Being 20-ish In the 80s Must Have Been Awesome

So, like most people my age (and I’m assuming most people in general) I used to think it would have been awesome to live in a different decade, especially considering the 80s brought the world acid wash jeans, frizzy hair and hair metal (or was that just New Jersey?). It’s like Cynthia said in Dazed and Confused (trying to find this full quote made me REALLY wish I had this movie on DVD) “It’s like the every-other-decade theory, you know? The ’50s were boring, the ’60s rocked, and the ’70s– Oh, my god, they obviously suck. Come on. Maybe the ’80s will be radical. You know? I figure we’ll be in our 20s and, hey, it can’t get any worse.” Well, sometimes we’re too steeped in our own decade to see the good in them and two good things about the 80s were Michael J. Fox’s The Secret To My Success (1987) and Johnny Depp’s Private Resort (1985).

It’s been a week or two since I watched The Secret Of My Success, but luckily I’ve watched the movie EVERY time it’s been on TV so I remember all the beats. I was surprised to find out that I didn’t really remember the beginning of the 1987 classic (by the way, I freaking LOVE this movie, so much so that when Em came in the room and started making fun of my, I actually got upset, but I kept it on the inside like a man).

I actually just looked at some of the players in this movie for the first time in IMDb. The director, Herbert Ross, also directed Footloose, Steel Magnolias and Boys on the Side. An interesting resume to say the least. And Jim Cash, the guy who wrote the screenplay based on am AJ Carothers story, has a pretty impressive list of movies to his credit as well, including Top Gun, Turner & Hooch, Dick Tracy (love that one too), Anaconda and the Flinstones live action sequel. Huh, I guess they can’t all be winners. And of course, it stars my personal favorite late 80s star Michael J. Fox. Damn that dude is charming.

So, for those of you who haven’t seen it, the story focuses on Fox as Brantley Foster. He’s got a good job all set up on Wall Street, but it turns out his company got bought out by another huge corporation. He ends up working for his uncle (or at least that’s what he calls Uncle Howard, but they’re actual familial relation is more complicated I believe) in the mail room, but that’s not enough for Brantley. He starts posing as a new guy named Carlton Whitfield who starts making a name for himself in the company. In addition to befriending Cousin Ira from Mad About You (John Pankow) in the mail room and trying to get a date with Supergirl herself (Helen Slater), Fox has to balance both of his lives and ends up…well, I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t seen it. The movie’s available on Netflix Instant and you should watch it immediately.

In addition to being just a fun movie about working your way up and achieving the American dream (with a fair amount of lying and deception of course), I have fond memories of watching this movie when I was younger with my parents. I don’t have any specific memories of watching it, but while watching it at 26, I got transported back to some murky “younger” version of myself and really enjoyed the movie. I like it’s “if you work hard, you can achieve anything” sentiment and actually wonder how much this movie effected my ethics and mentality. I can totally see doing something like this if it were even possible today. Maybe I’ll just show up at DC or Playboy in a recently vacated office and act like I know what I’m doing. Hmm…

If not, I can always follow the model set forth in Private Resort (1985) and just have a good old time. This is an absolutely ridiculous movie starring Johnny Depp, Rob Morrow (of Northern Exposure and Numbers fame) and Hector Elizondo who is awesome and in everything. I actually had a better time watching the credits for this movie than the rest of the film itself. First off, Morrow, whose got his fery first movie roll, gets top billing over Johnny Depp. Then you’ve got Elizondo being billed as “The Maestro.” Oh, and this is all over a TON of sexy 80s ladies dancing at some exclusive resort.

Private Resoprt is your basic “two guys get into wacky adventures while trying to get laid” movies. It doesn’t rank in the top 10 of that sub sub sub genre, but it is fun in the same way it’s fun watching Jennifer Aniston in Leprechaun or, well, Johnny Depp in Nightmare on Elm Street. It’s just cool to see these names doing wacky shit and being completely over the top (what’s the best place for Johnny Depp to hide when he’s accidently mostly naked in the bedroom of a married woman while her husband is outside getting a haircut from Morrow who’s not a barber? In bed with her of course). Oh, plus, you get to see full backal nudity of both of the male leads, plus a ton of lady boobs. The great thing about watching these 80s movies is that you never know whose top will be coming off because you have no idea who any of these ladies are.

Ther eare a few other enjoyable moments. For one thing, there’s this little kid who’s wandering around the resort trying to see boobs using a fishing line and one of those squeeze robot hands you can get at a toy store and look like a robot hand. He’s like the Data of toplessness. There’s also a great subplot where Elizondo is obsessed with keeping his hair nice, which is kind of funny in a meta way because I’ve only known the dude to be bald. You also get your fair share of weirdo hippy sisters who need a date, grannies who know karate, security guards who take their jobs too seriously, d-bag resort staffers, potential and actual sexual conquests, Spicoli-like duuuuuudes and maybe Nazi German guys.

All of that may make this sound like an awesome movie, but it definitely drags and has a weird lack of music, which I realized made the movie feel longer and slower. Where was the Secret Of My Success “BOW BOW CHICKA CHICKA”-like music during the chase scenes? Oh well, the movie gets extra wacky at the end and mileage may vary, but it’s worth checking out if you’re in for some great 80s weirdness.

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