Iconic movies had a golden age, and it was the 1980s. Sure, the era of neon, splatter paint and guyliner didn’t have the sheer graphics capability of modern cinematic masterpieces, but no one cared. We lived for the music, the corny lines, and bad gore. No one understands what made it great as well as Adam Goldberg. We couldn’t love him more for it if we tried. However, when it comes to watching The Goldbergs and the unending trope-filled nostalgia-fest that is the show, we do think there are a few titles he missed or at least hasn’t gotten around to yet.
1. The Land of Faraway (1987)
This touching story of a boy who lost his parents and lives with predictably awful relatives is one that doesn’t get enough attention. The sweet and adorable redemption where the absent father brings his son to a magical land was part of many young boy’s fantasies. As always, things are seldom what they seem in magical worlds, and he is forced to save the children of that land from being enslaved. We always wanted the recipe for “Bread to satisfy all hunger.” What’s more, we’re pretty confident that our new favorite TV family could work that into one of their family mealtimes easily enough.
2. Once Bitten (1985)
So bad that rotten tomatoes gave it one star, Once Bitten is the film debut of Jim Carrey. It’s full of cheesy goodness, which we expect from an 80s movie. The story of an immortal who keeps her youth by drinking virgin blood is full of life and some hilarious moments. Nicholas Cage brings a fabulous Igor character to the mix and steals the show more than once. Indeed, it would make a great Halloween episode, but why limit yourselves where 80s corny comedy is concerned. Bringing in a love interest for Troy could play well into the vampire who only wants virgin blood storyline. The only question is who would play Nick Cage’s Igor character.
3. Young Guns (1988)
The backstory of Billie the Kid as a decent 80s western is a worthy watch anytime. Mostly this is the story of a man who hires a band of scruffy youths to tend his herd. Later when things go badly, and the older gent is gunned down in cold blood it becomes a revenge story. Metacritic didn’t think too much of this one, but we loved it. The all-star cast made for one of our 80s favorites. If it’s not already evident to you that cowboys and kids go together like peanut butter and jelly, then you’ll have to take our word for it. However, we think Pops and the boys could make an excellent homage to this classic western. At least, they would as long as they don’t really kill off Pops.
4. Big Trouble in Little China (1986)
The hunt for the green-eyed woman drives the evil Lo Pan. He wants freedom and immortality, but unfortunately, most women dislike being sacrificed for evil. When Kurt Russel is friends with your fiance, you have no worries, at least not in an 80s martial arts movie. A youthful Kim Cattrall plays a nosy reporter who is also, unfortunately, a green-eyed gal, which complicates matters by leaving Lo Pan the option of killing one and marrying the other. Naturally, things don’t go so well for the villain, but if you haven’t seen this classic, that’s all the spoiler you’ll get from us because Dwayne Johnson is doing a sequel and we think you should watch them both. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves though; we still want to see a Goldberg homage first. Perhaps something involving the giant eyeball creature, or at least Erica doing her Kim Cattrall impression. There’s always room for more martial arts in an 80s themed show, and Big Trouble in Little China had some great action sequences worthy of spoofing. However they play it, we think this movie is a must have on any 80s to-do list.
5. Teen Witch (1989)
Everyone loved Louise long before Sabrina was a glimmer in her producer’s eye. Sure, it’s basically Aladdin, with a plot that centers around why you can’t use magic to get real love, but it was a fun ride. We’d like to see Erica in her shoes for a while. Every teenage girl needs a few romances in her life and at least one Madame Serena to remind her that however much of an outcast she feels like when she’s down, there’s still some magic to be had in life, as long as you use your powers wisely. The song and dance numbers are epic, and perfect for the talented Erica. It doesn’t hurt the Louise has a pesky little brother of her very own, so that reads too.
6. Legend (1985)
Early Tom Cruise at his best and a young post-Rocky Horror Tim Curry as the Devil, does it get better than this? This is another classic young love facing down all the odds angle on a great fantasy. Though it bombed in theaters at the time, this has become a serious cult favorite. It has everything, unicorns, Mag the creature who lives in the muck, Puck, a brave hero named Jack who dwells in the forest, Princess Lily and the devil himself. Going to the ends of the earth for love is a timeless trope. There’s a lot more to play with in this plotline though. We can see the Goldberg kids as a trio of goblins hunting for something they covet as much as a unicorn horn. Contrarily, we could also see them playing the role of the dwarves and saving the day. Or perhaps their occasionally very creepy (s)mother would make a great Mag for them to slay in pursuit of their goals.
7. Witches of Eastwick (1987)
Anything with Jack Nicholson is bound to be worthy of a watch. The Witches of Eastwick are three friends who, through an exciting and quirky series of events, become the joint mistresses of one Daryl VanHorne AKA Satan. While the adultish themes of polygamy and evil may not suit everyone, the movie was terrific. In the Goldberg’s world, we could see Pops playing a VanHorne character and maybe having a witchy lady friend, or two… or three. While it’s bound to backfire and end in tears or vomited up cherry pits, it could be a wild ride. No one will even be Jack Nicholson, but George Sagal could do a decent devil if he put his mind to it.
8. Big (1988)
Anyone who missed this young Tom Hanks movie needs to go back and watch it. Josh Baskin takes the girl he has a massive crush on to a carnival and runs afoul of a mysterious, wish-granting, fortune-telling machine (Zoltar). He wants nothing more than to be older, to be ‘big,’ and that is what he gets. Predictably, adult life isn’t what he wished for. We can see Geoff Schwartz as the “Madman” who would take that deal. The sweet young man is just the type to pine after greater maturity right away to help him in his romantic life. As the center of a wish-gone-wrong story arc homage, the Madman reminds us most of the original actor, and we think he’ll do wonderfully when he gets “Big.”
9. Bill and Teds Excellent Adventure (1989)
The time-traveling teen slackers who save the world with music is one of the most epic and beloved ’80s movies for an excellent reason. George Carlin as Rufus is the mentor who saves two teen boys from being separated forever an act which would apparently change the harmonious future so entirely that it is worth sending someone back in time to stop it. He gives the youths a time machine to ace their final, and thus not fail in school since doing so means breaking up the friendship as one of the friends is told he will be shipped off to military school if he can’t make the grade. Barry and Rob seem like the perfect unlikely duo for a reprise of these slackers. It might take a time machine and some ‘babes’ to get the pair up to speed on their studies. All told, they are no less likely as saviors than the original Bill and Ted and a good time machine trope is always fun.
10. Desperately Seeking Susan (1988)
Being a housewife isn’t glamorous, and Roberta knows it better than anyone. She leads a dull and unfulfilling life of quiet desperation and reads the personals as an outlet. Long story short, she ends up with amnesia and manages to take on the role of a missing woman who has a much more exciting life than her own. We think Smother dearest is a perfect candidate for some out-of-the-box amnesia trope fun as a Susan like knock off. Beverly could use a little spice in her life and getting involved with gem thieves, and a handsome love interest could do it for her. Of course, we want her back with the family by the end of the episode, but it would make for a good 30 minutes.
Honorable Mentions – Movies That Almost Made the List
The possibilities aren’t quite endless, but we could go on for a long time. The best B-movies ever made do come from the 80s, and what makes them great is that overarching sense of irreverence that marked the entire decade. The Goldbergs perfectly captures the spirit of the times, and we hope they get picked up for enough seasons to do a Goldberg take on every bit of 80s pop culture.
We left out about a thousand really great movies, but these runners up get our honorable mention because they could be traded with any title on the list. Moreover, The Goldbergs has done so many great movies references we thought we’d add some extras just in case we missed an episode, and they already did an homage to one of our top 10. The flicks that almost made the cut help illustrate how many amazing movies there really are from the 80s (at least 34,000, but not every movie is worthy of an homage) We don’t know how the producers and writers of The Goldbergs ever choose what to feature, but we admire them for it a great deal.
Coming To America (1988)
Eddie Murphy was everywhere in the ’80s. We adored him as the African Prince seeking his own Cinderella in this new (for the time it was produced anyhow) twist on a classic tale. It’s not too hard to see someone swooping into the Goldberg-verse with the witty naivete of Prince Akeem and stealing the show for a short while.
The Golden Child (1986)
This is another Eddie Murphy movie, but a very different story. Chandler Jarrell, who specializes in finding lost children (or so he says on TV) finds himself recruited by the priestess Kee Nang to help seek out The Golden Child. This missing prodigal one holds the keys to the fate of all humanity and must be rescued. It’s a riveting story of the attempt to corrupt innocence and the magic of life. We think it would make a nice story arc for a mystery episode. Barry seems like the sort of guy who might… publicly announce he had skills he might not really have. That’s the sort of thing that might get a guy in over his head, but sometimes it’s the unlikely hero who saves the day.
The story of cursed lovers who trade forms into animals at twilight is a beautiful tale. Honestly, we wish someone would do a remake with modern special effects. However, we can see room in the Goldbergs world for a friend like Phillipe Gaston. We don’t want to foist too many love stories on the Goldberg children, but maybe Lanie Lewis would make a great mythical and highly sought after love interest.
Romancing the Stone (1984)
Who doesn’t need an excellent, rollicking adventure through the jungle? Searching for lost treasure and finding a romantic interest on the way is the name of the game. Of course, that’s not how it begins as Joan; the very single romance writer sets out on the adventure of her lifetime to obtain a mysterious map and trade it to the bad guys to save her sister. It may not be the obvious choice, but we like Adam and Beverly for this homage. It would be fun to see them as playful in this way, and we can see Adam’s attitude translating well into Jack T. Colton the dashing smuggler while his clingy wife Beverly could pull off a passable Joan the romance writer.
The Goldbergs is one of the wittiest and most relatable shows on the air today for generations of Americans. Adam’s love of movies is something we all understand on a deep level, despite the fact that most of us grew up to work in other fields. Anyone who lived in the ’80s can get caught up in the brilliant nostalgia of every episode. Just as we treasure our own memories of that era, we value this show for bringing that back to us and sharing it forward to new generations.