Girls Just Want To Have Fun
Many movies become elevated to the status of ‘cult classic.' Usually, the use of ‘cult’ as a modifier indicates the film is bad or so quirky that it becomes popular with a small but loyal fan base. One such cult classic flick is ‘Girls Just Want to Have Fun.' The movie is fun to watch, had plenty of youthful exuberance and helped launch the careers of actors who would go on to much more successful projects. The flick is an enjoyable one and is typical of the mid-eighties teen oriented movies. There are brightly colored outfits, a lot of spandex and big hair on both the girls and guys. Even the title came from a favorite song of the era originally done by Cyndi Lauper which became an anthem for the kids of the day. It is not as if the song inspired the film or Lauper had any part in the production, but this was also typical of the eighties. If a song was a huge hit all you have to do is take a script that is remotely along the same line and paste the song title on the movie. The song heard in the film, but it is a cover artist, not Lauper. Looking back over a couple of decades that have transpired since the theatrical release of the movie and many will wonder if they thought to look and talking like that cool. Fortunately, I was older than the demographic target back then, but I do remember the times. This is an archetypical eighties fun flick and should be taken in its ‘historical’ context.
Amy Spies scripted the film. Back then this was her freshman work. She did go on writing for the television series ‘Beverly Hills 90210’ and its spin off ‘Melrose Place.' She has a knack for writing stories for a teen audience. This was way before the current ‘tween explosion before Hannah Montana was ever born. This was what the younger teens craved at that time, and Spies knew how to provide it. The plot is silly, but that was a decade when there were enough serious matters in the news, and the kids did just want to have fun. The story is more in line with ‘tween girl concerns. A lot of the plot based on acceptance and the need to be on a TV show. It is a bit of prophecy that the made up show in question here, ‘Dance TV’ was in a film that premiered the same year as MTV did and now many young people vide to appear on their series. Directing this romp through the eighties was Alan Metter. He did have one film before this, a look at famous comedians of the day called ‘The Winds of Whoopie.' After this Metter should have his talent for goofy eighties comedies with another cult classic, Rodney Dangerfield’s ‘Back To School’ and the seventh in the ‘Police Academy’ flicks. He also helmed the reunion TV flick for a popular eighties TV series, ‘Growing Pains.' These two people helped define the entertainment of the era, and this film is one of their more representative works. There is nothing here to push the art, no big dramatic moments. It is about girls that want to dance on TV, nothing more. Sure you can make a case for friendship and betrayal as themes here, but they only provide a scaffold for the music and running around.
The most noteworthy aspect of this film is the young cast. At the time this was released Sarah Jessica Parker was decades away from being a household name. She had a couple of smaller parts in some flicks including ‘Footloose.' She also had just finished with the short lived cult classic TV series ‘Square Pegs.' The girl with the big hair here would go on to become the fashion icon of ‘Sex and the City.' Co-staring with Parker was another young actress Helen Hunt. At this time Hunt was in a lot of television series, but this film put her in a leading role. Of course, it is a far cry from the performance that would win her the Academy Award years later. Keep a sharp eye for the little sister here. It is none other than a very young Shannon Doherty. She played a real brat here a role that would follow her for her entire career in some way or another. This is a re-release of the DVD by Starz/Anchor Bay. The original cover art featured the girls dancing around. Now, with the ‘Sex and the City’ movie on the horizon, the new cover shows Hunt, Parker, and Doherty with their photos
The film opens with Janey Glenn (Sarah Jessica Parker) standing in front of the class in her new school. She is supposed to tell everyone about herself and nervously fidgets as she stumbles out a few words. Janey is an army brat. Her father has moved the family from base to base for as long as Janey can remember. The nun calls for silence as most of the girls giggle and make fun of Janey. One girl in the back, Lynne Stone (Helen Hunt) is too busy cutting out a picture of herself and pasting it on rock star photos to give much attention to Janey. The most popular television show on the air is ‘Dance TV’ which features the latest hits songs and dances. They are about to come to town to search for new dancers to appear on the show. The two girls become friends and conspire to enter the open auditions. There are some problems to overcome. Jamey’s now retired military father, the Colonel (Ed Later) is dead set against such a waste of time. Where Janey is shy, Lynne is on the wild side. When they first meet on the school bus, Lynne was in the midst of changing her outfits from the conservative Catholic school look by pulling off Velcro sleeves and rolling up her skirt. I live down the block from a Catholic school, and it is surprising that some girls can completely transform in the space of one block but they do it. Along the way to the ultimate dance off at the end, all the required eighties requirements are met. There is the most handsome guy around, Jeff (Lee Montgomery) who is paired with Janey but is infatuated with the rich girl Natalie (Holly Gagnier). Jeff’s best friend Drew (Jonathan Silverman) is the type who always has a profit motivation or some other angle, and he is working Jeff for his reasons.
The film is corny, silly and incredibly dated. This is not reasons to overlook it. On the contrary, these are the reasons to get this film. This looks to be the same release Anchor Bay made in 2003. It has Dolby 5.1 audio track, which has held up very well and both anamorphic and pan & scan video. The aspect ratio is selectable before the film starts. This is fun and a real blast from the past. Give your kids a laugh and show them what teens looked like back in the eighties.
Posted 03/20/12 03/27/2017