Quick Movie Review: The Flamingo Kid (1984)

flamingo kid

The Flamingo Kid is one of the most underrated films of the 1980s. It’s a complex story masked as a simple one. A movie with an overarching theme subtly interwoven throughout. It’s deceptively brilliant. Not to mention visually arresting with some absolutely beautiful shots.

Set in 1963, the film follows Jeffrey Willis (Matt Dillon), a teenager fresh out of high school who winds up with a summer job at a snooty beach club. He comes from a very middle class upbringing. His father (Hector Elizondo) originally gets his son a summer job as an office assistant and isn’t too pleased when Jeffrey finally takes the more cushiony job at the resort. He thinks he’s taking the easy route.

Dillon’s performance is spot-on. He’s magnetic as Jeffrey, showcasing a charisma that backs up why he ends up becoming a star in this industry.

One of the beach club’s most important members is Phil Brody (Richard Crenna), who takes a liking to Jeffrey and convinces him to ditch college and work for him as a car salesman. You’re never quite sure if Brody is just constantly trying to land a sale with everyone he meets–especially Jeffrey. Jeffrey’s relationship with Brody makes matters worse with his dad. Not only regarding Jeffrey’s future, but there’s an understated sense of jealousy there as well.

Like most 18-year-olds, Jeffrey is looking for a sure thing without ever realizing that they seldom exist. Or understanding that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Whichever cliche you choose, it never feels like one when watching this film. The themes aren’t shoved in your face. And that subtlety goes perfectly with the rest of the movie.

The narrative is relaxed. Like one you would want when watching a film about a beach club in the summer. It mixes the seemingly-random series of events of ’80s teen comedies with the fluidity of new era Hollywood. And it encapsulates the summer season more than almost any other movie I’ve seen.

Twizard Rating: 98


Quick Movie Review: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)

temple of doom

As a kid, I probably saw Temple of Doom much younger than I should have. At times it’s borderline a horror movie. It was the first thing I had seen above a PG rating and it left such an impact on me. Certain parts I obsessed over. I became enthralled with exotic foods and the weird and creepy. I may have been 8 or 9, but I remember scenes from this film just as clearly as if I had watched them yesterday.

And it makes a lot of sense, considering that, unlike Raiders of the Lost Ark–which has a few great scenes surrounded by some pedestrian, yet obligatory, transition ones–Temple of Doom is one memorable scene after another.

It’s much more free-flowing and organic. We don’t feel like it’s merely a product of a story or a script. It transcends that and we truly get lost in the film. Director Steven Spielberg definitely ups the ante with Temple of Doom.

In 1935, a year before Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones finds himself in India, where a local village asks him for his help recovering a mystical stone that was stolen from them by an ancient underground cult, who’s also enslaved all of the children from the village.

There’s much more mystery in this film than its predecessor. In Raiders, they tell everyone how to find the Ark of the Covenant within the first 20 minutes. But here, Indy is figuring it out on his own as he goes along. And so are we. Discovering hidden passage ways and secret societies.

Really, the only bad part is the main female character, Willie, played by Kate Capshaw, who the actress describes as “not much more than a dumb screaming blonde.” That’s pretty accurate, as she’s nearly unbearable–especially early on as she just keeps complaining about breaking a nail. It’s not funny, nor is it realistic. But the movie is so good that we can overlook this.

Temple of Doom is all that you wanted from the last film. An archaeologist and lover of the occult should be exploring underground temples or caves, not becoming trapped on a boat in the middle of the ocean. This is one of my all-time favorite movies. It’s left an impression on me my whole life, and watching it again as an adult, it definitely holds up.

Twizard Rating: 98

Quick Movie Review: Revenge of the Nerds (1984)


Forget the low-brow title. Revenge of the Nerds is not your typical low brow comedy. It hits all the marks that its contemporaries hit (e.g. Porky’s or Fast Times at Ridgemont High), but does a couple other things that those films don’t. The premise is thin, but within that thinness, there is a different kind of appeal.

A lot of these ’80s teen comedies don’t have much of a plot, instead relying on their antics. And most of the time, that severely dates the film. But Revenge of the Nerds holds up despite all this. It’s because the characters are unique and individual from each other. Their personalities are well-stated and they’re not just carbon copies of each other.

And within the diversity, the characters are genuinely funny–not just filled with well-conceived ideas executed poorly.

The film follows a group of nerdy friends during their first year of college. Due to a series of events that are not only unrealistic, but illegal, they are forced out of their dorms and end up forming their own fraternity in order to have a place to live.

The nerds are constantly being picked on by the football fraternity, and vow to have their revenge in order to be taken seriously.

The writing is way better than it needs to be, creating its own formula out of its looseness and avoiding most cliches. There’s never any forced drama between allies, and we don’t feel completely manipulated by events in the script in order to fulfill its final agenda. Though somehow it finds a way to be poignant in the end.

There aren’t a ton of plot points or big laughs, but even when it’s not funny, it’s fun. And many of the scenes find themselves burning a place in our memories.

Revenge of the Nerds is never boring, and not nearly as dated as it probably should be. The dialogue holds up, and so does its powerful ending.

Twizard Rating: 90

Quick Movie Review: The NeverEnding Story (1984)

neverending story

Director Wolfgang Petersen sure had an ambitious task on his hands when he decided to take on creating the spectacular world that is Fantasia. And it sure paid off.

I watched NeverEnding Story often as a child, though hadn’t seen it in almost 20 years. But images like these stick in your brain indelibly.

Based on the 1979 novel of the same name by Michael Ende, it follows a young boy, Bastian, as he happens upon a mysterious book that bridges the gap between what’s real and what’s fantasy.

Filled with unique and visionary characters and set pieces, it’s such an attractive film. The vision is executed so imaginatively that when we see the world of Fantasia, we never for a second feel like it’s the same world–the real world–that Bastian is living in.

You can tell it enjoys showing off its effects. And it should–they’re amazing! But the film isn’t just a “look what we can do” effects spectacle. No, it’s very deep and has some important things to say. It’s mainly about hope and imagination, with subtle religious undertones as well.

It’s a fairly short movie, but the adventure never feels rushed, building momentum evenly and moving along at an almost-perfect pace.

Often times, filmmakers know that if they just throw a bunch of fancy effects and weird-looking characters into their children’s movie that the details of the story don’t matter. This isn’t the case here. For a fantasy film, the details aren’t convoluted at all. It’s easy for kids to understand, but adults won’t feel talked down to, either. In fact, they’ll likely relate to it too.

Twizard Rating: 100

Quick Movie Review: Ghostbusters (1984)


We all know the theme song. Society has long been ingraining it into our heads since forever. And no matter where you stand on the Ray Parker Jr./Huey Lewis debate, we can all say that, when it comes to Ghostbusters, the good looks don’t outweigh what’s on the inside. The film, even today, is as fun a movie as ever. It’s a microcosm of the era–perhaps not as much as Back to the Future was a year later, but in 1984, the decade was just about forming into itself.

The film follows a group of perverse scientists who have long been trying to uncover the world of the supernatural. After ominous events start happening and their radical ideas get them fired from the University which they work at, they form their own business as ghostbusters.

Even though it works, Dan Aykroyd is slightly underutilized here. He and Harold Ramis serve very little purpose as either straight man or top banana. But Bill Murray and Rick Moranis prove to play the funny guys well enough.

Murray was the king back then. He could say or do whatever he wanted without outshining any of his costars or commandeering a film. What he does so well is give the audience both broad and subtle humor, letting them chose for themselves. And he’s at his best here. Moranis is phenomenal as well–although he doesn’t get nearly enough screen time. He and Murray stay comedically brilliant without ever having to step on each other’s toes.

It doesn’t hold up quite as well as some of its contemporaries, but it gets better with every watch.

It can be slow intermittently, but that’s just a sign of the times. Slightly dated, sure, but Ghostbusters still gets the job done.

Twizard Rating: 93

Quick Movie Review: The Terminator (1984)


It’s a little dated, but 1984’s The Terminator is nevertheless jam packed with entertainment. The effects seem cheesy by today’s standards, but are impressive considering the lower budget. And the movie’s impact on modern day action films is undeniable.

In The Terminator, a cyborg (Arnold Schwarzenegger) from the year 2029–when machines rule the earth–is sent into the past to kill Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), whose unborn son will lead a human rebellion against the machines. One human from the future, Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn), is hired to follow the cyborg into the past and save Sarah from assassination.

While I’m not a huge fan of James Cameron’s writing when it’s comes to dialogue, he always has really deep premises. And often times I feel as though he casts actors because of their look rather than their acting ability. The Terminator is no different. The dialogue is painful at times, but the themes are still relevant and the narrative is consistent. And Biehn’s poor acting is utterly distracting. Luckily Schwarzenegger has limited lines.

I also wish that Sarah and Reese’s chemistry had been a little more realistic. It isn’t bad, but it isn’t great either. Their dynamic feels a little forced and sudden with no buildup.

There are a few plot holes and paradoxes in the film, but we can’t expect anything else from an 1980s time travel film.

Although ahead of its time, it comes off as more ordinary when compared to modern action flicks. Possibly because it influenced most of them. But the ’80s setting makes for great nostalgia when viewed today.

Twizard Rating: 92

WRONG Tomatoes: Red Dawn (2012)


After 2 months without a post, I now present to you my new segment entitled “Wrong Tomatoes,” where I take a film that I have seen and explain how the score that it’s given on Rotten Tomatoes is wrong. In this first edition I will discuss the current remake of the 1984 film Red Dawn. As of today it has a score of 11% on RT…..eleven. The original holds a 53%.

So, let me explain to you the issues I have with this by telling you what was wrong with the original film. It lacked character development of any kind. Out of the 8-or-so teenagers that made up the guerrilla warfare group called the Wolverines, about 3 of them had a distinct personality. The others neither had any identifiable traits, nor did they have any sort of relationship with each other. This made it difficult to become emotionally attached to any of the characters. If an audience isn’t attached emotionally, they no longer care about the outcome.

Also, throughout the entire film things keep happening that seem like they were included last minute. A scenario that stands out is where, towards the end of the film, Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze’s characters are seen in a playful manner as the former intentionally sprinkles food crumbs onto the latter’s head. They both get a laugh. However, before this instance, both characters hardly even acknowledge the other’s presence. Shortly after this event, Jennifer Grey’s character gets killed, which finally clears up the decision for randomly and absurdly including the prior sequence. It was things like this that really lead me to believe that the creators were more into the IDEA of the film, rather than how they will make it entertaining for the audience.

Now, the remake fixes many problems that the ’84 version suffered from. The story didn’t feel rushed and you actually saw relationships forming between the characters. The issues that they dealt with were more realistic and you saw most of the maturing as the film developed. I mean, it had some issues of its own, but they were minor compared to the distracting and frustrating ones from before.

I know it’s hard to have a film that was so significant and meaningful at one point in time and then have it remade. But compared to some of the most recent remakes such as Footloose or Conan the Barbarian, this one wasn’t too shabby. It threw in a couple of twists to make it distinguishable from the original and, in my opinion, became a better film because of it.

All nostalgia aside, the 1984 version is pretty below-average. Although relevant to the times, the original is far worse than the 2012 remake. I understand that remakes generally suck especially if it is of such a “legendary” film, but despite the significance of this film in a trivial sense (e.g. the first PG-13 release and Charlie Sheen’s first film role), it’s hard to classify it as a classic for anything other than its historical representation.

Now, I urge critics to see the remake as its own film first and then re-watch the original with a new frame of mind to make the comparison. The acting might not be at par, but neither was the ’84 version’s. It’s not, by any means, a perfect movie, and I could probably write a whole article about how it’s not, but it’s hard to believe that it’s worse than the original.

Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 11%

What it SHOULD be: 64%