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 July 11, 1980, and we’re off to see Oh! Heavenly Dog and Used Cars!
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.
Oh! Heavenly Dog
I’m not going to bury this: For the first time in this project, I didn’t finish this movie. As a matter of fact, I barely made it 15 minutes.
I debated if I should just pull this from the rotation, but then decided that wasn’t fair. You need to know just how bad this movie was.
From the opening – the endless opening – no joke is landing. It feels as though no one wanted to be in this movie and it is coming across the screen. Even thinking back to what little of this I watched I’m getting angry.
I usually don’t do this as I want my own opinion, but I went and looked into it and Chevy Chase said in a 1982 interview that after he left the film, director Joe Camp changed the film drastically. “[He] shot the rest of the scenes with the dog and changed all the lines. I had to come back, go onto the looping stage and loop completely different dialogue than I had read in the script. It was very infuriating; I was so upset that to this day I have never actually seen the movie.”
Just… don’t. It is a completely unwatchable misery of a movie.
I remember seeing Used Cars years and years ago and enjoying it, but it has probably been 30 or more years since I saw it. Would it stand up after all this time?
After the absolute pain that was Oh! Heavenly Dog, Used Cars was a delight. It does fall into a bit of the early 1980s comedy trap of confusing raunch for humor, but it is slight and fits in with the characters.
What I didn’t realize at the time was the caliber of the talent behind the film with Robert Zemeckis directing and co-writing with Bob Gale which the two of them would go on to the Back to the Future series. The original idea also came from movie icon John Milius while also working with Steven Spielberg. It was just a hit list of people that would become huge names.
The premise of the film is simple enough with shady used car salesmen trying to save their car lot but with a dash of murder, television piracy, and strippers. But beyond that, there is some really smart comedy here that benefits greatly from the talent assembled in front of the camera as well.
Kurt Russell is always a joy to watch, but Gerrit Graham’s Jeff is a ton of fun as the ultra-superstitious salesman. His bit with “You killed my dog, mister!” has stuck with me since I originally saw the film despite having not seen it in years.
It’s a fun and greatly overlooked film and well worth your time if you’ve never seen it.
1980 Movie Reviews will return on July 18 with Cheech & Chong’s Next Movie and Prom Night!
Fun Jug Media, LLC (operating TheNerdy.com) has affiliate partnerships with various companies. These do not at any time have any influence on the editorial content of The Nerdy. Fun Jug Media LLC may earn a commission from these links.