How a Single Mr. T Movie Defined a Decade

#4. Fake Competition

Whether it's the All Valley Karate Championship or a child custody bestowing Vegas arm wrestling competition, the only thing faker than the names and careers are the organized competitions that control the universe in 80s movies.

The Toughest Man in the World inevitably ends with Mr. T entering the Toughest Man in the World competition: an insane combination of weight-lifting, a montage, a fun-house style assault course and a boxing match against the previous champion. Unfortunately, the crooked current Toughest Man in the World clearly suffers from advanced selfishness--in kid's movie land, that's worse for your chances of winning than muscular dystrophy--and we all know that a mortal punching T's chin is just pressing the big red "Please Notice and Flatten Me Now" button hidden under his beard.

Knowing they had to come up with a believable enemy for Clubber Lang, the writers make T's nemesis climbing a rope.


Das Ropenmeister!

Telling Mr. T to be bad at physical exertion is like telling Tila Tequila to act classy at a kid's benefit concert; they'll suck no matter how important you explain it is not to, and as they're clutching that length in front an army of children you realize your career as a casting director are over.

T's several attempts at acting are simulated spinal failure and scowling harder than normal, if nothing else, proving that his facial muscles can withstand stresses which would pulp a regular human skull.

#3. Wildly Unnecessary Romantic Subplot

There's also a romantic subplot, featuring one of the most amazingly asexual performances by a leading man this side of Kevin Spacey. He approaches her like a confused five-year-old, brandishing a bunch of flowers like they're a Magic Sword +1 Against Cooties. At the other end of the sexual spectrum the movie wins the Secret Academy Award for PG-13 Yo Mama Jokes and Logical Impossibility: Mr. T visits Dennis's home and without benefit of swearing, nudity, slang or even mentioning the concepts of money or sex he makes it clear Dennis's mom is a whore. If this filmmaker was allowed to swear he could overthrow the government. And their moms.

#2. Anti-Drug Message

In Earth-T Chicago people never even say the word "drug," let alone deal them, but the Mafia boss brandishes a syringe and says it's a little "special something" which will make Mr. T lose the fight. That's brilliant: Imprinting an entire generation of kids with the idea that syringes could make Mr. T lose a fight? You couldn't brainwash them better if cocaine killed Bambi's mother!

#1. Baffling Final Showdown(s)

At this point, the raw 80s RADiation becomes so intense it starts conjuring physical objects out of thin air and suppressing our world's laws of physics and child-endangerment: the Mafia warehouse features several fully-laden dining tables for no other reason than to have thugs thrown through them, several gangsters and the previous Toughest Man in the World are beaten up by a school bus full of disadvantaged children, and the police response is "What, you ram-raided a known Mafia hideout with a school bus full of orphans? Sure we'll let you go! Gedouddaheah, and make sure you're hugging that kid instead of the love interest!"

But the real showdown was 15 minutes earlier, when Mr. T faced off against Baron Von Lengthofrope. Warning: if you were born after 1989 this incredible movie climax may project you into temporal nonexistence:

The pivotal battle is between Mr. T's face and a panel of chipboard. The highlight is where he's surprised to see the wall, clearly suppressing the traumatic memories of training for this exact situation several times, and jumps back like the rope just pulled a knife. And in the perfect apex of Eighttitude he suddenly employs his special skill of remembering he's the only thing in the world made of Mr. T, believes in himself and runs through the wall.

And that's the 80s-ist lesson of all: No matter how stupid your skill, even if it's just "break wooden things," use it in the second half of the movie to win!

You can read more Luke McKinney, and find out what happens when you drink amazingly bad beer for breakfast. Or watch him make a Bacontini.

For more 80s insanity, check out The 10 Most Terrifyingly Inspirational 80s Songs and 8 Important Lessons Learned from 80s Cartoons. Or find out Which 80s Version of Awesome Are You?.

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