80s movie nostalgia is all the rage these days, and we’ve seen two different versions of throwback content play out over the past several years. We have the highly successful Netflix series Stranger Things that faithfully recreates the small-town charm that can only be seen in an 80s summer blockbuster. We also have movies set in modern times that borrow from the 80s movie playbook like Rim of the World, which can be streamed on Netflix.
Whatever iteration of 80s revival you happen to be into, there’s something for everybody, and you’ll see that Rim of the World leans into a number of tropes that we’re familiar with from the decade that brought us new wave and synth pop, and put Reese’s Pieces on the map.
Rim of the World isn’t an 80s movie, but it makes a wholehearted attempt to capture the glory days of films like E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and The Goonies in its delivery.
Rim of the World starts out with a rag-tag group of misfits that meet at an adventure summer camp of the same name. Alex functions as the primary protagonist, and quickly befriends an orphan girl from China named Zhen Zhen, a wealthy outspoken boy named Dariush, and a juvenile detention escapee named Gabriel. Shortly after they meet, they all receive text messages suggesting that they need to evacuate the area.
It doesn’t take long for Rim of the World to establish its story, and the kids realize that they’re dealing with an alien invasion. As luck may have it, an astronaut from the International Space Station just so happens to crash land nearby, and he has in his possession the key that can destroy the aliens if brought to right scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL). The only problem is that the JPL is 70 miles away, and the kids don’t have the best means of transportation.
And what do kids do in 80s movies when the adults have been incapacitated, and they need to get somewhere quickly? That’s right, they take up the entire road with their bicycle formation while a song from Simple Minds plays in the background, with plenty of high fives to go around.
But since Rim of the World isn’t actually an 80s movie, we don’t get Simple Minds or Tears for Fears on the soundtrack, but rather “Straight Outta Compton” by N.W.A when the kids steal a Mustang, which occurs shortly after they suit up in matching Adidas outfits at an abandoned mall to the tune of Nelly’s “Hot In Herre.”
If you have preteens who have not yet been exposed to the 80s movies you so desperately want them to enjoy, Rim of the World makes for an excellent primer to capture the attention of young modern audience.
Like we said, Rim of the World isn’t an 80s movie, but it makes a wholehearted attempt to capture the glory days of films like E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and The Goonies in its delivery. There’s even a scene that’s clearly paying homage to the kitchen scene from 1993’s Jurassic Park, which misses the mark by a few years, but it’s still a Spielberg reference, so we’ll let this one slide.
In other words, Rim of the World is a modern throwback movie that’s not without its charm, and it’s a fun science fiction adventure film in its own right. But by borrowing so heavily from the 80s (and 90s) movies that inspired it, it also gets in its own way. That is to say, Rim of the World could have benefited from doing its own thing rather than play the nostalgia card.
Critically speaking, Rim of the World garnered a 27 percent critical score against a 47 percent audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. If you grew up in the 80s and 90s, you may not enjoy this movie because you’ve seen it all before, so why waste your time watching a modern carbon copy of something that was done better in the past?
But since Rim of the World isn’t actually an 80s movie, we don’t get Simple Minds or Tears for Fears on the soundtrack, but rather “Straight Outta Compton” by N.W.A when the kids steal a Mustang.
But if you have preteens who have not yet been exposed to the 80s movies you so desperately want them to enjoy, Rim of the World makes for an excellent primer to capture the attention of young modern audience.
By trying to emulate a tried and true formula, Rim of the World is predictable in many ways. Some of the most scathing reviews on Rotten Tomatoes suggest that it’s too bland to live up to the iconic 80s movies that many of us grew up with, but too cliché to set itself apart from them. While this may be true on many levels, the young actors have a surprising amount of charisma that help move the story along, and its pacing and cinematography is enough to keep a casual science-fiction fan engaged.