Judge Reinhold: 80s icon

Our occasional series returns, and Judge Reinhold is the latest 80s icon to be inducted into our hall of fame. Trouble is, we're not quite sure why...

This is Judge Reinhold. He has gotten older.

It was something of a surprise to see Judge Reinhold pop up in the Santa Clause 3 last year. Not, er, because I watched the third entry in a series (I sat through the first one and contemplated an on-the-spot lobotomy after watching it), but because, well, I thought he’d just disappeared. This is the same Judge Reinhold, remember, who turned up in seemingly every 80s film of note at one point. Think Tony Slattery on British TV in the early 90s and you’re just about there.

But here’s the scary thing: Reinhold is 50 now. And, on further investigation, I discovered he was in Santa Clause 2 as well. And, er, the first one. Clearly his presence in that movie was memorable. Digging still further reveals that, contrary to my suspicion that Reinhold had given up acting and headed off to some kind of retreat for the rest of his life, he’s been working. In fact, since 1988’s Vice Versa – the last film I really remembered him in – he’s notched up 71 further acting credits. Granted, among the highest profile of these was Beverly Hills Cop 3, which even Eddie Murphy doesn’t even talk about, but nonetheless, considering I thought he’d given up this acting lark, that’s quite a workrate.

Yet for those of us who found our love of movies in the 80s, Judge Reinhold was as iconic a name as Broderick, Sutherland and Astin. Consider the classic comedy Stripes, which he snagged himself a role in. And then that iconic of iconic 80s films, Fast Times At Ridgemont High, which he also popped up in. Further credits then included Gremlins, the Beverly Hills Cops, Ruthless People and the aforementioned Vice Versa. For many, his face was synonymous with 80s film.

But what is he best known for? Er, I’m not really sure. Looking back across his CV – which has now covered direct to video Beethoven sequels – it’s curious how Reinhold became such a name. He was rarely the leading light in any of his films, and I can’t honestly remember a time when he acted everyone else off the screen. I can’t see one outright memorable performance on the list.

Ad – content continues below

Still, maybe that’s what was great about the 80s. You can be an icon, a symbol of everything that was splendid about cinema in that era, without actually making that much of a contribution to it. Roll on his next role in, er, the new Kevin Costner movie. Is that his stab at a Reinhold Revival?!

Previous 80s icons on Den Of Geek:Chunk, The Goonies and the Truffle ShuffleIvan Drago