Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
Sure, Raiders of the Lost Ark had exploding Nazis, but only in Last Crusade does Dr. Jones trade in his bullwhip for a pair of reading glasses as the archaeologist studies the history of the Holy Grail in a film so historical the hero's life depends on knowing that "Jehova" begins with an "I" in Latin.
Good Will Hunting (1997)
The film that introduced Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, Good Will Hunting also had some positive effects. It showed that schizophrenia or autism aren't prerequisites for mathematical genius, and that one can still go out and get "fuckin' hammered" in-between theorem solving. The picture also inspired a thousand drunken recitations of the phrase, "How do you like them apples?"
Okay, MacGyver is technically a TV show. But the program's titular scientist-cum-secret agent can do more with a ballpoint pen than all the gadgets 007 could pack into his Aston Martin. Using everything from an alarm clock to chocolate bars, the wavy-hared hero constructs brilliant "diversions" that well diverted the shit out of 7 seasons worth of terrorists and kidnappers.
Dead Poets Society (1989)
Remember that time your English teacher had you rip up your textbook while urging you to "size the day?" Neither do I. Then again, I never studied under the tutelage of Robin Williams. As only Mork could do, Professor Williams uses eccentric tactics to teach his students the underlying humanity of literature a theme that resonates even today, when ripping up a textbook is tantamount to grand larceny.
The Joy of Painting (1983-1995)
For over a decade, Bob Ross, The Joy of Painting's pleasant, Jewfro-ed host, taught America the simple pleasure of art as he added "happy little trees" to his oil landscapes. Like those kind old professors whose mellow voices lull you into a Zen-like state of relaxation during class, Ross assured even the most amateur painters: "We don't make mistakes. We just have happy accidents."
Back to School (1986)
Back to School is a film that celebrates the nobility of college for its own sake. Rodney Dangerfield plays a 50-year-old self-made millionaire who enrolls in his son's college to finally get some of that "respect" the comedian's always talking about. A thoroughly '80s film, Back to School also includes all sorts of delightful period clich