5 Killer '80s Movies (Not Made in the '80s)

The ’80s are back. Only the Reagan Decade never really left.

The new movie “Atomic Blonde” is set during 1989, just as the Berlin Wall is about to become history. The film’s soundtrack brims with ’80s hits like “I Ran (So Far Away)” by A Flock of Seagulls and Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus.”

Anyone surprised? The ’80s remains a cultural growth industry. Consider the bonkers social media reception for the new “Stranger Things” trailer. The Netflix series, already steeped in ’80s culture, goes into overdrive courtesy of the first trailer.

These aren’t the only films set in the ’80s, though. The following five movies all take place during that period. Each captures the decade from a funny, fresh or daring perspective.

1. Adventureland

This coming of age yarn gently uses its ’80s setting to add richness to the story. Jesse Eisenberg stars as a college grad forced to work at an amusement park to pay the bills. Getting to know a fellow worker, played by Kristen Stewart, makes the task a whole lot easier.

This 2009 gem isn’t an in-your-face ’80s story. You won’t get blown away by the hipster references. It’s still a sweet, funny account of growing up in the era.


2. The Lives of Others

The darkest side of the ’80s gets a close-up in this celebrated German import. No cool soundtrack here. Just a devastating look at late-stage Communism.

Stasi agents keep a very close eye on Berlin residents by eavesdropping on their casual conversations. A German playwright is under intense investigation. His life is too good, too perfect. It’s all very … suspicious.

It’s essential to watch “Others” to get the full picture of the culture from the era.

3. The Wedding Singer

This 1998 romp might be Adam Sandler’s guiltiest pleasure. It’s also the unofficial kickoff to the current run of ’80s mania. The music, the fashions, and the attitudes are totally ’80s, and unabashedly so.

The usual Sandler antics are on full display, from the cameos from his pack of pals (Steve Buscemi) to frequent co-star Drew Barrymore. This “Singer” (almost) made it cool to rock a mullet again.


4. The Wolf of Wall Street

The ’80s packed plenty of excess into 10 years. Huge shoulder pads. Larger than life action heroes. And a fair share of greed. Director Martin Scorsese’s “Wolf” nails the latter element. Leonardo DiCaprio is ferocious as a penny stock broker who makes it big. Really, really big.

The tale stretches into the 1990s, but watching co-star Jonah Hill snort so much cocaine gives the film a very ’80s vibe.

5. Hot Tub Time Machine

This 2010 comedy doesn’t fully deserve to be on this list. It’s intermittently funny at best. The story’s potential only partially realized by the final credits. But don’t forget the film’s biggest star: John Cusack.

His presence is a meta joke that zings. Watching the 40-something star “return” to the era he crushed with “The Sure Thing,” “Better Off Dead” and “Say Anything” is pure ’80s pleasure.



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