The 80s. It has given us so much in pop culture. From the best Saturday Morning Cartoons (yes kids, the best cartoons used to only air on Saturday mornings), the greatest action figure series of all time, and some of the most quotable movies. You can’t talk about 80s films without thinking of movies like Back To The Future or The Breakfast Club. If someone says, “Goonies never say die,” then you know it’s someone you can hold a conversation with.
The flip side of this is that over the last 40 years (gulp!), society has changed. Somewhat for the better, but there are still downsides. Now, when you look back at some of your favorite 80s films, you might find that maybe they haven’t aged as well as you had hoped. What childhood memories can we ruin by figuring out which 80s movies haven’t aged well?
(Editor’s note – this article is meant to entertain. If you still like any of these movies below we don’t mean to offend. Many of us here still love these movies too)
A rich and spoiled woman falls off her yacht and gets amnesia. When a contractor she refused to pay sees her on the news, he heads down to the police station, claiming to be her husband. He makes her wait on him hand and foot while caring for his three boys. While the idea of a spoiled rich person getting a taste of their own medicine isn’t necessarily a bad idea, one could also say that Hawn spends the whole film being gaslit. Being that it’s a comedy, that could be more easily overlooked if the characters didn’t end up sleeping together while she is under the assumption that he is her husband. That said, Russell and Hawn’s chemistry is so strong the movie movie still kinda works (at times).They tried a gender-swapped version in 2018 with Anna Faris, but it still didn’t come off very well.At any rate, Overboard certainly didn’t hurt anyone’s careers, and Hawn and Russell, who were a couple when this was made, are still together thirty-six years later.
Coming out of the 70s, it was always comedic gold if you put the dad of the family in charge of taking care of the kids. In Mr. Mom, Michael Keaton’s character, Jack, loses his job, and his wife has to find a job (GOD FORBID!). Comedy ensues when he has to care for three kids and run the household. The idea of a dad having no idea how to care for children used to be good for a laugh. Now most people expect both parents to know how to raise their children. The real saving grace of the film is Michael Keaton’s comedic performance, which is legitimately great. They tried to re-create this dynamic in a 2019 series, but it doesn’t work like it used to. It only lasted 11 episodes.
Richard Pryor stars as Jack in this remake of a French film. A spoiled rich kid decides he wants his father to buy him a man as a toy. Jack needs the money, so he agrees but is tortured by this kid initially. Eventually, we learn that the kid is lonely and has no friends. Really, the biggest issue with the film is a rich white kid buys an African-American man for a week. This is pretty awkward when you really think about it. If you even watch it, a Confederate Flag is even in the background when the price is being haggled over. Luckily, Richard Pryor and Jackie Gleeson are hilarious in their roles, even if the subject matter hasn’t aged very well and the late Richard Donner, the director, is about the furtherest thing from a racist as you can get (he was a very vocal anti-apartheid activist), which makes the film a little easier to swallow
These two are lumped together because, basically, they share the same problem. A robot is struck by lightning and comes to life. He is on the run from NOVA but befriends a woman who hides him from two scientists on his trail. Steve Guttenberg and Ally Sheedy are fantastic as always, but the real problem is the character of Ben. He’s portrayed by Fisher Stevens, who is white while portraying him as Indian. This includes him wearing brownface and having a thick Indian accent.
In the eighties, this wan’t unusual, and Stevens seems to be paying homage to Peter Sellers in Blake Edwards’ The Party for much of the film. But, in recent years, there has been some blowback on this kind of portrayal with Apu from The Simpsons being a prime example. Initially, the character was supposed to be white. The director decided to make him Indian and didn’t recast Fisher Stevens. Even for 80s films, it can be a tough watch through a modern lens, which is maybe why the film, which was huge back then, is harder to find these days and absent from many streaming services.
Oof. This one has a lot of problems, even if it remains a fairly beloved film. Sam is turning sixteen, but her sister is getting married, so everyone forgot her birthday. She ends up fending off a geek who has a crush on her while pining after the boy she likes. All while taking a foreign exchange student with her to the dance. So, let’s start off with Long Duk Dong. The Chinese exchange student plays into every Asian stereotype from 80s films. Actor Gedde Watanabe says he loves the character but does understand the problems with how it comes off.
Anthony Michael Hall’s Geek character also has a couple of moments that don’t paint him in a great light. He is given Sam’s underwear, which he then makes younger teens pay him to look at them, insinuating that he slept with her. Later, he takes the drunken prom queen home, or more accurately, to her Church’s parking lot. We find out he may have had sex with her while she was in a drunken stupor. At the time, it may have come off humorous since neither could remember. Now, with conversations about consent and even laws about what drunk people can and can not consent to, this makes this plot point very very questionable.
It is known as a right of passage for men who are about to get married, but this film plays it up as an excuse to fall into complete debauchery. Rick and Debbie are about to get married, but her family hates him. They think he is too immature. When they learn he is having a bachelor party, they try to catch him cheating on his girlfriend to break them up.
Throughout the film, Rick’s friends and brother look forward to the party so they can use it to cheat on their girlfriends or wives. They repeatedly tell him they need this party because they are so tired of their significant others back at home. It’s treated like this is a foregone conclusion at any bachelor party and that it’s not a big deal. One of the guys finds a pimp to hire some sex workers. Just good ol’ fashioned eighties movie fun, right?
Tom Hanks plays Rick fantastically, and he is the only character not to cheat on his girlfriend throughout the film. Even when an ex-girlfriend is brought to the party and presented to him nude with the sole purpose of him sleeping with her before he gets married. His friends don’t seem to care that he isn’t interested in sleeping with anyone other than his girlfriend and are constantly pressuring him to sleep with someone else. Peer Pressure to the extreme, but the film still has its charm.
Is being a nerd looked at as a bad thing in 2023? Back in the 80s, it was, and we see a group of nerds who are thrown out of their dorms by a fraternity. When they try to join a fraternity, they are rejected but finally find solace in Lambda Lambda Lambda. They then go to war with the fraternity that kicked them out, and it spills out onto the college campus.
The stereotypical portrayal of nerds in 80s films is to be expected. Maybe not the level of bullying and mockery the characters suffer in this film. All of that could be excused away for the movie’s sake, but the biggest problem comes down to a scene where Lewis dresses up in the costume of the leader of the rival frat and sleeps with his girlfriend. Upon a rewatch, this comes off as rape by deception, even though the film tries to play it off that she fell in love with him after she found out. It’s a moment that, arguably, keeps this otherwise pretty funny movie from standing the test of time.
In 1954, a group of boys decide to lose their virginity, so they head to a club called Porky’s, where they are going to hire a sex worker. The club owner, Porky himself, takes their money and then humiliates them by dumping them in the swamp. They try to get revenge multiple times but are always bested by the club owner. For the most part, the film is a fun 80s sex comedy.
Most of the film comes off as misogynistic, but the big scene, in particular, is when the guys are able to peek into the girl’s locker room shower. It’s played off as if the girls think it’s funny, but then one of the boys puts his penis through one of the peepholes. It backfires on him, and later, a gym teacher tries to pull his pants off to identify if it is him or not. So this definitely isn’t the most egregious film on the list, but not sure younger folks that weren’t around for the 80s heyday would find a ton to chuckle about here.
A spoiled rich white kid is planning on going to Harvard, but his dad is refusing to pay for it. The only scholarship he sees is for African-American students. He decides to takes pills that darken his skin so he can pass as black. He quickly learns that being another race is not what he bargained for, and he is constantly subjected to racism. Oh boy.
So I’ll start by saying that it seems like the idea was to show someone experience racism for the first time like the famous book Black Like Me. It missed the mark on a lot of levels. Blackface has always been an issue. Even thinking that the filmmakers could get away with this without controversy is baffling. The NAACP boycotted the film, and filmmaker Spike Lee condemned it. Their hearts may have been in the right place, but the execution of this story did not work. It was a pretty big hit in 1986, but it seemed to permanently chill the careers C. Thomas Howell (who’s making a comeback with Obliterated) and Rae Dawn Chong.
What other 80s films do you think haven’t aged very well? Let us know in the comments.