Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Book Review | Life Moves Pretty Fast: The Lessons We Learned from Eighties Movies (and Why We Don't Learn Them from Movies Anymore)



I had such high hopes for this one, but the author's voice/tone was completely off-putting to me. And some of the conclusions she drew were absolute bullshit and ridiculous. I love 80s movies. This book, in theory, was made for me.

So why did I dislike it so much?

Because it was TERRIBLE AND TRIED TO RUIN MOVIES I SO DESPERATELY LOVED when I was finally allowed to watch all the films from the gloriousness that is the House of Hughes (plus many others not made by him). I was born in '83 so while I am an 80s baby, I am a 90s kid. Even so, I saw those movies fairly young (probably younger than I should have), but the Breakfast Club is one of my all-time faves, ever. Yet with all the pretentious bullshit the author constantly spews, I am apparently inferior because I was not a CHILD OF THE 80S. Or something. Whatever.

This book is definitely not about things 'we' have learned from 80s movies. It should have been titled 'Inaccurate Conclusions I Have Drawn from 80s Movies', though Freeman of course would not include the first word, because she is the end-all, be-all well of knowledge of all things 80s movies-related and she could never be wrong.

Except she is, a lot. It was pretty annoying and honestly she is lucky I even finished her terrible book.

Exhibit A: Freeman states that When Harry Met Sally is the most quotable movie of the decade/ever (can't honestly remember which she claimed.)

Verdict: How about NO. When Harry Met Sally is NOT the most quotable film of all time, or even of the 1980s. There is literally ONE LINE that is quotable and it is obviously the "I'll have what she's having" quip.

Perhaps she momentarily forgot about The Princess Bride, Goonies, Sixteen Candles, Breakfast Club, Ghostbusters, or literally ANY other movie from that decade.

Freeman also has a really weird hang up on what does or does not constitute rapey-ness. Sixteen Candles is not my most fave of the Hughes movies, but 12-year-old me was in love with Jake Ryan. As I got older, I obviously saw all that was problematic and downright terrible about the subplot where Jake pawns Caroline off onto Ted and how disgusting that all actually was. It was all Caroline's fault because she was drunk, obviously (Not obviously, for those who don't get sarcasm).

Yet the author has ZERO problems with three other movies I really, really love: Big, Ghostbusters OR Breakfast Club. Even I have issues with those movies, but apparently this rapey-ness, or at least creepiness, is somehow allowed for these movies? I don't get it either.

First there is the most obvious. In Big, Tom Hanks plays a thirteen-year-old who most definitely has sex with a grown ass woman. Now, this woman has no way of knowing she has just committed statutory rape, but she did. And there are always jokes about how no thirteen year old boy would ever turn that down - well DUH. Because they are not MATURE ENOUGH TO THINK THROUGH AND MAKE THAT DECISION FOR THEMSELVES. But, it is okay in this case so, whatever. *Eyeroll* (I still love this movie, and I love Tom Hanks, but this is not okay or humorous - except the author doesn't bat an eye at it so...)

As for Ghostbusters, another all-time fave of mine, let's pause an think about how creepy Venkman actually gets in the movie. Perhaps his behavior was meant to convey extreme confidence in himself, but he kind of just comes across as a creep - first in his opening scene with the telepathy test, and then literally with every other scene with Dana. She even describes Venkman as the example of a way a man *should* act. Really? Because being completely arrogant, stalking me, waiting around for my rehearsal to end, and then shouting like a crazy person is not generally considered ideal...

With the Breakfast Club, need I say more than reference the scene where Judd Nelson's character was hiding under Molly Ringwald's character's table?

Didn't think so.

Again, I love the movies I talked about just now, but that doesn't mean they are problem-free. And this whole "80s rape culture perpetuation" certainly should continue to be addressed. The issue I take with it here in this book is that the author does not apply her 'analysis' evenly. I guess it is just okay with her that some guys are rapey, but other guys better not be!

Much like her deciding which times it is okay to be rapey and which times it is not, Freeman does not actually seem to have any kind of coherent argument about any of the subjects she touches on. Basically it is terrible of us to not take these masterful films so seriously and we should be ashamed of ourselves for not recognizing them as high art. But if you DO recognize them as high art, you need to relax and not read too much into anything or take any of them too seriously.

What? So which is it? Does the author even know?

In the end, this is not about anything we have collectively learned from 80s movies. It is the author's memoirs as they relate to what she thinks or feels about a variety of movies from that era and how that may or may not impact films made today and how she also feels about that (Spoiler Alert: Anything made after the 80s is garbage, according to Freeman). Only the author's opinions are correct, so if you are going into this thinking you will get a balanced and well-researched chronicle of 80s movies and their wider impact, you are mistaken. If you go in preparing for movies you love to be ripped to shreds and your entire childhood/young-adulthood spat on, then go for it.


  1. bad book... lots of those around, i notice, whenever i pick one up and drop it like it was just handed to me by an obvious corona sufferer...

  2. Sorry...................... SORRY................... SO SORRY.............................

    1. As you should be! :) just kidding. I wanted to love it but the author just ruined the whole thing for me.

    2. I'll try to make up for it with some *good* books about the 80's - the fashion [snigger], the music and the movies.

  3. Well, darn. I am a 70's baby so the movies of the 80's are the movies that I spent my teen years watching. They do have problems which should be pointed out equally. It doesn't sound like the author did a fair analysis on this one.

    1. Nope, not at all. This is so subjective anyway, but especially because it is all about her own conclusions and not any actual research into the topics/theories/etc discussed.


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