I miss the video store. It's not the same as browsing in a record store but it's just as loaded with memories and fun. I remember there being an alternative video store in New Orleans when I was in college, one of the last video stores that I recall going to. It's there that I rented Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story, a film by Todd Haynes that used Barbie dolls to tell the story of Karen Carpenter (you can watch it on YouTube if you're so inclined) and also got the filmmaker in deep trouble with the Carpenter family. I get that services like Netflix and Hulu are the future, but there's something so great about watching a video. I admit that I am too nostalgic sometimes.
For Christmas this year, my brother got me a Blu-Ray/DVD player since I decided that it was finally time to upgrade and to replace the VHS tapes (yes I still have a handful) and start switching to Blu-Ray from DVD. My first purchase was one of my slumber party favorites, Girls Just Want to Have Fun. I have had it on VHS since 1990; definitely time to upgrade. I haven't watched this movie in probably 10 years and it was still everything that I remember it being. So pop some popcorn, grab a Tab, and settle in for 1985's Girls Just Want to Have Fun.
- Fun bonus on this version: a preview for the movie we all know and love as Heathers but is being promoted as Lethal Attraction. I imagine this was a way to make a teenage version of Fatal Attraction. How very of them.
- I suppose part of the reason I liked this movie so much was that Janey (Sarah Jessica Parker) was an Army brat like me. She moved around a lot ("Eleven schools but the uniform's always the same. Even on Guam.") and was very nice and polite. And of course, she loves to dance.
- Helen Hunt! Y'all, why isn't she in more these days? She was so amazing as Lynne Stone, Janey's new BFF and resident Catholic school rebel. I never wanted to be Janey; I always wanted to be Lynne.
- Explain to me why shows like DanceTV (DTV for the rest of this post) don't exist anymore. Why? This is why everything is terrible.
- Fun fact: Richard Blade plays the DTV host. He's one of the DJs on Sirius Radio's First Wave station. I don't have satellite radio (I don't get why regular radio can't just be good) but anytime I get a free preview week, I listen to this station obsessively. He's my favorite and I didn't realize until this viewing that it was him.
- "Velcro. Next to the Walkman and Tab it's the coolest invention of the 20th century." One of my favorite Lynne Stone quotes.
- Lynne's dinosaur hair clips are everything. She takes quirky best friend fashion to a whole other level in the this movie.
- Lee Montgomery is the forgotten heartthrob of mid-1980s movies. He was a child actor (he was the kid in the movie Ben, you know about killer rats) and was a model. He is one of the great "bad boys" of these types of movies except that he's not really bad but he has a motorcycle and wears a leather jacket.
- Jonathan Silverman and Shannon Doherty in the same movie? You are not hallucinating.
- "Decisions are the worst." We meet Natalie Sands, the resident rich mean girl who will spend the movie pouting, saying incredibly cheesy femme fatale-esque lines, and sort of dancing. She's pretty decent as the film's bad guy.
- The original version of the song "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" by Cyndi Lauper is never used in the film. Licensing issues prohibited the song from being featured so cover versions were used instead.
- I guess the DTV dance contest is a precursor to American Idol auditions - a bunch of moderately talented pretty people gather in a place to showcase their talents and be randomly picked to dance on tv. It's the American dream.
- Drew: She's a punk. Maggie: Do you really think I'm punk? It's not as cool as New Wave but it's better than preteen. Jeff: Do all women throw themselves at your feet or is it just the ones that can't reach any higher?
- Of course Janey and Jeff are matched up to dance together. And of course Natalie paid some dude to get Lynne disqualified. This is the stuff of teen comedies.
- Janey, put your damn hair up! This drives me crazy throughout the entire film. How can she dance and do gymnastics with all that hair in the way?
- Biff Yeager! Jeff's dad is played by Biff Yeager. Fans of Gilmore Girls will know Biff as Tom, the greatest contractor of all time. Another fun GG tie in: Kristi Somers who plays Rikki in the movie was also in Hardbodies a movie Lorelei and Rory talk about several times throughout the series. (I do this research so you don't have to.)
- Janey: He's just uh. You know, I mean uh! Lynne: Is he gonna call you tomorrow? Janey: Yeah, I think so.
- Lynne and Janey get their revenge on Natalie in an awesomely epic way. Punks crash Natalie's birthday party including an uncredited Robert Downey, Jr. (he's the one that flips the table).
- Does Jeff know anything about Catholic schools? You can't just roll up on a motorcycle and think that's going to be okay. That's not how Catholic school works.
- I'd sneak out of my house for Jeff too. Let's all be very honest about that. He and Janey go to a cool teen dance club, have fun, he defends her honor, there's an awkward comment about a motorcycle, and they have their first kiss. All of this leads to the dance practice sequence, a requirement of any 80s movie that includes a contest of some form (you can sub in boxing or rowing if needed).
- Of course they have a fight after Natalie's dad threatens to fire Jeff's dad if he doesn't let Natalie win. Janey gets caught sneaking out in an 80s ironic twist by a Sands Security System (that's one of Natalie's dad's companies).
- Janey's family is sort of odd: her mother is a 50s housewife stuck in the 80s, her father is General Patton dropped in Chicago, and her brother is a 7 year old extortionist. No wonder she sneaks out and wants to be on tv.
- How does one figure out how to wire a security system to a hair dryer so it won't go off? Is this a class they teach at Catholic school?
- I love, love, love Lynne. She gets Janey to the station, has the greatest fashion sense, and then gets completely star-struck by Rikki, who has just quit DTV. This is important for later.
- You have to give Jeff credit for making us all appreciate the male midriff baring shirt. Not all guys could pull that look off.
- "Dancing in Heaven" is a favorite of mine. It was one of the first songs I bought when I got my first iPod. Every now and then when I'm at the gym it's shuffles through and I'll admit I sing along in my head.
- Compared to Janey and Jeff the other contestants are ancient (probably in their 20s) and some are better dancers. And again I say, Janey put your damn hair up!
- Of course there's a tie. There has to be a tie because we have to hear two of the greatest words in the English language spoken by Richard Blade: Dance off!
- You have to admit those lifts are impressive. This movie predates Dirty Dancing by two years so think about that when you watch this.
- I think we all know what happens at the end. It wouldn't be a 80s teen movie if we didn't. What's great about the end of this movie is not the Janey and Jeff story (although we all want them to win), it's really that Lynne gets to be the new Miss DanceTV. If anyone was destined for dance show glory, it was Lynne.
I enjoyed re-watching this movie more than any other movie I've done for Lazy Movie Weekend. It was funny in all the parts I remember and a little more adult in parts that I didn't remember. I wanted to be friends with Lynne and Janey and Maggie (more Lynne and Maggie but I get Janey's appeal too) and still have a tiny crush on Jeff Malene. That's what these movies were about; mildly relatable teenagers doing teenager things.
And of course, I love to dance (said in a whispery Sarah Jessica Parker voice).
Video cover photo
Helen Hunt photo
Lee Montgomery photo
Janey and Jeff
Helen Hunt photo
Quotes from IMDB (I use IMDB to make sure I didn't miss anything.)
Dancing in Heaven