Welcome to an exciting year-long project here at The Nerdy. 1980 was an exciting year for films giving us a lot of films that would go on to be beloved favorites and cult classics. It was also the start to a major shift in cultural and societal norms, and some of those still reverberate to this day.
We’re going to pick and choose which movies we hit, but right now the list stands at nearly three dozen.
Yes, we’re insane, but 1980 was that great of a year for film.
The articles will come out – in most cases – on the same day the films hit theaters in 1980 so that it is their true 40th anniversaries. All films are also watched again for the purposes of these reviews and are not being done from memory. In some cases, it truly will be the first time we’ve seen them.
This time around it’s June 6, 1980, and we’re off to see Galaxina and Urban Cowboy!
Quick side note: Since we launched this series this year, we’ve discovered that Vintage Video Podcast is doing the exact same project with two differences: First, it’s audio (naturally), and second, they are doing every major film. We’ve listened to a couple of episodes and it’s fun checking off their thoughts against my own. Check them out over at Vintage Video Podcast.
Galaxina is one of those movies I have heard about for years, but just never gotten around to.
Sadly, the reason I have heard about this wholly unremarkable film is due to the death of Galaxina herself, Dorothy Stratten, at the hands of her abusive husband. But that’s not why we’re here today, but instead to discuss this 1980 film that… oof.
I tweeted to the folks over at Vintage Video Pod this week, “Normally when I watch the 1980 movies I do it in a straight shot. … I am now on day three of trying to finish Galaxina. I think I’ve lost all sense of reality and am questioning every life choice that brought me to this moment.”
This sci-fi comedy – and boy do I use that term loosely – was trying to cash in on the success of films such as Star Wars and Alien. This was not unusual at the time as you will see throughout this series, but this one attempted to add comedy to the mix and it just didn’t work. From jokes such as Mister Spot – say at fast enough and you’ll hear it – to an alien pulling a cyrofreeze chamber prank on its “mother,” the jokes are just so flat that you have to pause and wonder if it really was one.
The only spot in the film I found remotely amusing was towards the end of the film when the ship full of space police arrive at Altair One, a planet founded by biker gang criminals sent there to live out their prison sentences. Over the years, the descendants have come to worship their god, the Harley-David-Son.
Clearly, the most money in this budget went to building the main starship model, the Infinity. The amount of screentime dedicated to showing us every conceivable angle of this model borders on insanity.
We won’t even get into the logic jump of sending a starship on a 27 year journey to meet a guy on a planet, because, you know, he could die in that timespan.
Oh wait… he did.
Galaxina is just an objectively bad movie. From acting to even the film stock, I feel like I didn’t watch Galaxina, I survived it.
On paper, Urban Cowboy should not work. It’s a paint-by-numbers version of a troubled romance story that brings absolutely nothing new to the table.
And yet, it’s so oddly enjoyable.
A lot of this can be boiled down to the top-to-bottom great performances of the entire cast. Every person feels believable here, and I would actually argue this may be John Travolta’s best performance. There’s no one in this movie I would recast, and most especially, Debra Winger’s turn as Sissy was the very definition of a breakout role. Every moment she was on screen she keeps your attention.
I would even dare say if they were to come back today with an Urban Cowboy 2, I would not mind in the least checking in on what happened to Bud (Travolta) and Sissy. Their marriage was not exactly the most stable of relationships even after they reconciled.
All this said, I do go back to the script is just so insanely barebones. Nothing truly surprises you other than the seemingly random death of Uncle Bob (Barry Corbin) that comes too late to serve as any sort of motivational inspiration. Bud had already done all of his training for the film’s climatic mechanical bull showdown with Wes (Scott Glenn), so Bob’s death really served no story points.
Even that aside, I feel if this movie has any fault, it is just the horrific job it does of giving you any sense of the passage of time. It’s clear that Bud meets Sissy almost immediately after moving to Houston, but after he has his job at the oil refinery. They fall for each other and marry. Once Bud breaks his arm and gets laid off from work, his boss says he is still within his 150-day probationary period.
… wait… what? So you’re saying Bud moves to Houston… meets Sissy… marries her… buys a trailer… has issues with her almost immediately… their marriage is on the rocks… all in under six months? Sure? And then time seems to go all wonky again when Bud is healing from his broken arm and up to the showdown with Wes meaning that Bud has spent way more time with Pam (Madolyn Smith) – the woman he takes up with after Sissy – than he ever did with his wife.
Speaking of Pam, there are at least two mentions of her insanely wealthy oil-business father and nothing ever comes of that. Who smells a deleted a sub-plot?
As I said, on paper, I should hate this movie, but, dangit, I don’t.
1980 Movie Reviews will return on June 13 with The Children, The Island, and Wholly Moses!.
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