Sunday, December 12, 2010

Prepare for OMS burn

After all this talk of Lea Thompson, I had an uncontrollable urge to watch SpaceCamp. It's widely agreed to be a terrible movie, so why do I like it so much? What's the problem exactly, that it's implausible? Well, duh. It's essentially science fiction; the entire plot hinges on Jinx, the talking robot who wants to be Max's friend (Max being played by a young Joaquin Phoenix, then known as Leaf). Aside from that you can basically go along with it, assuming you don't know too much about space travel. I didn't remember that Scott Coffey has a small part in this; he's also in Some Kind of Wonderful. (And have you all seen Shag? Not a proper '80s movie, since it takes place in the '60s, but it was my favorite movie for a while in jr. high.)

Also, there's a scene that has Thompson saying a line she will later repeat exactly in SKOW: "We were just talking." The circumstances were exactly the same too, she got caught breaking the rules (in one case skipping gym class, in the other being out after camp curfew) with a studmuffin, and then has to answer to a curly-haired female superior. I wonder if Hughes unconsciously plagiarized the line from SpaceCamp? Or if Thompson ad-libbed it in in SKOW? It got me thinking about movie lines as memes--like I swear the line "First rule is, there are no rules" has been in at least five or six movies. ("You mess with the bull, you get the horns" is in two Hughes movies, but I don't know if that counts since it's just a thing people say anyway, though I'd never heard it before I saw it in The Breakfast Club.) What other lines appeared in multiple '80s movies?

Speaking of '80s cliches: I recently saw Wall Street for the first time, and was surprised how lousy it is, when you get right down to it. I think they spent about five minutes doing research on how Wall Street works. What's amazing is that it's so full of '80s cliches, it's hard to believe it was actually made in the '80s, as opposed to by people who heard about the '80s second-hand and then tried to cram in every reference for good measure. I'd rather watch The Secret of My Success any day (the soundtrack of which contains that ultimate '80s movie soundtrack cliche, "Oh Yeah" by Yello).


  1. 1. I, too, loved Space Camp. Why is it that when I watched Space Camp, I always thought of Joaquin/Leaf as the "little kid," when he was actually older than me? I guess you reposition yourself into the movie's POV, so if they say that the older teens are the "heroes," you identify with them.

    2. I, too, was a fan of Shag. Damn, that's a good movie. Phoebe Cates, why have you left us?

    3. I am thirdly a fan of your use of "studmuffin."

  2. I never identified, so much, with teens in teen movies as looked up to them -- their oldness and coolness was always just out of reach. I feel like I skipped the teen-hood of teen movies entirely -- it's like I was 15 for several years and then suddenly 20. *Really* being a teen would have required looking better in a bikini, having more proficiency with eye makeup .... something.

  3. i liked wall street. oliver stone's father was a stock broker—the hal holbrook character was based on him.

  4. I thought the writing was pretty crappy. With many '80s movies, though not all, it seems like if you missed it the first time, it just doesn't work. I didn't see Top Gun until college, and wow. (Tom Skerritt again!)

    You're one hell of an instinctive pilot! Maybe too good.

  5. oh, i didn't see wall street until a few years ago:)

  6. I saw Wall Street shortly after it came out. I liked it, and have continued to like it when I've seen it again from time to time over the years since.

    I agree that the movie had a bunch of cliches in the writing, though they didn't (to me) sound so much as cliches when the movie first came out. What I like about the movie is how it depicts the utter soullessness, the total absence of human compassion, that one finds so often in the corporate world.

    I saw the Wall Street sequel a short time back (the one with Shia LeBoeuf and whatshername, and Michael Douglas again), and it was okay -- but I didn't like it as much, and it seemed to me to lose its footing around two-thirds of the way through. I liked Eli Wallach in it, and Frank Langella (for the short portion he was in the movie), and there were some scenes with real drama, but a lot of the time it seemed to drift in search of what it was trying to say.

    Never saw SpaceCamp. I really like The Breakfast Club.

    A movie that seems to me to do one of the best portrayals of teenagers is The Ice Storm. The teenager characters in that movie (who are just a little younger than I was in 1973 when the movie takes place) feel deeply real to me. Like people I might actually have known.

  7. I LOVE The Ice Storm. Though it seems really stylized to me, less real -- I guess it really was like that, huh? :)

  8. oh man. i watched Space Camp probably 20 times as a kid. my parents bought it as part of this series of "clean" films marketed to conservative families who didn't want their young kids being exposed to a lot of "foul" language and the like.

    i think, but am not sure, that the films in the series that contained any kind of objectionable material may actually have been edited, like for t.v. or something.

    i had completely forgotten about Jinx. watch out youtube, i'm about to wear you out watching Space Camp clips now.

  9. BTW (and again allowing that I've never actually seen SpaceCamp) --

    Talking robot + teenagers and/or kids = Number One symptom that you're watching bad science fiction.

    (Cf. "Danger, Will Robinson, danger!")

  10. heart Scott Coffey.

    I liked Wall Street at the time but in a lot of ways I look at Oliver Stone as a whiter, more politicized version of Tyler Perry: big, broad strokes; clumsy melodrama; a really weird, Bates-like relationship with women. Some mommy stuff there.

    It's like he watched a ton of Douglas Sirk movies, then put it all in a blender with some of his own hefty baggage and made a heaping mud pie with the resulting slop.