Theme Times – The Brat Packer’s #11

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Brat Packers by association only: Mary Stuart Masterson, Andie MacDowell, Lea Thompson, Olivia Barash.

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Mary Stuart Masterson By David Shankbone

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Andie MacDowell By Georges Biard

800px-Lea_Thompson_by_Gregg_Bond_(2008)

Lea Thompson By Gregg Bond

Olivia_Barash_1978

Olivia Barash [1978] By ABC Television – Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain

Mary Stuart Masterson

Mary Stuart Masterson (born June 28, 1966) is an American actress. She has starred in the films At Close Range (1986), Some Kind of Wonderful (1987), Chances Are (1989), Fried Green Tomatoes (1991) and Benny & Joon (1993). She won the National Board of Review Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the 1989 film Immediate Family, and was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for the 2003 Broadway revival of Nine.

Main claim to Brat Pack Fame 1987 – Some Kind of Wonderful

Andie MacDowell

Rosalie Anderson MacDowell (born April 21, 1958) is an American actress and fashion model. She made her film debut in 1984’s Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes, before receiving critical acclaim for her role in Sex, Lies, and Videotape (1989), for which she won Independent Spirit Award for Best Female Lead and was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama. She also received Golden Globe Award nominations for her performances in Green Card (1990) and Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994).

MacDowell starred in Groundhog Day (1993), Short Cuts (1993), Michael (1996), and Multiplicity (1996). She had roles in a number of less successful movies, including The End of Violence (1997), The Muse (1999) and Town & Country (2001). She later went on to star in a number of independent films, and to play supporting parts in movies such as Beauty Shop (2005), Footloose (2011), and Magic Mike XXL (2015). She received critical acclaim for the 2017 drama film Love After Love.

Main claim to Brat Pack Fame 1985 – St. Elmo’s Fire

Lea Thompson

Lea Katherine Thompson (born May 31, 1961) is an American actress, director, and television producer.

She is best known for her role as Lorraine Baines in the Back to the Future trilogy and as the title character in the 1990s NBC sitcom Caroline in the City. Other films for which she is known include All the Right Moves (1983), Red Dawn (1984), Howard the Duck (1986), Some Kind of Wonderful (1987), and The Beverly Hillbillies (1993). From 2011 to 2017, she co-starred as Kathryn Kennish in the ABC Family-turned Freeform series Switched at Birth.

Main claim to Brat Pack Fame 1987 – Some Kind of Wonderful

Olivia Barash

Olivia Barash (born January 11, 1965) is an American actress. She began her career as a child actor, appearing in television series such as Little House on the Prairie, Charlie’s Angels, and Soap. She subsequently had a lead role on the short-lived sitcom In the Beginning, which originally aired in 1978. She also had a lead role in the Walt Disney television film Child of Glass (1978). As a young adult, Barash established herself in supporting film roles in Repo Man (1984), Tuff Turf (1985), Patty Hearst (1988), and Floundering (1994).

Main claim to Brat Pack Fame 1984 – Repo Man

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I think at this stage of the series one episode out from the end later this week, a question has to be asked? What films were ‘true Brat Pack films?’

For me personally, whilst the list l am about to display is long, a true ‘brat pack’ movie had to contain what l class as the hard core membership crew … notably – 9 actors/actresses … Emilio Estevez, Rob Lowe, Demi Moore, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald, Ally Sheedy, Andrew McCarthy, Anthony Michael Hall and Mare Winningham – yet this is often a topic that is debated and hard – as there are so many other actors whom by association only are also regarded as Brat Packers. In essence ‘Mare Winningham’ didn’t share in the social partying or star alongside any fellow cast members in other films which is how the crew acquired their name. What made a true ‘movie’ to qualify? Again, hotly debated and reflective upon who you talk to about it.

Two principal movies make the grade – commercially speaking – these being “The Breakfast Club and St. Elmo’s Fire both out in 1985, by director’s John Hughes and Joel Schumacher. These two movies launched ‘Brat Pack’ fame.However, other films of notable worth were Taps 1981 which introduced Hutton, Cruise and Penn and The Outsiders which boasted a fantastic cast couch of potential future million pound deals such as Cruise, Dillon, Macchio, Howell, Estevez, Lowe, Swayze and Lane. This film was directed by Francis Ford Coppola who also directed in the same year 1983, Rumble Fish which introduced Mickey Rourke, and promoted again the inclusion of Dillon and Lane.

These five films make for the ‘Brat Pack’ supposedly. Whilst l would say that the forerunner was Taps in 81, but this was not a Brat Pack Movie, Rumble Fish in 1983 was not a Brat Pack Movie either. I would include The Outsiders but as a side Brat Pack movie only, and then l would close on The Breakfast Club and St. Elmo’s Fire as being the only two true movies belonging to Brat Pack. However these five films promote an extended or by association only ‘brat pack community’.

Other films further add to the membership, making the full crew of Broderick, Cruise, Dillon, Downey Jr, Estevez, Sutherland, Penn, Hall, Lowe, Macchio, McCarthy,  Sheedy, Ringwald, Nelson, Sheen, Winningham, Bacon, Cryer, Cusack [2], Gertz, MacDowell, Masterson, Thompson, Barash, Rourke, Hutton, Grey, Swayze, Robbins, Spader, Stoltz, Zuniga and Howell, and l feel sure l have left someone out who was also associated.

Only a few of the ‘hard core’ true members of the original 9 line up have made and been involved in flourishing careers. Most tried to escape the BP tag as they had become too sterotyped or type cast. Sadly most of the line up, do not and have not been able to sustain the fame of their youth in today’s world. A lot of the association only memberships have made excellent careers and choices, but then, they didn’t have the typical BP tag labelled on them.

The typical film plot to qualify as a Brat Pack movie had to include a group of teenagers and sometimes a chip on their shoulders, against parenting and authority and are principally coming of age films. I remember seeing in the cinema late 85 or early 86 there abouts the two main films in my mid to late twenties, and only ever saw The Outsiders on video in the 90’s. Although, l do remember the music of the eighties – that’ll never forget.

The films however classed as ‘Brat Pack ‘coming of age’ movies were: the five films already mentioned … Class 1983, Sixteen Candles 1984, Oxford Blues 1984, Pretty in Pink 1986, Blue City 1986, About Last Night 1986, Wisdom 1986, Fresh Horses 1988 and Betsy’s Wedding 1990. 

There are many others included in this genre like Red Dawn, Ferris Beuller’s Day Off, Wargames, Weird Science, Mannequin, The Pick Up Artist, Young Guns and so on but the ones above are classic BP Tagged movies. In reality by no later than 1990 and l would say truthfully by 1988 the phenomena of the Brat Pack was already dying and most of the actors involved were glad to see the term being erased as it would stay with them l think forever and as history has displayed in interview after interview – most of the line up have begun to seriously despise the term.

Thank goodness we are not including Frat Pack movies in this list like Animal House and Porkies otherwise the series would never end!! Although we will look at Rat Pack movies next month.

This brings us today to our listed four by association ‘Brat Packers.

Now of the following actresses l was probably more of a fan of their earlier work although in truth l hadn’t even heard of Olivia Barash, l have followed Andie MacDowell quite a bit but not so much the others past the eighties fame. Here are their best works in my opinion, but how about you? 

Fans or not?

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Mary Stuart Masterson

1 – Heaven Help Us – 1985

In the 1960s, a group of teen pranksters finds it difficult to toe the line in a strictly disciplined Catholic school.

2 – Fried Green Tomatoes – 1991

On one of trapped housewife Evelyn Couch’s (Kathy Bates) Wednesday nursing home visits, she encounters Ninny Threadgoode (Jessica Tandy), a colorful old woman who brightens Evelyn’s outlook by sharing tales from her past. As Ninny recounts the exploits of her free-spirited sister-in-law Idgie (Mary Stuart Masterson), owner of a small Alabama café in the 1920s, and the bond Idgie shared with her friend Ruth (Mary-Louise Parker), Evelyn gains the confidence to change her own life for the better.

3 – Chances Are – 1989

Alex, a young man, is in love with Corinne, a student. When Alex meets Corinne’s mother, memories come rushing to him about his past life as a young lawyer who happens to be Corinne’s father.

4 – At Close Range – 1986

Based on a true story, “At Close Range” follows the lives of the Whitewood family in rural Pennsylvania. Brothers Brad Jr. (Sean Penn) and Tommy (Chris Penn) are the sons of organized crime leader Brad Sr. (Christopher Walken), who draws his sons into his life of crime. After starting their own gang, Brad Jr. and Tommy are arrested in a failed robbery attempt, and are forced to face the truth: that their father will do anything to avoid being arrested for his crimes.

Andie MacDowell

1 – Sex, Lies, and Videotape – 1989

John is having an affair with his wife’s sister Cynthia. His wife claims that she doesn’t need sex anymore. However, the arrival of an old friend changes everything.

2 – Four Weddings and a Funeral – 1994

Charles, a good-natured young introvert, tries to discover his true love for Carrie as he attends the wedding of four of his friends and a funeral.

3 – Groundhog Day – 1993

Phil, a self-centred weatherman, goes to the town of Punxsutawney for an assignment. He is later shocked when he wakes up the next morning and realises that he is reliving the same day over and over.

4 – Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes – 1984

A couple who gets stuck on an island gives birth to a baby boy. When they get killed by a storm, a family of apes adopts the boy.

Lea Thompson

1 – Back to the Future – 1985

Marty travels back in time using an eccentric scientist’s time machine. However, he must make his high-school-aged parents fall in love in order to return to the present.

2 – Back to the Future Part II – 1989

Marty Mcfly travels back in time with the help of Dr Emmett Brown and poses as his own son to prevent his imprisonment. However, all his efforts turn futile as the future changes the present.

3 – Howard the Duck – 1986

In this film based on the comic book character, Howard the Duck is suddenly beamed from Duckworld, a planet of intelligent ducks with arms and legs, to Earth, where he lands in Cleveland. There he saves rocker Beverly (Lea Thompson) from thugs and forms a friendship with her. She introduces him to Phil (Tim Robbins), who works at a lab with scientist Dr. Jenning (Jeffrey Jones). When the doctor attempts to return Howard to his world, Jenning instead transfers an evil spirit into his own body.

4 – Red Dawn – 1984

When Soviet and Cuban paratroopers invade Colorado, a group of teenagers flee to the mountains. Left with nowhere to run, they engage in guerilla warfare with the invading forces.

Olivia Barash

1 – Tuff Turf – 1985

The new guy (James Spader) in a Los Angeles high school does some singing and fights a hotshot (Paul Mones) over a disco dancer (Kim Richards).

2 – Dr. Alien – 1989

A college nerd (Billy Jacoby) learns his biology teacher (Judy Landers) is an alien who needs him for a breeding experiment.

3 – Secret Screams – 1989

A professor (Paul Le Mat) of psychic phenomena and his spiritual friend (David Warner) help a woman (Renée Soutendijk) haunted by her past.

4 – Blue Dream – 2013

His industry dying and the newspaper where he works purchased by a ruthless media mogul, Robert drinks, does drugs and has sex as he takes full advantage of the final days of his of print journalism career.

So there we go folks Mary Stuart Masterson, Andie MacDowell, Lea Thompson and Olivia Barash  – fans or not?

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7 thoughts on “Theme Times – The Brat Packer’s #11

  1. I am only familiar with Andy and Lea. War Games is true brat packery, a cult film really. It’s quoted and referenced all the time. Andy… not really a brat, but I love her. Four Weddings and Sex/Lies are tops. Not sure why Mare is included in the list. Never heard of the last one.

    1. Mare Winningham was one of the original Brat Packers as in St Elmo’s Fire 85, but that is the only film she starred in with any of the original line up. Or do you mean Mary? As to Barash, no l wasn’t aware of her either, but Repo Man 84 was classed as Brat Pack due to EE’s presence.

      In truth, Brat Pack as a term wasn’t coined until The Breakfast Club and Fire were released in 85. Anything that any of the ‘8’ starred in were then instantly classed as Brat Pack movies. Brat Pack then termed that if any 2 of the original lineup appeared in any films between 81 – 88 [technically] it was classed as Brat Pack.

      Oh you are right regarding Andie, not a Brat Packer in any sense and yet listed as one because of Fire. Researching the series has been a real eye opener.

  2. I must say I disagree with the “official” rules for who is or isnt a Brat Pack member.

    I liked Benny & Joon a LOT! Some Kind Of Wonderful was good too. I like Andie too. Michael was an excellent movie.
    Mare…meh
    Olivia who?

    1. Well l think in truth the whole brat pack phenomena was a mistake and the journalist who coined the phrase should quite possibly have refrained from doing so.

      There were good actors and great actors during the 80’s – some under the term ‘brat pack’ should never have been listed as such considering the term rests on two principal films only – a tag sold films, the tag sold teenagers on an ideology – but the other truer thing is that the people who watched these films in the cinema’s were not even the demograph the film was aimed at, the predominant audience was in fact 20 y/o – 25 y/o who could resonate and relate to the issues at hand … there’s a lot of irony there in itself – for me the 80’s was basically the music and not so much the films which l only started to appreciate ten year later again an irony – but that’s acquired cognative wisdom for you l guess, as in ‘we don’t really appreciate something until we no longer have it’.

      Some of the so called brat packers as in the original line up, weren’t even true brat packers and some of the non brat packers were truer bp’s than the originals – it was the opinion and article of one journalist in the mid 80’s kickstarted this credo .. or … madness.

      http://nymag.com/movies/features/49902/

      Totally fascinating how a piece of writing can enthuse, motivate and inspire such a following on one term eh 🙂

  3. I remember hearing about that article. Thanks for the link. I have my monthly pump fill appointment in a couple hours, now I’ve got reading material while I wait😉

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