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1983 Movie Reviews – The Outsiders, Spring Break, and Tough Enough

by Sean P. Aune | March 25, 2023March 25, 2023 10:30 am EDT

Welcome to an exciting year-long project here at The Nerdy. 1983 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 1983 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 1983 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 March 25th, 1983, and we’re off to see The Outsiders, Spring Break, and Tough Enough!

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.


The Outsiders

I didn’t see The Outsiders for the first time until an annual sleepover a friend of mine would have during winter break. I had heard everyone talking about it, and saying how much it changed them and so forth. I was excited to watch it, but even at the young age of 12 the film came to an end and I can just remember thinking, “…and?”

The Outsiders is a perfectly serviceable story that gives you a look into the lives of teens ‘the wrong sides of the track’ in 1965 Oklahoma. Despite the year of the film, they play far more like 1950s greasers than anything else, but considering the way things tricky down in society, it’s not surprising you would find these personalities in the mid-60s. Ponyboy (C. Thomas Howell) and Johnny (Ralph Macchio) end up in a fight with the ‘socs,’ and Jonny kills one in an attempt to save Pony. The two then go on the run as the two groups from opposite sides of town head toward a showdown.

I had no real issues with the story. You’ve seen all of these characters before, and at times they feel more like caricatures than anything original. My real issues with the film come down to Francis Ford Coppola’s directing choices throughout the film.

It feels as though Coppola felt no one would buy this story if he didn’t also step backward in time for his angles and aesthetic choices. His choice for a torrential downpour just as the greaser/soc rumble begins was a step too far in my opinion. It just felt so contrived and over the top to be laughable.

The movie is not offensively bad, it’s just so medium that you wonder why you put effort into watching it when they don’t seem to have put much effort into making it.


Spring Break

It seems as though someone forgot to tell the writers of Spring Break they really didn’t need a plot for a sex romp movie. Not only did they bother with one, they went with the old, “we have to save the club house from the mean adults!” storyline. This was already overdone by the 80s, but here we are.

Nelson (David Knell) and Adam (Perry Lang) are two nerds off to their first spring break. They make the classic mistake of booking the cheapest hotel they can find and end up rooming with people they don’t know.

Oh… the shennagians have already started!

The hotel is going to be shut down and redeveloped, but thanks to these plucky kids it ends up being saved, and everyone gets to have sex!

Even by teen sex comedies of the 1980s standards, this one was pretty bad. I am glad I never have to think of it again.


Tough Enough

Tough Enough feels like “What if Rocky and Urban Cowboy had a baby, but we dodn’t understand what worked about either of those films?”

Art Long (Deniis Quaid) is a Country & Western singer who is desperate to make a go of his career. The problem is nothing seems to work, so he turns to a boxing tournament to make some money. It turns out he’s pretty darn good at fighting, and if he continues with it he might also get a record deal!

Quaid is not believable as either a singer or a fighter. To call him horribly miscast would be an understatement. And the quality of this movie is made even more mysterious when you see it was directed by Richard Fleischer who had been working since the 1940s. He had some decent films in his past, but this thing is just silly and contrived. The fight scenes are such a pale imitation of Rocky that they are almost laughable.

It is just another in the long line of 1980s films we’ve watched now that make us think no one really understood what audiences were looking for. In that sense, it reminds me a lot of Partners from 1982 which was another, “who asked for this?” type of production.

1983 Movie Reviews will return on April 1, 2023 with Heart Like a Wheel and Screwballs!

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Sean P. Aune

Sean Aune has been a pop culture aficionado since before there was even a term for pop culture. From the time his father brought home Amazing