On the Rim of the ’80s

I feel like Rim of the World is a bit like Frankenstein’s Monster. It’s a movie that unabashedly takes archetypes of ’80s classics before it like The Goonies or The Breakfast Club, and does its very best to bring them alive to a newer and younger audience.

It also manages to touch on a lot of the problematic social issues that are, unfortunately, still relevant and prevalent today. Some would argue that the film approaches these issues in a way that can be described as a little (or really) tone deaf. Personally, I think that if you enjoyed films like Scary Movie or Tropic Thunder, and you don’t expect much out of it, then you’ll have no issues with Rim of the World.

One of the largest criticisms I’ve seen about this Netflix Original is that it’s childish and uninspired. It’s a film that’s entering a genre that we all know, and the issue is that it doesn’t do anything differently. “Been there, done that” is their motto but with the added problems of poor dialogue. These opinions are based on several reviews I’ve read, and overall, that was the biggest complaint I heard. And for that I have only one quote to say to you:

“Oh my God, it’s Independence day!”

“It’s June, Gabriel!”

And if you don’t think that’s funny, then yes, please don’t bother with this movie. The dialogue in Rim of the World is often very tongue-in-cheek and consistently is making fun of itself. There are several moments where I personally laughed aloud, and all the characters work well with one another. Arguably, this movie isn’t really about an alien invasion. It’s more of a coming of age film about children from different walks of life and backgrounds. And that’s exactly what it is—a movie about children, for children.

rim of the world kids on their bikes

An ode to the ’80s

The easiest connections that Rim of the World relies on to make this film a comedic success is to the 80s classics that came before it. The most substantial and obvious allusion is to The Breakfast Club and The Goonies.

I know, I too am sometimes baffled that there are people out there that haven’t been exposed to the iconic Brat Pack. And though this movie doesn’t star Molly Ringwald or Emilio Estevez, it pays a certain homage to the characters they do represent in their most convenient definitions. The brain, the athlete, the basket case, the princess, and the criminal.

Of course Rim of the World doesn’t quite replicate The Breakfast Club in characters or commercial success. But, the movie isn’t afraid to bring back these classic allusions to the current younger generation that might not be aware of the brilliant John Hughes films that came before it. You have your less than subtle nods with the specific character tropes and of course, the iconic scene of the kids sitting in a circle and discussing their past. But, I don’t think it negates the value of Rim of the World. Is it original? Not even remotely. But it’s still a lot of fun and isn’t that in itself just as important? Especially when dealing with children’s movies.

Now, I would be remiss if I also didn’t point out the clear connection to The Goonies. No, there aren’t any pirate ships, and there’s a distinct lack of charm of missing that I don’t think any film but The Goonies has captured, but dang, does Rim of the World try its hardest. And for that, I have to give it kudos. Rim of the World puts some key fundamentals into play like it did with their allusion to The Breakfast Club.

You have an adventure that seems too grandiose for kids to undertake (but still falls into their lap), kids that are like family to one another (whether they started that way or not), and a soundtrack that absolutely slaps. The Goonies has the new wave pop rock queen Cyndi Lauper as a part of its soundtrack and honestly, how can you compete? But this is where I think Rim of the World really nailed it and matches its ’80s counterparts.

It might not have the exact charm that the previous ’80s films managed to capture with seemingly little effort but Rim of the World has a solid hold on their soundtrack. The movie’s songs range anywhere from “Hot in Herre” by Nelly to “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell and to the perfectly timed “Straight Outta Compton” by N.W.A. during the film’s short car scene.

The music fits the mood and style of the movie. I found myself enjoying the music more at times than particular scenes—the romance aspect was cute but unnecessary—and it really carried the film at times.

rim of the world kids standing and looking at aliens

But a little too crude

Ultimately, there isn’t really anything new or innovative about Rim of the World. I personally wish they had dialled down some of the language and sexual references as this makes it a film you can’t necessarily show mindlessly. I know that sounds a little preachy but considering this film is aimed towards children I think it’s a fair concern to point out.

However, if you can look beyond the language then you’ll find a movie that does have a lot of themes about growing up and dealing with finding a place for yourself in a world—even if it’s one that’s temporarily infested by aliens. The characters do develop and learn valuable lessons about overcoming their own personal fears and insecurities.

My only other gripe about Rim of the World would be the fact that it references social issues like racism in passing but doesn’t do much to necessarily confront them. I think for a movie like this, if you’re going to touch on that issue then you need to go all in. Otherwise, it can just look like a poor attempt at a joke or a tasteless way of bringing something up to simply act as the butt of the joke.

That being said though, I still think it’s a film that is worthwhile to watch. It’s far from perfect and yes, it did blatantly borrow from the children’s movies of the ’80s… but if you can’t get over that fact, then I only have one thing to say to you:

“Be gone, mountain hobo. We have no qualms with you.”

Written by Brittany Babela

Former writer and editor.

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