Wednesday, January 15, 1992


1991 was one of the most amazing year’s I’ve ever seen, as far as mediocre and cheesy movies go. I had to stretch to make a top ten list but as you’ll see below, there are some categories of film I had to invent in order to include as much as possible.

And somehow I still left out “City Slickers”, “Jungle Fever”, “Thelma & Louise”, “The Doors”, “Madonna: Truth or Dare”, “What About Bob?”, “Drop Dead Fred”, “Stone Cold”, “Backdraft”, “Robin hood: Prince of Thieves”, “The Rocketeer”, “Hot Shots!”, “Necessary Roughness”, “Doc Hollywood”, “Barton Fink”, “Lionheart”, “The Commitments”, “My Girl”, “Cape Fear”, “Hook” and “The Prince of Tides”.

It’s up to you to decide where I’d place those movies but now I think you are starting to appreciate how amazingly bland but memorable 1991 is shaping up. So without further ado, here’s how I rank 1991:

  • The Best Films of the Year:

  • 1. The Silence of the Lambs
    2. The Fisher King
    3. Grand Canyon
    4. Rush
    5. Regarding Henry
    6. My Own Private Idaho
    7. La Femme Nikita
    8. Terminator 2: Judgment Day
    9. The Man in the Moon
    10. Boyz n the Hood

    Big shock “The Silence of the Lambs” topped the list for the year. Actually the shocking thing is that the film was released in January and still swept all the major awards at the Oscars. As shown in recent history, usually 80% of the films nominated are released in the last month and a half of the year. For a film to hang on that long and win Best Picture, Director, Actor and Actress is astounding. Of course, that could also mean the rest of the year wasn’t that strong. You figure it out.

    I loved “The Fisher King”. It was great to see Robin Williams in a dramatic role and this was another movie where Jeff Bridges shows off how underrated he is as an actor.

    “Grand Canyon” is one of those big ensemble films that loads up on reputable actors and tries to show the audience a slice of real life. Only this time, it worked. A great film.

    “Rush” highlights some of the best acting performances of the year in Jason Patric and Jennifer Jason Leigh. Their portrayals of addicts were fantastic and this is one of the first films I remember seeing that was really dark and gritty. Most of the films in the ‘80s that touched on this subject weren’t able to go this far.

    “Regarding Henry” is, I think, Harrison Ford’s best acting performance (Don’t go all “Witness” or “Mosquito Coast” on me for saying that). The film is just a touching and heartbreaking look at what’s important in life. It’s okay to cry at this one.

    “My Own Private Idaho” is Keanu Reeves’ best performance and reminds us how good River Phoenix was as an actor. If he hadn’t of overdosed, we might have been spared the phenomenon that is Leonardo DiCraprio. The niche would have been filled … and by a much better actor.

    “La Femme Nikita” is another Luc Besson classic. Don’t watch the laughable American remake “Point of No Return”. This is the one to see. It also is the spark that made way for “Leon”. While waiting to get “The Fifth Element” into production, Besson wrote “Leon” for Jean Reno, based partially off his role in “La Femme Nikita”.

    “T2” made the list not so much because it’s a phenomenal film but because it’s a phenomenal movie. I hope I don’t need to describe the difference when my movie snob language bursts out. In any case, “T2” was James Cameron’s last good movie and capped off a nice run of good action flicks. The effects helped propel Hollywood to where it is today and it’s always nice to see a Governor kick a little ass.

    “The Man in the Moon” is a sappy and touchy-feely film about an adolescent girl (Reese Witherspoon) falling in love with the good London twin, Jason. It’s well done, sort of more a Hallmark movie of the week, but good performances throughout. This wouldn’t have made the list on a better year but it’s worth a rental if you like these kinds of films.

    The same is true of “Boyz n the Hood”. “Menace II Society” is a much better film about life in South Central Los Angeles and I really only included this to get Ice Cube a chance to be in the top ten list, rather than relegated to films that are horrible but fun to watch (i.e. “Anaconda”, Ghost of Mars”, “Torque”, etc.)

  • The Worst Films of the Year:

  • 1. Nothing but Trouble
    2. The Butcher’s Wife
    3. Switch
    4. Hudson Hawk
    5. King Ralph

    While the top ten was less than exciting and the subsequent lists are full of average but exceedingly kitschy films, 1991 was still able to produce some bottom feeding films.

    “Nothing But Trouble” is nothing but ipecac on celluloid. What do you expect to get when you combine the comedic ‘talents’ of a past his prime Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd and Demi Moore? Not even the great John Candy or the appearance of Taylor Negron or Brian Doyle-Murray could help this film.

    “The Butcher’s Wife” sees Demi back to back on the list. Thinking about this film hurts my head.

    “Switch” offended me on multiple levels. They did choose Ellen Barkin appropriately, because she’s a bit man-ish and freaks me out. What offended me was Jimmy Smits having the hots for her. It was creepy. Toss in the ridiculous setups and gags and you have one nauseating piece of crap.

    “Hudson Hawk” isn’t as bad as most critics say. It wasn't so much bad as it was boring. It’s one of those films that comes on Saturday afternoons and puts you to sleep faster than an Orioles-Tigers baseball game.

    “King Ralph” is the first movie to earn the distinction of putting me to sleep in the theater. And I saw an afternoon showing! I usually like John Goodman and his likeability is the only redeemable aspect. The rest is pure schlock and drivel.

  • The Most Horrible Films That Are Fun To Watch:

  • 1. If Looks Could Kill
    2. Double Impact
    3. Showdown in Little Tokyo
    4. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze
    5. The Last Boy Scout
    6. Warlock
    7. Ski School
    8. Suburban Commando
    9. The Punisher
    10. New Jack City

    Now we’re coming down to the good stuff of the year. I assert that any true movie buff should have seen all ten of these films. They are all astounding for various reasons.

    “If Looks Could Kill” is 007 for the “21 Jump Street” crowd.

    “Double Impact” gives audiences two Jean-Claude Van Damme’s for the price of one!

    “Showdown in Little Tokyo” has one of the best duos ever put to the silver screen, Dolph Lundgren and Brandon Lee. Add Tia Carrere for a piece of you know what and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa as a villain and you have one great time!

    “TMNT II” is great fun for a number of reasons. For some reason, Corey Feldman was replaced as the voice of Donatello in this one but he was back for number three. Weird. Also, with a performance by Vanilla Ice, how can you go wrong? Go ninja, go ninja, go!

    “The Last Boy Scout” is tremendous fun for the buddy pic lover in all of us. It also points out one of my favorite hypocritical statements ever made by a celebrity. Halle Berry said she only took off her top for 2001’s “Swordfish” because it was essential to her character and that was why she hadn’t done nudity before. (I’m sure the reported seven-figure sum she was offered to do so wasn’t a factor.) However, in this film she played a stripper! If you can find another role more deserving of nudity, cast Jessica Alba – For everyone’s sake. (Though she did play a stripper in "Sin City" and rob us of our money's worth there too). What is it about actresses playing stippers?

    “Warlock” is a bit of a misnomer, as it was actually released in Australia in 1989 but didn’t get released stateside until 1991. In any case, Julian Sands was the perfect choice and this is just good USA Up All Night fun.

    “Ski School” sees Chainsaw from “Summer School” come to the forefront and I couldn’t be happier. Tremendous fun. For a really great time, see this in between “Hot Dog” and “Out Cold”. The Skiilogy is born! Oh crap, you could also throw in “Better Off Dead” and make it a Skidralatoral.

    “Suburban Commando” enlisted Hulk Hogan to play an alien warrior named Shep. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

    “The Punisher” should never have been remade over a decade later. This version solved all the needs of the public. It also gave Dolph some more work this year. Where is he now?!?

    “New Jack City” made this list sort of by accident. It’s not really a bad movie but I had no where else to put it. It didn’t quite fit anywhere else and I just had to use one of my favorite quotes ever. This film not only has Chris Rock, as Pookie, telling people he’ll suck their dick for coke. More importantly, Ice T, upon collaring a bad guy, utters the immortal line: “I wanna shoot you so bad, my dick’s hard!” It doesn’t really get better than that.

  • The Most Underrated/Overlooked Films of the Year:

  • The Addams Family
    Point Break
    Career Opportunities
    Little Man Tate

    So many films fell from this list. I still couldn’t bear to shorten it any more than I already did. “The Addams Family” is perhaps the only movie to bring a TV series to the big screen and do it right. “Dutch” is my pick for best Thanksgiving film of all time. "Point Break" sees Keanu and Patrick Swayze fight for the love of Gary Busey. Okay, not quite but I like to think of it that way.

    “Career Opportunities” gives us the answer of why those animatronic horse rides in front of K-Marts are essential to the good of the country. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, go see the film. I’ll give you a hint: Jennifer Connelly.

    “Soapdish” is one of those films that can accurately be classified as a ‘romp’. Good fun for all, it’s so cheesy you may want drink a glass of wine with this film. And “Little Man Tate” is just a sweet film that I had to keep on a list for the year. If you’re a sap, you’ll like this one.

  • The Best Titles Not Already Mentioned of the Year:

  • Cool as Ice
    V.I. Warshawski
    Ninja Bachelor Party
    The Perfect Weapon
    The Guyver
    Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man
    Billy Bathgate
    And You Thought Your Parents Were Weird
    Naked Lunch
    Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead
    Not Without My Daughter

    Some of these fell off the horrible but fun list, some off the worst list. In either case, their titles were so much fun I had to include them somewhere. And I also had to include “Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead” so I could echo the line, “The dishes are DONE, man!

  • 1991: The Year Sequels Ruled The Earth:

  • Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey
    Return to the Blue Lagoon
    Puppet Master II
    Puppet Master III: Toulon’s Revenge
    The Neverending Story II: The Next Chapter
    An Americal Tail 2: Fievel Goes West
    American Ninja 4: The Annihilation
    Mannequin 2: On the Move
    Maniac Cop 2
    The Naked Gun 2 ½: The Smell of Fear
    Problem Child 2
    No Retreat, No Surrender 4
    Trancers II
    F/X 2
    Kickboxer 2: The Road Back
    Scanners 2: The New Order
    Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of Time
    Child’s Play 3
    Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare
    Ernest Scared Stupid
    House Party 2
    The Highlander II: The Quickening
    Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
    Snake Eater II: The Drug Buster

    How in the hell can one year provide so many sequels! Some of them are fantastic, most of them suck. But you have to appreciate that there were two sequels of “Puppet Master” in one calendar year. Don’t forget that “TMNT II” and "T2" also came out this year. I’m just awestruck by the volume of revisits to the same well.


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