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Life Moves Pretty Fast: The lessons we learned from eighties movies (and why we don't learn them from movies any more)

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  1,791 ratings  ·  362 reviews

Hadley Freeman brings us her personalised guide to American movies from the 1980s – why they are brilliant, what they meant to her, and how they influenced movie-making forever.

For Hadley Freeman, American moves of the 1980s have simply got it all. Comedy in Three Men and a Baby, Hannah and Her Sisters, Ghostbusters, Back to the Future and Trading Places; all a teenager ne

Kindle Edition, 320 pages
Published May 21st 2015 by Fourth Estate (first published May 7th 2015)
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Graham I think it certainly helps, though I hadn't seen a couple mentioned. As for plot summaries, I wouldn't bother doing that as the enjoyment for me was k…moreI think it certainly helps, though I hadn't seen a couple mentioned. As for plot summaries, I wouldn't bother doing that as the enjoyment for me was knowing (and loving or liking) the majority of the films covered. Having said that, I watched Dirty Dancing years ago and hated it, but the chapter on that flick was still interesting.(less)
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Kelly (and the Book Boar)
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May 01, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: film, bio, non-fiction
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
Heather *Undercover Goth Queen*
"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
Rebecca McNutt
Please tell me that I'm not the only one still holding onto my VCR and my big old VHS tape collection at home...?


People no longer see any merit in VHS because it's a format with "low resolution" (I think those people are really full of it, personally), but there's something to be said for just the plain old value of nostalgia, and as this book proves, all those old tapes of that brightly-coloured flashy pop Eighties era taught us things that films today can barely touch on. Humorous, in-depth, o
Sep 11, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016-read

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
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 pr
Mar 30, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 28, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
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 interv
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 te
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.
May 05, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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 s ...more
Mar 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: net-galley
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
Jun 18, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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’r ...more
May 13, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016-rc-goal
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 videoca
Mar 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Shelleyrae at Book'd Out

“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, b
Allen Adams

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 W
May 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 G ...more
Mar 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, netgalley
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) be
Jan 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
‘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 h
Stephen Curran
May 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 i
Jun 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
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 mov
May 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, 2015
This book was so much fun. Really a 4 star book that gets an extra star because it forced me to sit down and re-watch a whole lot of fantastic 80s movies.
Jan 18, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-it, non-fiction
'Life Moves Pretty Fast' gave me a hearty dose of 80s nostalgia during the holidays after I received this as a Christmas present. I suspect Hadley Freeman is my 80s soul sister. As 80s children, we both grew up to John Hughes films and share what I can only presume is an irritating habit of quoting films ad nauseam. I therefore adored the lists of best quotes from 80s hit classics to be found in these pages and often nodded along in agreement (Carrie Fisher's 'You're right, you're right. I know ...more
Jun 14, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cannonball-9
I liked this book fine, but I think Hadley Freeman (while an accomplished writer) had quite a few missteps, which prevented me from rating this anything above three stars. Freeman attempts to explain how the big movies of the 80s (which is a VERY broad starting point) are worthy of study and teach us something. She also discusses the ways in which the process of film production and marketing have changed the quality and type of movies we see. All in 300 pages.

It’s too much. Freeman’s scope prev
This was a fun read for an 80s movie lover like me. It gives an in-depth look at many of my favorites (Dirty Dancing, The Princess Bride, When Harry Met Sally, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Steel Magnolias, and Pretty in Pink) and analyzes why they are great and the life lessons that can be learned from them. It also gives insight into the movie industry in the 80s contrasted with today and random trivia about the movies covered that make me want to re-watch them yet again. There are times that some ...more
Daniel Sevitt
Just a little self-conscious for my tastes. Freeman shies away from full-blown memoir t talk semi-seriously about movies in the 80s and why they're important, but she can't help inserting herself also. It ends up being neither one thing nor the other.

A little disappointing although passably entertaining (like a good handful of the movies she idolizes). I'm not buying her crazed reverence for Rick Moranis and there's a real lack of Kevin Costner here -- some positive mentions of Bull Durham and F
Chris Lilly
May 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have a problem with the premise of this book. I don't like '80s films (except The Princess Bride). Given the choice between Salvador and Top Gun, it's Salvador every time. However, Hadley Freeman writes about all kinds of stuff I have no interest in, and I find her breezy style very agreeable and winning. She also makes solid points about the freedom of '80s cinema compared to the bloated sequeltastic franchise-fodder we are confronted with in 2015. Didn't agree with much of her crit, but like ...more
Jul 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book surprised me. I expected it to be just a nostalgia trip but it turned out to be a really gritty exploration of 80's social politics along with some personal commentary. Really enjoyed this book.
Christa Bass
Jan 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely brilliant. Will never look at (good) 80's movies in the same light.
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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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