So. Many. Movies…
Obviously, as stated in earlier posts, the lists I’m generating aren’t meant to be comprehensive in any other context but my own preference. I didn’t have the time, budget, or desire to see every film that was ever released in my childhood. Also, indie and international films didn’t always hit the radar back in the nineties. It’s all hard to collate, so, I’ll let you in on my insight of how I’m generating this stuff.
I’m pulling my lists of films from the ever popular site Wikipedia.org, specifically this main article on years in film (with a primary focus on America). It’s not exhaustive, but it breaks down into individual years and it’s a pretty good indication of the films I was going to be able to see as a young American. I get a lot of my confirmations on their data on film releases by double checking at IMDB given that film is what they do, all day, every day (I’d use it as the primary source, but their breakdowns are so comprehensive as to produce more noise than signal for a free account user at the least).
Given that, I’m going to miss some stuff (mostly international or indie) while also being able to see other films that I either didn’t know about or to use to build a backlog of stuff I’d love to see later. This is giving me a couple of other buckets to divide film into, hence this coda. I’ll be adding a coda to each year under the heading of The Cutting Room Floor that will evolve as the project does. In these codas I intend to address films I saw but wasn’t particularly moved by, a to-do list of unviewed film, and also tackle some things I noted about film in general that the era might have brought about (We’ll get to that in 1995 with Mortal Kombat)
The good and the bad, and the indifferent.
It’s obvious, but worth saying: not all movies move me or leave a huge impression. Some leave me with a bad taste in my mouth. The year of 1990 was no exception. So, I figured I should at least mention the films I saw that were either just a good way to pass the time, but not deep or personally moving; the films that were just terrible or poorly executed; or the films that simply left me flat.
- Ski Patrol (Indifferent): As noted earlier with Men At Work, movies hadn’t gotten all the way out of the eighties yet, and as much as I love wacky hijinks movies from the 80’s, this was just more of the same.
- Tremors (Good): This film was an example of the kind of weird monster films that came out of the eighties pushing their way into a new decade as well. It was good, but giant worms had already been introduced in Dune (1984) and… I got to this one way after it’s release when I was in college. It’s fun, but didn’t push me forward in any way emotionally or creatively.
- The Hunt For Red October (Good): This had a great cast and was kind of a political primer for me given I was pretty young when I saw it. I didn’t really understand the concept of defection when I first watched it in the nineties. It got better with age since I was a kid and makes much more sense as an adult.
- Joe Versus the Volcano (Bad): It’s a damning thing when you realize you remember almost nothing of a movie other than that you weren’t impressed. Maybe I’m giving it a bad rap, but the only joke I remember is Tom Hanks playing with rubber testicles, and even that was a kind ‘laugh once’ moment.
- Spaced Invaders (Indifferent): I remember watching it on cable to pass the time. The Donut of Destruction was funny, but it’s the only thing I remember.
- Bird on a Wire (Indifferent): I watched it on VHS with my parents I think, but I draw a blank when trying to recall it’s plot or how we could have been fooled into thinking Mel Gibson was a good person. It had birds and wires maybe?
- Gremlins 2: The New Batch (Bad): I was so psyched to see a Gremlins (1984) sequel. But it was by no means the sequel I wanted or felt I deserved. I can’t help but think of something my roommate said to me about Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011) that pertained to this: “It was entertaining… dumb as fuck, but entertaining.”
- Robocop 2 (Bad): Don’t. Just don’t.
- Die Hard 2 (Indifferent): I don’t think the team behind this movie tried real hard when it came to this follow-up. The original was better in every conceivable way (in my honest opinion, Die Hard (1988) is the film from which all nineties action movies are cut). Most impressive moment was death by icicle.
- Problem Child (Indifferent): I remember a kid in a devil suit, but not much else. Even this might even be a memory of its lackluster sequel? It left that much of an impression. I didn’t even remember Jack Ritter was in this until I looked it up on IMDB.
- Young Guns II (Good): I am not certain I’ve ever seen this film all at once in a single sitting, but what I saw I remember liking. Oddly enough, I’d never even seen the first Young Guns when I saw this… and I’m not certain I have now either. The eighties are fuzzy memory territory in some ways.
- Duck Tales the Movie: The Treasure of the Lost Lamp (Indifferent): The movie was Disney so it was good animation, but I only remember it being an extended episode of the usual Duck Tales fare: Flintheart Glomgold and Scrooge McDuck fight a libertarian battle for treasure.
- Goodfellas (Good): This is no doubt going to come up as a sticking point knowing a lot of the people I grew up with and whom I met later in my life. This movie was critically acclaimed, dramatic, and had a great cast. Maybe I caught it late, but it wasn’t a life changer for me. Of course, The Class of 1999 made it in the main list, so clearly my taste is poor on it’s best day, but I’ve never claimed otherwise.
- Home Alone (Indifferent): I cannot help but think of how many times that Kevin killed those robbers under the rules of conventional reality and how he’d have ended up in juvie or tried as an adult on the count of his adorable and vicious sadism. Sure, they were trying to rob and kill him in as a comedic manner was as was appropriate, but… Jesus Christ Kevin. You are a monster.
- Misery (Good): I’d read the book earlier that year (my second King book – I have no idea what my parents were thinking). If anything blew my mind between the two, it was the book. Good casting for both main roles (James Caan and Kathy Bates).
- Look Who’s Talking Too (Indifferent): More talking babies. Meh.
- Almost an Angel (Indifferent): Crocodile Dundee is an angel. Needed more crocodiles. I remember it being fun but just okay.
- Kindergarten Cop (Good): This was one of the first films where they tried out comedy with Arnold Schwarzenegger. Maybe not his best, but still fun. Ferrets never bite.
- Dick Tracy (Indifferent): I didn’t really have an expectation going in, and I didn’t really have an opinion coming out. It wasn’t a bad way to pass the time and the makeup work was superb. It just… wasn’t a memorable film for me.
Filling in the blanks
Even twenty-seven years later (as of this writing), there are still films I’ve not seen from the nineties that I would like to get around to. I’m certain that many of them have already had their expiration dates well exceeded, but there are always films that will stand the test of time regardless of the eras they came out of. So here’s a list of films I still need to get around to.
- Nightbreed: This was on my shelf for years on VHS, a freely given cassette from a colleague of my father’s. She’d given it to me in my first year at college after finding out that I was growing into an appreciation for horror films (once I got out of my parents’ house, the horror titles started rolling in). I am still recommended it today. In fact, I think it’s streaming now, so perhaps this gets visited as soon as today.
- House Party: This never really looked great as a kid, but it might have had something to offer.
- Pretty Woman: Totally missed this one, which was understandable. A movie that admitted that prostitution was a thing and actually focused on it probably wasn’t something my parents were in a rush to put in front of me. I’m not really a Julia Roberts fan either. But, it is arguably one of the iconic films of the decade, so I should at least give it a go.
- Cadillac Man: It’s Robin Williams. I like Robin Williams.
- Days of Thunder: NASCAR racing is boring to me, but a lot of people seemed to like this film.
- Pump Up the Volume: This film had no appeal to me as a youngster, but pirate radio is kind now of interest to me (radio as a science is something I’m now fascinated with in general). Prime Christian Slater territory as well.
- Hardware: I caught snippets of this post-apocalyptic title when I was a kid. I remember I started watching it on streaming recently but got sidetracked. I never got back to it, but it looks like nerd catnip for me.