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Life Moves Pretty Fast: The Lessons We Learned From Eighties Movies

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From Vogue contributor and Guardian columnist Hadley Freeman, a personalized guide to eighties movies that describes why they changed movie-making forever—featuring exclusive interviews with the producers, directors, writers, and stars of the best cult classics.

For Hadley Freeman, movies of the 1980s have simply got it all. Comedy in Three Men and a Baby, Hannah and Her Sisters, Ghostbusters, and Back to the Future; all a teenager needs to know in Pretty in Pink, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Say Anything, The Breakfast Club, and Mystic Pizza; the ultimate in action from Top Gun, Die Hard, Beverly Hills Cop, and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom; love and sex in 9 1/2 Weeks, Splash, About Last Night, The Big Chill, and Bull Durham; and family fun in The Little Mermaid, ET, Big, Parenthood, and Lean On Me.

In Life Moves Pretty Fast, Hadley puts her obsessive movie geekery to good use, detailing the decade’s key players, genres, and tropes. She looks back on a cinematic world in which bankers are invariably evil, where children are always wiser than adults, where science is embraced with an intense enthusiasm, and the future viewed with giddy excitement. And, she considers how the changes between movies then and movies today say so much about society’s changing expectations of women, young people, and art—and explains why Pretty in Pink should be put on school syllabuses immediately.

From how John Hughes discovered Molly Ringwald, to how the friendship between Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi influenced the evolution of comedy, and how Eddie Murphy made America believe that race can be transcended, this is a “highly personal, witty love letter to eighties movies, but also an intellectually vigorous, well-researched take on the changing times of the film industry” (The Guardian).

311 pages, Paperback

First published May 7, 2015

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About the author

Hadley Freeman

9 books155 followers
Hadley Freeman (born 1978) is a columnist and writer for The Guardian, who also contributes to the UK version of Vogue. She was born in New York to Jewish parents, and attended Oxford University. Her first book, The Meaning of Sunglasses, was published in 2008.

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Profile Image for Kelly (and the Book Boar).
2,414 reviews7,411 followers
April 5, 2016
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/


“When you grow up, your heart dies.”

Are you a 40-something (or nearly 40-something) who is interested in having everything you ever loved about your childhood ruined? If so, boy is this the book for you . . .

This is a case of everyone is entitled to their opinion – but I’m entitled to disagree with dang near EVERYTHING being opined on. It doesn’t help that the author pulls a Donald Drumpf several times and argues one side only to later argue the other. In order to avoid this review being 47,000 pages, I’m going to stick to the subject that made my eye twitch the most. It appears the author is one of the so-called “modern day feminists.” Dear people like this: Please start a GoFundMe on my behalf so I can purchase a penis because I don’t want to have any sort of affiliation with people like you. It started pretty quickly when Heartburn was declared to be one of the “funniest novels ever written” and When Harry Met Sally was awarded “most quotable film of the 1980s.” Really? There’s one quote . . .

(Unless you live in my house where I do a pretty horrible Billy Crystal impersonation and ask if anyone would “like to partake in a piece of pecan piiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiie” every time we have one. But still, two quotes does not a “most quotable” movie make.)

We also learn that we were all supposed to fall in love with Blane (Blane???? That’s not a name!) when everyone I knew was cheering for the underdog . . .

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I mean, seriously, not only was Andrew McCarthy a horrible actor and not particularly attractive, he was also such a smarmy little bastage that it took starring in a movie with a DEAD GUY to give him a redemption arc . . .

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We then find out that . . .

“It wasn’t – and it still isn’t – easy being a female movie fan.”

Things just went downhill from there . . .

“Teenage girl audiences just weren’t even in the equation until Twilight came around.”

Scratch that idea of the GoFundMe page for me and start one on behalf of the author instead because apparently she lives in a cave somewhere with no connection to the rest of the world. For every Revenant or Batman v. Superman that is released there are a dozen D.U.F.F.s (holllllllla, Erica). You know why? Because not only do teenage girls (and old bags like me) flock to the theaters in droves to see movies like those, but they cost ZERO dollars to make and movie studios are in the business of making money. Leonardo Dicaprio will probably put some butts in chairs, but he also gets paid eleventy million dollars per film. Same goes with superhero movies. They cost a gajillion dollars and take a lot of time to produce – but they make so much on a global level that it’s all worth it. But a teenage rom-com? Who gives a fart if that puppy only brings in a hundred mill (including DVD sales). They paid the actors about $12 to star in it, production cost was fifty cents and the whole thing was wrapped in six weeks. (Yes, I’m exaggerating, but on the grand scheme of things teeny-bopper romcoms are a goldmine and that’s why so many of them get released each year.)

Which leads us to the ruining of one of my favorites: Sixteen Candles. Why can’t we just enjoy a movie? I don’t want to hear how Sixteen Candles is a depiction of “rape culture.” Hell, I don’t even care about watching Sam and Jake have their first kiss while sitting criss-cross-applesauce on top of the kitchen table. What I really want to see is Sam’s sister high as a kite at her wedding and hear Long Duck Dong talk about no more yanky his wanky. And yessssssss I realize that that’s “racist” – but you know what? Blazing Saddles is the most racist effing movie in the history of ever but it’s also still hilarious.

And seriously you’re going to talk about Jake being “rapey” but then have zero problems with Peter Venkman being a bit of a creepy stalker? You can’t get it both ways. Ghostbusters is most definitely NOT the “depiction of how a man should be.” Uhhhhh, have you even watched the film? Bill Murray is a disgusting manbearpig, but every woman in their right mind still fell in love with him.

Oh, and not only does she argue that Venkman’s brand of misogyny is A-Okay while pretty much every other character in the history of ever is not, but she then dismisses the idea that Ernie Hudson’s character was thrown in as a “token black guy.” HE TOTALLY WAS! While the Hudson race issue is glossed over, a huge deal is made about the fact that Axel Foley and Lisa could not kiss because it was still considered taboo, which was the case at the time, but I’m pretty sure it was less of a stance on interracial relations and more because it was a BUDDY COP movie and not a romance – a formula which has been repeated/will be repeated for eternity. I mean seriously, Rush Hour and Ride Along and on and on and on. The one that messed a good thing up was Lethal Weapon 2 and the inclusion of the stupid ass dead girlfriend storyline.

Going back to the discussion about seriously effed up rape - dare I forget the movie Big where Tom Hanks plays a 13 year old boy who then has SEX with a grown woman. If you’re going to take issue with Sixteen Candles, how in the hell can you give a pass to this?

Even Mr. Mom comes under attack when the author says the movie’s message is “that the swapping of traditional gender roles will probably destroy the marriage and almost certainly the house.” That’s when this happened . . .

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Christ on a cracker!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Mr. Mom was a film that showed that there is no such thing as “just being a mom” – it’s a fulltime job and a hard one at that, as Michael Keaton clearly demonstrates . . . .

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Once again, both sides of the coin are discussed when Baby Boom is used as an example of how women can have it all? Really? ‘Cause to me that film seems to show that you can have it all, but only if you change the definition of what makes up the “all” that you want.

Things spiral right down the toilet from there with discussions of how “it is impossible to imagine a young woman playing the romantic lead in a movie today without perfectly blow-dried hair, a size 0 body, and body-clinging clothing.” Yeah . . . .

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And how we should long for the good ol’ days of “Melanie Griffith’s gorgeously curvaceous and pale body in Working Girl” . . .

Alrighty then.

We also find out that “women are deliberately excluded from movies.” They sure are . . . .

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And that when they are included, it’s only to be as sex objects, which NEVER happens to guys . . .

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I could go on and on (and on and on and on), but my heart rate is kind of off the charts and my eye hasn’t stopped twitching since I started writing this, so I’m going to leave it with the one statement that truly made the book jump the shark – that the whole lesson to be learned from Die Hard is that “FEMINISM RUINS EVERYTHING” . This is why we can't have nice things . . .

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ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, NetGalley!
Profile Image for Scott.
1,707 reviews117 followers
April 28, 2022
"One question I did get asked a lot when writing this was why I like 80's movies so freaking much. The simplest answer is also the most honest: because they make me happy. I think - hell, I KNOW - they make other people happy, too. I hope this book has captured some of that." -- on page 305

Journalist Freeman offers a compilation of essays riffing on her love for 80's-era flicks in Life Moves Pretty Fast. While the chapters are cleanly split between certain movies like Dirty Dancing, The Princess Bride, Ghostbusters, When Harry Met Sally . . . , Steel Magnolias, Back to the Future and, of course, Ferris Bueller's Day Off (see the book's title!) she also occasionally concentrates on specific figure like actor Eddie Murphy (with his multiple comedy blockbusters) or writer/director John Hughes (with his humorous but also sensitive teen-oriented output). Freeman warns readers in the introduction that she doesn't really care for action movies (although Die Hard is a notable exception at one point, and Indiana Jones also gets a few mentions) or popular series likes James Bond and Star Wars. She can also be VERY opinionated here - her contempt for the existence of superhero movies is mentioned way too many times to count, and her repeated jabs at white men who are Christian and/or right-leaning quickly got a little tiresome - but often her breezy tone and sincere adoration for certain films usually carried the book along at a steady pace. She also included some anecdotes (like two instances where she had unexpected encounters) along with pertinent information gleaned from earlier interviews with various performers and directors. If you're an 80's kid - it was the first full decade that I lived through - and fondly remember movies you saw at a local theater (remember those?) or on videocassette (what's that?!) this is a pretty good pop culture-themed book.
Profile Image for Toby.
829 reviews328 followers
May 1, 2015
Life Moves Pretty Fast, Hadley Freeman's equal parts autobiographical exploration of her youthful cinephilia, feminist analysis of contemporary Hollywood and love letter to 80s Hollywood, marks her as one of my all time favourite writers on cinema.

Her enthusiasm for her subject is completely infectious and her analysis of the strengths of such maligned (including by me) "classics" as Dirty Dancing and Romancing the Stone made me want to rush out to the nearest video rental store to rewatch them as soon as possible.

Having once been a pretty active member of a thousands strong movie blogging community I became pretty jaded with the constant hyperbole that the people who write about film seem to constantly aspire to, in response to that Freeman's honest, intelligent and accessible cinephilia is (to use her own words in response to my praise) like a balm. She's not selling anything to anyone by discussing the merits of Ferris Bueller and The Princess Bride, she's not trying to look cool to other film fans (in fact at times she revels in her outsider/dorky Jewish girl status); there's no agenda whatsoever other than to bemoan the ever worsening status of women in movies and the homogenisation of Hollywood that is aiding larger worldwide box office, and even then it's more to cry out for fun cinema that shows that Abortions Happen and That's Just Fine, Superheroes Don't Have to be Such a Drag, Romcoms Don't Have to Make You Feel Like You're Having a Lobotomy and Why Awkward Girl's Don't Have to Have a Makeover.

Hadley's writing is assured and often witty, her insights plentiful and accurate and it certainly helps that she has no real affection for Star Wars, Arnie, Spielberg, Apatow or Christopher Nolan. She seems to have positioned herself as the anti-Peter Biskind (as suggested in her introduction in fact) and despite her book not being quite as dense as Biskind's tomes she manages to provide as much thought-provoking content for the reader to ponder; here even weeks later I find myself going back to her arguments in my mind or excitedly telling friends that they need to read her book for X, Y or Z reasons, much more so than with anyone else who writes on the subject apart from, perhaps, David Thomson.

We received this ARC at the book shop I work in, it's easily the best one I've managed to snag so far and I cannot wait to start selling it to people this month.
Profile Image for Heather *sad DNF queen*.
Author 17 books442 followers
March 31, 2016
"What happens in movies always reflects what's happening in the culture and what we're seeing onscreen is an American culture trying to put women back in their place."

Well, that's depressing and enraging. Yet not indicative of the overall tone of this book, thankfully! Freeman writes about movies related to feminism, classism, racism, and other -isms, and does it all with an engaging tone. She injects personal emotions and experiences into the text, making for an interesting and often moving read.

I would assume anyone interested in this book is also interested in eighties movies. Which I am, obviously. Even the chapters dealing with the movies I haven't seen/don't want to see are interesting because of how Freeman herself loves them, and relates them to today's culture.

The first chapter focuses on Dirty Dancing, one of my all-time favorite movies (duh). As much as I love watching it, I also enjoyed reading Freeman's analysis of it. She interviewed the film's writer, who sounds awesome. For example, she (Eleanor Bergstein) still owns the right to Dirty Dancing. Instead of allowing a remake which would destroy the integrity of the story, as remakes tend to do, she turned it into a stage musical. Which I now must see before I die.

"That is when Johnny falls in love with her," says Bergstein. "Because he sees how she always wants to make it better, and she shows him that she can."

This quote hit me right in the feels (I'm pretty sure I've never said "right in the feels" before). I didn't know it until now, but this quote captures exactly what I love about Baby and Johnny's romance. I read the quote and stared at it as tears pricked my eyes. It was that moving for me.

But this chapter wasn't all dancing and subtle feminism and illegal abortion! It was amusing, too, as the following quote illustrates:

[...] there is still large part of me that believes I haven't actually had sex yet because none of my sexual encounters has started by lip-synching "Love Is Strange," although God knows not through lack of trying on my part.

Freeman also talked about John Hughes, of course. I loved that he came across Molly Ringwald's head shot, and it stood out to him because of how different she was from the usual hopeful young actress. But also because of his personality, a generic blonde wouldn't have cut it for him as a muse. Before even meeting Ringwald, Hughes wrote Sixteen Candles for her in two days. Their relationship—and his relationships with other young actors, like Matthew Broderick—was a joy to read about, but it was all the more heartbreaking when I learned about his eventual estrangement from the same actors he'd held in such high esteem.

Ringwald later wrote in the New York Times: "We were like the Darling children when they made the decision to leave Neverland. And John was Peter Pan, warning us that if we left we could never come back. And, true to his word, not only were we unable to return, but he went one step further. He did away with Neverland itself."

I didn't agree with Freeman's assessment of every movie she talked about. For example, I don't think Ghostbusters is the greatest film ever, and the scene where Bill Murray's character is "basically sexually harassing" Sigourney Weaver's character in her apartment is most definitely creepy, whether or not she dismisses him as odd. The scene does NOT become "sweet instead of stupid." However, her tastes aligned quite often with mine, which made, perhaps, for an even more enjoyable reading experience. (We both feel the Michael Keaton Batman movies are superior to the Christian Bale ones, don't shoot me.)

There's a lot more I could talk about, but I feel like I've already taken up enough review space. But wait—did you know Crispin Glover's middle name is Hellion? Crispin HELLION Glover? And he lives in a castle in the Czech Republic now?

Okay, NOW I'm done. I recommend this book to everyone who loves eighties movies! Which, if you have a heart (even if you're a grownup), you probably do.
Profile Image for Simone.
1,430 reviews45 followers
September 11, 2016

I should probably just stop reading pop culture books about film. I think I would have appreciated this more if she moved it completely into the role of memoir. If this was just a book about how much eighties films meant to her, and what lessons she learned from them? Cool. When you want to expand that out and make an argument about the entire history of film, while denigrating wide swaths of films that you don't like for being too intellectual? Yeah...I'm gonna pass. Basically you want to make an academic argument about the history of film - in part as industry, in part as ideological - and scold us for not taking these eighties movies seriously enough as art, while at the same time denigrating academic considerations of any film, because you know, just be chill and laugh man, don't think about it so much.

In the introduction she argues that Ghostbusters is good in part because it's still enormously popular, and then in parenthesis says, well just because something is popular doesn't mean it's good. Umm. There's a sign you do not have a cohesive argument worked out. It would have been fine, for example, to argue that you are picking these movies because of personal reasons and to make this more of a memoir. [And for the record, I think Ghostbusters is a fine movie, and I hate arguments that work to declare popular culture either "good" or "bad" and would rather discuss how the individual works engage with the rest of the culture, but I digress.] To call Ghostbusters a good film, does not mean we have to say that Citizen Kane and Vertigo are not good films (as the author does at one point) it is rather to acknowledge the former might speak to you for more personal and idiosyncratic reasons, and that the world is wide enough for all three of those movies to be praised as achievements in cinematic arts.

Anyway, I also really don't like publishing negative reviews, because - see above - I think most everything is worth reading. But if we are being honest, your time on planet Earth is limited, there will always be more books than you have time to read, and in the end I would caution you away from this so a negative review seemed necessary.
Profile Image for Melissa (So Far Behind!).
4,522 reviews1,732 followers
July 14, 2016
If you love 80s movies (and I most definitely do) this is a really fascinating and fun look back. Freeman does get way too bogged down into feminism and how politically incorrect things were in the 80s, which detracts from understanding that times were completely different.
Loved the chapter about Ferris Bueller's Day Off, would have liked the Princess Bride chapter much more had I not read As You Wish, this chapter felt like a total ripoff of that and added no additional insight or info. It was difficult to know who the author really did interview, and when she was quoting from other sources.
I adored all of her lists--lists of top 10 moments, songs, quotes...so good. Adored anything in the book talking about the music because 80s soundtracks were such an integral part of my youth it brings physical pangs of nostalgia. Kenny Loggins...enough said.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Azumi.
236 reviews166 followers
March 12, 2017
Este libro tenía todos los números para que me gustase. Porque yo fui a EGB y porque en los 80 yo era una adolescente y me tragué y disfruté de todas esas películas y hasta el día de hoy no me he cansado todavía de verlas. Y ha sido leer el libro y querer volver a verlas de nuevo. Y escuchar de nuevo una y otra vez el Don’t you forget about me de los Simple Minds.

Porque adoro Dirty Dancing, la chica de rosa, el club de los cinco, la princesa prometida, Una maravilla con clase y porque coincido totalmente con que el mejor Batman es el de Michael Keaton/Tim Burton.

Además necesitaba una lectura así, para descansar de lecturas densas y para olvidarte de los malos rollos del día no ha habido nada mejor que leer un capítulo de este libro.

Disfruto mucho con este tipo de libros, que me hacen recordar viejos tiempos y me asusta el título original del libro “life moves pretty fast”, porque sí, es verdad: el tiempo pasa muy rápido …

Profile Image for Bunny .
2,231 reviews102 followers
July 2, 2016
Received via Netgalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

This is mismarketed. It should be titled "The Lessons I Learned From Eighties Movies". Because this author has anvil'ed her opinion all over this book, and it genuinely ruins the experience of reading about movies and trends from an era I grew up in and am very familiar with.

I had really high hopes after the first chapter, which focused on Dirty Dancing. Longer, I believe, than any other chapter in the book, it features an interview with Eleanor Bergstein, the writer of the movie. She's insightful, and the discussion of how this movie's very intense message was overlooked by critics who dismissed it as female fluff. Discussion includes the lack of healthy sexual relationships for teenagers in film, along with that all-too familiar 'male gaze' that dominates films of the modern age.

I was completely enraptured, and terribly excited to keep going. That feeling passed remarkably fast. Which is extremely sad, considering the next chapter was on The Princess Bride.

Freeman's opinions are presented as fact. And I think that's the part that bothers me the most. This is not what I signed up for when I requested the book. The author heavily trashes films made after the 80's, and while I will join in every Twilight bash I can get my foot into, it seems she's obsessed with that garbage, seemingly without being able to voice why the films are a problem. Has Freeman actually familiarized herself with the movies before writing this? I dread to ask if she read the books, because...well. I don't want to be a bitch, but let's just say I'm not asking how many books Freeman has read.

Also, trashing of The Hunger Games, which I take personally. See above re: how many books you readin' lately, Freeman.

Whining about how romantic comedies aren't like the used to be, and saying When Harry Met Sally... is the most quotable film of all time.

Romantic comedies are and always have been lazy comedies to me. And I can think of precisely one scene from WHMS that's quotable, and let's just say I'm not screaming those lines out in public.

Seriously, I went into this expecting a well researched book about movie making, glorifying the amazing movies that were made in that era, and actual discussion of what's missing from the cranked out blockbusters and sequels Hollywood seems incapable of getting away from. Discussion of how Indie film makers have done their damndest to get back that wonderful warm fuzzy feeling, while being spurned by studios and theaters and not getting wide spread appeal.

What did I get?

A mouthy blog writer who knows people in the publishing industry, that would be my guess.
Profile Image for Ashley.
2,598 reviews1,664 followers
August 30, 2017
So now y'all know just exactly how far behind I am in my reviews. I read this book back in June? I think? Effff, I wish I would have written this review back then. I had so many thoughts!! Now, they are mostly all gone. GONE I TELL YOU, like piss in the wind.

Sorry, that was vulgar. Sometimes I am vulgar. It should pass.

But you know what, I'm feeling in the mood right now. I'm full of it. What you might call piss and vinegar. So it's fitting, really, because I didn't much care for this book.

My problems with it were two: First, that like many other reviews have pointed out, Freeman's thesis for this book was not workable, and impossible to prove. And second, her sense of humor does NOT match mine, and at times I felt some of her anecdotes were trying waaaay too hard.

So I will elaborate a little. On the second point, there isn't much to say beyond my taste not really matching Freeman's writing. I found her writing try-hard and desperate for approval. It often came across to me as, look, aren't I so funny and cute? I liked her the most when she faded into the background and showed off that yes, she does actually know film really well and can write about it with aplomb, with the right material. Not so much when she is telling a shoved in story about meeting Matthew Broderick on the street while they were walking their dogs. Sometimes it was as little a thing as a turn of phrase that rubbed me the wrong way.

But the first thing isn't about taste, and I think it's pretty objective, and that is that her "thesis," the whole point of this book (it's in the subtitle even) is not a good basis for a book. It's a cutesy marketing ploy that is impossible to actually write without coming across (as Hadley does often here) as reaching. It's no coincidence that the essays where she backs the hardest off the premise and sticks to facts rather than subjective opinion (i.e. Eighties movies were the best!!!! All other movies are inferior!!!, etc. etc.) were the most successful.

I would much rather have read a book about what made 80s movies 80s movies (and she still could have written about the same movies, even!) rather than a book that had to shoehorn in constant reminders about how movies today no longer do what 80s movies did, leading to vast generalizations. I also would have preferred less of her opinions being treated as objective fact.

It's a shame, because some of these essays really showed promise. In particular, I enjoyed the one about Dirty Dancing being a stealth feminist film. She even interviews the screenwriter.
Profile Image for Lauren.
322 reviews17 followers
October 19, 2016
But in defense of [the dress Andie made in Pretty in Pink], it does encapsulate one of the truly great things about girls in eighties teen movies: they dressed like shit."

I really wanted to love this book because it's a very "me" topic. Yet, I kept noticing errors or one-sided arguments, or frankly just a lack of understanding/knowledge of movies today. First of all, yes, (500) Days of Summer and The Perks of Being a Wallflower both "feature" the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope...but it's to go against it. Elizabethtown would have been a better example because--oh yeah!--that's the movie that prompted Nathan Rabin to coin the term in the first place. But, Hadley Freeman probably already knew that (or not). Anyway, there were more than a couple OBVIOUS errors... Like how she was talking about Grease and used "Sandie" but in later paragraphs it's "Sandy" (the Y here is correct). Did anyone actually proofread the book before sending it off to be printed?

Secondly, Hadley needs to calm down with her claims such as "When Harry Met Sally... is easily the most quotable film of the 1980s, the most quotable of all the decades." Umm. No, it's not. Although I love it, When Harry Met Sally... is not very quotable. Anyone who is interested in this book or the topic should be prepared for a heavy author bias/opinion. It's possible to say your opinion without insinuating your thoughts are The Way. And what's weird about reading this book is that I don't agree with most of her claims, see above for example.

Me reading this book, but way less chill:

I'm a child of the 90's but that doesn't make me inferior. I watched many o' John Hughes's movies before I was in high school. That doesn't make me any better or worse than anyone else. But you wouldn't know that from the pretentiousness and superiority that Hadley writes with. Ugh.
Profile Image for Mainon.
1,039 reviews48 followers
July 18, 2016
Important: don't read this if you'd rather not be overwhelmed by the desire to binge-watch all your favorite old 80s movies, plus a few more you somehow missed! I only wish this came with a curated Youtube playlist of video clips and soundtracks...

Anyway, it sounds like a fun, frothy topic, right? Eighties movies and why we love them! And it IS a fun topic. I was reminded of how many eighties movies are still irresistible classics, but Freeman also talks about the ones that haven't stood the test of time.

This book isn't frothy, though -- it's got real substance. In fact, I wonder if it was adapted from a particularly fun thesis, because there's smart, cogent analysis of several films, plus interviews with directors (many of whom say they wouldn't be able to get their most famous movies made today), and interesting, thoughtful commentary on how and why movies today are so different from their 80s counterparts. Some of that is pointed criticism of today's focus on blockbuster superhero movies with huge budgets, and it had been awhile since I stopped to consider what that means for filmmakers who want to do something *other* than that.

All in all, if you love Princess Bride or Ferris Bueller's Day Off or When Harry Met Sally (or, or, or ... there are so many!) I think you'll have a really good time reading this book, AND feel smarter/more well-informed about the movie industry.

I received a copy of this ebook from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. Thanks!
Profile Image for Kialynne.
139 reviews
February 3, 2016
I love 80s movies, so I was looking forward to this, but rather than inciting misplaced nostalgia (having never lived in the 80s), I was dragged down into the despair of how messed up and misogynistic the film industry is. There is also an unjust amount of hatred for superhero movies, and several instances of lack of fact-checking. I wanted to like this, I really did.
Profile Image for Melani.
558 reviews19 followers
May 5, 2017
This was a book club pick and not my first choice for the book club; in fact, it wasn’t my second or third choice either. I think I would have preferred any other of the book club choices to this one, however I was overruled and democracy blahblahblah. I honestly went into it with an open mind, I may not have looked forward to reading it, but hey, I was willing to give it a chance. I like 80s movies, maybe not to the extent that Freeman does but I like them. However, this book aggravated me on so many, many levels that I eventually just gave up and lightly skimmed the remainder of the essays. The writing was decent, about average for an internet blog post, but (and this holds true even when I agreed with her) the essays were just too long. Honestly, if this were a blog list somewhere on the internet then it would have been amusing and kind of awesome but as a book it felt stretched and weak.

My major issue with the book is the central premise, which is that 80s movies are the best and do ALL the things instead of something more like “80s movies had a huge impact on my life and development and this is why.” The thing is, that second is what the book was actually about but because we live in a world where hyperbole is rewarded and Cracked best of lists are massively popular Freeman had to pretend that she was writing the first. It aggravated me.

My second issue is that Freeman cherry picked examples that supported her various points and ignored movies which proved her wrong. Now granted, this happens a lot when people write opinion pieces, but it still bothered me. Of course, the Oughts are going to come off bad when you compare Pretty in Pink to Twilight, or Dirty Dancing to Twilight, or Fast Times at Ridgemont High to Twilight. Seriously, I was on page 68 and she’d used Twilight as her counter example at least four times by that point. Get another whipping boy.

There were also several points where Freeman contradicted a statement she’d made in an earlier essay. Either women had the best roles in the 80s, or they had no good roles in the 80s. Both statements can’t be true, but she makes them both at various points in the book. I gave up reading the book once I realized this and mostly just skimmed to see if she was going to say anything else interesting.

Also, and this is so minor but boy has it bugged me, Pretty in Pink is NOT BETTER THEN THE BREAKFAST CLUB. Are we completely forgetting NiceGuyDucky? Ugh. And that pretty much sums up how I feel about the book.
Profile Image for Sonia De la rosa.
372 reviews37 followers
December 12, 2017
Un libro que demuestra que un ensayo no tiene que ser aburrido o denso. La autora a través de su amor por las películas de los años 80 nos muestra como ha evolucionado, o involucionado en algunos casos, la sociedad o la industria del cine.
Me ha sorprendido como desde el punto de una partida de una película en concreto nos hace un análisis sobre un asunto en concreto. Por ejemplo, en el capítulo dedicado a Dirty Dancing nos habla del aborto, o por más exacto del aborto ilegal. En el dedicado a Magnolias de acero en como los estudios importantes de Hollywood a dejado de lado a las "películas de mujeres" por creer que son pocos rentables y como los actrices de más de 40 años apenas tienen papeles de protagonistas. En el de Eddie Murphy como gracias a él ha abierto camino para que otros actores afroamericanos triunfen. Y muchas cosas más que la autora analiza...
Y todo esto está envuelto en un libro ameno, divertido que te atrapa enseguida.
Para los nostálgicos del cine de los 80 este es vuestro libro. Además la autora nos cuenta anécdotas de los rodajes de dichas peliculas, actores que iban a protagonizarlas y que fueron sustituidos a última hora por los que al final fueron, y muchas otras cosas
Me quedo con una de las últimas reflexiones de la autora... Si me preguntan por qué me gustan las películas de los 80, la respuesta es sencilla: porque me hacen felices.
Profile Image for Caitlin.
85 reviews1,718 followers
June 18, 2019
is somebody gonna tell this author that shitting on one thing in order to make another seem superior is not only lazy but incredibly unintelligent....... like yes The Princess Bride is a great movie but that doesn’t mean Legally Blonde isn’t? plus harping on about ye olden days like millennials are the ones who created everything that’s wrong with the current climate is just such a boring perspective. also how on earth do you justify writing about woody allen movies as feminist? anyways if you’re thinking of reading this book DO NOT please instead watch a sweet 1980s movie and enjoy!
Profile Image for Evann.
89 reviews30 followers
March 21, 2016
So good. Thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for allowing me to read an electronic copy of Life Moves Pretty Fast, in exchange for an honest review.

I was expecting a dumb yet fun book about the authors favorite 80s movies but it was so much more than that. There is no question that it is fun but it is also wildly smart. It caused me to look at many of my favorite 80s movies in a new light. Each chapter using a specific popular 80s film to discuss a social issue. Including how movies in the 80s dealt with each issue vs how they seem to be presented today. For example Dirty Dancing/abortion, Ferris Bueller's Day Off/social class. It's all backed up with facts/figures and the thoughts of important movie people. But also some not so controversial subjects like romantic/platonic love and being yourself.

The author interviewed many interesting 80s film people, including actors, directors, writers, producers. The book is worth it from the quotes alone. I so needed to know how Rick Moranis was doing and now I do. The writing is friendly and funny. Even when I didn't agree with Hadley's opinions, which happens when talking about favorite movies, I was interested in what she had to say about it.

I plan on buying a copy when this comes out.
Profile Image for Marta Marlau.
396 reviews10 followers
November 18, 2017
Realmente es un 3,5/5 ⭐️ Ha sido genial recordar esas películas de los ochenta que tanto han marcado incluso a generaciones posteriores. Películas como La princesa prometida, Dirty dancing (💙), Los cazafantasmas, Regreso al futuro, Batman y muchas más, son un motivo para sonreír siempre y este libro nos lo recuerda. Por otro lado la autora tiene su opinión personal sobre algunas películas que no siempre va a coincidir con el lector pero en línes generales ha sido buena experiencia.
Próximamente reseña en https://rincondemarlau.blogspot.com
Profile Image for Abril Camino.
Author 29 books1,470 followers
July 6, 2020
Me ha encantado este ensayo sobre el cine de los ochenta, con un análisis detallado de algunas de las películas más míticas de la época y por qué de ellas podemos extraer grandes enseñanzas que seguro que nos pasaron desapercibidas cuando las vimos en su día. Me han gustado especialmente el prólogo y el epílogo, donde da su visión (muy documentada) acerca del estado actual de la industria del entretenimiento y que me ha recordado demasiado al mundo editorial (por desgracia). No es solo que el libro me haya encantado, es que además me ha dado la excusa para volver a ver películas que llevaba unos 25 años sin ver. Muy muy recomendable.
Profile Image for Cathie.
186 reviews22 followers
July 31, 2016
Glad to had read this over the weekend. I was in my teens in the 80s and enjoyed the nostalgia and reminiscing. The book also prompted discussions about the films, soundtracks, quotes, and "where are they now?".

I have to share that there were times it would have been so nice had this been better proofread as I had to re-read a sentence or a paragraph. And I got annoyed by "amirite??".

All things considered, an interesting read. To have watched these movies when I was young in theaters and videocassette, and now with my daughters earlier in DVD and currently streaming, it's pretty cool.

Profile Image for Theresa.
158 reviews9 followers
March 7, 2017
A fantastic book about all of my favorite movies while I was a baby when most of them were released, I had cool parents who exposed me to these movies. A great read for anyone who loves movies.
Profile Image for Shelleyrae at Book'd Out.
2,425 reviews503 followers
November 23, 2019

“When you grow up your heart dies.” - The Breakfast Club (John Hughes)

I am a 80’s tragic.. the music, the fashion, the movies... (just joking about the fashion). If asked, The Breakfast Club and Dirty Dancing are my two all time favourite movies, so when I saw Life Moves Pretty Fast by Hadley Freeman mentioned on booksaremyfavouriteandbest, I added it to my TBR list.

I’m not sure what I was expecting from Life Moves Pretty Fast, apart from an entertaining stroll through my adolescent memories, but I found it much more thought provoking than I was anticipating. Part personal reminisce, part analysis, Hadley enthusiastically examines many of the 1980’s movies (English speaking) Gen Xers will remember fondly from their youth.

While Freeman’s obsession with Ghostbusters and Bill Murray eludes me, as does the inevitable, and in my opinion inexplicable, (American) preoccupation with The Princess Bride, a variety of movies rate in depth discussion from Freeman like Ferris Bueller‘s Day Off, Pretty in Pink, Back to the Future, When Harry Met Sally, Beverly Hills Cop, and my aforementioned favourites, The Breakfast Cub and Dirty Dancing, others rate only a few lines, like Mannequin, Blue’s Brothers, and Cant Buy Me Love. It should be noted that the author’s attention is heavily skewed in favour of teen movies and ‘chick flicks’, so there is little mention of whole swathes of cinematic genres like action blockbusters.

There is a strong feminist slant to Freeman’s analysis, and I think she, and several of the people whom she interviewed, like Melissa Silverstein, made some excellent points about movies then, and movies now, that I’d never given much thought to, especially in relation to Dirty Dancing and Pretty in Pink. However, I also thought that at times her position was a little thin, and contradictory.

Surprisingly I actually enjoyed Freeman’s footnotes, which I’d usually dismiss, and I loved Freeman’s dozen or so ‘Top’ lists, including ‘The Top Five Movie Montages’ and ‘The Ten Best Rock Songs on an Eighties Movie Soundtrack’. Though I didn’t always agree with her opinion, I very much enjoyed the nostalgia they evoked.

I believe you need to have seen, and enjoyed, a good number of 80’s movies to enjoy Life Moves Pretty Fast, which shouldn’t be a problem if you are aged between say forty and fifty. I’ve tried to introduce (ie. force) my teen daughters to more than one but haven’t been terribly successful. Honestly, several of them don’t hold up well, but they will all nethertheless have a place in my heart.
Profile Image for Allen Adams.
517 reviews28 followers
June 15, 2016

Nostalgia – particularly pop culture nostalgia – is a powerful thing. Many of us are bound with an ongoing and eternal affection for the things that we loved during our formative years. Sometimes, that affection is justified; other times, not so much.

Hadley Freeman is possessed by that sort of sweet love of memory, unabashed in her adoration for the films of the 1980s. Her book “Life Moves Pretty Fast: The Lessons We Learned from Eighties Movies (and Why We Don’t Learn Them from Movies Anymore)” is a deep dive into her lifelong fascination with the films of the 1980s. She explores these films in terms both macro and micro, offering a wildly entertaining look at the reasons behind one woman’s obsessive devotion.

Make no mistake – this isn’t some sort of encyclopedia of 1980s cinema. “Life Moves Pretty Fast” is part cultural exploration, part memoir by proxy; Freeman takes time to dig into some of the themes inherent to the popcorn movies of the period, but does so through the lens of her own personal tastes.

She takes some time to argue that “Dirty Dancing” might be the preeminent feminist film of the 1980s, deserving of a place alongside more often cited fare like “Working Girl” or “Baby Boom.” She talks about “When Harry Met Sally…” as romantic comedy perfection the likes of which we’re unlikely to see again, thanks to the industry’s move toward male-centric gross-out comedy.

Freeman spends a fair amount of time talking about Eddie Murphy’s place atop the heap, viewing his massive 1980s success as perhaps the closest movie-going audiences had ever come to seeing a black star in a film where his blackness didn’t matter. She also takes some time sharing her personal relationships with movies like “The Princess Bride,” “Back to the Future” and – her all-time favorite – “Ghostbusters.”

Unsurprisingly, Freeman spends a lot of time dissecting the oeuvre of John Hughes, the undisputed king of 1980s teen comedy. She views Hughes as one of the best-ever at portraying teenagers as teenagers while also offering a surprising depth of insight regarding social dynamics – particularly as they pertain to class differences.

As our past recedes into the rearview, our feelings about the cultural artifacts of that time tend to crystallize, so it’s easy for us to remember the messenger while forgetting the message. That isn’t to say that these films are deep and insightful treatises on the human condition disguised as teen comedies, but dismissing them as kitsch isn’t fair either.

Whether you like them or not, there’s no disputing that the films Freeman talks about tended to be fairly heartfelt and honest. They were allowed to feature idiosyncratic actors. They told stories that maintained a high level of relatability, but never felt like they had been focus grouped into bland flavorlessness. They were quirky and weird and flawed and sweet.

In short, they were the sort of movies that could never get made in the Hollywood of today.

“Life Moves Pretty Fast” works on a couple of levels. First, it’s a delightful look back for those of a certain age (including yours truly) who share Freeman’s affection for these movies and recognize their cultural value. Secondly – and perhaps most importantly – these conversations offer insight into the sort of person Freeman has become and how exposure to these films during her formative years might have shaped that becoming. It’s a fast, engaging and wonderfully entertaining read in which Freeman shares her passion.

In short…I’ll have what she’s having.
Profile Image for Joanne.
214 reviews46 followers
June 9, 2021
It is said that everybody has a book inside them, and Hadley Freeman has written my book for me. Hadley's passion for both eighties films and Brat Pack films mirrors my own. We both had Ghostbusters crushes, mine is Bill Murray and hers is Dan Ackroyd. I was seven at the time and still have a soft spot for Peter Venkman! In fact we could have been best friends growing up and have been fangirls together. I mean who hasn't wanted John Cusack holding a ghetto blaster outside her window with Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes" playing (*sighs*) and being kissed by Andrew McCarthy by the glow of car head lights (*double sighs*). Brat Pack and eighties films have remained with me from my formative years and have a special place in my heart and life. I'm always up for a double bill of Pretty in Pink and Cocktail, or Can't Buy Me Love and The Karate Kid. I could go on and on...

Hadley Freeman took me on an enjoyable nostalgic trip down memory lane. She discusses eighties films as an ardent fan and broadens the discussion to include feminism, social class and race all in the context of eighties Hollywood. I found this very interesting and eye-opening. I enjoyed the autobiographical aspects of the book too. Recommended.

Oh and one more thing, in the words of Ferris Bueller: "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." See, me and Hadley should have been best friends as we end our book and review in the same way. Great minds!

4 1/2 stars.

(The only reason this wasn't a 5-star rating was because Hadley thinks that Mannequin, Weird Science and The Karate Kid 2 are "dross". Plus, The Outsiders is pretentious. As if! I'm loyal to my favourite films to the very end! Even best friends have differences, right?)
Profile Image for Amy.
453 reviews16 followers
October 18, 2018
Thank you to NetGalley for providing this book for me to read and review.

I really enjoyed this book. The author clearly loves the movies she discusses. There is an irony-free enthusiasm that really shines through. Which is good, because these days, some of these movies don't look that great. There are racist, sexist, and rape culture-ist overtones in many of them.

Freeman doesn't gloss over the problems in these movies from the 80s, but don't think for a second that today's movies are any better. Her main thesis is that, due to both changes in society and in the film industry itself, the movies we loved in the 80s would never be able to be made today.

I really loved the discussion of John Hughes' films and how they really showed regular teenagers in their everyday lives. Freeman argues that today's filmmakers are not allowed to do that because the average American teen's life would not be interesting to moviegoers in China. Today's movies are all about the international market, and that has made them all pretty bland and similar to each other. Only the big blockbuster movies are considered marketable enough to make it on a world wide scale. Indie films are suffering from this shift.

A big part of the book centers on feminism, and how women and girls were treated in movies back then as opposed to now.

Each chapter features a movie from the 80s, from the above mentioned Hughes movies, through Beverly Hills Cop and Ghostbusters. Freeman talks about the characters and issues in each one and compares them to movies being made today. It really was an interesting take on the movies that I loved as a teen, and still enjoy today (even though I sometimes feel a bit guilty over it because of the aforementioned issues in them).
Profile Image for Zippergirl.
203 reviews
March 16, 2016
Loved this book on two levels; the snarky, well-informed voice of the author, and the memories we share of fun 80s movies, though we were born a generation apart. Through the magic of VCRs and DVDs (and streaming video) children of the late 50s and the late 70s have easy access to the brilliant work of John Landis, John Hughes, Tim Burton, et al.

The 80s were the end of the studio system, before companies that manufacture laundry detergent bought them all out and the world market (read: China) became more important than entertainment. “Wit and nuance doesn’t travel.”

Here's a look at the chapter headings, though many (many) more movies are discussed:

Dirty Dancing
The Princess Bride (you had me at Fezzik)
Pretty in Pink
When Harry Met Sally
Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Steel Magnolias (sniff, sniff)
Baby Boom
Back to the Future
and Eddie Murphy's 80s Movies

(I'd have done The Blues Brothers and The Big Chill, too, but they get honorable mentions.)

Each chapter thrills to the joys of these gems, “silly without being stupid . . . sweet without being slushy . . . funny without being mean, and they understand the importance of a good script above all.” Bonus: deep sociological themes are explored without putting the shallow reader (me?) to sleep, including racism, abortion, men’s roles, women’s roles, Jewishness, and American exceptionalism.

If you long for the days before all the franchises and superhero sequels, get into your sweats and tune into “Life Moves Pretty Fast.”

I received this book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Maria.
26 reviews25 followers
January 25, 2016
‘Life Moves Pretty Fast’ is a delightful read for anyone who grew up glued to the screen in the eighties. Hadley Freeman skillfully dissects ALL my childhood favourites: Ghostbusters, The Princess Bride, Coming to America, Top Gun, Adventures in Babysitting, along with the works of John Hughes and Tim Burton… and the list goes on.

It's refreshing – and certainly educational – to read Freeman’s insightful and witty analysis of all the nuances I've naturally missed as a kid. However, I’m now even happier that I was influenced by movies and TV of exactly that era.

Whether you agree or disagree with Freeman’s points, ‘Life Moves Pretty Fast’ (which it does – we all know this Buellerism to be true) is an essential addition to any self-proclaimed movie buff’s library.
Profile Image for Stephen Curran.
Author 1 book23 followers
June 11, 2015
I was always going to jump on a book with chapters devoted to Back to the Future and Ghostbusters (Ghostbusters being the greatest film ever made, according to Hadley Freeman, who in saying so immediately got me on side).

What could easily have been an exercise in pure nostalgia directs its focus on social politics. Dirty Dancing sets up a broader assessment of abortion in mainstream movies. Ferris Beuller's Day Off is a peg on which to hang a discussion about the depiction of wealth.

All this is presented with a winning enthusiasm for the subject: Hadley Freeman is, above all, a fan. The result is as readable as it is thoughtful.
Profile Image for Sophie.
1,443 reviews3 followers
November 23, 2015
This book is utterly wonderful.

Hadley Freeman's die hard love of the films she writes about comes across so vibrantly, but it doesn't stop her from discussing them and the people involved in them honestly and intelligently. Her writing is fresh and engaging and I had to use serious self control to stick to my pledge of watchg the movie each chapter focused on, but I'm really glad I did. I recommend it. I got to reward hold favourites, discovered new lives and have a list as long as my arm of movies only mentioned peripherally that I HAVE to watch.

If you love movies, stories or behind the scenes glimpses you'll love this book.
Profile Image for Antonio de la Mano.
382 reviews45 followers
March 24, 2017
Brillante ensayo sobre cómo el cine de los 80 nos enseñó a ser feministas, más valientes y humanos. Un libro que no es que agarre el argumento de "cualquier cosa pasada fue mejor", sino que lo demuestra. O al menos intenta hacer ver cómo ha ido evolucionando el cine en los últimos 20 años y, tristemente, para peor. Una carta de amor a lo largo de varios capítulos y varias películas emblemáticas en las que su autora demuestra que si nos gustaban tanto las películas ochenteras eran, directamente, porque nos hacían (y nos siguen haciendo) felices. Imprescindible para cualquier amante del cine.
Profile Image for Meritxell.
30 reviews7 followers
July 17, 2022
M'ho he passat realment bé. Un enfocament nou i fresc sobre algunes pelis dels 80 que fins ara eren un guilty pleasure. En canvi l'autora ens ensenya com moltes de les pelis posteriors i actuals són més reaccionàries que abans, i com la globalització ha afectat el contingut i el negoci del cinema. Això entre altres disgressions, algunes de molt divertides. Recomanat sobretot a gent de la generació, haver-ho viscut no és imprescindible però és un plus.
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