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Brat Pack America: A Love Letter to '80s Teen Movies

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3.82  ·  Rating details ·  192 ratings  ·  39 reviews
From the fictional towns of Hill Valley, CA, and Shermer, IL, to the beautiful landscapes of the “Goondocks” in Astoria and the “time of your life” dirty dancing resort still alive and well in Lake Lure, NC, '80s teen movies left their mark not just on movie screen and in the hearts of fans, but on the landscape of America itself. Like few other eras in movie history, the ...more
Paperback, 326 pages
Published October 11th 2016 by Rare Bird Books, A Vireo Book
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3.82  · 
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 ·  192 ratings  ·  39 reviews


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Ana O
Brat Pack America. The holy grail of American teen movies.

Kevin Smokler takes us Back to the Future.

I was pretty sure that if I stood near the clock tower right as the high school let out, I’d see Marty McFly rolling by on his skateboard. I’d yell, “Hey, McFly,” but in a nice way, and thank him for being a weird kid from a weird family with a pretty girlfriend and a band and a mad scientist for a best friend.

I need a time machine. Dr. Emmett Brown where you at.

goodreads-back-to-the-future

He reminds us of John Hughes
...more
Bree Hill
Nov 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Okay first and foremost I've got to step my 80s movie game up! Smokler was dropping titles I have yet to watch and need to rectify that.

If you're a fan of 80s movies, this book is for you. It really is a love letter to films made between 1978-1989.

The writing in this book is fun. It is seriously written as though you and Smokler are sitting side by side and he's talking to you.

He focuses on the significance of the location where all of these well known and loved films took place and what that s
...more
Jenni Buchanan
Jan 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, history
This book is like a master's thesis on 80s teen movies...but interesting! I am a fan of many of the movies Smokler writes about, but I don't think loving (or even having seen) all of the movies is a requirement for enjoying the book. I was unfamiliar with about half of the movies he includes, and was still able to learn something from those chapters and appreciate his descriptions of the movies and their place in history. Smokler's book made me question what it meant to be a fan, how the movies ...more
Jennie
May 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
If you love 80s movies this book is a must read.

If you grew up in the 80s chances are you watched many of these movies on a new VCR; Back to the Future was the first movie I watched on one. It changed how we watched entertainment forever and influenced culture in a variety of ways-lots of them listed in this book.

Besides the movie summaries and how they were platforms for many actors careers, this book also covers the real and sometimes fictional geography of where the stories took place and/or
...more
Kerry
May 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2018
Thoroughly enjoyable. I grew up on these movies and some of his favorites are my favorites too. It was an interesting perspective looking at these films via the places they were filmed. It was a road trip through America by way of all the beloved 80s teen movies. I learned things about all the films I didn’t know before. A fun read!
Kristin
Jul 26, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017
Someone else said this book is like a masters thesis on 80s teen movies. Yeah -- I'll agree with that. Sometimes I felt like I was reading a textbook. I was hoping for more. Perhaps written with a bit more personality. It also felt really repetitive in spots.

Obvs he knows his stuff! I learned a lot and there was some really good content. I just wasn't in love with the text booky writing style.
Melissa
Oct 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A thoughtful, comprehensive examination of the rise of the 80s teen movie in all of its incarnations. Smokler focuses on movies that can be tied to geographic locations (real and imagined) and how those locations informed the movie or vice versa (or perhaps provided weird anachronisms). He also situates the movies within their larger social contexts - America's shift from an industrial economy to a service one, the expansion of teenagers as a population with buying power, the rise of hip-hop, th ...more
Leigh
Nov 24, 2016 rated it it was ok
To be honest, I mostly skimmed this one. The central conceit of the operation of place in 80s movies-either didn't interest me as much as I thought it would or the author didn't execute it particularly well. I found myself mostly looking for fun facts about the movies that I hadn't read elsewhere. There weren't many. It felt as though the author thought, "I want to write a book about 80s movies, but one just came out-how can I make mine look different?" If you've read other books about 80s movie ...more
Joe
Mar 07, 2018 rated it liked it
A nostalgic look back at 80's teen movies. I don't necessarily buy the authors assertion about location of these movies as being so important but it made for an entertaining read, nonetheless. I haven't seen most of the 80's teen dramas so now I have my work cut out for me.
Jason Diamond
Sep 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A brilliant love letter to films from the 1980s.
Michelle Karbon
Oct 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
I'm glad I found this book after seeing it recommended from a website. It is filled with great facts and information about your favorite 80s teen movies. I have a long list of movies to watch! However, the book was riddled with actual spelling and grammatical errors that sometimes it was off putting. As a proofreader, it's something that I notice and take into account when reading a book.
Roopa
Dec 17, 2017 rated it liked it
Enjoyed remembering and re-watching some of these great movies.
Emma
Jun 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017, non-fiction
Fantastic book, thoroughly enjoyed from start to finish. I thought I'd seen a lot of 80s movies but now I've got a long list of ones I've missed that I am officially dying to see!
Christina
Apr 11, 2017 rated it liked it
I thought I'd seen almost all the '80s movies, but ended up writing a list of almost 25 that I want to watch and even more that I want to rewatch.
Pat Lampe
Nov 22, 2017 rated it liked it
I liked parts of this book very much. It was interesting to learn about the people involved in the films, how locations were chosen, what has survived. I didn’t care for the philosophical opinions of racism, classism. Wish we could just have a book that omits this. The country evolves, people evolve. . Let everyone think for themselves. Otherwise, well researched book.
Michele
Aug 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
If you are an 80s kid or just love the 80s then this book is for you!! The author takes you through all the 80s movies you loved, come to love, or just plain forgot about and gives insight and background into the movies, locations, actors, and directors. You can definitely feel the authors love of 80s movies through his writing and the research he has put into the book. While I was reading the book I was taken back into my teen years and began a list of movies to watch again and the ones that I ...more
Jeff Rider
Jun 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I just finished Brat Pack America, and it was great! It consumed my thoughts and I devoured the entire thing in just two days, made for a GREAT beach read. Loved the way it made me reconsider movies I loved, root hard for some that weren't on "the map", and sparked conversations with friends who loved the '80s. Brat Pack America had a lot of life even after the last page was turned, and it was engaging, fun, educational and thoroughly enjoyable.
Ted Barnett
Feb 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A well-researched and insightful journey through some of my favorite old movies. Smokler is an excellent guide -- he follows-through and finds details and connections that were not obvious on first viewing. Thoroughly enjoyed this book.
Peter Andrus
Jan 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
I loved this book. It was so much fun. The author REALLY knows his stuff. He basically takes a long look at the 80s teenage movies as a genre. He delineates the rules and tropes of the movies in this genres. he defines sub-genres and sections of the genre and defines how each of them differ slightly from one another.

I love some of the connections he made. I never thought of how much, for instance, Fast Times or Breaking Away depend on their location to define the movie. However, teenage movies
...more
David Blaylock
Apr 30, 2018 rated it liked it
Covered many of my favorites, and some I have never seen. Biggest bibliography of any book I have read in recent memory.
Lisa Houlihan
Plenty of Breakfast Club, which I care about, and Back to the Future and Ferris Bueller, which I do not but which are necessary to the book. Smokler apologizes for omitting Red Dawn but doesn’t apologize for not mentioning Say Anything at all, even when discussing Seattle for War Games. That is, he doesn’t in the sections I read; I skipped several sections and there is no index.
Gabrielle
Feb 15, 2017 rated it liked it
For a movie geek like me, overall this was very enjoyable. Smokler's enthusiasm and knowledge about the movies discussed was a highlight. It also contained some interesting trivia, such as the origin of the name Veronica Sawyer (Winona Ryder's character in Heathers) being a mashup of the name Betty Finn and Tom Sawyer, among others. I also liked the conversations he had with some of the directors, like Amy Heckerling (Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Clueless).

On the down side, I thought some of th
...more
Nicholas Smith
Apr 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Whether you are watching these movies for the first or the 51st time, "Brat Pack America" provides an illuminating guide to the high schools, Deloreans, gremlins and Goonies that populate the films we think of when we think of the 80s.
Myra Breckinridge
Nov 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016-reading
This is, as the cover attests, "A love letter to '80s teen movies."

But it is NOT a solo, one-dimensional, self-serving exploration of movie locations in '80s teen movies. Instead, Kevin Smokler's love letter is the beginning of a great and thought-provoking correspondence. He offers no shortage of facts and insights into the cinematic world, but he never dares to suggest these 326 pages are the be-all and end-all of the topic.

The "what about ___," problem -- which many nonfiction writers face
...more
Terry
Oct 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Movies centering on teenagers blossomed in the 1980s. Smokler (Practical Classics) takes us on a tour of these films emphasizing the importance of their locations to show how vital the settings were to the stories. John Hughes's fictional Shermer, IL, is a safe suburb from which Ferris Bueller can take a day trip into Chicago. We see the birth of hip-hop on the streets of Manhattan. Dying factory towns provide the backdrop for sports movies. Smokler's road trip includes stops at Astoria, OR, for ...more
Tom Schulte
Jan 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
This is a fun and educational, even at time insightful, look at 80s movies. The "America" and "Visiting" in the title comes from the ostensible theme of actual film locations. Except for lengthy discourses on Mystic, Connecticut; Astoria, Oregon (The Goonies); and Santa Cruz (The Lost Boys), actual sites are often unrelated to the film for uninteresting reasons divulged here. What makes the book worth reading is Smokler's joy and a fan of the period genre and his synopses and reviews of each fil ...more
David
Jul 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Imagine a one-stop shop for everything you ever wanted to know about the landscape of all your favorite 80s films. Now don't imagine any longer: go out and pick up (or order) a copy of BRAT PACK AMERICA by Kevin Smokler, which acts as your personal tour guide through the movies that shaped your teenaged years. My only criticism is that it wasn't twice as long. Can't recommend it highly enough!
Amy
Mar 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
If you love 80's movies and would like to reminisce about what made them great this is a fantastic collection of essays and interviews. It brought me back to my childhood and makes me long for a 80's movie marathon this weekend. I read this in preparation for an upcoming author visit at my college and I can't wait to hear what he has to say.
Marie
Dec 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A very nice and enjoyable trip down memory lane and my teenage life.
Kenya Starflight
Nov 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-love
I'm a sucker for the movies of the '80s. In my mind there's an honesty to them that's refreshing, a wit and humor that comes from keen insight and character interaction instead of an endless succession of sex and toilet jokes. Call me overly nostalgic, but I'll happily sit through "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" or "WarGames" or "The Breakfast Club" over most modern-day films. So when I happened upon "Brat Pack America," a book about the teen movies of the '80s, I knew I had to give it a shot. I love ...more
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Kevin Smokler is the author of "Brat Pack America: A Love Letter to 80s Teen Movies" (2016) the essay collection "Practical Classics: 50 Reasons to Reread 50 Books you Haven't Touched Since High School" (Prometheus Books, Feb. 2013) and the editor of "Bookmark Now: Writing in Unreaderly Times," A San Francisco Chronicle Notable Book of 2005. His essays on pop culture have appeared in the LA Times, ...more
“When we return to our elementary school playground or the site of our first kiss, we're dropping in on our own history years later. Visiting those same places in the present not only collapses time, but also memory.” 0 likes
“By sighing and saying, “Remember when” too many times, one can fall into the trap of believing the present holds nothing sacred, the past nothing profane.” 0 likes
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