Welcome to an exciting year-long project here at The Nerdy. 1982 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 four dozen.
Yes, we’re insane, but 1982 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 1982 so that it is their true 40th anniversary. 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 23, 1982, and we’re off to see Forced Vengeance, The Last American Virgin, and Night Shift.
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 numerous episodes and it’s fun checking off their thoughts against my own. Check them out over at Vintage Video Podcast.
We have entered the golden era of Chuck Norris movies where he would star in just about anything no matter how out of place he may seem.
Forced Vengeance sees Norris as Chief Joshua Harrin “Josh” Randall, an American living in Hong Kong working for the family that owns the Lucky Dragon casino. When the casino boss refuses to let the triad get a taste of the action, the family ends up dead accept for the party girl daughter who Josh is now going to try his best to protect.
The movie is so generic that it is almost immediately forgettable. The most memorable thing is, “How does Norris get his leg that high when wearing jeans that tight?” The centerpiece fight of the film – Norris versus thugs in front of giant neon – plays out against the opening credits to only come back later and simply not be that impressive.
And then there is the truly unfortunate rape scene of Claire (Mary Louise Weller). Not only is it overly graphic to an unsettling degree, but then they made the poor actress lay there naked in an extended wideshot so Josh could lament her death. You keep hoping it will cut away for the actress’ sake, but no, it just keeps going, and going, and it goes so long Norris eventually has to readjust for comfort. It’s a horrible scene and I feel for Weller having to endure it.
I’ve never been a fan of Norris, and I don’t see that changing any time soon despite how many I’m going to have to watch.
The Last American Virgin
With 1980s teen sex comedies, you know how they’re going to go. They were paint-by-number affairs that had the boy being hapless, falling for a girl, and finally, he somehow ends up with the girl of his dreams. The film would usually end with a still photo of them putting their heads together and laughing.
Then comes The Last American Virgin which decided to completely upend the concept and have the boy – Gary, played by Lawrence Monoson – driving home crying with the gift for his dream girl still in his pocket.
The film follows Gary as his two friends seem to score numerous times with women, and Gary keeps having something happening that gets in his way. When Karen (Diane Franklin), gets screwed over by Rick (Steve Antin), and only Gary will help her get an abortion, it seems all is going to end well. Gary will finally get his girl.
And then comes that soul-crushing, but somewhat realistic ending where Gary finds Karen once again making out with Rick. They exchange a look in silence, and Gary drives home, tears streaming down his face.
The movie up until the last 5 minutes or so is pretty standard fare, but it’s honestly worth it for that gut-punch of an ending. My jaw literally dropped because for no matter when this movie was made, it was a bold move. I applaud it for having the guys so few films did back then, or even do to this day.
As a general movie you can probably skip it, but as anyone wanting to dive into 1980s cinema, it’s essential viewing.
Night Shift is somehow insanely charming, funny, and heartfelt all at once. This is the type of comedy you remember from the 1980s and wish people could once again make.
Henry Winkler plays Chuck Lumely, your typical uptight man who needs to loosen up. He’s engaged to someone he clearly does not love, and works a job at the morgue that annoys him with the way others treat the facility. His world is turned upside when Bill Blazejowski (Michael Keaton) is hired. Blazejowski is always coming up with schemes to make money, but when luck puts them in the path of a ring of prostitutes looking for a new pimp, the two team up with Celinda (Shelley Long) to turn the morgue into their headquarters.
This film was right when Winkler was trying to show he wasn’t just The Fonz, and it worked. Keaton was just really starting to take off. The two played off of each other amazingly well. And Long, who I am not typically a fan of, is fantastic in this film.
The movie just works on numerous levels and I enjoyed every minute of it. It’s not perfect, no movie truly is, but it’s cute, it’s fun, and I laughed heartily many times. I give this one a strong recommendation if you’ve never seen it.
1982 Movie Reviews will return on Aug. 4 with Things Are Tough All Over!
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