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20 Best Eighties-Gone-Wild Party Movies

From sex-obsessed nerds to a near-naked Tom Cruise, the craziest teen comedies of the Reagan era

Best 80s Party movies

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This week, Richard Linklater unveils Everybody Wants Some!!, his terrific, poignant coming-of-age film that pays homage to both his experience as a collegiate baseball player and the sex-crazed, party-hearty teen comedies of the 1980s. In honor of the writer-director's achievement, we’ve ranked the 20 films that best epitomized that era’s horn-dog aesthetic.

In these movies, hormones and adolescent insecurities often went hand-in-hand as Hollywood cashed in on teenage boys’ insatiable desire to see T&A, no matter how skimpy the plot. (Remember, this is before the Internet existed.) Some of these films are classics, some of them are more than a little problematic — but all of them serve as a time capsule into a freewheeling, innocent age. Virgins, nerds, ski bunnies, Valley girls, peeping toms: All are welcome.

Best 80s Party movies

‘Revenge of the Nerds’ (1984)

The heroes played by Anthony Edwards and Robert Carradine were card-carrying nerds, complete with pocket protectors and dorkey glasses. But it was Booger, the Bluto of the 1980s, was a new kind of outcast hero: A loser who wore his uncoolness as a badge of honor — and as a raised middle finger to the preppies, the jocks and everyone else who peaks in high school. This time, it was the beta males seem as edgy and hip as the popular kids, complete with scenes of the guys placing hidden cameras in a sorority house and, controversially, pretending to be a young lady's boyfriend to have sex with her. But the film did give geeks a great pickup line for why they're better in bed than athletes are: "All jocks think about is sports. All we ever think about is sex."

Best 80s Party movies

‘Valley Girl’ (1983)

"I had always believed that our teenage years are the most dramatic in our lives," director Martha Coolidge once said about her inspiration for this knowing romantic comedy about Los Angeles geography. Conceived as a modern-day Romeo and Juliet, the film paired a suburban Valley teen (Deborah Foreman) with a likeable Hollywood punk (Nicolas Cage), and the scenes of house parties and beach hangouts typify the laid-back vibe of Southern California life. This was that rare Eighties comedy that's more about love than T&A, and Coolidge's compassionate eye observes the uncertainty of high school mating rituals in all their awkward glory.

Best 80s Party movies

‘Sixteen Candles’ (1984)

John Hughes' directorial debut encompasses a murderer’s row of teenage anxieties — the big school dance, the guy you're totally crushing on, the fear of not fitting in — and cast Molly Ringwald as their charming embodiment. Her Samantha essentially created the template for the sort of bright, sensitive young woman we'd see portrayed in everything from Heathers to Easy A. Better yet, it turned the era's horn-dog trope on its head, for once focusing on the female perspective. It's bad enough that the guy Samantha loves finds out she's a virgin, but then she has to contend with the shame that occurs after she allows some dumb dude to show off her panties to a bathroom full of wide-eyed boys.

Best 80s Party movies

‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’ (1986)

Writer-director John Hughes' ode to skipping school is really an acknowledgement that, eventually, responsibility comes for us all. Matthew Broderick made his name playing the film's smartass hero, dispensing his sarcastic wisdom directly to the audience, but the sensitivity he'd bring to future roles is also here, too. Even when he's the man of the hour during the film's legendary parade scene, Ferris' happy face is also an act of defiance: against getting old and boring, against the lame grownups who want you to conform. In the process, he and Hughes concocted one of the quintessential Being Young films: Ferris became the Holden Caulfield of the Eighties, except with a cute girlfriend.