I’m BACK! Movies were an important aspect of my life growing up, so I decided to make a definitive list of iconic movies/actors that helped define specific time periods of my childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. This is the first of a 3 part series of posts. Each time period will contain 10 highlights, in no particular order, that I felt best fit my experience. So sit back, relax, and relive your youth.
This post goes out to the middle 80's babies (84-86).
Elementary/Middle/Junior High School
Kids sports films
I was heavily involved in sports activities my entire childhood, so naturally I was drawn to those types of movies. There was absolutely no shortage of sports films for kids during this time. Many of these movies gave us incredibly quotable lines like “Rocky loves Emily” and “FOOORRRREEEVVVVVVEEEEEERRRRRR”. Little Giants and Lady Bugs were a perfect mix of cute boys, girl power, and heartwarming life lessons-90s style. I really loved how the girls were central to the storyline and showed that we could be just as athletic is boys.
Little Giants (1994)
Cast: Ed O’Neill, Rick Moranis, Shawna Waldron, Devon Sawa
Lady Bugs (1992)
Cast: Rodney Dangerfield, Jackée Harry, Jonathan Brandis, Vinessa Shaw
HONORABLE MENTIONS: The Sandlot, The Mighty Ducks, 3 Ninjas
Knee socks, knit skirts, baby tees…Oh my! Movies certainly set and echoed the fashion trends in the 90s. You weren’t cool unless you looked like a Clueless clone. From “Whatever” to “Loser”, it was such a cultural/fashion phenomenon. But the fashion wasn't always sugar and spice. Grunge looks were very popular for the alternative music crowd. I also appreciated the looks from The Craft which were darker and more appropriate for the tone of the film. They gave off a “goth-lite” feminine vibe.
Cast: Alicia Silverstone, Brittany Murphy, Paul Rudd,
The Craft (1996)
Cast: Robin Tunney, Fairuza Balk, Rachel True, Neve Campbell
HONORABLE MENTIONS: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Empire Records
Every kid had that ONE movie that they were dying to see, but weren’t old enough to get into. Mine was Scream. Word of mouth from older kids made it seem like the best movie to ever grace the silver screen. It had gore, sex, scares, and amazing tunes. Everyone kept gabbing about the twist beginning & ending, which made 12 year old me finally decide to stop being a goody two-shoes and sneak in to see it. Another rated R flick that had me dying to see it in theaters was I Know What You Did Last Summer. While it was a little more tame than Scream on the blood and gore aspect, it made up for with its blatant casting of teen heartthrob types, popular TV starlets, and amazing soundtrack.
Cast: Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox, Skeet Ulrich, Drew Barrymore
I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)
Cast: Jennifer Love Hewitt, Freddie Prinze Jr., Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillippe
HONORABLE MENTIONS: Fear, Kids, Disturbing Behavior
There really isn’t much to say about this one. Leo sparked my awakening as a tween. He had boyish good looks AND he could act. He was everywhere from magazine covers to box office hits. Titanic made him an international superstar. If you didn’t see that movie 3+ times in the movie theater…I don’t know what you were doing with your life. Peak Leo for me will always be in Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet. The fish tank and balcony scene were on repeat when I snagged my hands on this VHS. I bought the movie version of the play and MEMORIZED all of Juliet’s lines. I also bought both the soundtracks and played them non-stop.
Romeo & Juliet (1996)
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Claire Danes, John Leguizamo, Harold Perrineau
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane, Kathy Bates
HONORABLE MENTIONS: Basketball Diaries, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?
It wasn’t a 90s family movie if it didn’t include some kind of animal. Dog, cat, ape, you name it…they were all a part of the family! Beethoven was actually one of my fav movies growing up, 1) b/c I didn’t have any pets and 2) I loved watching that crazy St. Bernard wreak havoc on that poor family’s house. My favorite part of this 90s gem is the fact that the eldest daughter’s name was Ryce…RYCE. Toss in an evil plot to steal the dog and you have yourself a perfect animal shenanigans movie. Another animal centric family movie is Jumanji. I absolutely loved Robin Williams (RIP) as Alan Parrish, the man who disappeared while playing the mysterious board game as a child. It was such a fun fantasy film to watch especially the scenes with the monkeys.
Cast: Charles Grodin, Bonnie Hunt, Nichole Tom, Stanley Tucci
Cast: Robin Williams, Kirsten Dunst, Bonnie Hunt, Jonathan Hyde
HONORABLE MENTIONS: Homeward Bound, Air Bud (and its 30 unnecessary sequels)
Based on books
While I typically don’t have too much time to read now, I really enjoyed myself a good children’s book back in the day. It was always fun seeing the characters come to life on the big screen. Harriet the Spy made me want to be a detective when I grew up. The movie adaptation was funky and a treat to watch. I also appreciated the movie version of The Indian in the Cupboard. I wondered how they were going to pull off making the toy come to life, and little me was not disappointed with the results.
Harriet the Spy (1996)
Cast: Michelle Trachtenberg, Gregory Smith, Vanessa Lee Chester, Rosie O’Donnell
The Indian in the Cupboard (1995)
Cast: Hal Scardino, Litefoot, Lindsay Crouse, Richard Jenkins
HONORABLE MENTIONS: A Little Princess, The Babysitter’s Club, Tom and Huck
Action/Adventure for the Family
Jurassic Park and Independence Day were HUGE, HUGE movies at the time. I remember seeing the trailer for Independence Day at the movies and people sitting with their mouths open and cheering. These movies were unlike anything that had been released at the time. The special effects were top notch (although it seems very dated now) and to me these were the first 2 big budget 90s hits that everyone was clamoring to see opening weekend. Fun Fact: Jurassic Park was the 1st movie to use DTS sound format.
Independence Day (1996)
Cast: Will Smith, Vivica A Fox, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman
Jurassic Park (1993)
Cast: Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough
HONORABLE MENTIONS: Men in Black, Terminator II: Judgement Day
Everyone loves a cheesy lifetime movie. They were really cranking them out in the 90s and there are definitely some classics. Their cautionary tales had me hooked when I was a youngster. It was always a pleasure to see popular TV actors at the time star in these made for TV movies about heavy subject matter. They basically employed the casts of Saved by the Bell and Beverly Hills 90210 in their off-time. Lifetime movies tackled rape, child abuse, adultery, kidnapping…you name it. Even though I was very young, it was nice to see that the world was not always cartoons and roses.
She fought Alone (1996)
Cast: Tiffani Amber Theissen, Brian Austin Green, David Lipper, Maureen Flannigan
Indecent Seduction/For My Daughter’s Honor (1996)
Cast: Nichole Tom, Gary Cole, Alyson Hannigan, Sara Rue
HONORABLE MENTIONS: She Cried No (Freshman Fall), No One Would Tell
While I didn’t watch too many Disney/animated films when I was little, I do have fond memories of the few that I actually remember. I even had an Aladdin sleeping bag. Every 90s kid is familiar with Buzz, Woody, and the Toy Story gang. The animation in that film was groundbreaking and the story will never get old. Little Mermaid had me combing my hair with a fork and singing “Part of your World” out the car window to whoever would listen. Now I watch these movies and cry like a baby because the nostalgia is overwhelming.
Toy Story (1995)
Cast: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Don Rickles, Jim Varney
The Little Mermaid (1989)
Cast: Jodi Benson, Christopher Daniel Barnes, Samuel E. Wright, Pat Carroll
HONORABLE MENTIONS: Beauty and the Beast, 101 Dalmations
Older sibling suggestions
Being the youngest in my family, I was always watching movies/TV Shows with my brother and sisters. My siblings were 4+ years older than me and into more mature films about HS and College. While most, if not all of the content went over my head as child, I grew to appreciate them the older I got. I still stop and watch these movies EVERYTIME they are on basic cable. Kid N’ Play’s Class Act still remains one of my fav movies with its anti-drug & anti-bully rhetoric. Wedge is one of the best HS bully portrayals in a teen movie IMO. Speaking of HS bullies, Matt “SSSHHH” Wilson from Encino Man is still used in memes to this day. This movie helped catapult the career of Brendan Fraser and helped Sean Astin transition from child star to successful adult actor.
Class Act (1992)
Cast: Christopher Reid, Christopher Martin, Karyn Parsons, Doug E. Doug
Encino Man (1992)
Cast: Brendan Fraser, Sean Astin, Pauly Shore, Megan Ward
HONORABLE MENTIONS: Friday, School Ties, Higher Learning
VIDEO SOURCE 126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168.
What are some of your movie memories, ONTD? The Music Retrospect posts here: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3
*DISCLAIMER: I welcome any and all “pathetic grandmas can’t let go of the past comments”*