Trifecta #04: Walkin' On Sunshine
You can’t go out and party every weekend, so on those nights you want to take it easy, Flix66.com has put together a bi-weekly column to help you with your movie selection. The Trifecta is a recommendation of three movies that set a mood, that showcase an actor or director, that acquaint the viewer with a geographic location, or maybe even have some obscure link like a Best Boy or Key Grip.
In the flick HIGH FIDELITY, Jack Black’s character Barry puts together a mix tape of best songs to start off a Monday morning. The first song, track one side one, is Katrina and the Waves’ “Walkin’ on Sunshine,” an upbeat 80’s tune we have all heard before. And why? Because it was used in more than its fair share of 80’s movies and TV shows. And while there are other songs that encapsulate the trials and tribulations of this bygone era (I’m partial to the German version of Nena’s “99 Luft Balloons”), a nostalgic trifecta for a night of remembering Reagan and denim jean jackets should include the following films that use “Walking on Sunshine” to express the jovial tone we all tried to hold on to, while we all secretly feared the Cold War spilling over into a RED DAWN-like invasion.
The 1987 film THE SECRET OF MY SUCCESS was a non-TEEN WOLF Cinderella story of Michael J. Fox playing a kid from Kansas who wants to make it big in the corporate world of Manhattan. You can tell its Manhattan from the stock shots of the crowded streets and the jokes they do about small apartments. Fox plays Brantley Foster, who thinks he can walk in and just take over a company, but finds it’ll take a little inter-office trickery, a case of stolen identity, and a tryst with the boss’/uncle’s wife to make it in 1980’s corporate America. The song is played during one of Fox’s quick changes from his mailroom clothes into his suits to transfer from Brantley to his corporate alter ego, Carlton Winfield, changes which take place in his office or in the office elevator. But the song works well to push the upbeat tone that the film needs to keep the laughs coming. The picture also uses the other 80’s staple “Oh Yeah” by Yello for a seduction scene between Brantley and his aunt, which is not as odd as it sounds…though, yes, it does sound pretty odd.
As ridiculous as we think the movie is now, when LOOK WHO’S TALKING came out back in 1989, it grossed $297 million and brought John Travolta into comedy…for which, of course, the sequels killed him. But the formula worked. You get Kristie Alley with Travolta and mix in a cute baby with Bruce Willis’ voice, that’s a recipe for putting rears in seats….back in 1989. As Travolta’s character, James, develops a rapport with the baby, the film shows a montage of James and baby Mikey playing with stuffed animals and laughing and giggling in cute baby ways to the song “Walking on Sunshine.” Of course the baby loves the cool cab driver and uses his charms to convince his mom to do the same, though she prefers men of a higher tax bracket. It’s a tale that warms the heart, until you realize they made two sequels, one of which had talking dogs. The director of the first, Amy Heckerling, is perhaps best known for her 1982 film FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH, which should make all of us envision how the tone of LOOK WHO’S TALKING would have changed if she had Sean Penn’s Spiccoli doing the voice. Think about it…Comedy gold.
The last pic of the night is not actually an 80’s movie but takes place in the 80’s and puts a twist on the era’s depiction of the Wall Street executive that Oliver Stone never envisioned. AMERICAN PSYCHO (2000) starred Christian Bale as an investment banking executive in full Gordon Gecko fashion but with the twist of a hidden pastime of killing and torturing people. The director, Mary Harron, depicts Bale’s Patrick Bateman as vain to a psychopathic fault; the vanity represented in his application of male beauty products and his competitive nature with his fellow Wall Street types, and the psychosis represented by things as subtle as a chainsaw murder. The film uses a panoply of 80’s songs to sell the time frame of the action, including our pick from Katrina and the Waves, but also including David Bowie, The Cure and Huey Lewis and the News. But don’t let the upbeat music fool you. This is a disturbing story…more disturbing than Michael J. Fox having sex with his aunt.
Length of Trifecta: 305 minutes
And if you still haven’t had enough, check out the original music video below: