By Daniel Reif
The 80’s! Oh man!
If you are a frequent listener to the weekly shit-talk located on the above tab to the right, then you know 80’s culture is well cherished.
Such passion cripples me. I can only envy the retro heyday loved by proud Gen-X/Y-ers. Birthed fairly around the corner from Ringwalds and Griswolds, our new millennium’s screens would be the first to burn my eyes; the screens to inform my gateway to projections of past generations. So for the fourth volume in A Year for Animation, I want to animate (if you will) the lauded pop cultural landscape of a dreamy decade in this blog series’ own fashion.
You must note that animated movies (American notably) of the mid to late 80’s are not detached from the era’s industrial narrative. Noted in A January for the 70’s, the adult turn in animated movies matched a decade’s freeing modernism. And any bow to the radical 70’s can never ignore how the same generation of filmmakers ushered in the following “Blockbuster Age”…an age witnessed first by the adolescent eyes of 80’s kids.
Spring glee is still fresh. Pollens are terrorizing our nostrils. Short-sleeve button-ups catch (or roll) our eyes. Ice cream trucks continue to oppress our Saturday morning hangovers. As these things coast our senses more and more, summer dawn shows ever more rise. And dawn is no more punctuated by the pounding trailer plays of 9-figure franchise installments. Capes and crusaders are abound and the oncoming seasonal road of major distributions is perfect timing to use animation to look back at when profit began its modern heyday at the box office.
This is no decade for adults. Not even one for the American family. If John Hughes captured the teenager, toys and anthropomorphic animals captured the child… and no less, a dawn of an industry.
Transformers: The Movie (1986)
This synth-rock-scored blast of a space adventure featuring the legendary metal shape shifters comes at a rockin’ time. We’re finally a month away from the (god-willing) final intergalactic odyssey under mind-numbing Michael Bay’s overlordship, and after years of whiny and over sexualized white teenagers, hearing “Optimus” bellowed against no end of exploding chaos, and (I might not exaggerate here) millions of cuts, may I recommend you dust off this retro short Saturday morning play.
Lose yourself in throwback turf. Rediscover your whiny preteen instead.
Note: Orson Welles voices “Unicron” in his final role before passing. Orson, f***in, Welles.
Screenplay by Ron Friedman, Directed by Nelson Shin – 1986 – Hasbro/De Laurentiis Entertainment Group – 1hr 25m
The Chipmunk Adventure (1987)
From one future live-action franchise to another.
In 1987, “Alvin!!!!” finally roared inside movie palaces. Before Jason Lee’s “Dave” would ever get to charm children with the infamous line, 80’s rascals long remember the signature calling card to partake in the musical endearment of America’s beloved humanoid-chipmunk trio of brothers.
In the first feature to assemble “Alvin”, “Simon”, and “Theodore”- and opposite their duplicately hybrid female frenemies, the “Chipettes”- the gang skewers the classic “Around the World in 80 Days” in a tuneful tumble across many lands. Accompanied by a variety of sights and cultures (and unaccompanied by a compass), you’ll light up to the famous sounds of animation’s squeakiest harmony of voices.
Screenplay by Ross Bagdasarian Jr. and Janice Karman; Directed by Janice Karman – 1987 – The Samuel Goldwyn Company – 1hr 18m
The Land Before Time (1988)
Don Bluth’s prehistoric product prompts the fittest here. Co-produced by the godfathers of “blockbuster”, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg are not hidden overseers to a thrilling, thoughtful, triumphant coming-of-age journey (and saga debut) about a group of young lost dinosaurs.
Screenplay by Stu Frieger; Directed by Don Bluth – 1988 – Universal Pictures – 1hr 9m
Unoriginality is a whopping issue in contemporary cinema. Summers and holidays slap us with expansive sequels which- more than often- expand little in way of meaning or style.
Towering above the marketplace of ridiculed remakes is the decade which started it all. Ridley Scott’s Alien: Covenant is about to land, and though the film borrows from a 70’s original, many of the men and women rushing to the sci-fi horror’s newest are a certain age. An age of folks who will once again see Harrison Ford don the felt fedora. An age mad with Max Rockatansky. An age who will not let an age die.
You turned your toys into legends. Your stories into sagas. Cheers 80’s kids- you turned your dreams into “realities”, sort of.
Yet, while we all await your next time capsule, may I also recommend you fulfill your nostalgic spirit with the three originals above. Rediscover what made the 80’s great in the first place.
May 7, 2017
You got some fave 80’s animation flicks?
Tell Daniel! Social media links in team section.
Volume 5 coming later in May.