10 Reasons Why The Legend of Billie Jean Is a Must-See Film
Some movies just don’t get enough love. The 1985 classic Slater sibling film The Legend of Billie Jean is one of those movies. It was on TV all the time back in the day, but for some reason, after about the mid-90s or so, the film dropped off the face of the Earth. You can’t get it on Netflix. You can’t watch it instantly or and it’s not available on DVD. It’s never on random cable television either.
All that changed when I caught The Legend of Billie Jean on the Sony Movie Channel. When I saw it was coming up on TV, I DVR’d as fast as I would an episode of Hard Knocks. I mean this is a true cult classic. It had big stars, a big soundtrack and big expectations. The film turned out to be kind of a flop, grossing only $3.5 million at the box office, but it’s still pretty friggin’ entertaining. More than 25 years later, it’s still fun to watch. If you don’t believe me, here are 10 reasons why you should watch this amazing movie.
10. That Dude From Top Gun
Barry Tubb, who plays bully tough guy Hubie in the film, was Wolfman in Top Gun. Yea, Wolfman’s in it. Nuff said.
9. Peter Coyote’s Hair
I mean look at that thing. You know how much Aqua Net it takes to make your ‘do look that fantastic? Coyote was working with a proper pompadour throughout the whole film.
8. GI Joe Walkie Talkies
When Billie Jean and her crew raided the mall and dropped IOUs, they stocked up on some pretty nifty GI Joe walkie talkies. When they needed to communicate with each other, they didn’t post Facebook status updates, tweet or send text messages. They did it the old fashion way with two-way walkies that they shoplifted from a toy store. That was high-tech gangsta back in 1985.
7. That Guy From Back to School
Keith Gordon (Rodney Dangerfield’s lovable swim team son Jason Mellon from Back to School) plays Lloyd in The Legend of Billie Jean. Lloyd just gets it. He’s an amateur filmmaker who’s into old movies and making big statements. He knows how hot Helen Slater is, so he volunteers to be a hostage in order to support her rebellion against the establishment. Gordon gave up acting in the 90s and started a career as a director. Fun fact: He’s got nine Dexter episodes on his directorial resume.
6. That Sweet, Sweet Scooter
When Hubie and his band of thugs messed up Christian Slater’s red scooter, it set off a series of events that led to Billie Jean becoming a legend. When you look at that sleek red machine, it’s hard to imagine that anyone would want to do harm to that Honda. But hey, it’s nothing that $608 worth of repairs can’t fix.
5. Live Action Southern Lisa Simpson
Yeardley Smith doesn’t have that many live acting highlights (City Slickers, As Good As It Gets, Herman’s Head, etc.), but that doesn’t mean this actress with the squeaky kid voice is hurtin’ for cash. Smith has been providing the voice of Lisa Simpson for more than two decades, and she gets paid handsomely for it. Hearing that Lisa Simpson voice with a bad southern accent and being able to put a face to the voice was kinda entertaining.
4. Fair Is Fair!
If there’s a better catchphrase to come out of an outlaw youth film in the 80s, I haven’t encountered it. Billie Jean’s rally cry with the two fists in the air resonated with young people all across Texas. It’s enough to make someone want to chop off all their hair. At one point, the catchphrase was going to be the title of the movie, but it wasn’t meant to be. $608 for the scooter your son trashed. Fair is fair!
3. Christian Slater’s Debut
The Legend of Billie Jean is the film that introduced Christian Slater to the world. Sure his sister got all the attention, but you could tell her young, blond punk of a brother Binx was gonna grow up to be somebody special. Like Kuffs and Pump Up the Volume special. In those films, Christian Slater racked up more talking-directly-to-the-camera time than Zack Morris in Saved by the Bell.
2. Invincible by Pat Benatar
Nothing gets you properly fired up like a potent Pat Benatar track. The song “Invincible” was created specifically for this movie, and it’s a powerful, powerful tune. The song fit the film so well. It hit on all the right themes: rebellious youth, standing up for what you believe in, an inflated sense of self-importance and so on. It’s the perfect musical accompaniment to the “fair is fair!” rally cry. It should be noted though that Benatar wasn’t a big fan of the film. According to IMDB trivia, before Benatar performs the song at her concerts she likes to say, “this is from the worst movie ever made.” Harsh, Pat. Harsh.
1. Helen Slater Before the Haircut
Gaddamn, Helen Slater was crazy hot in this movie. It’s the kinda hotness that defines an era: jean jackets, unnecessary hair braids, ridiculous one-sided dangly earrings and bright, high-cut bikini panties. Sure her hotness plummeted when she chopped off her hair, put on the weight lifting gloves and that ridiculous zipper vest top. But even with her martyred, Joan of Arc makeover, you could still tell that Helen Slater was the pinnacle of 80s attractiveness. Supergirl has nothing on the heroic, principled, low-income Corpus Christi values of Bille Jean. It’s Helen Slater’s finest moment.
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