I recently went on a very confusing Sunday journey backwards in time, from Mulan to Honey, I Shrunk the Kids to Karate Kid, and I’m very confused about a lot of things. I’m also pretty amazed at how well these movies held up.
I think 1998’s Mulan had the best chance here, being a) a period piece, and b) animated. But there is also a bit of asynchronicity here that could have left the film open to the date creep. Not like, a bad tinder date, but the passaging of time known for spoiling clothing choices and pop culture references. The biggest (only?) offender of this is Mushu, who first of all is clearly Eddie Murphy, and second of all Eddie Murphy in ancient China. However none of this asynchronicity on Mushu’s part is particular to the movie’s release date. At different points he says Gesundheit, mentions Sleeping Beauty, laments the possibility of his bunny slippers running for cover, mentions moon pies, and, uh, more. Everyone else is pretty much just sexist af, so if you close your eyes you’re basically outside.
Particularly more grievous as date creep goes was, likely to little surprise, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. Mostly because of those 1989 graphics, but also because of the neighbor dad’s reliance on masculine stereotypes. Just kidding, that’s still a thing! While watching, I was struck by how much 80’s fashion is better in every possible way, and there’s not even anyone stylish in this film. If I ever cosplay it will either be as Russ from Honey, I Shrunk the Kids or as Russ from Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.
1984’s Karate Kid is probably the most perfect film in the history of anything. It has exactly zero (0) date creep at all if you ignore everything about it. “Wax on, wax off” has entered the cultural zietgeist in ways I doubt anyone expected before the film’s release, and I think literally becoming pop culture for decades to come saves you from date creep. The biggest date creep is probably LaRusso’s paper driver’s license. That being said, I have absolutely zero experience in telling apart movie props from real life 80’s licenses. The biggest theme in Karate Kid which also kind of solidified every 80’s teen movie ever was the theme of rich kids vs. not rich kids, which of course is no longer an issue as we have since siezed the means of production and overthrown our capitalist overlords, making this theme almost completely foreign to those of us living today.
In the end this journey has really taught me how everything is the same and nothing ever changes, and also that if I’m going to cosplay as Russ from Honey, I Shrunk the Kids then I have to go as LaRusso’s shower costume for Halloween, as I too have to hide from wealthy karate trained blonde teenagers. Iconic.