I was really hoping these lists would be getting easier as I went. They’re absolutely not. As I went through the list of potential films that were released in 1985 there were over 30 (!) films that made my first pass.
As with previous lists, I’m sticking with my format of Five Honorable Mentions and a Top Five and I won’t deviate from that. I’ll give myself one small cheat as I did with my 1984 list and say the last four films that were dropped from contention: The Last Dragon, A View to a Kill, Commando and The Goonies. I may take some flack for leaving Goonies off but as you’ll see as I get into it, there are just WAY too many amazing films from 1985.
Chewie’s Top 5 Films From 1985
All of these films received their US theatrical release within calendar year 1985. If you want to see the full list of all films eligible for this list you can view it here. Keep in mind, these are my “favorite” movies not necessarily what I’d consider the “best” movies. As you’ll see this was a very comedy and action centric year for me.
- Brewster’s Millions – Monty Brewster, a minor-league baseball player played by Richard Pryor, has to spend $30,000,000 in thirty days in order to inherit $300,000,000. However, he’s not allowed to tell anyone about the deal. Hilarity ensues when Brewster and his best friend Spike (played by John Candy) run for public office, set up an exhibition with the New York Yankees and blow through money the way we can only dream of.
- Teen Wolf – A struggling high school student (Michael J. Fox) with problems discovers that his family has an unusual pedigree when he finds himself turning into a werewolf. This is one of those comedies that I’ve watched too many times to count and has (at least in my mind) multiple iconic scenes. The final game where Scott plays as himself rather than The Wolf is simply amazing and has 80’s written all over it. As you’ll soon find out, Michael J. Fox was very busy in 1985. I’m sure glad he was…
- National Lampoon’s European Vacation – The Griswolds win a vacation tour across Europe where the usual havoc ensues. Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo reprise their roles as Clark and Ellen Griswold but they’ve got new kids, this time played by Dana Hill (Audrey) and Jason Lively (Rusty). This entry into the Vacation series is very underrated in my opinion. It’s hilarious from the first scene and stays that way until the final credits role as the Griswolds deface yet another national treasure.
- Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins – An officially “dead” cop is trained to become an extraordinarily unique assassin in service of the US president. It stars Fred Ward as Remo, Joel Grey as Chiun and Wilford Brimley as Harold Smith. The character is based on The Destroyer pulp paperback series which was supposed to be the first of a series based on the novels. That would have been tremendous. As it stands the adventure has only just begun.
- Rocky IV – After iron man Drago kills Apollo Creed in an exhibition match, Rocky comes to the heart of Russia for 15 pile-driving boxing rounds of revenge. There are some people that will tell you the original Rocky or the sequel Rocky II are the best films in the franchise. I’m here to tell you they’re dead fucking wrong – Rocky IV stands above them all. From its epic 80’s training montages to its heart stopping final fight with the Russian and a speech the only Sylvester Stallone could deliver… this… is… Rocky.
The Top Five
We’re getting into a period of my life where when I look back at my favorite movies I’m seeing a very clear pattern: comedies and action films. They come from two basic genres but they’re all full of awesome.
#5 – Spies Like Us
Two bumbling government employees think they are U.S. spies, only to discover that they are actually decoys for Nuclear War. The impression that I get when I think about Spies Like Us is that it’s underrated. I don’t get the sense that people really know this movie the way they do some others on the list. It’s absolutely hilarious and while the story probably doesn’t hold up like some others on the list it’s incredibly watchable even to this day. Chevy Chase and Dan Aykroyd are two of the heaviest hitters in the history of comedy. Their interplay here is genius. If you’ve never seen this one you owe it to yourself. Oh… and don’t forget Donna Dixon and Vanessa Angel. Yum.
#4 – Weird Science
Two high school nerds attempt to create the perfect woman, but she turns out to be more than that. A John Hughes classic starring Anthony Michael Hall and Ilan Mitchell-Smith as Gary and Wyatt who build “Lisa” played by the smoking hot Kelly LeBrock. Throw in supporting roles by Bill Paxton, Suzanne Snyder, Judie Aronson, Robert Downey Jr. (yes, he did stuff before Iron Man), Robert Rusler and Vernon Wells and you’ve got yourself a film that’s quotable, sexy and full of scenes that will make you yearn for a weekend at home with your parents out of town.
John Rambo is released from prison by the government for a top-secret covert mission to the last place on Earth he’d want to return – the jungles of Vietnam. For me, this is the film that put Sylvester Stallone on the map. Sure he was Rocky many years before this but this is 80’s action at its finest. It was actually years before I figured out that this was a sequel. I always just referred to it as Rambo and dropped the First Blood Part II. Once I got older and watched First Blood this film took on a whole new meaning. That being said, this is much more of a shoot em up action movie than the original was, but once you know John Rambo’s back story this one takes on an even more serious tone. This and Commando were my two go to films this year and were both on my list of Top 80’s Action Movies. The gravitas that Rambo has puts it a cut above.
#2 – Back to the Future
A young man is accidentally sent 30 years into the past in a time-traveling DeLorean invented by his friend, Dr. Emmett Brown, and must make sure his high-school-age parents unite in order to save his own existence. If Rambo put Stallone on the map for me, the BTTF introduced Michael J. Fox to damn near everyone. He was busy as hell this summer filming this, Teen Wolf and Family Ties but I’ve got to think this is by far his most iconic (and best) role to date. This is the first film in arguably the best pure trilogy in history. Fox has an amazing cast to work with including Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Crispin Glover and Thomas F. Wilson. I can’t imagine you’ve not seen this but if by some chance you’ve been in a coma for the last 30 years do yourself a favor and go get it.
#1 – Fletch
Irwing M. “Fletch” Fletcher is a newspaper reporter being offered a large sum to off a cancerous millionaire, but is on the run, risking his job, and finding clues when it’s clear he’s healthy. Holy shit… where to I start with Fletch. To say it’s funny would be an understatement. To say it’s quotable would be laughable. It holds up like few others. It is quite simply a time capsule that capture Chevy Chase at his absolute best. Chase has a cast the likes of Joe Don Baker, Dana Wheeler-Nicholson, Tim Matheson and George Wendt to contend with but this film begins and ends with Fletch. It had an underwhelming sequel that I like to forget and there’s been talk of a sequel or a reboot for years that I hope never happens. I re-watched this the other night and laughed from beginning end. I could quote this movie all day but I’ll just give a couple:
- You using the whole fist, Doc?
- Arnold Babar. Isn’t there a children’s book about an elephant named Babar?
I don’t know. I don’t have any.
No elephant books.
- Come on Frank, say yes, and I’ll buy you some new deodorant.
- Oh, it’s me, Dr. Rosenpenis. I’m just here to check out Alan Stanwyk’s file.
- He is actually six-five, with the afro, six-nine.
Chevy Chase has played some amazing roles (two of which are on this 1985 list) and Fletch is one of my favorites. As I’m going through these lists the years are just chock full of awesome movies. Maybe I’m just looking back and romanticizing my childhood but damn… it was a great time to be a film fan.
Did I leave off your favorite film from 1985? Leave a comment with your thoughts!