The Legend of Billie Jean (1985)

legend of billie jean poster 1985 movie
7.0 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 7/10

Fun throw-back movie, not necessarily good, but entertaining

Love the ideas but runs out of direction after a while

Movie Info

Movie Name: The Legend of Billie Jean

Studio: Gomillion Studios

Genre(s): Action/Adventure

Release Date(s): July 19, 1985

MPAA Rating: PG-13

legend of billie jean helen slater richard bradford shooting

She was asking for it?

Billie Jean Davy (Helen Slater) and her brother Binx (Christian Slater) live in a small trailer park in Corpus Christie, Texas.  When Binx gets in a fight with Hubie Pyatt (Barry Tubb), his scooter is wrecked, and Billie Jean’s attempts to get financial amends from Mr. Pyatt (Richard Bradford) goes horribly wrong.  Now Billie Jean, Binx, and their friends Ophelia (Martha Gehman) and Putter (Yeardley Smith) are on the run with Lieutenant Larry Ringwald (Peter Coyote) desperately trying to bring them in while the public is eating up Billie Jean’s cause.  All Billie Jean wants is the money for the scooter…fair is fair!

Directed by Matthew Robbins, The Legend of Billie Jean is an action drama.  The movie was released to largely average to negative reviews but gained a cult following over the years.

The Legend of Billie Jean was one of those fun kid movies.  Like The Goonies or Bad News Bears, the movie wasn’t entirely innocent.  While (like in the other movies) everyone does the right thing at the end, you aren’t quite sure if everything will turn out right…and the movie’s fun keeps you watching.

legend of billie jean putter yeardley smith

Putter, we love you!

The story is a class/gender story combined with a Bonnie and Clyde story (but tempered for a younger audience).  Billie Jean, Binx, Putter, and Ophelia are all “trailer trash” in the eyes of the people around them and feel that they have been rejected as a result.  Ringwald doesn’t believe their story or the problems that could potentially erupt from it when they do the right thing and go to the police, and the public splits on if Billie Jean is a hero or a punk kid.  There are a lot of times in the movie where it could turn really, really dark and it never goes that dark (something that wouldn’t happen today), but the fact there is a potential for the darkness keeps some suspense for first time viewers.

The cast helps sell the movie.  Helen Slater is the type of girl who would turn heads and pulls off her “punk” look when she decides to go the Joan of Arc route.  Christian Slater shows some young acting chops as the hotheaded Binx (and as they have often pointed out in real life, Helen and Christian aren’t related).  Peter Coyote has a nice role as a police officer who realizes his prejudices have led to a mistake, and Richard Bradford is a good slimy adult.  Martha Gehman is kind of the forgotten one of the group, and Yeardley Smith (who was twenty at the time) is a scene stealer as Putter.  Later in the movie, Keith Gordon takes a prominent role as Billie Jean’s “hostage” and his father is played by Dean Stockwell.

legend of billie jean helen slater wetsuit haircut

Oh Billie Jean…your punkness rocks. You will be invincible!

The movie has a real 1980s vibe.  The movie features the Pat Benatar hit “Invincible” and tons of ’80s styles.  The look and the styles benefit from the location.  The film was largely shot around Corpus Christi in Texas which also kind of highlights the wealth-poverty lines drawn in many seaside towns.

The Legend of Billie Jean isn’t a good movie, but if you grew up with it, it is a fun movie.  I could watch it anytime and enjoy it.  The film fills a niche for young adult “crime” movies that many films don’t do, and it is refreshing that it doesn’t turn out tragic as a result.  Just have fun watching The Legend of Billie Jean and remember that fair is fair!!!

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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