This was the bigger list for 1991…
I was surprised at 1991’s film experience. When compiling my movies of choice for that year, I said, “this list feels thin.” Then I looked at the number of films I saw that fell into the background. Admittedly, when you have a year with T2: Judgement Day in it… everything else sort of falls flat.
So, I present to you the films that fell under Ah-nold’s shadow and were either a good flick, just okay, or flat out terminated.
The Good, the Bad, and the Indifferent
- Nothing But Trouble (Bad): Dan Ackroyd plays a weirdo (one of his best numbers) and yet he still fails to save this film – even as the director. Digital Underground was called in to try and pull the film out of a tailspin, but it still crashed the film into the ground. If you must watch this one, inebriation will go a long way to surviving the experience.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: The Secret of the Ooze (Bad): For as good as the first one was… just… no. Even if David Warner is in it, it does not forgive the presence of Vanilla Ice.
- Drop Dead Fred (Indifferent): A girl’s imaginary friend comes back in adulthood to cause trouble. Stuff happens, but it’s not memorable.
- What About Bob? (Indifferent): I like Bill Murray as much as the next guy. But this film wasn’t his best.
- Hudson Hawk (Bad): This is probably at that weird intersection of events that results in a guilty pleasure. Watch with beer and the full understanding that it’s not going to get better.
- City Slickers (Good): “Just one thing.” “Your finger?”
- Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear (Indifferent): OJ was in this as Northberg, so the trial hadn’t happened yet. It was funny, but ordinary.
- Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey (Bad): As much as I love the first film (Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, 1989) this follow-up is not required viewing. Just falls flat. Bogus is even in the title.
- Hot Shots! (Indifferent): I remember laughing, but none of the jokes.
- Doc Hollywood (Good): Michael J. Fox continues a general winning streak. Staple comedy stuff, worth a view.
- Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man (Indifferent): Wow. Mom and Dad picked a racy film for a twelve year old’s birthday party. A cult classic for some, but T&A failed to cement this as a favorite.
- Highlander II: The Quickening (Bad): There should be only one.
- The People Under the Stairs (Indifferent): Another cult classic which was okay, but didn’t leave a lot of itself behind in my mind.
- Cape Fear (Good): De Niro portraying an unhinged stalker. Par for the course.
- My Girl (Indifferent): A coming of age story as I was starting to come of age, but what I remember the most is the young female lead blubbering about Macaulay Culkin’s glasses.
- Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (Good): I’m not an avid fan of Star Trek. But, Klingon Shakespeare and Pepto Bismol blood in zero-G is cool. That alone beat the hell out of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989) in which ‘god’ wanted to bum a ride.
Filling In the Blanks
I also found that I missed a LOT of stuff from this year. I mean, a whole shelf of VHS practically fell through my field of view and I didn’t grab enough. Many of my peers will no doubt school me for this list as it includes some of the really iconic movies from the year of 1991. Some I missed because I wasn’t old enough, others wouldn’t have passed my parents’ muster, and others just wouldn’t have registered as important to me at the time.
I can’t blame outside sources for everything though. I’m a grown man and I’ve been able to watch any damn movies I please. Shit, I worked at a Blockbuster Video in college. Free rentals! I had tons of opportunities.
So, with great shame (not for all, but definitely some), I note the following gaps in my film knowledge, and mark them for future consideration.
- The Silence of the Lambs: Apparently my dad and my grandmother (yes, my dad and his mom) watched this together and determined the film was great. And, that it was wholly inappropriate for just about everyone else in our family. Serial killers aren’t a favorite topic for me, but this is critically acclaimed stuff. I have to remedy this gap, and soon.
- The Doors: I didn’t know who the hell Jim Morrison was when this came out, so I didn’t care at the time. Given an updated appreciation of music that preceded my birth at a later stage in life, this seems like a no brainer in hindsight. While not a huge fan, I appreciate what I do know and would love to learn more.
- New Jack City: I’m not sure I was even aware of this film growing up. But, it’s Wesley Snipes and I know a lot of folks who really liked this film.
- Career Opportunities: Jennifer Connelly. I’ll admit this freely. It’s the only compelling reason I have to visit this. I’m comfortable with this.
- Backdraft: I have a friend from college who watched this movie like it was holy scripture. It helped his dad was a fire chief I suppose. Never made it to my VHS player though.
- Jungle Fever: I missed everything Spike Lee produced in my youth. He was ‘controversial,’ and as a result his films never got through my house’s front door or garnered much attention. Mom and dad of course had their own picks come through that could have been considered controversial – I just don’t think they were ready themselves for the raw nerves that Lee hit with his films. A lot of white, suburban parents probably weren’t, which was probably one of Spike Lee’s points in making the films he’s known for. Regardless, the topic of sex as a focal point in any story was enough to keep this film out of my reach as I was still too young to watch this at the time Jungle Fever came out. The good news is my parents have become wiser with age, and as noted above… I can watch anything I like nowadays.
- Boyz n the Hood: Much like the above, except replace sex with gang violence.
- Point Break: Yes, yes. I know, I know, I’ll get on this. It didn’t seem like a big deal at the time.
- Dutch: This is a big favorite in my aunt’s family, but it never broke the barrier into my immediate family’s collection. We started watching it this Thanksgiving during dinner. But, as with any holiday event with my family, discussion was the main focus, not the film. Plus I had to leave earlier than expected. So I owe my cousin a viewing.
- Double Impact: Something with two Jean-Claude Van Dammes? Sure. Why not? Probably better than Timecop (1994), which we’ll get to soon!
- Barton Fink: It’s John Turturro and John Goodman. It seems like this is a no brainer. I came to love Turturro recently after watching The Night Of (2016) and O Brother, Where Art Thou (2000). I started streaming this recently on Netflix, but I have the attention span of a weasel on speed. I shall return to it with any luck.
- My Own Private Idaho: I always did like River Phoenix – Explorers (1985) was a regularly viewed growing up, later he was in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), and then again in Sneakers (1992). Seems logical to add this film to the pile.
- Curly Sue: this is one of two remaining films (the other being She’s Having a Baby, 1988) remaining in my list of John Hughes directed films remaining to be watched. So, it has to happen.
- The Last Boy Scout: Bruce Willis action films are hard to turn down given my love of Die Hard (1988). And of course you have Damon Wayans who was on the rise at the time. But, then again: Hudson Hawk. Maybe it just felt bad to fully trust Bruce Willis in 1991.
- JFK: Back, and to the left. Back, and to the left. Back, and to the left. I know that much. So why not see the rest? Oliver Stone was a big part of the nineties, and honestly, I’m not sure I’ve seen any of his work.