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The Quest Continues...And Ends: 1984

(Somber ambiance.) Hi, thanks so much for coming. Oh thank you for the kind words - it really means a lot. No, no, that's not necessary, but thanks. Really, it would just mean the world if you stopped by after the service for some lemon bars and coffee. Oh, okay, I understand. Yes, it is quite the drive. Sure, sure, this week's going to be quite the doozy for me too. No need to apologize; it really has been a long time coming now. Well yes, it is tough. It will be tough for a while, but we'll stay strong. We always do. Yes, I know, The Quest would want me to be happy. The Quest would want me to move forward, wipe the tears away, and find something else to blog about. But I just can't. Oh, the organist's started. Here's a program. Better get on in there. No, it's okay, I have a front pew reserved for myself. Yes, I'm doing the eulogy. It won't be too pedantic, I promise. Saccharine, yes; pedantic, no. Okay, now you go take your seat soon. And let go of my effing arm, you patronizing bum. You never even loved The Quest! You know what? Just get out! No, no, come back. Read the last entry. It'll be quick, painless, I promise. Thanks. Thanks for not judging me by my emotional outbursts. Let's just begin so we can get to the lemon bars. Just one last question though -which 1984 blockbuster classic is your mega-jam?

Ghostbusters: All five of the nominees in this final entry in The Quest for the Single Finest Film of Our Generation are heavy hitters. In fact, between all the years covered in this series, from the 80s to the 90s, this might be the year featuring the most well known and most widely seen array of films. So much so that any one of them could have been the top grossing movie of 1984, though ultimately the movie about grown men who dress up in tan jumpsuits and shoot lasers at ghosts is the one that stacked the most cheddar. Whodathunk? Not only this, but I'd argue it's also the movie that's aged the best out of the five, so much so that it's still widely respected by kids (I use it in my Fiction Writing class as the prime example of an effective story that melds several genres and classic tropes together) and adults alike. It's funny, but not an overt comedy just looking for giggles. It's exciting, but not just an action movie looking for thrills. It's the perfectly blended blockbuster, and when that inevitable remake finally happens, it will either be the ultimate resurgence of 80s pop culture or the most disappointing. It gets my vote without question.

Gremlins: The film responsible for the mogwai species deserves special mention for this year as well, even thought the story it tells is basically in no way serviceable anymore. It's basically fun to watch still solely because there's little green monsters and little furry creatures everywhere and it's fun to watch Henson's workshop in action no matter what the story line is. But unfortunately this is not enough. The lead actor, much better in An American Werewolf in London, is completely flat here, as is every other human character - so much so that I don't even remember anyone's name, and I've seen this movie way more than most people probably should! Don't get me wrong; when I was little, I absolutely adored the concept. It was both frightening and titillating, the point where I couldn't believe it was okay for kids to watch, and that was the best kind of kid's movie for a boy with an odd obsession with horror movies. But alas, time has not served it well and so we must dismiss it from the competition.

The Karate Kid: A couple The Quest posts ago I discussed how my memories for Karate Kid Pt. 2 and the original Karate Kid are largely intertwined, which caused an inability for me to properly review their pop cultural significance individually. This is still largely true, though I am aware that the first one is clearly the superior film because it's the origin story, features the infamous fly catching scene, and is responsible for the naming of one of my favorite bands ("Sweep The Leg Johnny!"). Because of this, it's a little tougher to negate this one from the competition, especially because it was a big part of my induction to the world of martial arts movies (some of which were as awesome, such as Bloodsport, and some of which were terrible, such as Best of the Best). It also largely tricked me into falling for the underdog sports movie formula without being centered around a traditional organized team sports, something that had typically bored me as a child (also gotta give big ups to Cool Runnings of course for doing something similar).

Beverly Hills Cop: A sequel to this quintessential classic formula film was also discussed a few posts ago, but the differentiation between this one and its successor is much more clear in my mind, even though the plot was even technically more similar between the two here than in the Karate Kid franchise. I think it's because the jokes in this one are so much better and the relationship/chemistry between Axel Foley and Judge Reinhold is just a bit more compelling to me than Daniel-son and Mr. Miyagi. And I love Trading Places and Coming to America as much as the next guy, but I still think that this perennial buddy cop comedy showed Murphy at the top of his game more so than the others. Here he had more of an alluring quality because he wasn't JUST the outsider, he was the guy in charge even though he was an outsider. And while you could say this about those other movies, he had more authority here, which made him more of a three-dimensional character and magnetic than most other protagonist roles in the 80s. In fact, go back and watch this and you'll see that it's no wonder the man was eventually nominated for an Oscar. Too bad that besides his small role in Dreamgirls, he hasn't really put his acting/comedy skills to use since then. Oh well, we can always go back and watch him put a banana in a tailpipe: comedy GOLD.

Indiana Jones & the Temple of Doom: I won't lie. This used to be my favorite Indiana Jones movie. That is, of course, until I re-watched it many years later and realized it was just one long scene with one giant set piece, and not an actual movie. It was like watching a soccer game where there was just one play to score a goal, it lasted all the way until extra time, the other team never getting a chance to bring back across half-pitch, and then the winning point turns out to be an own goal. A hilarious waste of time? Maybe. Spellbinding like the sport should be? Hell no. Temple of Doom clearly had script troubles since day one, but they just kept staying the course because they didn't know what else to do. Like Spielberg just kept saying to himself and his crew, "it's okay, as long as we can make it look like an amusement park ride, it'll be okay." It's not even cool upon later viewings to see the dude take the other dude's heart out of his chest with his bear hands. Or watch them eat monkey brains. They're just like a couple arduous blips on the radar while you wait for an actual second scene to happen. It's like it was enough to satisfy my one track eight-year-old brain at the time, but it's no longer fun for me to go back and watch Harrison Ford jump around with a smart alecky kid in a baseball cap that always almost falls off. It's almost as if....I grew up.

P.S. Say goodbye to this feature and be prepared to say hello next month to a new movies of old-influenced one!

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  1. Blogger Unspar! | 4:27 PM |  

    I vote Ghostbusters as well. The Stay-Puft marshmallow man was a great childhood memory, while also horrifying.

  2. Blogger qualler | 1:34 PM |  

    Ghostbusters, all da way. Although, I admit to having never seen the other movies. But, I did rock a Ghostbusters costume for Halloween for many years. Hooray.

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