8:05 a.m. PDT, June 16, 2020
Oh the 80s! While the decade is widely known for its edgy fashion and even bolder hairstyles, it’s also served up quality movies…especially of the musical variety. Such a movie? “The Blues Brothers” starring John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd as two brothers who bring their band together in an effort to save the orphanage they grew up in. John Landis’ film, available on Hulu and Amazon Prime Video, is as heartfelt as it is downright hilarious. To celebrate the iconic film’s 40th anniversary on June 20, 2020, Wonderwall.com is taking a look at the best musical films of the 80s. Keep reading for more…
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“Little Shop of Horrors” on Hulu and Amazon Prime Video
What’s wrong with “Little Shop of Horrors”? Rick Moranis stars as socially awkward shopkeeper Seymour, who finds himself in deep water after a plant he found and named Audrey II begins to crave one thing: human flesh and bones. As the once-struggling shop begins to resume business after the arrival of Audrey II, Seymour must find a way to protect those he loves from the tyrannical, bloodthirsty plant. Despite being over three decades old, “Little Shop” is still a staple for any music lover. From “Somewhere That’s Green” to the iconic “Suddenly, Seymour,” there’s no shortage of great songs in this 1986 horror musical.
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“Dirty Dancing” on Hulu and Amazon Prime Video
No one puts baby in a corner! Starring Jennifer Gray and Patrick Swayze, 1987’s “Dirty Dancing” is a modern classic that tells the story of Frances “Baby” Houseman, a young woman who falls in love with her dance teacher, Johnny Castle. As it charts Baby’s progression from awkward and uncomfortable to confident and free-flowing, the film includes some epic, totally ’80s dance montages. It goes without saying…but that iconic elevator scene is absolutely everything. Seriously, ask Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone at the “Crazy Stupid Love” – it’s the ultimate date.
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“Beat Street” on YouTube and Pluto TV
Directed by Guy Davis and Rae Dawn Chong, “Beat Street” is a 1984 musical that centers on Kenny Kirkland, a struggling DJ who, with the help of choreographer and songwriter Tracy Carlson, achieves his dream of showing off his talent beyond the South Bronx area. to bear fruit. Set in the ’80s, the upbeat film shines a light on early New York City hip-hop culture and features cameos from pioneering bands like the Treacherous Three, Rocky Steady Crew, Soulsonic Force and more.
“Purple Rain” on Amazon Prime Video
Much like the album of the same name, 1984’s “Purple Rain” was a beloved film directed by none other than Prince himself. The legendary rocker stars as a troubled Minneapolis musician who, in an effort to escape his toxic home life, spends most of his time performing at a local nightclub. The musical romance was an absolute hit with fans thanks to tracks like “Let’s Go Crazy”, “Take Me With U” and “The Beautiful Ones”. It won two Oscars for Best Original Score and Best Original Score in 1985.
“The Little Mermaid” on Disney+
“The Little Mermaid” is a fantastic movie and an even bigger musical movie for many reasons. From Ariel’s desire to become human and live a life of freedom and mobility, to her adorable friendships with Flounder and Sebastian, the 1989 film certainly has heart. And with songs like “Under the Sea,” “Part of Your World” and “Kiss the Girl,” Disney’s animated film was filled with catchy, infectious melodies from start to finish. While there have since been a slew of other Disney musicals, “The Little Mermaid” remains a standout of the bunch, regardless of the decade.
“Flashdance” on Amazon Prime Video
Starring Jennifer Beals, “Flashdance” centers on Alex Owens, an aspiring artist who works in a steel mill by day and dances in a bar by night. The film explores her journey as she works towards her big dream of becoming a professional ballerina and being accepted into a reputable dance conservatory. Michael Nouri and Lilia Skala also star in the 1983 dance-themed mega-hit. Memorable moment? When Alex is (dramatically) doused with water mid-performance. Iconic!
“Xanadu” on Hulu and Amazon Prime Video
While the premise of this one is certainly there, 1980s “Xanadu” is still worth watching, if only for its country character! After spotting a beautiful anonymous woman in the background of one of his photographs, artist Sonny Malone (Michael Beck) revisits the location where the photo was taken. There he finds the mysterious woman – a Greek muse named Kira (Olivia Newton-John) who, with the help of Danny McGuire (Gene Kelly), convinces him to start a roller skate disco. Although the cult classic was considered a total box office failure, the soundtrack went on to go double platinum in the United States. The song “Magic”, which was recorded by Olivia for the movie, reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.
“Fame” on YouTube and Amazon Prime Video
While “Dirty Dancing” and “Flashdance” were hugely popular dance movies of the decade, it’s important to remember who started it all. Set in New York City, “Fame” centers on a group of High School of Performing Arts students as they prepare for and audition while keeping up with high school moves. The teen musical drama, which debuted in 1980, stars Irene Cara, Debbie Allen, Gene Anthony Ray, Lee Curreri and more. “Fame” went on to win two Oscars for Best Original Song and Best Original Score. It also spawned musicals, TV series and a 2009 movie remake.
“Annie” on Google Play and Amazon Prime Video
It’s a tough life… for us! Set during the Great Depression, “Annie” tells the story of an orphaned little girl who ends up living large after being selected to move in with billionaire billionaire Oliver Warbucks. Based on the 1977 Broadway musical of the same name, the 1982 feature film adaptation won two Oscars in 1983, including Best Original Score. With iconic songs like ‘Tomorrow’, ‘Maybe’, ‘Little Girls’ and ‘We Got Annie’, it’s no wonder this hit Broadway musical got the Hollywood treatment!
“Grease 2” on Amazon Prime Video and Google Play
‘Grease’ was the highest-grossing musical film of all time – so a sequel made sense, right? Well, not exactly. ‘Grease 2’, which debuted in 1982, follows English exchange student Michael Carrington (Maxwell Caulfield) as he tries to catch the eye of the beautiful and newly single leader of Rydell’s Pink Ladies. High School, Stephanie Zinone (Michelle Pfeiffer). While this follow-up pales in comparison to its predecessor, to its credit, “Grease 2” is fun due to its country character. With some catchy tracks like “Back to School Again”, “Score Again”, “Who’s That Guy?” and “Cool Rider”, the film is still worth watching.
“A Chorus Line” on Google Play and Amazon Prime Video
Based on the 1975 Broadway musical of the same name, the 1985 film “A Chorus Line” tells the story of Cassie (Alyson Reed), a former star who, after failing to land gigs for more than a year, desperately wants to join a new production being led by his old flame (Michael Douglas) – even if it’s just as part of the chorus line. The musical focuses on the 17 competitive Broadway hopefuls who audition for places in the chorus line. Despite being a box office failure, “A Chorus Line” had a plethora of catchy songs from “One” and “I Can Do That” to “What I Did For Love” and more.
“Footloose” on Google Play and YouTube
Kevin Bacon rose to fame as Ren McCormack, a suave Chicagoan who moves to a conservative Midwestern town where rock music and dancing are illegal. Along with his pals Willard Hewitt (Christopher Penn) and Ariel Moore (Lori Singer), Ren tries everything he can to shake things up in the stiff city – albeit with a powerful man like Ariel’s father (John Lithgow) so resistant to change, it’s easier said than done. With catchy tunes like the film’s title track, 1984’s “Footloose” is a dance music classic.
“La Bamba” on YouTube and Amazon Prime Video
With the release of his ballad “Donna,” which he wrote for his girlfriend whose parents didn’t want her dating a Latino man, teen Ritchie Valens (Lou Diamond Phillips) rose to fame as a promising young musician. The 1987 biopic “La Bamba” explores the tumultuous (and ultimately tragic) life of the teenager as he continued to rise through the ranks of the rock ‘n’ roll scene – from his strained relationship with his jealous half-brother ( Esai Morales) to his fear of flying and recurring nightmares about a plane crash that took the life of his best friend. The film has been recognized for its cultural and historical significance: in 2017, it was chosen for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.
“Staying Alive” on Crackle and Amazon Prime Video
1983’s “Staying Alive” – the sequel to the hit phenom “Saturday Night Fever” – follows a (slightly) more mature Tony Manero (John Travolta) as he works in New York as a dance instructor with dreams of make it big on Broadway. However, after his girlfriend, Jackie (Cynthia Rhodes), auditions him for a new show, Tony falls in love with a Broadway star named Laura (Finola Hughes). Although the sequel didn’t quite live up to the first installment, the song “Far from Over,” which appeared on the film’s soundtrack and was recorded by director Sylvester Stallone’s younger brother, Frank Stallone, did. reached #10 on the Billboard Hot 100.