Top 5: 80’s Movies

5. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
John Hughes | June 1986

Ferris BuellerMatthew Broderick, as Ferris, is extremely charismatic throughout the film and draws the viewer in at every step. Hughes wisely decides to break the fourth wall; Ferris talks to the camera, letting fans know his inner thoughts. As Ferris begins his adventure of the ultimate day possible, you feel like you are part of the spectacle. FBDO is a great coming of age story: accepting who you are meant to be, letting go of grudges and willing to learn how to live in the moment. Not Ferris, he is already perfect. But throughout the day, he impacts his closest friends and family by leading through example. Whether he is the Sausage King of Chicago, leading a parade or saving lives, Ferris is able to always turn the ordinary into the extraordinary. FBDO is part of the pop-culture lexicon, with plenty of quotable lines and memorable scenes. There is a reason that Comedy Central used to run the movie nonstop for a day, because this film is always enjoyable and stands the test of time.

Ferris, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”


4. Ghostbusters
Ivan Reitman | June 1984

GhostbustersThe music sticks in your head, the sets are memorable and you’ll be quoting movie lines for the rest of your life. Ghostbusters blends together action, comedy and drama into a supercharged proton pack. The cast of heroes aren’t your typical action tropes; they are professors, and one guy who just wants a job, that use their technological know-how to overcome the supernatural. Throughout each scene they deliver jokes with a deadpan delivery. There are laugh out loud scenes, and every line is amusing and witty. Ghostbusters also works as a superb film on multiple levels. Kids enjoy watching Slimer fly around causing mischief; the team shoot energy beams and the spectacle of the final scene. Adults watch the film for Bill Murray’s improvised lines, the down to earth approach to the supernatural and the constant bombardment of jokes. Ghostbusters even tackles a few political issues, demonstrating that when the Government interferes with the private sector the apocalypse is unleashed, literally in this case.

Winston, “Ray. If someone asks if you are a god, you say, yes!”


3. Empire Strikes Back
Irvin Kershner | May 1980

Star WarsEmpire Strikes Back is the reason Star Wars is popular today. New Hope introduced the universe, but ESB is where the mythology was established and the “space opera” fleshed out. The opening scene on Hoth shows that these heroes are capable, but can also be defeated. After seeing the rag-tag group of rebels easily dispatch the Death Star; the tension is reset as they are on the run. By splitting up Luke from Han and Leia, the movie is able to explore each character’s motivations and background fully. Yoda, this series introduces and expands upon the mystery of the Jedi order. Han continues to interject both humor and action into every sequence, being the reluctant hero. Star Wars characters typically are definitively good or bad, but in ESB the series puts Luke’s future in question, Darth’s motivations take a twist and Lando flip-flops between whose side he is on. Darth’s confession is known by all, but when first revealed is a punch to the gut that adds to the potential layers of the series. ESB introduces fans to Boba Fett, the character is on screen for 5 minutes but his impact is felt on sci-fi forever. Episode V ends on a somber note as the heroes are dispatched but there is still a new hope (intentional pun) that they will overcome.

Leia, “I love you.
Han, “I know.”


2. Raiders of the Lost Arc
Steven Spielberg | June 1981

RaidersThe perfect journey movie, Raiders embodies action, exotic locations and adventure. Harrison Ford plays Indiana Jones, much like he does Han Solo, glib, charismatic and unafraid to improvise. Raiders opening sequence is one of the most iconic in cinema and a perfect vignette of what fans can expect. Indiana Jones is a character that succeeds despite his poor life choices. Jones is a competent fighter but is constantly over burdened, captured and defeated by a more powerful foe. Only through wits and cunning is he able to claim victory. The elements which make this film fantastic are reused in the sequels, but are never as effective as they are in the original. The movie is able to blend together religious undertones and a supernatural element by laying the groundwork and never beating viewers over the top. Raiders can be criticized for the fact that if Indy wasn’t involved everything would have ended the same…but we would have missed out on an amazing adventure.

Indiana, “I don’t know. I’m making this up as I go.”


1. Back to the Future
Robert Zemeckis | July 1985

Back to the FutureFrom opening to close, BttF wastes no time (unintentional pun). The opening scenes detail life at the McFly household: father George is down trotted by a physically superior Biff; mother Lorraine’s ideals are out of date; Marty strives to differentiate himself; and the family is stuck in the past. Doc Brown, an eclectic and eccentric scientist creates a catalyst for change when Marty is transported back to 1955. By using his knowledge of the future, which the viewer shares because of context clues throughout the first act, Marty is able to attempt a return trip home, and reunite his parents. Michael J. Fox is continually humorous and likeable as the protagonist and Christopher Lloyd’s, straight man delivery of Doc Brown creates great chemistry. By hanging out with his younger parents, Marty is able to draw parallels from their lives and his own, to help them all shape a better future. Biff and his goons are physically superior to the McFly’s but this only sets up a David vs. Goliath struggle throughout. BttF ends with a perfect cliffhanger scene. Seeing the next movie isn’t required, the first is a complete story, but the adventure is so good that you will be compelled to.

Doc Brown, “1.21 gigawatts!
Marty McFly, “What the hell is a gigawatt?”


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