The Criminal. The Princess. The Athlete. The Brain. The Basket Case. Together, they’re capable of so much more than they imagined — like breaking out of detention, crossing the boundaries of high school social stratification … and winning the 1980s Winter / Spring Blockbuster Tournament!
The fifth-seeded The Breakfast Club fended off Cinderella upstart #15 seed Raising Arizona in a close 30-24 match that turned to the right (and left) and back again a few times before the final tally.
But what a ride it turned out to be for the Coen Brothers’ classic comedy, taking down an admittedly vulnerable #2 seed in the first round (The Secret of My Success) before bouncing Lean On Me, Pet Sematary (1989), the overall #1 seed Flashdance and then, in the Final Four, another #2 in Beetlejuice to advance to the championship round.
Meanwhile, John Hughes’ seminal teen dramedy won out against Desperately Seeking Susan, Major League, The Money Pit, Coal Miner’s Daughter and, in the Final Four, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.
Both films will be back — along with Beetlejuice and Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure to have another shot at title glory in the all-decade Battle Royale tournament coming later this summer. You think the matchups in these tournaments get tough? Steel yourself.
But before that, we have three more decades of winter / spring blockbusters. And thus the 1990s Winter / Spring Blockbuster Tournament begins today — with a fresh field of 64 films competing for the title. Voting starts today at noon EST on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/midwestfilmjournal) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/MWFilmJournal), and the tournament runs through March. (We’ll do the the 2000s in April and the 2010s in May before a special Cinderella tournament and the Battle Royale.)
Want a little sneak peek at the 1990s tournament? The top seeds are Liar Liar, Pretty Woman, The Matrix and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990). But as there were in the 1980s tournament, there are a lot of mighty middle seeds (and some very strong #2 seeds) that could make matters difficult for all of them. Until then, here are some notes on the 1980s Winter / Spring Blockbuster Tournament, with a final bracket embedded at the bottom.
It’s becoming a rite of spring for a film to get shut out in the first round — a rarity in past seasonal tournaments, but a regular occurrence here. Here, a pair of films got zotzed in the first round: #16 seed My Tutor (up against #1 Romancing the Stone) and #10 Little Darlings (against eventual Final Four contender Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure). And there were lots of unpopular options in the first round here. Other films getting five or fewer votes in the first round were: #8 Blind Date and #14 Iron Eagle with five; #13 Tin Men and #14 Against All Odds with four; #11 High Road to China and #16 Cousins with three; #12 Desperately Seeking Susan, #14 Spring Break, #15 American Gigolo and #15 Some Kind of Hero with two; and #8 The Sword & the Sorcerer with one.
The aforementioned Romancing and Bill & Ted trouncings were the largest margins of victory in the first round, with 100% of the vote. The other biggest margins until the Final Four were: #3 Lethal Weapon with 92% of the vote against #11 Shoot to Kill in Round Two; Stone again with 89% of the vote against #5 Colors in the Sweet Sixteen; and eventual runner-up Raising Arizona with 82% of the vote against Flashdance.
Speaking of Colors: It proved one of the least-popular films to ever advance to the Sweet Sixteen — advancing on a tie to the higher seed in Round One over #12 Victor/Victoria and by just one vote in Round Two over #13 The Last Dragon. There was another tie in the Sweet Sixteen, allowing Flashdance to advance over #4 Mask. But blowouts abounded in the Elite Eight, where the closest match was Beetlejuice over Stone by 40 to 21.
Just about one-third of the first-round matchups were upsets this time around. They were:
- #15 Raising Arizona over #2 The Secret of My Success
- #13 The Last Dragon over #4 Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment
- #13 The Outsiders over #4 Outrageous Fortune
- #12 Wildcats over #5 A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors
- #11 Shoot to Kill over #6: Police Academy 3: Back in Training
- #10 Excalibur over #7 Three Fugitives
- #10 Lean on Me over #7 Hannah & Her Sisters
- #9 The ’burbs over #8 Blind Date
- #9 Richard Pryor: Live on the Sunset Strip over #8 The Sword & the Sorcerer
The year with the fewest entries in the tournament? 1981 had just two, #10 Excalibur and #11 Fort Apache, The Bronx. Meanwhile, 1989 had a whopping 10 — Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, The ’burbs, Cousins, The Dream Team, Fletch Lives, K-9, Lean on Me, Major League, Pet Sematary and Three Fugitives.