Image from the movie Hot Tub Time Machine

Sometimes the best films with fabulous eighties atmosphere, vibes, and music are films that aren’t from that decade.

Set in the 80s

Image from the movie Adventureland
Image Credit: Miramax Films via IMDb.

So when a user in a popular forum asked, “What’s the best movie set in the 80s that wasn’t filmed in the 80s? Two of the favorites I mentioned discussing this once are Donnie Darko and Adventureland, but many disagreed.”

They continued, “I suspect we’ll see more of these in the coming years in an attempt to cash in on Stranger Things, but we had quite a few in the previous decades as well.” People had plenty to say, and these are the nominated films encompassing eighties vibes but aren’t actually from the 80s.

1. Hot Tub Time Machine (2010)

Image from the movie Hot Tub Time Machine
Image Credit: Metro Goldwyn Mayer via IMDb.

I love Hot Tub Time Machine. More so because I can relate to it quite a bit. My group of buddies would do a yearly ski trip back in the 80s but now we’re all married (mostly), doing our own thing, and aren’t as close like back in the day.

2. The Wedding Singer (1998)

Image from the movie The Wedding Singer
Image Credit: New Line Cinema via IMDb.

The Wedding Singer is the first Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore film in their trilogy of romantic comedies. It tells the story of Robbie Hart (Sandler), a wedding singer who is stood up at the altar. He befriends a waitress who is engaged to a massive jerk. As Robbie helps Julia plan her wedding, they fall in love. The movie has the best music and is a laugh-out-loud eighties vibe all around. 

3. Everybody Wants Some!! (2016)

Image from the movie Everybody Wants Some
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures via IMDb.

Everybody Wants Some is an American teen comedy sports flick about college baseball players in 1980s Texas. It follows a first-year college student and his baseball teammates, a wild group of disco-dancing partyers chasing skirts. 

4. American Psycho (2000)

Image from the movie American Psycho
Image Credit: Universal Studios via IMDb.

American Psycho is a black comedy horror film based on Bret Easton Ellis’ novel of the same name. It follows Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale), an investment banker who leads a double life as a serial killer in New York City. American Psycho is a satirized 1980s story demonstrating white-collar culture and consumerism. The film’s supporting roles include Willem Dafoe, Jared Leto, Justin Theroux, and Reese Witherspoon.

5. Fargo (1996)

Image from the movie Fargo
Image Credit: Twentieth Century Fox via IMDb.

Set in 1987, Fargo is a black comedy crime story that follows Marge, a pregnant Minnesota police chief, as she investigates roadside homicides. The homicides occur after a miserable car salesman hires two criminals to kidnap his wife to extort a hefty ransom from her wealthy father. The film stars Frances McDormand, William H. Macy, Steve Buscemi, and Peter Stormare.

6. White Bird in a Blizzard (2014)

Image from the movie White Bird in a Blizzard
Image Credit: Magnolia Pictures via IMDb.

White Bird In A Blizzard. It really captures the feeling of the time. It’s not 100 percent perfect on the look of the time, but it feels more like what I remember from that decade than other films set in the 80’s.

7. Beyond the Black Rainbow (2010)

Image from the movie Beyond the Black Rainbow
Image Credit: Chromewood Enterprises Inc via IMDb.

Set in 1983, Beyond the Black Rainbow is a Canadian sci-fi horror film that tells the story of a woman with ESP. She’s heavily sedated and tries to escape from her captivity at Arboria Institute, a secluded commune. 

8. No Country for Old Men (2007)

Image from the movie No Country for Old Men
Image Credit: Paramount Vantage – Miramax via IMDb.

No Country for Old Men is an American neo-Western crime thriller film set in the desert landscape of 1980, West Texas. After finding the gruesome aftermath of a drug deal while out hunting, Llewelyn (Josh Brolin) cannot resist taking the cash left behind. However, soon he is hunted by a merciless killer and Sheriff Bell (Tommy Lee Jones). 

9. It (2017)

Image from the movie It
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. via IMDb.

It is a story based in the 1980s on Stephen King’s novel of the same name. It follows a group of outcasted teenagers called The Losers’ Club. In addition to being regularly harassed by a group of bullies, an eponymous being, It, terrorizes the teens. It takes the shape of whatever the kids are frightened of, emerging from the sewer to feed on children every 27 years in Derry, Maine.

10. Joker (2019)

Image from the movie The Joker
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures via IMDb.

Set in 1981, Joker gives an origin story to Batman’s infamous villain, The Joker. It follows Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix), a mentally-ill clown by day and an aspiring stand-up comedian by night. He cares for his mother in a crime-ridden and deteriorating Gotham City. The film demonstrates Fleck’s descent into madness while giving audiences a taste of understanding why he wants to watch the world burn. 

This article was inspired by this thread and does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cents + Purpose.

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Elizabeth Ervin

Elizabeth Ervin is the owner of Sober Healing, a website that provides information about addiction, recovery, mental wellness, spirituality, and resources to help people succeed in rebuilding their lives. Elizabeth has education and experience with addiction, healing, and spiritual studies. She is passionate about learning, teaching, and loving her neighbor. 

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