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1984 Movie Reviews – Hard to Hold, Moscow on the Hudson, The Stone Boy, and Where the Boys Are ’84

by Sean P. Aune | April 6, 2024April 6, 2024 8:30 am EDT

Welcome to an exciting year-long project here at The Nerdy. 1984 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 1984 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 1984 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 April 6, 1984, and we’re off to see Hard to Hold, Moscow on the Hudson, The Stone Boy, and Where the Boys Are ’84.

Hard to Hold

Rick Springfield had a successful music career and garnered good reviews for his work on General Hospital. Yet, somehow, people thought this was his film vehicle.

James Roberts (Springfield) is one of the biggest musicians in the world, but one night he gets in a minor car accident with child psychologist Diana Lawson (Janet Eilber). She has no idea who he is and he is immediately intrigued and begins stalking her… I mean trying to romance her. He inevitably wins her over, but then finds his music suffering because of the romance.

And then he’s fine, and they will live happily ever after.

In interviews, Springfield admitted that he knew the film was horrible, but they offered him too much money to say no. It feels as though everyone in the film knew they were making garbage but went with it anyway.

Past all of that, there are just no stakes in this film. Nothing feels earned. At the end of the movie, oh no, Jamie had a couple of rough weeks… oh well, he’s still rich, and he got the girl. Those are the breaks, I guess.

It’s a miserable waste of a film and I am worse person for having wasted time watching it.

Moscow on the Hudson

One odd thing about this week’s lineup of five films is I hadn’t seen any of them. The most surprising being Moscow on the Hudson as I am generally a fan of Robin Williams’ work. It is yet another victim of coming out when I was too young to watch it.

Vladimir Ivanov (Robin Williams) is a musician from Soviet Russia over in the U.S. on a cultural exchange who finds himself defecting somewhat on the spur of the moment. He does so in the middle of Bloomingdales where he makes quick friends with Lucia Lombardo (Maria Conchita Alonso) and Lionel Witherspoon (Cleavant Derricks). From there on, it’s a story about culture shock, found family, the meaning of what it is to be an American, and much more.

Being this is fairly early in Williams’ career I was expecting far more humor from the film. This isn’t to say it isn’t funny, because it is – especially the defection scene – but it had far more heart than I went in with. Williams had reall only done one other dramatic work before this in The World According to Garp, but he was already showing he was an actor with a really untapped range. You feel for Ivanov throughout as he is being hit repeatedly with the realization of what exactly is he’s done, and the situation he has put himself in.

As the story progresses, he also finds himself disillusioned by the realities of life in the U.S. in the early to mid-eighties. From difficulties finding work to crime, nothing is quite as he envisioned it.

The film is well worth a watch for Williams’ performance, but the early pacing of the film is a bit of a rough ride. It really tries to drive home the grim realities of Societ Russia, but spends just a bit too much time doing it. More time in the U.S.A. to expand even further on what his character was experiencing would have been a far better call.

The Stone Boy

How does a family cope after their youngest son accidentally shoots and kills his older brother?

Not well.

The Stone Boy follows the Hillerman family as they deal not only with the aftermath of the accidental shooting but also with an abuser of a relative. The thing is, the film doesn’t handle either topic well.

There is so much potential in The Stone Boy from the meaty topic to a stellar cast that includes Robert Duvall, Glenn Close, and Wilford Brimley, but it just never seems to know exactly what it wants to do. Arnold (Jason Presson) is floating through life while acting as if he didn’t kill his brother and the family has no idea how to handle the situation, so they simply don’t. There are just a lot of hushed tones as replacements for any type of character study.

By the end of the film, you are left wondering what the point of this exercise was. No one seems to have grown, and they will just move on with their lives, just with a son who now accepts he messed up in the worst possible way.

Where the Boys Are ’84

From the moment Where the Boys Are ’84 begins, it feels like an executive somewhere went, “What if we did one of these raunchy comedies the kids seem to like, but instead of it being lustful men, it’s lusty women?” and then a whole bunch of ‘yes men’ muttered how brilliant the exec was for their bold move.

Four female college students head to Florida for Spring Break, where they find love and heartbreak in the span of a week.

And that’s the odd this thing about this film, it actually felt like it had something to say but just had no clue how to accurately convey that information to its audience. The female leads in this film are owning who they are, flaws and all, and seem to want to say, “just be yourself,” but the messages gets so buried under the weight of “we need a joke here” that it gets lost.

There is one aside that made me laugh out loud, and it clearly wasn’t meant as a joke. The girls go into this club, and there is a rockabilly band playing that is a clear ripoff of the Stray Cats, who were popular at the time. Fine, whatever. Later, a bunch of the kids interrupt a posh party and take it over, and… somehow, the Rockabilly band shows up there and performs as well.

So I’m to believe the kids were SO into Dollar Store Stray Cats they helped the band move their equipment to this party?

Let me be clear, Where the Boys Are ’84 is not a good movie. It’s actually a bad movie. But there is something here that feels as if it needs to be seen. Even if just as a counterpoint to all of the other horrible raunchy comedies you will encounter on your 1980s film journey.

1984 Movie Reviews will return on April 13 with Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, Iceman, and Kidco!


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