20 Things That Prove Girls Just Want To Have Fun Is The Best Film You’ve Never Seen

Dirty Dancing who? If you’re looking for the best ’80s dance film, look no further than Girls Just Want To Have Fun, starring Sarah Jessica Parker as unexpected dance heroine Janey. Sadly, it’s faded into obscurity over the years, but it’s very good, and boasts a whole array of people who would become famous later on. Here are 20 great reasons to seek it out.

20. There’s so many wacky ’80s outfits

The ’80s were an… interesting time for fashion. And the weirdest outfits it ever had to offer are all on display during Girls Just Want To Have Fun. Helen Hunt’s character, Lynne, at one point wears an inside-out skirt and a top with the sleeves torn off. In fact, even straight-laced Janey wears a leotard with a tank top for one scene. And of course, everything is brightly colored and Velcroed up to the nines.

19. Holly Gagnier did all her own dancing

Baywatch regular Holly Gagnier played Natalie, the bratty rich girl who tries to ruin everything. But unlike Sarah Jessica Parker, who used a stunt double, she did all of her own dancing. That’s because Gagnier has a background in that field: before she became an actress, she was a ballet dancer.

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18. The film’s basically a role reversal of Dirty Dancing

Everyone loves the plot of Dirty Dancing. The hot, talented Patrick Swayze teaches everygirl Jennifer Grey to dance and falls in love with her in the process; what’s not to like? Girls Just Want To Have Fun, however, features the opposite of this trope… the girl does the teaching and the boy is the pupil.

17. Robert Downey Jr is in there

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Blink and you’ll miss him, but future A-lister Robert Downey Jr makes a cameo – of sorts – in the film. He appears during the party scene, as one of the punks. And yes, you do remember correctly – the future Iron Man also had a major romance with Sarah Jessica Parker during that time. In fact, they dated from 1984 to 1991.

16. The film often appeared on cable

Girls Just Want To Have Fun did not do well at the box office. It had almost no stars involved – Sarah Jessica Parker wasn’t a big name yet – and who’d pay good money just to see some kids dancing to a Cyndi Lauper song? But its failure turned out to be a blessing in disguise. It ended up being aired on cable TV a lot, where people saw it – and fell in love with it.

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15. There’s a montage sequence

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No ’80s movie would be complete without a montage. In Girls Just Want To Have Fun, Janey falls in love with Jeff (played by Lee Montgomery) as the two rehearse their dance moves. And the movie makes sure we know it. Their dancing-while-romancing sequence is very, very cheesy, but also very, very entertaining.

14. The film is sensible about gender roles

Maybe the ’80s weren’t the most enlightened time when it came to men doing “girly” things like dancing. But luckily, Girls Just Want To Have Fun ignores this sign of the times altogether. In fact, Jeff’s father is totally fine with his son’s love of dancing. There’s no homophobia or misogyny there at all. Take that, Billy Elliot’s dad.

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13. Aspects of the film’s heroine were based on Sarah Jessica Parker

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If you love S.J.P. and want a glimpse of what she was like during her childhood, then this is the movie for you. One of the producers, Janis Hirsch, already knew Parker and made sure to have her character behave the same way in the movie she would have at 17 years old. “Janis wasn’t into depicting people my age being stupid,” the actor told the Los Angeles Times in 1985.

12. It has a great soundtrack

If you like ’80s music, and who doesn’t, you’ll definitely want to see this movie. Or at the very least listen to the soundtrack. That is, if you can find it, since it’s been out of print for a while. It features songs like “(Come On) Shout” by Alex Brown, “I Can Fly” by Rainey, and a cover by Animotion of “Dancing in the Street.” There’s only one thing missing from it, in fact…

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11. The movie’s namesake song isn’t in the film

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Despite the fact that the film is called Girls Just Want To Have To Fun, the famous song by Cyndi Lauper is in neither movie nor soundtrack. Instead, little-known artists Deborah Galli, Tami Holbrook, and Meredith Marshall performed a version of the song. And yet… Cyndi Lauper actually makes a small, uncredited cameo in the movie.

10. A strong female friendship is central to the film

There really aren’t that many movies where a couple of girls are friends with no drama whatsoever. But Girls Just Want To Have Fun is one of them! SJP’s Janey and Hunt’s Lynne, just plain like each other without any sniping or jealousy. “I was impressed with [the script’s] fondness for two best friends who aren’t competitive,” Parker told the Los Angeles Times in a 1985 interview.

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9. The film was critically derided… once

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Of course, tastes change as the decades fly by. In fact, Girls Just Want To Have Fun stands at only 38 percent on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes. “If you’re going to base a movie on a song, why not choose a song that’s, y’know, about something?” critic Scott Weinberg wrote in 2002. But the critics aren’t always right. The audience score for Girls on the website is a much warmer 77 percent.

8. Helen Hunt wears strange things on her head

Even by this film’s standards, Helen Hunt’s Lynn wears some pretty weird stuff. First it’s what appear to be plastic dinosaurs on either side of her head. Then it’s an enormous grasshopper on a hat, and then it’s a great big sparkly crown in her hair at the end of the movie. But all this, of course, only serves to make her an even more endearing character.

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7. The film happily embraces clichés

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Girls Just Want To Have Fun doesn’t do anything unexpected with its characters. They’re all pretty much movie archetypes: the teen with dreams, the poor but perfect love interest, the weird best friend, the overly strict father. But Girls absolutely delights in its clichés, and may even be responsible for popularising many of them…

6. The movie ushered in a new era of dance films

In 2013, pop culture website Vulture theorised that Girls Just Want To Have Fun provided the template for many of the dance movies that came after it. As well as the basic character archetypes, it was also one of the first films to use dancing as a metaphor for sex, which of course became very popular later on.

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5. The film has a proactive female lead

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Janey is definitely the heroine of Girls Just Want To Have Fun, not just a romantic partner for Jeff. She’s determined, driven, and doesn’t put up with nonsense from anyone. But she’s also likeable and relatable, especially in her first-day-at-a-new school scenes. The audience can’t help but root for her and be delighted when she succeeds.

4. Parker and Hunt became friends in real life, too

Helen Hunt and Sarah Jessica Parker didn’t have to act to get across their characters’ friendship, because they really did become good friends on set. Parker had always admired Hunt’s work and was thrilled to be cast alongside her. “Helen’s a staple in my life now, like rice,” she told the Los Angeles Times in 1985. “She’s consistently a cool person, a good soul, and so much fun!”

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3. The film has a great cast

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Parker and Hunt went on to be big stars, of course. But the film would have a pretty good cast even without them. A young Shannen Doherty, who would later go on to star in the original Beverly Hills, 90210, appears in the film as Maggie. The famous Western actor Morgan Woodward played Mr Sands. And although Lee Montgomery retired from acting not long after Girls, he had been a child star beforehand.

2. Sarah Jessica Parker still thinks fondly of the film

In a 2016 interview with movie site Collider, Parker was thrilled when the interviewer brought up Girls. “You read scripts and you pick among the best of them and make the best choices that you can,” she said. “It was something that I was offered and, of what was available to me, it was the best choice I could make. I didn’t know how to dance like that, so it was fun. What I mostly remember is working with Helen.”

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1. A remake was once in the works

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It was announced in 2009 that Girls Just Want To Have Fun was getting the remake treatment. Production companies Lakeshore Entertainment and 20th Century Fox were behind it and they’d even hired a screenwriter. But after that announcement? Nothing. And it’s been almost ten years. Oh well, you can always just watch the original again…

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