80s Family Movies That Had Problematic Premises

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The 1980s produced some of the most famous films of all time, including classic family films like Back to the future, AND the extra-terrestrial, field of dreamsand The little Mermaid. However, there are also many entertaining and well-made films from this period that have proven problematic since their release, many of which would never be made today. Some of them can still be enjoyed by viewers who understand the outdated perspectives or inherent biases of the project. There are other films, however, that would be best left out altogether. Here are five family movies from the 1980s with the most problematic premises.



Related: The Best Coming of Age Movies of the ’80s

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5 Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)

Who Framed Roger Rabbit was a 1988 film by director Robert Zemeckis that was loosely adapted from Gary K. Wolf’s 1981 novel Who censored Roger Rabbit? The film mixed animation and live action, with stars such as Bob Hoskins, Alan Tilvern and Stubby Kaye alongside various cartoon characters. Disney attempted to merge the childlike appeal of “toons” with a story that was entertaining enough for adults, but somehow missed the mark for both. The plot follows an alcoholic and depressed detective named Eddie Valiant (Hoskins) who is hired by the executive of a movie studio to investigate whether Roger Rabbit’s toon wife, Jessica, is having an affair with a chef. of studio (human), Marvin Acme (Kaye), who is then murdered. He then embarks on a quest to prove Roger Rabbit’s innocence.

The film includes adult themes such as violence, sex and drugs – which would be nice if it weren’t filled with popular children’s cartoon characters and presented as a family film. Disney decided to release the project under Touchstone Pictures rather than the child-centric Walt Disney Pictures, although this did not deter its perception as a children’s film as it was ultimately rated PG. Who Framed Roger Rabbit was considered a master of cinema and won a plethora of awards, including four Oscars for Best Film Editing, Best Sound Effects Editing, Best Visual Effects, and Special Achievement Award. The project is undoubtedly a great example of craftsmanship and manages to tell a humorous and entertaining story. It only fails in its fundamental appeal to younger audiences.


4 Mr. Mom (1983)

The comedy Mister Mom, written by beloved 80s director John Hughes, seems lighthearted at first glance. It stars actor Michael Keaton, in his first leading role, as Jack Butler, who loses his job as an engineer during a recession and is forced to become a stay-at-home dad when his wife Caroline (Teri Garr) decides to return to work. . The film’s comedic sequence comes from Jack struggling to juggle the daily chores of caring for his three children and their home, which amuses the other “housewives” in the neighborhood. Jack begins to feel suffocated by suburban life and is threatened by his wife’s growing success. Eventually, Jack returns to the workforce and Caroline adjusts her schedule, so she can stay home with her children two days a week, reinforcing the idea of ​​traditional gender roles.

Many critics, including the esteemed Roger Ebert, felt that Mister Mom was an easy watch but relied too much on clichés and did not reach the level that talented leads deserved. Although the film seems innocuous, it actually perpetuates gender stereotypes about parenthood and society in general. Not only is the idea that a wife should stay home to take care of the house and the children while the husband goes to work outdated and sexist; nor is it representative of the plethora of other family dynamics that exist outside of a “traditional” nuclear family. The idea that a man should be treated like a champion for learning how to take care of his children, instead of just being called a father, is actually not that funny when you think about it.

3 Adventures in Babysitting (1987)

Chris Columbus would eventually become known for directing several iconic children’s films, including two Alone at home movies, two Harry Potter movies, and Mrs Doubtfire, among others. He is also responsible for writing the screenplay for the beloved film The Goonies. However, Columbus made his directorial debut with the 1987 teen comedy Adventures in childcare.

The film follows a teenage girl named Chris (Elisabeth Shue) who agrees to babysit an 8-year-old girl named Sarah (Maia Brewton) one night in suburban Illinois. Chris ends up taking Sarah with her when she discovers that her friend Brenda (Penelope Ann Miller) is stranded in downtown Chicago, and Sarah’s 15-year-old brother Brad (Keith Coogan) and his friend Daryl (Anthony Rapp) accompanies him for the ride. The group then finds themselves in a series of dangerous situations as the night progresses, including breaking down and hitchhiking with a truck driver, witnessing a shootout, fleeing from gang members, and being victimized. carjacking. However, these events are somewhat offset by the thrill of sneaking into a frat night and singing onstage at a blues club.

Although the story is thrilling to watch and makes viewers laugh and entertained, Adventures in childcare perpetuates the idea that downtown is a dangerous place full of criminals that suburban white kids should stay away from. There are several characters of color in the film, and each is portrayed as dangerous, or at least scary, upon first appearance. Although some turn out to be allies rather than enemies of the youth group, this remains a problematic stereotype for young audiences to reinforce. Additionally, there are several scenes in the film that haven’t aged well, including several times when Daryl refers to other characters as “gay” in a disparaging way, a confusing encounter between him and a teenage sex worker and looking at Brenda’s shirt. while she sleeps, which makes her laugh.


2 Overboard (1987)

The man behind the original 1987 version of At the sea was Garry Marshall, who would go on to direct the classics by Julia Roberts and Richard Gere A pretty woman and bride on the run, The Diary of a Princess franchise and holiday movies Valentine’s day, new year’s eveand Mothers’ Day. While Marshall clearly has an eye for what will make a profitable romantic tale, not all of his films stand the test of time.

At the sea is the story of a wealthy heiress, played by Goldie Hawn, who falls off her yacht and finds herself suffering from amnesia. Kurt Russell plays a local blue-collar worker whom she had previously abused and continues to convince her that she is in fact his wife. He then forces her to take on the role of looking after his filthy house and four exuberant sons. Hijinks inevitably ensue and, of course, love blossoms. At the sea was popular among goofy comedy fans and both leads alike, and was so successful that it spawned remakes in India, South Korea, Switzerland, and Russia. An American remake was released in 2018 starring Anna Faris and Eugenio Derbez, although their roles were reversed.

As delicious as the outcome is, the premise of the story is still problematic. The film ultimately focuses on kidnappings, identity theft, extortion, and psychological manipulation, which are packaged to appear sweet and romantic. It also reinforces gender and financial stereotypes. At the sea does a great job of putting the wealthy socialite “in her place” – giving up her life of wealth and ease to be a mother. In turn, the man suffers no consequences for his actions and is actually rewarded by eventually sharing the woman’s wealth. Although the remake overturns these stereotypes by swapping out the lead roles, it still crosses many of the same boundaries as the original.

Related: ’80s Movies That Need A Sequel As A Series


1 The Toy (1982)

Richard Donner is a talented director responsible for films such as the 1978 film Superman, Goodies, Scroogedand the lethal weapon series. However, despite his success in the industry, Donner took a serious misstep in 1982 with the film The toy. The project starred Richard Pryor as a black man named Jack Brown whose desperation to find a job leads him to take a job as a janitor for a wealthy businessman, Ulysses “US” Bates (Jackie Gleason ). When his lackluster job performance pushes Jack into unemployment, his boss’ spoiled son, Eric Bates (Scott Schwartz), decides he wants the man for himself. Jack is hired to be a “friend” to the boy, but is often referred to as a “toy”, which only becomes more demeaning when Eric calls himself “Master”.

The film’s premise is outrageously problematic with its blatant examples of racism and references to slavery. The draft was obviously trying to make a political statement by referring to the wealthy white man as “US” and having Jack ultimately teach Eric how a true friend should be treated. Not to mention, a bizarre plot involving a grand KKK wizard who is arrested during a slapstick food fight. Regardless of Donner’s intentions, the humor of The toy comes at the expense of Jack’s clumsiness as a servant and his depiction as an object purchased for the entertainment of others and controlled by those who possess it. The film’s message perpetuates racist stereotypes by encouraging audiences to view the character’s instances of bigotry as slight missteps by individuals rather than acknowledging the systemic discrimination at the heart of the story.

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