It’s been quite a while (over six months!!!) but I’m back today with another favorite film list. This time the year is 1987 and I’ve got to tell you, this isn’t getting any easier as we move through the ’80s. After a couple of passes through the list of potential entries I still had 26 films that were in contention!
As I’ve done previously, I’m sticking with my format of Five Honorable Mentions and a ranked Top Five. I won’t deviate from that. The final two films dropped from this year’s list were: Over The Top and The Lost Boys.
Chewie’s Top 5 Films From 1987
All of these films received their US theatrical release within calendar year 1987. 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. An example of this would be films like Good Morning Vietnam, The Untouchables, Dirty Dancing or Full Metal Jacket. A case can be made that these are better or more well made films than many or most of the films on my list but they’re not my favorites, hence the reason they won’t show up here. A special note about Full Metal Jacket. That’s really a tale of two films. The first half is, in my opinion, some of the best work every put to film. The second half is a vastly different and more traditional Vietnam war movie. It’s still great, but if it was just that first half it’d be at the top of my list.
- Innerspace – Tells the story of a hapless store clerk (Martin Short as Jack Putter) who must foil criminals to save the life of the man (Dennis Quaid playing Lt. Tuck Pendleton) who was miniaturized in a secret experiment and was accidentally injected into Putter. This is one of those films that probably isn’t on many “best of” lists but it’s a flick that I’ve watched countless times and one that Pip and I still regularly quote to one another. Classic comedy here from Short and Quaid who both play well off Meg Ryan who looks FINE with “Zero defects”.
- Lethal Weapon – A veteran cop, Murtaugh (Danny Glover), is partnered with a young suicidal cop, Riggs (Mel Gibson before he went bat shit crazy). Both have one thing in common – they hate working with a partner. Now they must learn to work together in this action / buddy cop flick to stop a gang of drug smugglers which includes Joshua played brilliantly by Gary Busey before we went bat shit crazy. This one also shows up on my Top Holiday Movies and Top 80’s Action Movies lists for good reason… it’s awesome.
- RoboCop – Robocop is part man, part machine and all cop. He’s the future of law enforcement and he comes to you on the big screen in a bloody and violent way. The film is set in a dystopic and crime-ridden Detroit (no… it’s not present day) and a terminally wounded cop played by Peter Weller returns to the force as a powerful cyborg haunted by submerged memories. This one spawned two nearly unwatchable sequels and one reboot which I refused to see but I can pretty much guarantee you the 2014 version can’t hold a candle to this. There’s a great supporting cast here including Dan O’Herlihy, Ronny Cox, Kurtwood Smith and Miguel Ferrer.
- The Running Man – Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, María Conchita Alonso, Jesse Ventura, Jim Brown and Richard Dawson (in his final film) this is is loosely based on the 1982 novel written by Stephen King and published under the pseudonym Richard Bachman. The year is 2019 and the finest men in America don’t run for President, they run for their lives in a television show called “The Running Man”, where convicted criminal “runners” must escape death at the hands of professional killers. Arnold is here in all his glory with one liners that are grown inducing but the action is top notch.
- The Secret of My Success – Probably my favorite Michael J. Fox performance, he plays Brantley Foster, a recent graduate of Kansas State University who moves to New York City where he has landed his first job but gets laid off before his first day on the job. From there he embarks on a journey where he climbs the corporate ladder through a series of mishaps and mistaken identity. I do have to say that it’s been quite some time since I’ve revisited this one and I’m guessing based on the 80’s cliches of “business” it wouldn’t hold up all that well but to this day Pip and I quote this one on a regular basis to one another and that alone makes it worthy of an honorble mention. Aside Fox we have Helen Slater, Richard Jordan & Margaret Whitton in roles that, at least to me, are absolutely brilliant. If you’ve never seen this one I’d highly recommend giving it a watch.
The Top Five
Talk about an eclectic top five! Two comedies, a drama, an action movie and a horror flick make up this year’s list which was super difficult to rank. Ultimately it came down to re-watch-ability and the old, “If I had to pick one” test.
#5 – Spaceballs – Planet Spaceballs’ President Skroob sends Lord Dark Helmet to steal planet Druidia’s abundant supply of air to replenish their own, and only Lone Starr can stop them. I’ve been threatening for years to do a Most Quotable list and this would be right near the top. It helps that I’m a huge Star Wars nerd as this is 100% parody of the Star Wars films with some other pop culture references thrown in for good measure. As with many Mel Brooks films some of the jokes here would have a hard time getting past today’s censors but I’m glad they did in 1987. In addition to Brooks, we get John Candy, Rick Moranis and Bill Pullman in one of my favorite roles he’s ever played.
#4 – Predator – A team of commandos on a mission in a Central American jungle led by Dutch (Arnold Schwarzenegger) find themselves hunted by an extra-terrestrial warrior. This one made my list of Top 80’s Action Movies for good reason… it’s 80’s action at its finest. The chess match that plays out in the jungle between the Predator and the team is so full of action that this is one of those flicks that if I run across it while flipping channels I’ll stop every… single… time.
#3 – A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors – Survivors of undead serial killer Freddy Krueger – who stalks his victims in their dreams – learn to take control of their own dreams in order to fight back. This is the second sequel to one of the greatest horror films of all time and for many fans their favorite entry in the franchise. Way back before Pip and I started ScareTissue I wrote a post called Hockey Masks, Razor Blades & Impalements… Oh My which outlined my all time favorite horror films at the time. Dream Warriors was there. Last year, we got to be Dream Warriors when we met the cast. It was, in a word, amazing. This one holds up to this day with some incredibly inventive kills and a story line that puts most horror films to shame. This isn’t just a mindless stalker looking to kill kids for no reason. This is Freddy Krueger and it’s this film where the back story and the legend really starts to be built. If you’ve never seen it, please get out and see it.
#2 – Wall Street – A young and impatient stockbroker (Charlie Sheen) is willing to do anything to get to the top, including trading on illegal inside information taken through a ruthless and greedy corporate raider (Michael Douglas) who takes the youth under his wing. I’m not sure there’s a more iconic role than Douglas as Gordon Gekko. The “Greed is Good” speech alone puts this on the list but performances from Charlie and Martin Sheen as well as Daryl Hannah this Oliver Stone film is damn near perfect. It may not hold up all that well based on the 80’s iconography but the lessons to be learned are still there and the acting is top notch.
#1 – Roxanne – Based on the play “Cyrano de Bergerac”, large nosed C.D. Bales (Steve Martin) falls for the beautiful Roxanne (Daryl Hannah) while she falls for his personality but another man’s looks. Pure comedic genius here. Steve Martin has had some simply outstanding roles in his career but for me, this one tops them all. The story is pretty straight forward but when you add some physical comedy and dialogue that on par with some of George Carlin’s best you’re in for a great time. Rounding out the cast with Martin and Hannah are Shelley Duvall, Rick Rossovich (Slider… you stink), Fred Willard and Michael J. Pollard. There are two scenes here that really stand out as side splitters including the “big nose” insults in the bar and when C.D. is helping Chris get the right words out. To this day Pip and I quote this film on a regular basis. It was a mild cinematic hit (40 million at the box office) but it tops my list against some heavy competition in 1987.
Did I leave off your favorite film from 1987? Leave a comment with your thoughts!