Tuesday, September 12, 2006

80s Sick Girl Movie Guide

My favorite staying-home-sick-day movies are without a doubt: Desperately Seeking Susan, Moonstruck and Jumpin' Jack Flash. I could probably watch these girlie NYC movies another 100 times.

And yes, I know these flicks "date me" as all they are oh so 80s. These flashbacks are intrinsically wound up with my youth and the many hours I spent glued to HBO. They are like familiar friends, better than cold medicine and toast. The perfect way to spend a lazy day blowing snot into tissues and guzzling tea in desperate need of distraction.

Sick Girl Movies 101

Desperately Seeking Susan (1985)

I first saw this movie in my early-teens and from the moment the opening scene in the beauty parlor began with the song, "Does he love me, I wanna know," I knew I was in for a smooth ride. The plot revolves around a woman bored with her own life and obsessed with the personal ads - a device which would not work today or would at least have to be updated to include chat rooms.

This is like Alice in Wonderland set in the 80s with Madonna playing the white rabbit. Alice is a character named Roberta, a rich housewife, who has some strange yearning for a wild life in the big city and is drawn to Susan, played by the irresistible Madonna. Susan has a life force all her own and the movie sweeps along down the rabbit hole with a feeling that is uniquely New York: Madonna air blowing her pits in the Port Authority rest room; Roberta looking wistfully toward the city's bright lights; a very young and super hot Aidan Quinn playing a projectionist/love interest/skinny pant wearer; the new wave 80s scene; and Madonna's amazingly powerful personality blowing into our consciousness for the first time....never to go away again...

I watched this movie over and over again on HBO and I did my best to dress like Madonna in fluorescent sweatpants, cut off lace gloves (which I still have, SCORE!), lots of clunky jewelry and big lacey bows. Granted, these outfits didn't go over too well in small town VT (yes, I was a laughing stock) but I figured, to hell with 'em! Madonna dresses this way so I can too!

Over the years, I ritualistically watched Desperately Seeking Susan every time I made a trip to NYC. It got me in the mood for busy city streets that smelt of piss, cutting edge fashion in dirty thrift stores, crowded clubs with the newest music, streets full of things to buy and try on and quirky life in all shapes and sizes.

In the end of the movie, Roberta finds her true self and leaves the quiet of the suburbs behind for a big city life. Turns out the original ending involved Dez and Max waiting around in NYC for their ladies to get back from a trip to Egypt where they were bringing new meaning to the term "Girl Power." It didn't fly with the test audiences so they shaved 5 minutes off and we got this lovely perfect little ending where both girls end up with their men and their big city lives and live happily ever after.

This is a struggle women often deal with. Do I want the safe suburban house with the perfect furniture and the perfect husband (who is cheating on me) and the perfect hot tub? Or do I want the sketchy city life where every day is a new trial but you are free and adventurous. And more importantly, why do we have to choose, why can't we have it all? Well, at least we can enjoy both sides of the rabbit hole in a movie like this.

Moonstruck (1987)

Cher in all her high cheek-boned glory and Nic Cage before his plastic surgery turned him freakish. There is something about this movie, something so damn right. It is so expertly written that when it is over you feel like you are a member of a big Italian family and you wanna talk with an accent and get fresh and say exactly what is on your mind.

"Snap out if it!"

"Te amo."

Every girl loves the transformation story and I especially love the Cinderella story when it takes place on an older dame, one who has "lost her bloom," or so to speak. (Persuasion is another good one of this ilk). Yes, it is hard to imagine Cher as bloomless but she did have bushy brows and grey hair and even worse, she is dark and superstitious. She is sure that her husband dying after 2 years of marriage means she will never find love again. So she settles for that guy who plays Madonna's dad in the Papa Don't Preach video cause she doesn't love him but she likes him ok.

As asks her ma, Rose, as played by the amazing Olympia Dukakis, "Do you love him Loretta?"


Says Rose wisely, "Good. [She looks at Cosmo, her unfaithful husband] When you love them they drive you crazy because they know they can."

And then of course there is the infamous sex scene with the morning after slap and the "Snap out of it" bit. It is hard not to fall in love with Nic Cage in all his wolfy glory. He owns this movie with his overacting, wild gesticulations, dramatic speeches and his ode to love, which, btw, is just about the best way for any fellow to get a female into his bed. Make a note of it:

Ronny Cammareri: Loretta, I love you. Not like they told you love is, and I didn't know this either, but love don't make things nice - it ruins everything. It breaks your heart. It makes things a mess. We aren't here to make things perfect. The snowflakes are perfect. The stars are perfect. Not us. Not us! We are here to ruin ourselves and to break our hearts and love the wrong people and *die*. The storybooks are *bullshit*. Now I want you to come upstairs with me and *get* in my bed!

Sigh, just the sort of medicine for any girl when she is not feeling her best. And its views of NYC are classic and breath taking. What I would not do to live in the house Loretta shared with her parents and grandfather (and his dog pack), to share oatmeal with them at breakfast and say "Ciao bella" on the stairs at night. The opera, the family deli, the corner liquor store, the can kicking scene, the Italian restaurant that feels like home - this movie soaks you in wonderful Manhattan juices and leaves you reeking all afternoon.

Jumpin' Jack Flash (1986)

This is a movie that not too many people have heard of. It is Whoopi Goldberg, in my humble opinion, at her damn best. It is the Whoopi Goldberg you want to know and hang out with, this is one cool lady. Terry lives in a cramped NYC apartment which is full of movie memorabilia, colorful sneakers and an oversized toothbrush. Terry indulges in classic movies and has lots of romantic dreams.

Her real life is full of buddies, lots of buddies, buddies at the flower stand, the security station, an Embassy party, a funeral, Elizabeth Arden, and in her dull job at the bank - but Terry has no real love prospects despite her bimbo friend Carol Kane's attempts to set her up. The best moment is when she is complaining about why her uptight boss has to pick on her all the time and they pan from all these empty, clean, orderly desks to hers and it is covered in toys and nic nacs. That is so me, always, no matter where I work or what I am doing.

I love movies that instantly pull you into their realities and within moments you are Terry and you feel like a part of her life. She has a great sense of humor and she makes the best out of the cards she is given. Plus, she works with a lot of funny old SNLers lieke Jon Lovitz and Phil Hartman (RIP).

The rest of the movie is this crazy spy plot but it is really all about Whoopi. Jonathan Pryce plays the love interest but he is really just a voice and it is Whoopi that makes you fall in love - in love with NYC and her and life and the thrill of taking chances and breaking the boundaries of convention.

This movie always makes me feel better. If you do not like Whoopi Goldberg, this is not the film for you as she is pretty much in every frame But if you are in the mood for a NYC romp with some good times and even a happy ending, then watch away.


Hopefully my head will clear its load of snot and I will be able to think clearly at work tomorrow. In the meantime, I think these 80s movies have done the trick and waylaid my sick boredom into a pseudo NYC adventure! I went from the sick bed to a NYC street without changing out of my PJs! 80s Girl Movies, the best medicine a girl could ever hope for.

1 comment:

damion said...

don't hate me...but when me and my siblings were little we used to spend a lot of time smacking each other and yelling "snap out of it!" for no reason.

man, if I could turn back time.