Top five reasons why I loved Life Moves Pretty Fast: The Lessons We Learned From Eighties Movies (And Why We Don’t Learn Them From Movies Any More) by Hadley Freeman:
1. The title – any homage to Ferris wins.
‘Ferris proved to be a mere gateway drug… I was soon mainlining the classics: Mannequin, Romancing the Stone, Good Morning Vietnam, The Breakfast Club, Short Circuit, Indiana Jones, …. anything produced by Touchstone…’
2. There are lists. Lots of lists. For example – Top Ten Power Ballads on an Eighties Movie Soundtrack*, Top Ten Fashion Moments** and Top Five Montages***.
3. The Dirty Dancing chapter. Not enough is written about Dirty Dancing in mainstream media.
‘For years I didn’t realise I was watching one of the great feminist tracts of the 1980s, easily up there with Susan Faludi’s feminist study of the eighties, Backlash. But then, Faludi’s book doesn’t come with a half-naked Patrick Swayze, so it is easier to recognise it as a contribution to the fight against misogyny.’
4. Because Freeman acknowledges that The Breakfast Club is life-changing.
5. Although Freeman takes Pretty in Pink et al. seriously, she doesn’t take herself too seriously –
‘I took a deep breath, gearing up to explain my deeply involved critical theory about Three Men and a Baby.’
‘I know people who have changed their entire lives because of a line of dialogue from When Harry Met Sally…, and when I say “people” I obviously mean “me”.’
But the reasons that I didn’t give Life Moves Pretty Fast: The Lessons We Learned From Eighties Movies five stars –
1. Oxford Blues. Hadley, you killed me by leaving out a full analysis of this eighties gem****. Where was it? Not even a mention! I reckon that any film that puts Rob Lowe in short shorts, and in a boat, is hall-of-fame gear.
2. Sorry, zero interest in Batman and Eddie Murphy (but I know some people will love those chapters).
3.5/5 This book will appeal to a very specific audience (people who were teens in the 80s and liked excellent movies) but if others could give it a go, they too will understand why Dirty Dancing is one of the great feminist tracts of the 1980s.
* Bonnie Tyler wins
** Desperately Seeking Susan
*** Obvs Baby learning to dance against Hungry Eyes.
**** Admittedly, Freeman is upfront about her own obsessions and makes no apology for only including the films that matter to her – ‘This is not an encyclopaedia of eighties moves. If you want that, buy an encyclopaedia (although probably the last time you saw an encyclopaedia was in the eighties).’