I feel like the whole world has been keeping a secret, working against me, my entire life leading up to this moment. I love '80s movies. I grew up repeatedly watching 'The Goonies,' 'Better Off Dead,' 'One Crazy Summer' (which I'm demanding be transferred to Blu immediately) and 'The Breakfast Club.' The title 'Girls Just Want to Have Fun' was never appealing to me because of how girly-centric it made it out to be, so I never gave it the time of day. Until now, all I really knew about it was the cast and the much-quoted "tune in Tokyo" scene. But when signing up for Blu-rays to review, I shirked my prejudice and said to myself, 'Hey. It's an '80s movie and my wife liked it as a kid. It can't be that bad, right?' Wrong. Very wrong.
The wool that the world has pulled over my eyes is the idea that 'Girls Just Want to Have Fun' is a - quote - "'80s movie." Sure, it's set in the '80s and was made in the '80s – but it's far from being deemed "an '80s movie." That's the big lie; it's a dance movie, through and through. Nobody ever told me that, which really hurts, because I despise dance movies.
One of the things that I hate most about dance movies is how everything realistic is thrown out the window, completely sacrificed, just to make way for more dance. More effort is put into choreography than plot, script, characters, story, romance – everything that should be found in good movies. 'Girls Just Want to Have Fun' is no different.
A then-20-year-old Sarah Jessica Parker plays Janey, an "Army brat" who has just moved into town. On one of her first days at a new school, she meets and makes friends with tomboy Lynne (Helen Hunt). They immediately become besties and start doing things that nobody in their right minds would do, all for the sake of introducing the most important character in the movie – dance. How many movies/plays/television series have we been inundated with where a group of teenagers wants to get onto a televised dance series? Including 'Girls,' I can think of two that I had to watch recently - 'Honey 2' and 'Hairspray.' It doesn't matter when they're set; they're all the same. Our central characters must hop over certain obstacles to make their dancing dreams come true, but they always get their happily ever afters.
If girl just want to have fun, then parents just want to kill fun – at least, that's how it's made out to be in this movie. Janey's stereotypical Army dad won't let his daughter have anything to do with dance. He's the villain on the home front. There's also a rich 20-something girl who, for some reason, feels like teens Janey and Lynne pose a threat in the dance competition, so she becomes the bad guy on the dance front. Of course, a teen romance comes along that also stirs the pot.
Do you remember when Fox hit success with 'That '70s Show' and tried milking the mold with the spin-off 'That '80s Show?' 'That '80s Show' was forced. They tried cramming in every visual '80s icon, more so than creating likeable characters and situations like those of 'That '70s Show.' The funny thing is that if you didn't know that 'Girls' was actually made in the '80s, you'd think it was forcefully made by the unoriginal team behind 'That '80s Show.' 'Girls' is filled with items that we now know as iconic memorabilia of that decade. Accidentally, it's the best thing about the movie.
'Girls Just Want to Have Fun' is an 88-minute groaner, a slow drawn-out dance flick that feels like it's never going to end. I'm no dancer, nor do I want to be, but I'd rather be forced to take dance lessons from that tool Derek Hough (whose name I only know because he and his awful-acting sister grew up in the same city I now live in) than have to watch this movie again. Okay, so maybe that's an exaggeration – but I really don't want to ever have to watch this movie again. I would have chucked this screener disc into the Great Salt Lake already had it not been a childhood favorite of my wife's. I understand that there are lots of people who enjoy this sort of thing; I'm not one of them, but I image that if you are, you're going to want to add this Blu-ray to your collection … that is, until you read the technical portions of this review.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Image has placed this 1985 title on a Region A BD-25 in a vortex keepcase. The cover art is simple, but is fittingly exact with what you would expect from the movie - plain and gives you no insight whatsoever as to what it's about. Upon inserting the disc, the only thing to play before the main menu is an FBI vanity reel.
If you thought that some studio was actually going to give 'Girls Just Want To Have Fun' a proper Blu-ray transfer, think again. When I noticed that it received a strange 1080i/AVC MPEG-4 encode, I thought to myself, 'Why did this get a 1080i transfer and not a 1080p transfer? Is it a live transfer? Did they push "play" on a DVD and "record" on a Blu-ray recorder?' To be honest, this transfer isn't all that far off from how it would appear had that been the case.
Hands down, the best-looking part of this Blu-ray is the vanity reel that opens it. What follows is dirty, scratched, flawed, and fuzzy. At times, it doesn't appear as a 1080i transfer of a DVD, but of a VHS. The quality of the image matches that of the very low production quality of the movie itself. There isn't a single fine detail to be found. The best detail in the whole film is the nice amount of grain.
At the 36:54 mark, there's a terrible left to right jutter than will make you roll your eyes at how little was done to produce a worthy Blu-ray.
Our leading ladies aren't the only ones with crushes here; there's quite a bit of black crushing going on too. No compression flaws can be seen, but that's because there's no details to warrant them. Edge enhancement only would have helped give this movie some fine lines.
Just like the video quality, not a single thing was done to enhance the audio quality. While the technical specs on the back cover of the disc claim that the audio presented is a Dolby Digital mono track, what's on the disc is actually better than that: a Linear PCM 2-channel stereo track – but it really does nothing for the movie.
The vocal track is so absurdly quiet that you have to constantly adjust the volume to be able to understand it. Without notice, the vocals tend to jump right back up to average levels, so have your thumb ready to adjust the volume at any minute. As if the dropped quiet lines of dialog weren't bad enough, there are many occasions where the vocals carry a noticeable echo.
The only part of this track that is consistent is the music. As much as I dislike the soundtrack, I have to admit that it's the best part of this miserable audio track. You can always hear the music just fine. My favorite attribute of the music is how it has the tendency to drown out the actors' quiet bad dialog.
Girls just want to have fun, and I never want to sit through this movie ever again. I can't stand bad dance movies, so that, blended with annoying actors and a terrible script, was enough to make me ill. 88 minutes have never passed so slowly. If this is what teenager girls are really like (I have no sisters so I honestly don't know), then I dread when my two daughters hit this age. It's no wonder the parents in this movie are so unhappy – their kids suck. Also sucking is the transfer of this 1985 title. Not a single enhancement has been done for this Blu-ray release. The video transfer features a 1080i encode that appears like it was simply copied from a bad DVD transfer and the audio is consistently inconsistent. The only special feature is the original trailer for the movie. If I had to do it all again, I wouldn't. The brownie points that I scored from my wife for getting this title weren't worth the 88 minutes (not including the time I spent writing this review) that I put in. The only people who should buy this disc are those who love the movie and have never purchased the DVD or VHS. Since all you're getting is a glorified DVD/VHS copy of the film, what's the difference?