What to Watch on Netflix Watch Instantly: 80s Comedies
Ah, the 1980s. My generation has taken nostalgia from a wistful remembrance and turned it into a marketing campaign. If you mention this decade in the context of film, you’ll likely find yourself in conversation about the numerous blockbusters and the franchises built from them, but there were also a lot of entertaining comedies that have largely fallen by the wayside as basic cable programmers have abandoned older comedies to the history books. Here are some of the gems waiting for you on Netflix.
Blind Date (1987)
Walter (Bruce Willis) has an important business meeting with Japanese executives (something of a 1980s cliché) and he needs a date. His sister-in-law sets him up with her cousin Nadia (Kim Basinger). What Walter doesn’t fully understand is how Nadia reacts to the slightest bit of alcohol. If you like seeing Bruce Willis crack wise while being overwhelmed by chaos, this may be the highlight of his filmography. Seriously, I’ve never seen the guy look worse. Bonus: Phil Hartman, John Larroquette and William Daniels co-star. That’s some mighty fine support. And if all that’s not enough, the movie was directed by the late Blake Edwards.
Summer School (1987)
Younger viewers may think of Mark Harmon from his role as Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs from NCIS, but he’ll always be gym coach Freddy Shoop to me. Freddy is a slacker and with his job on the chopping block — and his eye set on fellow teacher Robin Bishop (Kirstie Alley) — he finds himself tasked with summer school duties. Shoop quickly ascertains that his students have performed below their abilities in large part because they’ve been marginalized. His unorthodox method of breaking through to them is to grant each student a personal wish ranging from driving lessons to hosting a screening of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. It may not be the most original movie ever made, but by God it’s fun.
The ‘Burbs (1989)
If I told you I was recommending a Tom Hanks comedy from the 80s, you’d probably think I was going to name Big. Not so. Here, Hanks plays typical suburban Ray Peterson who is unable to resist the gossip and speculation of the neighborhood when a new family moves in next door. Ray tries to remain the voice of reason, but there certainly seems to be something suspicious about the newcomers. The escalating anarchy is coupled with a poignant message about honesty, trust and respecting the privacy of others. Go on. You know you like it when Hanks gets worked up. Bruce Dern, Rick Docummun, Carrie Fisher and Corey Feldman take the brunt of it.
I also have a bonus recommendation. Though it isn’t currently available to stream on Netflix, it is available on Amazon Instant Video.
Night Shift (1982)
What if I told you Henry Winkler and Michael Keaton played a pair of guys working the third shift at the New York City morgue? What if I told you they decided to run a prostitution ring out of the morgue, after Winkler fell for Shelley Long? What if I told you the whole thing was directed by Ron Howard? Yeah, thought so. It’s everything you’re imagining, but funnier. Oh, and in case you were wondering, Night Shift came out a year before Risky Business (which is currently available to stream from Netflix).