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Film / Girls Just Want to Have Fun

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A 1985 teen comedy film about a girl named Janey, whose family has just moved to Chicago. The one bright spot is that Chicago just happens to be the location of her favorite show, Dance TV, on which she dreams of performing. When she finds out there is a contest to appear on the show, she enters despite her overprotective dad. With her dance partner turned love interest, her best friend, and lots of music from The '80s, she sets out to win the contest, best her rival, and finally win her father's approval.

The film didn't have much star power to drive it. At the time of release, the top-billed cast members were Biff Yeager (in the minor role of Jeff's father) and Kristi Somers (in the even smaller role of Rikki, the Dance TV music news reporter). This is probably at least part of the reason why didn't make back its moderate budget. On the other hand, that fact allowed it to be aired on cable very inexpensively, giving it a cult status.

It was also some Paying Their Dues roles for several actors, including Sarah Jessica Parker, Helen Hunt, Shannen Doherty, and Jonathan Silverman.

Girls just wanna have these tropes:

  • '80s Hair: Lynne's hair gets progressively bigger as the movie goes on. Natalie comes a close second with her frizzy locks.
  • The Alleged Car: Drew's needs manual assistance to start and then spews smog.
  • Angry Guard Dog: Janey's father sets up one of these at their Chicago residence, a Doberman which constantly barks menacingly at Janey. Lynne is forced to employ Scare the Dog during the climax in order to help Janey get to the contest.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Maggie to Jeff, Zach to Janey. However, both are also fiercely loyal to their older siblings, and do everything in their (limited) power to help them reach the final competition.
  • Avoid the Dreaded G Rating: Drew tricks a girl into letting him touch her breasts. This is about the only dirty thing in the movie.
  • Babysitter from Hell: Lynne is an extremely mild example of this. She tells people calling her sitting client that she doesn't speak English (so she doesn't have to take messages), brings Janey along without permission, and leaves the baby sitting in the middle of a pizza. Lynne is harmless, in the sense that she seems to actually like the baby and wouldn't hurt him, but she's definitely not someone you'd want watching your kid.
  • Bait-and-Switch: It looks like Natalie won the contest, but it was a tie, and there is now a tiebreaker round.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Mr. Sands tells Jeff that if Jeff and Janey don't drop out of the contest, he'll make sure that Jeff's father loses his job; since Mr. Malene is the family's sole breadwinner, this is a huge deal and Jeff takes the threat seriously. However, Jeff can't explain himself to Janey, who thinks he wants to drop out of the contest because he's decided he doesn't like her.
  • Catholic School Girls Rule: Discussed Trope. Jeff's friends assume Janey is easy, being a Catholic schoolgirl.
  • The Charmer: Drew is growing into one of these; he's even able to persuade Janey's dad, a rigid military man, to reconsider the way he treats his daughter.
  • Cool Bike: Jeff rides a motorcycle rather than drive a car.
  • Cover Version: The rights holders to the original 1979 version of "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" by Robert Hazard allowed the filmmakers to make a movie based on the song; but Cyndi Lauper refused to let them use her version, so a generic cover had to be recorded instead.
  • Dad the Veteran: Janey's father; this fact seems to make up the bulk of his personality, and his teenage daughter is growing frustrated that he often acts like she's a soldier under his command. She even mockingly salutes his back one night after he drills her for details about her homework assignments.
  • Dance of Romance: Janey and Jeff's entire relationship is displayed through a montage of these as they prepare for the contest; it's clear that the longer they dance together, the more they fall for each other.
  • Dance-Off: How the dance competition has to end. Since the judges can't choose between Janey and Jeff and Natalie and her partner Ben, they go into a tiebreaker round.
  • Dances and Balls: Natalie's father throws a country club ball to celebrate his daughter making it into the Dance TV finals. The guard at the gate is told not to admit anyone who doesn't have a formal invitation with them. He tries, but Lynne and Janey have distributed copies of the invitation to local biker gangs and other "undesirables," who crash the event.
  • Doting Parent: Mr. Sands lets Natalie have or do anything she wants, with the unfortunate result being that she's a Spoiled Brat.
  • Exact Words: Janey's dad invokes this as part of his reason for refusing to let her enter the dance competition; he says that they made a deal that when she turned eighteen, she would be entitled to "some night life." Janey points out that they made this deal when she was seven and for her, "night life" was The Muppet Show, but he refuses to concede the point.
  • The Fashionista: Lynne, in the most Eighties way possible.
  • Fixing the Game: Natalie attempts to do this in the contest. She fails.
  • Fourth Wall Psych: After watching her party get trashed, a furious Natalie turns, looks directly into the camera and declares: "This means war." But the next shot reveals that she's actually talking to Janey and Lynne, who are watching the chaos from a nearby window.
  • Free-Range Children: Lynne's parents are never seen or even mentioned, and the way she behaves throughout the movie suggests that she's allowed to do pretty much anything she wants without consequence.
  • Fur and Loathing: Natalie shows up to the first auditions wearing a white rabbit fur coat (although it's real fur, so could also be Pretty in Mink).
  • Good Parents: Jeff's father would do anything for his kids, even risk losing his much-needed job in order for his son to follow his dream. Janey's parents are strict, but they do love her and her brother.
  • Happy Ending: Janey wins the contest, she and Jeff are dating, Lynne also gets on the show, and Janey's dad is proud of her (after Drew talks him into accepting what she's doing).
  • Hero-Worshipper: Lynne is this to Rikki, the news hostess on Dance TV. This culminates in Lynne taking over the position when Rikki quits on the night of the dance contest.
  • Karmic Trickster: Lynne turns a debutante ball into a punk rave for petty revenge. She's also a bit of a Karma Houdini, as she's never seen to suffer any real consequences for anything she does.
  • Little Miss Snarker: Maggie, Jeff's little sister. She mostly directs it at Drew.
  • Lovable Sex Maniac: Both Drew and Lynne have shades of this. In Lynne's case it's mostly limited to a few comments; she tells Janey that she wishes she were going on a date instead of to babysit, because "I just know I must be horny."
  • Manipulative Bitch: Natalie is not above doing things such as pretending to be one of the nuns from Janey's school, calling to ask her parents why she missed choir practice (she sneaked out to practice dancing with Jeff).
  • Military Brat: Janey and her brother Zach, although Janey is several years older than Zach so it applies more to her. As she says when forced to introduce herself to her new classmates, they moved around a lot and she's been to many different schools; now that her father has retired, she hopes they're staying put.
  • Mirror Routine: During the final round of competition, twin dancers successfully pull off a quick intro this way and are called Mirror Image. They can previously be seen during Janey's audition scene doing much the same thing.
  • Missing Mom: Jeff's dad is a single parent and it's implied that his mother has died. Natalie's mother is also never seen or mentioned, possibly with the same implication.
  • Nuns Are Funny: Especially when they do gymnastics. And try to use crosses for whistles.
  • Pimped-Out Dress: Natalie's outfit at the finals is a designer bodysuit, which she tells the show staff; the Dance TV host even tells the viewers at home who designed it and that it's a one-of-a-kind original.
  • Pink Product Ploy: Later VHS and DVD releases of the film are mostly pink on the covers, as seen in the page image.
  • Rebellious Spirit: Lynne, who prefers singing "Proud Mary" instead of "Hail Mary" at prayer time.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Lynne frequently invokes this. One example: while doing Janey's makeup for the contest on the bus, a sudden stop causes her to leave a streak of lipstick on a punk's cheek. To defuse any tensions, she sweetly tells him, "That's a very good color for you," and goes back to what she was doing. He lets it pass.
  • Rich Bitch: Natalie
  • The Rival: Natalie to Janey. The main point of contention, apart from the dance contest itself, seems to be Jeff.
  • A Round of Drinks for the House: Jeff's father - who is watching the dance contest with friends at a bar - calls for the bartender to provide a round of drinks on the house. Someone responds by dumping a pitcher of beer over his head, prompting him to laugh hysterically while shouting, "Drinks on me!"
  • School Uniforms are the New Black: Janey has an unfortunately limited wardrobe in the movie up until the finale. Actually mentioned several times by Fashionista Lynne.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Natalie and her father both take this view, and seem to think they can use their wealth to do pretty much anything; of particular note is Mr. Sands threatening to make sure Mr. Malene loses his job if Jeff doesn't drop out of the contest.
  • Skeleton Key Card: Used by Zach when Janey is taking a bath, so he can let her know Jeff is on the phone.
  • Sore Loser: Natalie is not happy about losing and blames it on anything but herself.
  • Spoiled Brat: Natalie, who all but has her father whipped (until the end).
  • Technician Versus Performer: Can be seen if Janey and Natalie's dance routines are compared. Both girls have clearly studied dance for several years (Janey can be heard telling Jeff she's taken dance and gymnastics classes for a decade) and are very good at what they do. However, Natalie's dance moves are about showing off her skills and appearance, while Janey has genuine passion for dancing and is visibly joyful when she does it.
  • Titled After the Song: After the Cyndi Lauper song.
  • The Unreveal: When Jeff decides to dance in spite of the threat to his dad's job, he has his sister Maggie call Janey to relay the news. Maggie ends up passing word to Janey through Zach, since Janey is grounded (and presumably can't use the phone); he then advises her to "call for reinforcements." Sure enough, Lynne comes to help her sneak out for the contest. But we never do find out exactly how Janey contacted Lynne to ask for help.
  • You Are Grounded!: Janey's father does this when he catches her sneaking through her window, so she and Lynne can sneak out to the final contest.