Wholesome Movie Tropes that Belong to the 80s

Movies today have a certain feel. There are a lot of themes that pop up time and time again, but they usually involve entirely CGI constructed action sequences. Kids today are all about the explosions and loose women, but what happened to narrative? In the 1980s,  things got weird and we were thankful! Every big blockbuster with a new plot device was followed by a dozen more with the same device biting at its heels. Let’s take a look at some of the themes from the 1980s that didn’t quite hang around, some of which you might actually miss.


Big Josh Baskin Tom Hanks

We don’t see too many of these nowadays, but body-switching movies were all the rage in that magic decade. Freaky Friday prepared audiences for it back in 1976, but it really found it’s home in the 80s.

Prime Examples:

  • Vice Versa: Judge Reinhold and Fred Savage starring in a slapstick comedy involving a magical skull? I’m in!
  • Big: Tom Hanks plays a kid transformed into a man while miraculously keeping it together as an adult.
  • Like Father Like Son: The late Dudley Moore and the now slightly eccentric Kirk Cameron switch bodies as, you guessed it, father and son.

Musical Numbers

Beetlegeuse Day-o

Ever wonder what happened to the random songs that used to take place in the middle of 80s movies? Ever wonder how everyone happened to know the song? Me too. That doesn’t mean they weren’t an often funny change of pace that, when used right, is something that is sure to give you 1980s flashbacks.

Prime Examples:

  • Back To The Future: Do I even have to mention the name of the song? Come on.
  • Risky Business: Before Tom Cruise was famous for jumping on Oprah’s couch, he was busy lip-synching Old Time Rock and Roll in his underwear.
  • Beetlejuice: Day-O has been stuck in my head for 20 years now.


Karate Kid Cobra Kai Bullies

Bullies still exist, especially in movies. But in movies where high school was the entire world, bullies had a special harrowing, sociopathic feel. Sure, there were bullies who you later realized just had a hard life, but many of them were just waiting for the chance to dismember whatever nerd they came across.

Prime Examples:

  • 3 O’Clock High: Jerry Mitchell is targeted by the bully and he tries everything to avoid the fight but eventually finds courage and he is triumphant.
  • The Karate Kid: Johnny got the skills and the girl, although apparently with a little bit of help from an elderly man you can take him on.
  • Teen Wolf: Seriously, Mick was willing to take on a warewolf if it meant he could feel superior.
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