Finding this on Hulu was like putting on a jacket you haven’t worn for ages and finding a $20 bill in the pocket. STOKED.
1. New girl in town and army brat Janey (Sarah Jessica Parker) is telling her new class and some nun about her interests. “I always dreamed about one day living in Chicago because that’s where they make ‘Dance TV’,” she says. Janey is NOT COOL.
2. Lyn Stone (Helen Hunt) is busy at the back of the classroom sticking a photo of her head onto a picture of Eddie Van Halen’s body. For those of you who didn’t live through it, this was 1985’s version of Snapchat. Which means LYN IS COOL.
3. We’re now watching an episode of ‘Dance TV’. Dancers in dayglo outfits just spelled out DTV with their bodies on the floor. I feel like people don’t spell things out with their bodies enough anymore. Someone should bring that back.
4. There is an INSANE amount of thrusting, inaccurate air guitar and gurning on ‘Dance TV’. All the girl dancers are wearing leather micro-mini skirts and heels and all the guy dancers are wearing SWEATPANTS and sneakers. This feels like a really deep metaphor about the life expectations placed on women vs. men.
5. The presenter of ‘Dance TV’ is British (GODDAMNIT, America) and wearing a pastel pink jacket. He introduces himself and it sounds like he says he’s called Gary WORST. Let’s just assume that’s accurate.
6. On the school bus, Lyn is turning all of her clothes inside-out and pulling the sleeves off her blazer, to give herself a whole new terrible outfit. “Velcro!” she tells Janey. “Next to the Walkman and Tab, it’s the coolest invention of the 20th Century.” Oh, if only Lyn knew the internet would be coming in 10 years… You poor Neanderthal, Lyn.
7. “Why are you doing all this?” Janey asks Lyn about the costume change. “You have a date?”
“No, I wish. I just know I must be horny.”
Wait, what?!?! …………
8. Janey and Lyn are watching ‘Dance TV’ together. The routine involves a pile of people in football pads doing star jumps and bending over into vaguely suggestive poses. It is only made worse by the fact that Lyn and Janey are side-stepping enthusiastically next to a coffee table while watching this steaming turd of a show.
9. ‘Dance TV’ is looking for a brand new couple to be on the show! Because STORYLINE! Across town a sweaty (clearly 23-year-old) man named Jeff (who is supposed to be in High School) is playing basketball shirtless, and saying things like “I don’t need DTV to tell me I’m a good dancer…” Sure thing, Jeff. Can’t wait to see your starjumps, Jeff.
10. HOLY SHIT, I FORGOT SHANNON DOHERTY WAS IN THIS.
11. Rikki is the music reviewer for DTV. She gets carried into the studio on a bed by three muscular fellows and says “Let’s hear it for steroids.”
Because teen movies in the eighties were allowed to encourage their viewers to see drug abuse as a viable option towards muscledom. Nice one, ‘Girls Just Want to Have Fun’.
12. Rikki signs off by saying “No matter how hard you try, you’ll never be as good as me.” Because before the internet, people could say things like that on television without being attacked on social media by thousands of people and shamed into submission. Thanks, internet.
13. Across town (again) a (clearly) 25-year-old woman (who’s supposed to be 17) is pretending to be a spoiled rich bitch named Natalie. She has a remote controlled wardrobe and wants to be on DTV too. (NB. Movies like this made remote controlled wardrobes seem like a feasible goal. Even in 2017, that is not a feasible goal. Fuck you, 1980s!)
14. Jeff’s preppy friend, Drew, proves he is a sex pest immediately by accidentally hitting on Jeff’s 12-year-old sister, Maggie (Shannon Doherty). “Hey, beautiful!” he yells at her. “Stop looking! You’ve found me!” She is, of course, so thrilled about being sexually harassed by her big brother’s friend, before she even reaches puberty, she makes squeaking sounds and spins around in circles. Because: YEAH. Children DO love it when you say sexually inappropriate things to them. *head desk*
15. “She’s a punk,” Drew shrugs, trying to convince Jeff he made a mistake.
“Wow, that’s outrageous!” beams Maggie. “I mean, it’s not as cool as New Wave, but it’s a lot better than pre-teen!”
SOMEBODY COME TO MY HOUSE RIGHT NOW AND SHOOT ME PLEASE.
16. The DTV auditions are happening in montage form, because OF COURSE they are.
17. Really good job Janey wore big red knickers under her school uniform today, or that leg kick would’ve been a potential sex crime.
18. Jeff’s dance routine consists of spinning around in circles, punching the air a lot and, at one particularly exciting point, jumping through a large piece of paper that is completely unaccounted for. His mullet bounces throughout, so he gets paired up for finals with Janey: the bounciest girl in Chicago.
19. Maggie and Jeff don’t have a mom and they are sad about it while Maggie – who is 12 – MAKES DINNER FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY. Because: VAGINA. “The only advice Dad ever gave me,” Jeff tells Maggie, “was don’t be embarrassed, but don’t read ‘Playboy’ right before you go to bed.”
So… vagina = life of food slavery, and penis = don’t get a hard-on at certain hours. This movie is a microcosm of patriarchal bullshit.
20. “My sister dances with doors. She’s the original slam dancer.”
Okay, Jeff… That’s actually pretty good for a dance movie…
21. Jeff and Janey are rehearsing for the big competition. The first move they have to REALLY concentrate on involves kicking a leg to the side and raising an arm to the ceiling at the same time, with jazz hand. This is complex stuff. No really. Stop me. I couldn’t even master a fucking cartwheel in High School but I could do this shit.
22. Janey does a backflip and reveals that she is STILL wearing those red knickers! Do some laundry, love.
23. Grown woman Natalie sees Jeff and Janey rehearsing, gets jealous, walks out to the nearest payphone and calls Janey’s dad to tell him she’s not in choir practice. How does she have Janey’s number exactly?! These bitches haven’t even been formally introduced!
24. Jeff gets invited to Natalie’s debutant ball. She straddles his motorcycle while wearing a leotard to do this, because that’s WHAT SLUTS DO.
25. “I hate him,” Janey tells Lyn after Jeff storms out of dance practice early.
“He’s a guy and he’s alive,” Lyn replies, “What’s there to hate?”
Come on Lyn. You’re better than this, Lyn.
26. Janey: “All he does is talk about himself and that stupid motorcycle.”
Lyn: “I bet he’s a good kisser.”
Come on Lyn. You’re better than this, Lyn.
27. We are 40 minutes into the movie and this is the first time Janey has been seen wearing something other than her Catholic school uniform. Look, I had one of those and we really don’t like to wear them if we can help it… My realism alerts are in overdrive.
28. Janey and Lyn are running DOWN a packed UP escalator at the mall. These girls are SO WACKY.
29. The girls find out about Natalie’s debutant ball and steal the invitation from sex pest Drew. They make 150 copies and then literally run through the streets (with Maggie – THE 12-YEAR-OLD - for some reason) handing out copies to all of the “craziest” people they see. These people include the following: Man With Leather Jacket and Earring; Man With Pink Mohawk; Goth Girl in Headband; Girl With Pink Hair; Man in Dress; A Fingerless Gloved Hand; Punk in Social Distortion Sleeveless Denim; Metal Headband Guy; Some Lady Weightlifters; New Wave Kids, Comic book Nerd Kids; Liberty Spikes Guy; Rockabilly Dude; and Dreadlock Girl. Only ONE of these people responds to the invitation to a debutant ball from a 12-year-old and her two dancing cohorts badly. I’m questioning the realism of this scenario.
30. This montage is soundtracked by the song “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”, but it’s NOT the Cyndi Lauper version. Seems like a missed opportunity. Or, more realistically, like this movie was made on the back of a very successful single, by an alternative artist who didn’t want this movie to be made, so blocked the use of her song. I’d be pissed for Cyndi, but she obviously still made hella royalties out of this, so that’s something.
31. The debutant party is made up entirely of white people, but all of the wait staff are black. Is this an indication that Natalie’s family is racist? Or that the fucking movie’s CASTING staff is? My money’s on the latter and it makes me feel simultaneously dead inside and very, very angry.
32. At the exact moment that Natalie dramatically presents herself to the party, a Ninja guy does a somersault THROUGH A WINDOW. And all the punks (who have conveniently arrived at the same time) climb through the broken glass and invade the party as only punks can – to a soundtrack of “Wake Up The Neighborhood” by Holland (an even worse band name than Europe, if that’s possible). In case you’re not familiar (and I hope you’re not), the opening lines of this song are “You bring the Jack, I'll bring the coke. We're gonna rock until this place goes up in smoke.” Because: REBELLION, amiright??
33. At one point we see a punk’s black Converse lowtop entering the rear end of a roasted turkey. This shot is replayed three times from slightly different angles, in time with the Holland song. I want to die.
Then the lady weightlifters arrive and PUSH DOUBLE DOORS OFF THEIR HINGES REALLY EASILY. I feel shame for you, ‘Girls Just Want to Have Fun.’ Actual, real shame.
34. The punks take over from the debutant ball band (The Grateful Dudes, incidentally, even though their sound doesn't even vaguely resemble The Grateful Dead) and play. Then all of the other punks – including one in a Pil shirt - DO A FUCKING DANCE ROUTINE. No, ‘Girls Just Want to Have Fun’. Just… NO! You’ve stayed up past your bedtime and you need to go to sleep now.
35. The lady weightlifters (why is this movie so focused on them?!) pick up a couch with two old people on it. Because lady weightlifters are FREAKS, you guys.
36. “This means WAR!” Natalie declares, to no one in particular. (I know the feeling, sweetheart. Watching all these stereotypes about women who lift weights is really blowing my top.)
37. Jeff shows up to Janey’s outdoor school gym class on his motorcycle and looks at her like he’s in love because she wrecked a party. A nun is doing gymnastics. Later they go dancing in the most brightly lit disco I’ve ever seen. All of this is bad.
38. Drew (the sex pest) approaches a young couple, tells the dude his car is being towed to get rid of him, then says “Tiffany, you want to play a game called Tune In Tokyo?” and she says “Sure! I love games!” Then Tiffany gets sexually assaulted by Drew and nobody cares.
39. After Jeff punches a huge guy for attempting to force himself on Janey, the two run outside.
“Get on!” Jeff says, referring to his motorcycle.
“I don’t know,” Janey hestitates, “Is it safe?”
Drew (sexual predator) pipes in: “The safest thing you’ll ever have between your legs.”
If Drew had a spin-off movie, it would be in the horror genre and involve a disturbing amount of rape.
40. Back at her place, Janey kisses Jeff. It is sad how astonished I am that a woman was allowed to make the first move in a film from the 1980s. But I am astonished. Well done, ‘Girls Just Want to Have Fun’!
41. Janey and Jeff are having a dance montage. The best bit is after they leave the dance studio and run through a park, jumping OFF trees. Then they do coordinated handsprings down a hill. Then there’s some slow-motion spinning in… sand? Dirt? Can’t tell. Doesn’t matter. Then they do the lift from ‘Dirty Dancing’ in slo-mo. Man… This movie is THE BEST.
42. Father of Natalie tries to run Jeff over in a limo, then threatens to have his dad fired if Jeff doesn’t drop out of the dance contest. So, rather than telling Janey about it, Jeff just goes to meet her at the dance studio and acts like a TOTAL DICK INSTEAD. Oh, toxic masculinity, you’re just the same now… Time heals nothing.
43. Rikki the music reviewer at DTV just quit at the last minute. THAT PRIVILEGED WHORE! Lyn and Janey get stuck in traffic so walk OVER cars to get to the DTV studio on time for Janey’s on-air audition. Girls, this shit would be way more efficient if you just walked on the ground. Stop fucking up people’s cars. It’s not cute.
44. Jeff has arrived to DTV wearing a cropped top. Come on, Jeff. You’re better than this, Jeff.
(I want to go on record with the fact that this was NEVER a thing in the UK. No matter how much dude belly shirts showed up in American movies, we just could NOT get on board with that. It makes me feel really proud of Britain. Everything else we did copy, but this was just a step too far… FOR A REASON.)
45. Jeff and Janey do somersaults from a high place in perfect unison. Shouldn’t you people be in the Olympics or something?
46. Natalie and her partner, and Jef and Janey, are tied for first place in the DTV comp. This makes no sense because Mirror Image – the set of twins in matching outfits doing twin things – was so much more impressive than Natalie’s deal.
Then there’s a “dance off”, but Janey and Jeff just do gymnastics for the whole thing, and it seems like the wrong venue, but people fucking like it. Because OF COURSE.
47. Janey and Jeff’s Olympic gymnastics routine gets the judges’ vote unanimously and Drew kisses Maggie’s face in celebration. SHE IS 12, bro. Slow your roll, bro. Stop assaulting underage girls, bro.
48. Then Lyn rides into the studio on a chariot because she has Rikki, the ex-music reviewer’s job, now. No explanation is given for this whatsoever. But hey, being a music reviewer is totally a job you can just FUCKING WALK INTO (and not need two degrees and 10 years of experience to even get started… Did I mention that this is my professional field?)
49. So Janey, Jeff and Lyn all have jobs at their favourite TV show. It’s worth mentioning that DTV is on five nights a week and all of these people are still in high school. So there is no feasible way to make this work, long-term, and this has all been for naught. Thanks, Byeeeeee!