10 ’80s Film Characters in Need of a Revival


The idea of Hollywood rebooting ’80s classics is nothing new — just look at the recent appearance of familiar franchises like The Karate Kid, Terminator, and Indiana Jones in theaters. But with today’s announcement that Paramount has made offers to both producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Tony Scott to work on a sequel to Top Gun, with Tom Cruise on board to reprise the role of Maverick, we might be seeing something new — the idea of a star returning to a beloved character in the name of career rehab. With that in mind, we’ve rounded up 10 other actors who would benefit from embracing the ’80s classics that they’re known for. Add to our list in the comments.

Elisabeth Shue as Chris Parker Adventures in Babysitting

Chris Parker was a babysitter who had it all: She was smart, beautiful, and incredibly brave — even when breaking up a gang fight on the L train. And outside of Leaving Las Vegas (which got her an Oscar nod), it remains Elisabeth Shue’s most memorable part. So, here’s our plan: In the reboot, the car thieves would return for revenge. Chris would be 40 — old enough to have kids herself — and married to Brad Anderson, her old babysitee. They’d be out having a romantic dinner in Chicago when a call from the babysitter would alert them that their kids had been kidnapped. So this time, instead of running from the bad guys, Chris and Brad would be the ones hunting them down. Think Mr. and Mrs. Smith, but way more awkward.

Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly in Back to the Future

Marty McFly was the epitome of ’80s cool. He had his own band, The Pinheads. He was a talented skateboarder. He had a super hot girlfriend, Jennifer. And, oh yeah, he could time travel thanks to Doc and the DeLorean. We’ve already covered a lot of narrative ground with the Back to the Future triology, so maybe it’s time to start completely fresh, with a new protagonist and McFly in more of a mentor role. Admittedly, since Michael J. Fox is semi-retired, this would one would be more about benefiting us than him. If you’ve seen the 2010 Scream Awards promo below, then you already have an idea of how awesome even the briefest of cameos could be.

Eddie Murphy as Detective Axel Foley in Beverly Hills Cop

With the possible exception of Coming to America, we’ve always considered the Beverly Hills Cop franchise Murphy’s best work. As fast-talking Detroit cop Axel Foley, he was a renegade hero who was equal parts suave and hilarious — plus, he always managed to get the bad guys. A fourth Beverly Hills Cop movie has been in the works for years, with Brett Ratner’s name attached to the project, but as far as we can tell, not much is happening. According to at least once source, the reason for the holdup is Murphy, who wants more control over the direction of the project than Paramount wants to give him. Considering that most of his recent films have been total box office flops, it might be time for him to let go a little.

Robin Williams as John Keating in Dead Poets Society

Think about the last time you were inspired by a teacher in a movie. OK, now think about the last time you were inspired by Robin Williams’ performance in a movie. We’re not saying that Williams hasn’t done anything good since 1989 — but for at least a decade now his work has been pretty forgettable. By returning to the role of Professor John Keating (who by this point, could be the headmaster of Weldon Academy), Williams could remind us of why we love him in dramatic roles, while inspiring the students of the early ’80s to stand on their chairs.

Jennifer Grey as Frances “Baby” Houseman in Dirty Dancing

Most of us who grew up in the ’80s have this lines to this movie memorized — and mentally cast ourselves in the lead role of Baby, a rebellious, if rather naive, teenager. So here’s what we suggest for the sequel: Let’s just forget that Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights ever happened and that Baby has a new nose now, and let Jennifer Grey pick things up roughly 20 years after the original story began. Maybe Baby is a mom now, and decides to bring her family to the resort, only to reconnect with Penny Johnson and her love of dancing. Her current stint on Dancing With the Stars suggests that she’d probably be game.

Matthew Broderick as Ferris Bueller in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

There are some characters who are so ingrained in the cultural zeitgeist that even the most talented of actors can’t shake it. So rather than trying to, we think Matthew Broderick should just embrace it. The sequel could have the same premise as the original, just replace the idea of skipping school with playing hooky from work. Bonus points if he’s married to Sloane now, Cameron is still his best friend, and Ed Rooney is somehow an authority figure in his life.

Sean Astin as Michael “Mikey” Walsh in The Goonies

As Mikey, the inhaler-wielding yet fearless leader of a band of kids hoping to save their homes from demolition by finding the buried treasure of One-Eyed Willy, Sean Astin was inspiring — a kid who took charge in an adult situation. And he’s brought that same fire to roles in Rudy and the Lord of the Rings trilogy. But seeing as its been almost 10 years since his last major film role, we suggest its time for Astin to return to his roots. As it turns out, we’re not alone; Chris Columbus and Steven Spielberg, who co-wrote the original, are both into the idea as well — they’ve just yet to come up with a storyline that can trump an underground pirate ship.

Winona Ryder as Veronica Sawyer in Heathers

Haven’t you ever wondered what happened to Veronica once she eliminated all of the Heathers? Coming up with a concept for this one is a no-brainer; have Veronica return to Westerberg High as a guidance counselor (Martha Dumptruck could be the principal!) and put the focus on a whole new generation of mean girls. Staying true to the film’s black comedy roots, Veronica would start taking out the annoying popular students one by one instead of just relying on J.D. to do the dirty work. Think about it: this could be Winona Ryder’s return to subversive greatness — and people already think she’s nuts.

Paul Reubens as Pee-wee Herman in Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure

We’ll admit: This one is so obvious that Judd Apatow has already signed on to produce it. But that doesn’t make it any less exciting! As the popularity of his recent stage shows proves, the world still needs to laugh at Pee-wee Herman.

Molly Ringwald as Samantha Baker in Sixteen Candles

This one was as tough call. But while we loved Molly as preppy princess Claire Standish in The Breakfast Club, and as Andie Walsh, the object of a preppy’s affection in Pretty in Pink, we’ve always felt like we had the most in common with her take on the awkward everygirl — Samantha Baker in Sixteen Candles. Or maybe we’re just dying to know what happened to Jake Ryan. The sequel could be set at her 25-year high school reunion, which would allow for all of our favorite characters, namely Long Duk Dong and Farmer Ted, to be there too.