Steve Eighinger

Long live those 1980s 'dramadies'

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Apr. 14, 2017 7:55 am

The 1980s are often depicted as the decade of excess.

In more ways than one, the "Big '80s" represented a lot -- a lot of Ronald Reagan, a lot of change in U.S. economic policy and a lot of major political unrest, from Tiananmen Square to the Gaza Strip.

Often lost beneath the world headlines in this rather tumultuous 10-year period was the rise of an incredibly entertaining genre of film, the teen dramadies. They were those slices of real life, presented with just enough serious subject matter to make us think while enjoying the comic relief wrapped around the expected amount of teen angst.

It was the decade we fell in love with the Brat Pack, Jeff Spicoli and Ferris Bueller. The top dramadies from this decade have enjoyed tremendous staying power. Most are as satisfying and entertaining today as they were in the decade of excess.

These are my three favorites from that era:

1. "Some Kind of Wonderful (1987)": Mary Stuart Masterson was so well-received in this film as a 21-year-old that she has rarely been able to duplicate the success she enjoyed as the tomboy drummer "Watts."

Produced and written by the famed John Hughes, the film includes a number of Rolling Stones references intentionally slipped into the script. Hughes was a big Stones fan.

Eric Stoltz and Lea Thompson, two other familiar faces from the 1980s, also have major roles in the film. It is Stoltz who provides what is probably the most memorable line of the movie when answering a question from Watts on how they look.

"You look good wearing my future," he said.

Masterson has enjoyed a comeback of sorts in the last couple of years with a recurring role on "NCIS" as a legislator in Washington, D.C.

2. "Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)": This coming-of-age film was written by the clever Cameron Crowe for what has become a memorable cast: Sean Penn, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Judge Reinhold, Phoebe Cates and the late Ray Walston.

Penn's portrayal of Spicoli, the stoner surfer, is the stuff of legends. What many don't realize is that Crowe based his film on real-life experiences. He went undercover at a Southern California high school for his research.

3. "Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)": How good was this movie? In 2014, the film, directed, written and produced by Hughes, was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress, being deemed "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant."

Matthew Broderick became a household name after playing Ferris, who turned playing hooky into an art form. Other actors who were considered for the role included Jim Carrey, John Cusack, Tom Cruise and Michael J. Fox. I think Hughes made the right choice.

Honorable mention: "The Breakfast Club (1985)," "Pretty in Pink (1986)" and "Sixteen Candles (1984)."

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