This isn’t as easy as it may seem however. Not every teen or adult film from the 1980s can or deserves the Cobra Kai treatment. If that were the case than a more scientific approach could be taken, and making these shows could be more akin to a license to print money. No! The properties that get this Cobra Kai treatment must be special.
We mined some of the best films from the 1980s and have compiled a list that we feel are workable. Yes, most of the films in question employ some form of comedy. However, the other common denominator is that they also have a great deal of heart. Without that these movies wouldn’t be as seminal as they are to multiple generations.
At first glance one might see this list and be skeptical. “How in the world could you turn THAT film into a show?” Well, truthfully, like Cobra Kai, these shows need to be looked at with more of sequel-minded approach. Prior cast members need to be included in the show. New characters should be ancillary and their main purpose should drive the plot of the show forward. And, some of these shows might only be good for a season or two. The point is that in this age of smart TV, the creators need to be ready to only give us the absolute best that these properties have to offer.
The Cobra Kai treatment is a tall order. One thing it has proven is that you can’t mine the past simply to satisfy nostalgia. Rather the material has to serve the past in the present. It has to be legitimate and take itself seriously. It can’t just laugh at itself and be self-referential because the films on this list were never that way to begin with.
The Monster Squad
The Monster Squad might be the perfect fit for the Cobra Kai treatment more than anything else on this list. Picture it, 10-part series, a grown up Squad, once again battling monsters who haven’t shown their ugly faces since 1987. This time, of course, the Monster Squad’s kid are involved (how could they not be?). Universal monsters all taking a wack at the fresh new squad, the plot gets intense, spooky, and gushes with 80s nostalgia. The formula is spot on.
How in the world has a sequel to The Goonies not happened yet? At present this sequel doesn’t seem to be moving in any direction. With the advent of Cobra Kai, now seems like the time for this to happen. Honestly, this thing seems like a slam dunk for a few reasons. First, above everything else this is a family film. So it has a built in audience. There are many people that would watch The Goonies TV show and not even know that it originally spawned from a film. Secondly, there’s my generation that’s been waiting for this sequel for 33 years. Many of us have young people in our lives that we would take to see this film. Probably more than once. And the plot of this film actually writes itself. The original cast of The Goonies re-teams to solve a recently unearthed treasure map and they do it with their kids. Alright, I admit that on the face of it the story seems a tad shallow. However, if done in a similar vein to Cobra Kai, it could be just as well received.
This tale of teens at odds features (and many feel foreshadowed) James Spader’s and Robert Downey, Jr.’s rise to the ranks of The Avengers. However, this punked out story about Morgan Hiller (Spader) who has to fight the toughest kid in school (Paul Mones) is universal. Perhaps we pick-up with Morgan moving back to town with his family? Maybe they have neighbors that are related to the the tough guy that Morgan tangled with initially? Morgan might be estranged from his former love (Kim Richards)? Whatever way this new version of Tuff Turf goes, there are enough universal themes for this show to, like Cobra Kai before it, rise above being simply an 80s film.
Pretty in Pink
Of all the films on this list Pretty In Pink could probably be the most successful. With it’s iconic characters of Andie (Molly Ringwald), Duckie (Jon Cryer), Blane (Andrew McCarthy) and Steff (James Spader; he would start off as good guy but then go dark for a lot of the 80s), a Pretty In Pink TV show would most likely resonate with the largest audience. The story is fairly simply. Andie loves Blane. Blane loves Andie, yet, due to the caste system of the 1980s, she is poor and he comes from money, they can’t be together. Add to this that Duckie pines for Andie and that just makes the situation juicier. What if this show picked up 30 years from where we left off at the dance? Perhaps, Andie and Blane have gotten married? Maybe the entire show takes place over 10 episodes in which Andie, Blane, Duckie, and Steff are chaperoning a dance that all their kids are at? It is in this setting that we could see how the adults aren’t any more clued than the kids they’re supposed to be examples for. The Cobra Kai treatment could make a Pretty In Pink sequel show have even more gravitas.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
The venerable Charlie Schlatter starred in a TV show titled Ferris Bueller from 1990-1991. This show only had one season and most likely didn’t contain the nuance that a present day Cobra Kai version of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off would have. Perhaps each season focuses on Ferris Bueller missing work? However, when he misses work he hangs out with his kids and family. The original film featured Ferris (Matthew Broderick) on a day long, hookie soaked adventure with his best girl Slaone (Mia Sara) and his best pal Cameron (Alan Ruck). Sure, we saw them have a lot of fun but over the course of the day we do a deep dive on the characters. In fact, it is almost tragic how deep we actually are allowed to see into them. Okay, back to a Cobra Kai version, maybe Ferris has lost his mojo and it’s Cameron that helps him get it back? Maybe he takes the day off to stop a potential divorce from Sloane one day before it’s finalized? Whatever way they go here, present day structures and use of technology could really bolster an already well conceived concept.
The Breakfast Club
Okay, at it’s core, The Breakfast Club is a well crafted, deftly told three-act play. This seminal 1980s film has been a right of passage for many. Taking place in one room we follow Molly Ringwald, Judd Nelson, Emilio Estevez, Ally Sheedy, and Anthony Michael Hall as they navigate a day of Saturday detention. Each character represents a type: a nerd, a jock, a princess, an outcast, a rebel, etc., but by the end of the movie they have found common ground. If given the Cobra Kai treatment, The Breakfast Club could go in many different directions. Perhaps a season, comprised of 10 episodes, could follow each character in their lives 33 years after their meeting in detention hall. Maybe the next 5 episodes could be centered around the reunion and the effect that that one day (and the 1980s in general) had on them. One thing us kids of the 1980s didn’t seem ready for was loss of our youth to adulthood. It is as if we thought we might always be kids. Stuck in a time-warp of our own design. This is palpable in Cobra Kai and it could work to excellent effect here.
Where might Joel (Tom Cruise) be 35 years later? Is he a captain of industry? Is he a father that is mired in a life he hates because he was so concerned with his future in Risky Business? What has happened to him? Like Cobra Kai, it seems that the best route to go here would be to pick this film up where Joel left off with Lana (Rebecca De Mornay). Risky Business is the story of a high school senior (Cruise) who is very focused on getting into a good business school… and getting laid. When he spends a night with an escort named Lana, while his parents are away of course, Joel is suddenly $300 in the hole. Thrown into the world of pimps Joel ends up becoming one himself as his $300 debt mounts and mounts. Personally, it seems like we could begin with Joel, like Daniel Larusso, running a successful tech business with Barry (Bronson Pinchot) and Miles (Curtis Armstrong). From there Lana and Guido (Joe Pantoliano) somehow enter Joel’s perfect life and he’s got to get his swagger back in order to keep everything together. Just a thought but Risky Business seems ripe for the Cobra Kai treatment.
It seems that this film from 1983 was going to be a musical of some sort. Personally, that appears like the exact opposite way to go with Valley Girl. I think it needs the Cobra Kai treatment but in a different way. The original film was Romeo and Juliet. The Valley Girl of 2018 needs to almost play like a Lifetime, stalker movie. What if after Julie (Deborah Foreman) chooses Randy Nicolas Cage, she somehow has ended back up with bad boyfriend Tommy (Michael Bowen)? Perhaps he was the safe, conventional choice. Well 35 years later, everybody has moved on except for the character of Randy. We then come to find out that he has spent nearly 4 decades trying to get Julie back? Sure this might sound crazy, but so did the idea of Cobra Kai and look at how well that worked out?
Alright, before you start talking about the 5 seasons of a Weird Science TV show that aired between 1994-1998, know that what I have in mind is a bit different. This is the era of smart TV after all. Yes, Weird Science would still get a Cobra Kai-like sequel show, however it would be done differently than the TV version. First of all, Anthony Michael Hall and Ilan Mitchell-Smith would both come back as Gary and Wyatt. As would Robert Downey, Jr. and Robert Rusler as Ian and Max. However, this show would take a more science-centric approach to what these guys did in the original Weird Science. We would contrast their lives and then see how the great decade of the 1980s effected them. Perhaps Ian and Max are billionaires and they hire Gary and Wyatt to make them a girl (possibly to help them solve things like climate change or time travel)? However, what they create has true scientific consequences and the girl in question makes all the men ask some hard questions about themselves.
Sixteen Candles is the kind of movie that really needs the Cobra Kai treatment. I say that because this film was very aware that it was a piece of 80s pop culture, as it was being made into an piece of 80s pop culture. This story of a girl whose family forgets her 16th birthday, would be heartbreaking if it wasn’t so deftly crafted. The fact that it wasn’t afraid to go anywhere, or say anything in service of its young cast (Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall, Michael Schoeffling, etc.), also made it one of the more biting tales that we got from the late, great John Hughes. A TV show could focus on Ringwald’s 16 year old daughter and her sweet 16 party. Ringwald invites people over and the cast of the original Sixteen Candles shows up. From there, it could show us the reality of teenage and adult life with the same candor that the original film did. A version of Sixteen Candles that was like Cobra Kai could be the sleeper hit on this list of potential TV, sequel shows.
The Lost Boys
The Lost Boys gets hurt on the sequel front because there have been two sequels (Lost Boys: The Tribe and Lost Boys: The Thirst). The fact that these weren’t very good kinda makes the Cobra Kai treatment a little harder to pull off for this franchise. And the fact that Corey Haim is no longer with us is also a blow. However, imagine if they could bring back Corey Feldman, Jason Patric, Keifer Sutherland, Dianne Wiest, Jami Gertz, Alex Winter and who knows who else from the original film? With most of that cast as the starting part, a real top notch show-runner, they could make one of the best vampire shows ever. Sure, people are going to bring up True Blood, but that show didn’t have nearly the cachet that The Lost Boys does. Perhaps we pick up with Michael (Patric) mourning the loss of his brother Sam (Haim)? Maybe we even get to see a CGI Haim meet his fate at the hand of some vampires. Suddenly, Michael notices that he’s starting to stir a bit and he’s becoming a vampire once again. On top of that, maybe David (Keifer Sutherland) never died? See! The possibilities are endless. “Say hello to the night” indeed!