On the Set of "Back to the Future"
Sunset Boulevard/ Getty

Beloved '80s Movies That Critics Hated

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On the Set of "Back to the Future"
Sunset Boulevard/ Getty

Fan Favorite '80s Flicks

It’s no secret that film critics commonly have different opinions about movies than the general public — that's been true since the dawn of Hollywood. Movies that critics ripped to shreds in reviews during the 1980s had quite substantial fan followings. Some even went on to be considered classic, iconic movies of the decade. These are some of the most prominent cases of “agree to disagree” between audiences and critics from the '80s.


Related: The Worst Movies Ever Made, According to Critics

Willow 1988
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'Willow' (1988)

Critics tore apart George Lucas’ 1988 fantasy “Willow” after its debut, calling out a lack of emotion in the plot, a predictable climax, and a flat storyline. In a review, The New York Times wrote, “Willow, a pleasant but bland character, doesn't often inspire much sentiment, so the film lacks an emotional center. In place of this, it relies on so much overstatement and repetition that it's possible to grow tired even of the adorable baby.” But there are plenty of “Willow” fans out there, especially children, who fell in love with the movie’s charm and enjoyed the adventure, however cheesy it may be. The fantasy flick is such a treasured piece of nostalgia that Disney Plus is reviving it with a “Willow” series, set to premiere in November 2022.

Flashdance 1983
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'Flashdance' (1983)

Following a female lead who was a welder during the day and an exotic dancer by night, all while dreaming of being a ballet dancer, “Flashdance” was regarded by some critics as a “Saturday Night Fever” rip-off. The general consensus among reviews was that the movie was seriously lacking in the depth department. Be that as it may, moviegoers enjoyed the film for its sexy, energetic, fun vibe. Sometimes an easy-to-digest plot is just what the doctor ordered, despite what the critics might say.


Related: The Highest-Grossing Movie the Year You Were Born

Krush Groove 1985
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'Krush Groove' (1985)

Based on the true, personal story of rapper Run DMC, “Krush Groove” chronicles the early days of Def Jam Recordings. Despite being well-received by the public — especially viewers who love a good true story plot — critics were quick to call the movie out for lackluster acting.


Related: These Are the Best (and Worst) Free Streaming Services for TV and Movies

Weird Science 1985
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'Weird Science' (1985)

Two nerdy high school boys attempt to create their idea of the perfect woman through an experiment — sounds like a recipe for an endearing comedy, right? That might have been the public’s opinion, but critics begged to differ. Although critics praised the female lead, Kelly LeBrock, for her performance, the general critical opinion was that the plot leaned too much into vulgar, gimmicky humor.

Back to the Future
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'Back to the Future' (1985)

This one might be the most surprising on the list — after all, “Back to the Future” is one of the most beloved movies not just of the '80s but of all time. With endearing characters, humor, and the engaging plot of a time machine built out of a DeLorean car, it’s hard to go wrong. But when the movie came out in 1985, critics weren’t convinced that it was a hit. In a review, the Los Angeles Times wrote, “It's big, cartoonish and empty, with an interesting premise that is underdeveloped and overproduced.”

Pretty in Pink 1986
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'Pretty in Pink' (1986)

Molly Ringwald stayed pretty busy in the '80s — she stars in two movies on this list — and “Pretty in Pink” is regarded as one of the icons of the decade when it comes to movies. But public opinion and critics’ reviews don’t always align. Critics felt the whole high school girl from the wrong side of town falls for the rich popular boy plotline was overplayed and underwhelming.

Harlem Nights 1989
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'Harlem Nights' (1989)

Fans of '80s comedies understand the goldmine of hilarity that was the duo of Eddie Murphy and Richard Pryor in “Harlem Nights.” As it were, critics were a little harder to make laugh than the public. They were wholly unimpressed with Eddie Murphy as the director of the film and felt that he merely cast his own friends and didn’t spend enough time developing the rest of the moving parts that make a movie truly enjoyable.

Cocktail 1988
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'Cocktail' (1988)

Tom Cruise was a huge star in the '80s and fans pretty much felt like anything he touched turned to gold — including “Cocktail.” Fixating on the steamy romance between a bartender (Cruise) and an artist (played by Elisabeth Shue), the movie leaned into the romantic comedy genre to captivate viewers. Critics weren’t so easily sucked in and expressed opinions that the movie relied solely on the success of its starring actor rather than a strong plotline — in a review, Time wrote, “Cocktail has no reason for being other than to market the Cruise charm like a cheap celebrity perfume.” Ouch.

The Breakfast Club 1985
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'The Breakfast Club' (1985)

“You see us as a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess and a criminal. Correct?” Ahh, “The Breakfast Club.” The movie showcased an eclectic bunch of high school students serving a Saturday detention sentence, but it was really more about looking past all of the superficial assumptions to uncover something deeper. Moviegoers loved “The Breakfast Club” when it debuted in 1985 and it’s actually grown in popularity since and has cemented itself as one of the most iconic movies of the '80s. Some critics felt like the relationships between the characters were too forced, though, harming the believability of the plotline.

Twins 1988
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'Twins' (1988)

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito can totally pass as twins, right? The bizarre concept was enough to pull viewers in and charm them. The plot unravels the story of two twins, who look nothing alike (obviously), and were separated at birth. The film didn’t land as an endearing comedy for critics, who instead felt that it wasn’t actually that funny.

Action Jackson 1988
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'Action Jackson' (1988)

“Action Jackson” follows the story of a Detroit cop, and viewers found it engaging, action-packed, and many appreciated its unique style of comedic relief. While critics praised the movie for its first-class stunts, the general consensus was that the acting was subpar and the plot was too generic.

Road House 1989
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'Road House' (1989)

Between Patrick Swayze and Sam Elliot, the cast of 1989’s “Road House” was well-loved enough to bring an immediate fanbase for the film. Many critics felt that the flick went too far in the violence department — in a review, USA Today wrote, “Ultimately, it's just too long and redundant, too violent and unpleasant, too stupid and full of itself.”