Friday, July 6, 2012

25 Years Ago This Month: July 1987

As the summer of '87 rolled on there were teen comedies, big budget science fiction, the fourth installment in a successful summer film franchise, a comic book movie sequel, and a James Bond action extravaganza. Of course this could be the description of this summer's films, or last summer's, or next summer's even. It seems Hollywood studios haven't really adjusted their release formula in the last quarter century.

4th of July weekend was not yet the summer juggernaut that it became in the mid-90s. The big releases were the Fantastic Voyage-like Innerspace starring Martin Short as a mild-mannered grocery store clerk who accidentally gets a tiny spaceship carrying a miniaturized Dennis Quaid injected into his body; and Adventures in Babysitting, with Elisabeth Shue looking after a pre-adolescent girl and her high school aged brother as they take an unauthorized trip into downtown Chicago for high jinks and illicit adventure. In a certain way this was the first movie about Thor.


The following weekend had the Ally Sheedy comedy Maid to Order in which Tom Skerritt wishes his own daughter out of existence for her wild ways. Beverly D'Angelo grants the wish and Sheedy has to become a maid for a rich family and learn the meaning of respect and responsibility. The counter programming to that was the sequel Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise, in which this time they get sand kicked in their faces by the Alpha Betas during spring break in Fort Lauderdale. Check out Bradley Whitford as the villainous football jock. Also Kevin Bacon played an experienced wilderness guide leading a group of teens including Sean Astin on their first adventure of camping and mountain climbing in White Water Summer.

Next up was the dreadful, awful, terrible Jaws 4: The Revenge starring Michael Caine who basically admitted that this was a horrible movie. It's hardly worth thinking about this sequel as it only serves to remind me that it all came from a truly great Steven Spielberg thriller. If you weren't up for a movie about a shark family seeking revenge on Chief Brody's family one at a time, you could have gone to see the movie that put director Paul Verhoeven on the map: RoboCop. I remember being terrified by the unspeakable violence in this film. Police officer Peter Weller is tortured beyond belief, getting shot in the legs, arms, hands, face, etc. This was some disturbing shit to a ten year old. He is left alive enough that he can be transformed into a part robot, part man perfect police officer. The state of the art visual effects for the time look laughably bad today.

The following week had a mid-week release of Summer School with Mark Harmon as a high school phys ed teacher who gets roped into teaching remedial English in summer school. His colleague Kirstie Alley is his love interest. The students include Dean Cameron, a pre-"Melrose Place" Courtney Thorne-Smith, and Shawnee Smith long before her involvement with the Saw franchise. I remember it as a mildly amusing entertainment that passed the time when I was a kid. I can't believe it was directed by Carl Reiner, though.

Then on Friday there was Lou Diamond Phillips as rock legend Ritchie Valens, the Mexican immigrant kid who became a famous rock musician with several hits including the eponymous La Bamba. Valens was a teen heartthrob and American idol before the TV networks invented such a thing. He was Bieber long before Bieber was born. And Valens died when he was just 17! The movie is actually not that bad. It's a pretty decent portrait of Valens' home life and whirlwind recording sessions and the ill-fated tour that did him in. Competing with Jaws 4 for the title of Worst Third Sequel of the summer there was Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, just about spelling the end of Christopher Reeve's career as he battled a nuclear superman created from Superman's throwing all the world's nuclear weapons into the sun.

The final openings of the month were Timothy Dalton's first turn as 007 in The Living Daylights and Kiefer Sutherland as a teenage vampire trying to recruit Jason Patric to the gang in The Lost Boys. Corey Haim and Corey Feldman also starred along with Dianne Wiest. More on that film to come in an upcoming review.

Non-Movie News

1st - Robert Bork nominated to the Supreme Court. He was later rejected by the Senate, the first and only time that has ever happened.
11th - Estimated world population reaches 5 billion.
31st - Guns N Roses releases Appetite for Destruction.

Births
31st - U.S. Men's National Soccer midfielder Michael Bradley.


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