it wasn't safe to admit you liked Michael until Fall '87, when the _Bad_ album was released.

    Why didn't the producers pick stuff from 1987? If they needed a music video with a bunch of people dancing, they could have used Jackson's "Bad" (okay, so that wasn't released until Fall '87, a few months after Jenna's birthday party takes place, but better to be off a few months than a few years). If they wanted a heartthrob, why not somebody like Tom Cruise or Patrick Swayze (yes, I know _Dirty Dancing_ was released in August '87)? As for the clothes, the producers go with those wink-wink, nudge-nudge pastels. I'm no historian of 1980s teen fashion, but I recall girls in 1987 wearing stuff like Guess? and Forenza. Hey, even _Miami Vice_ lost the pastels after the first one or two seasons. Even the lingo is dated--the expression "totally awesome" is Valley Girl talk and went out of style around 1983.

    I suppose they chose to show these things because they're what people remember most from the 80s: people do tend to remember "Thriller" better than they do "Bad." But I really don't think anybody believes the 80s were ALL parachute pants, crimped hair, etc. VH-1 is currently showing a series called "I Love the 80s Strikes Back," which looks at the decade year by year.

    The movie does have some songs appropriate to the exact year, such as "Mad About You" (released in 1986, but at least it was recent enough that it was still being regularly played in '87). The 1987 sequence lasts for only about 15 minutes, and for most people, the "80s nostalgia" stuff will be good enough. The only reason it wasn't good enough for me is that my memory's too good, so I tend to remember stuff year by year.

    Anyway, don't let these inaccuracies spoil your fun--I just had to rant about them because 1987 was one of my favorite years. Don't screw up my year, guys! ;)