Like everything else, movies age. Special effects look worse, popular slang and fashion are left behind, and political and social contexts shift. But sometimes, the very central dilemma of a movie becomes so outdated that the film itself is no longer relatable to modern-day audiences. Here are five examples of exactly that, delivered to you in convenient list form — a format that will never, ever become dated or strange.
Christmas Vacation Is About A Middle-Class Homeowner Pissed That He’s Not Getting A Huge Christmas Bonus To Cover A Pool
The holiday classic National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation remains a staple of the December basic cable movie rotation. Its most famous scene is a holiday-pressured Clark Griswold finally blowing a gasket in front of his family after he opens his highly anticipated Christmas bonus, only to find it’s a subscription to the Jelly of the Month club.
That’s not one irrelevant scene from a simpler time; the whole plot revolves around that moment. Clark is counting on this bonus so he can cover the payment for an in-ground pool, which he’s already purchased in advance to surprise his family. To anyone under the age of 50 reading this, imagine a friend of yours complaining about this today. How much sympathy could you muster?
Warner Bros. Studios“Sorry about your pool. I guess you’ll have to just use the community pool, which I also can’t afford.”
Clark is not drowning in homeowner or student loan debt, or the costs of sending two kids to college. He’s drowning in a debt of his making, trying to prematurely add a pool onto the beautiful house he already owns. He has a house in suburban Chicago, his wife doesn’t work, and he presumably has health insurance and a 401k. All those sweet “employment” perks sound like some lost fantasy city of Atlantis to Millennials entering the workforce today. And we’re supposed to share his rage at not getting a good Christmas bonus? It might have been a relatable problem to a lot of people back in the day, but explain that scene to your average “middle-class” worker now, and prepare for some rolled eyes, accompanied by the most thorough and exhaustive jerk-off motion you have ever seen.
One Hour Photo Is About A Creepy Guy Who … Looks At All Your Pictures
One Hour Photo stars Robin Williams as Sy, a professional photo developer at a local supermarket … and we’ve already confused our younger readers in several different ways. Sy befriends a family of regular customers, but his cheery professional demeanor turns sinister when we see him at home, exhaustively perusing every picture the family has ever brought him.
Fox Searchlight Pictures“Developed? Like, he added some filters?”
This scene still comes across as unsettling today, but digitize any of his actions, and we’d bet somebody reading this article is doing the exact same thing in another tab. You know, scrolling through every post on their crush’s Instagram account. Still potentially creepy behavior, but nobody’s gonna make a movie about it.
Today, this photo-obsessive mom would definitely have an Instagram, and that account would almost definitely be public, and random people would constantly be scrolling through photos of her kids’ sporting events and their family vacations all the time. She’d want the maximum number of people to see them; that’s the whole point of posting photos publicly. Really, for modern audiences, the only thing tipping them off that Sy is a creep is that haircut.
Fox Searchlight PicturesHe is clearly the love child of King Joffrey and Flo from Progressive.
In Airheads, A Band Breaks Into A Radio Station To Get Exposure
In the ’90s Comedy Central rerun staple Airheads, an amateur rock band named the Lone Rangers attempts to “make it big” by taking a local radio station hostage and forcing them to play their demo tape. The idea is that an agent will hear the single, sign them, and book them for Lollapalooza, or whatever the 1994 equivalent of Coachella was.
20th Century FoxAnd the idea of guys storming into a workplace with guns could be used in a comedy film and not horror.
Imagine a band nowadays thinking the only barrier for entry into the music business is getting their song played one time on a local radio station. Hell, depending on how media-savvy they are, you might have to explain the whole concept of radio stations to a modern kid. “It’s like a podcast mixed with Spotify, but always on. Also there are ads. Ads? Well you see, companies used to make money on things called adverti-“
There’s also the fact that the band owns TWO physical copies of their song: a reel-to-reel (which catches fire) and a cassette tape that they lose and desperately need to track down. Nowadays, anyone would have a digital file easily accessible on their phone, or a flash drive, or the damn cloud. 40 minutes of this movie would today get condensed into a 15-second scene in which Steve Buscemi re-downloads an email attachment.
20 Century Fox“What studio did you record this in?” “The laptop in my apartment.”
In Sixteen Candles, Nobody Remembers A Girl’s Birthday
Sixteen Candles hails from a period in human history when a person could make it through their entire day without getting 75 Facebook birthday reminders from friends, family members, and forgotten high school acquaintances with babies you’ve seen more times than a sunset.
That’s the driving force behind John Hughes’ directorial debut, wherein Molly Ringwald’s character, Sam, bemoans the fact that everybody in her life forgot her special day. Her Sweet Sixteen happens to fall one day before her sister’s wedding, so everyone in her life is too preoccupied to toss an “HBD” her way. They don’t have Facebook, Google Calendars, extremely basic knowledge of their own flesh and blood, or the ability to read a teenager’s glaring facial cues.
Universal PicturesProps to John Hughes for making a movie with an F-bomb and nudity, yet still pulling a PG rating.
Nowadays, Sam would be instantly deluged with “Happy Birthday” messages, beginning at 12:01 a.m. and continuing for three days after her birthday, at which point she would scroll through them, “like” the best ones, feel bad for not “liking” all of them, then acquiesce and spend the rest of her day politely “liking” the full 200. The 2018 version of Sixteen Candles would involve Sam checking her email and wondering, “Why am I getting a birthday wish from ‘your friends at O’Hare Long-Term Parking?'”
The Ring Is About A Video That Kills You … Unless You Share It
In The Ring, people die seven days after watching a cursed videotape. That is, unless they make a copy of the tape and show it to someone else. But this was in 2002, before the rise of the omnipresent, omnipotent YouTube.
Today, the cursed tape would get ripped immediately — probably before it even officially came out — and then copied hundreds of times, prompting response videos, parodies, and dozens of memes that would be beaten into the ground within a week.
Dreamworks Pictures“The Ring, but every time Superintendent Chalmers says the letter ‘B,’ it kills you twice as fast.”
No one would ever die from the Ring curse. Well, not for at least a few months, anyway, after which our fleeting attention spans would all shift to a clip of a bird that looks like it’s doing the Dougie or something.
Also, no one actually owns a functional VHS player anymore. Unless it was uploaded to YouTube, the tape would claim the lives of, like, two library technicians and 73 hipsters watching it ironically.
Dreamworks PicturesAs if a VHS tape could have survived that long without getting eaten in a VCR or taped over with a baseball game.
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