Ghosts of Box Office Past: How Action And Comedy Drifted Apart

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One-hundred-plus years of filmmaking provides a long, rich, and deep history to look back on. Retro reviews and analysis of old films are practically necessary full-time specialties. Month after month, films release, vying to make as much money as possible. Some rise, some fall, but regardless of financial success, it’s never a sign of a lasting effect. A great example is the little-mentioned 2012 film released just eight years ago. 2012 made nearly 800 million dollars and effectively vanished off the face of the earth.

So, where does that leave past box office champs? Let’s take a look back ten, twenty, and thirty years ago at the biggest movies released in June.

11987 – Stakeout

The Stars
Stakeout was a funny, alternate dimension version of Lethal Weapon except instead of an ebony and ivory cop tag team it was an old cop and young gun (Saw what I did there?) Richard Dreyfuss plays Detective Chris Lecce, and Emilio Estevez is Detective Bill Reimers. Estevez was reaching peak popularity at this point, and Dreyfuss is, well, Richard freakin’ Dreyfuss. The pair were an oddball couple, unlikely friends, and partners with both actors playing a mix of foil and straight man.

The Film
Watching the trailer for Stakeout is a blast into pure 80s-style cinema. An over modulated narrator voice rambles on about the film while random scenes play out and a deliciously cheesy 80s throwaway pop song plays. In particular, the sound effect of the gun during the trailer is so terribly 80s. As someone who grew up in this era, it brings back some good memories. That same sound effect was used across so many shows and movies. It was like the Wilhelm Scream for guns. I would make the same sound while playing with my toys.

Personal nostalgia aside, Stakeout isn’t a great movie. As a goofy Lethal Weapon, it just doesn’t hold well. The entire film is plain and straightforward, few of the jokes do much more than inducing a chuckle. However, like many old movies, it’s fun to watch for all the cameos of actors at earlier stages of their career. For instance, Madelene Stowe is “the love interest, ” and Forest Whitaker is another detective. For does of oddball 80s nostalgia, Stakeout might do the trick.

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