I decided that I would watch a Robin Williams that night, but instead of the obvious choices: Hook, Good Will Hunting, Mrs. Doubtfire...I thought it would be interesting to get a nice deep cut. Maybe a forgotten classic. I loaded up the old Rotten Tomatoes to check out his filmography and...What the fuck, Hook only has a 31???
How is that even fucking possible? We named a guy in my frat Rufio. The most popular American dj released an album named 'Bangarang' over 20 years later, and I still throw out a "poor form Jack" to my roommate once in a while. How RW and Dustin Hoffman did not split best actor at the Academy Awards is fucking beyond me. Who did they lose to? Jeremy Irons? The bad guy from Die Hard 3? FUCKING SCAR? SHOULDA BEEN YOU IRONS.
Unfortunately, this anomaly of slandering a classic movie from my childhood ran more rampant than I could have imagined beyond my wildest dreams. It's as if film critics were prejudiced against the 90's. I decided a full on deep dive investigation into the widespread HERESY of Rotten Tomatoes was warranted.
I present to you, the top 10 unjustly slandered movies of your childhood.
10. 3 Ninjas (1992) 29%
What a critic said:
"A miserable ripoff of The Karate Kid." - Gene Siskell
Why he's wrong:
My favorite part of 3 Ninjas was that they got the 3 WASPiest kids out of central casting and inexplicably gave them an Asian grandfather. (This could've been explained through some adoption exposition, but in the 90's they didn't bother explaining trivial plot holes)
Rocky embodied the strong minded leader as the oldest brother. Colt was a moody little bitch, but at the same time kind of the cool one ala Raphael. Classic tortured middle child. Then we have Tum Tum, the fat little one who literally beat the bad guys by kicking them in the nuts and feeding them ex-lax. Honestly I defy you to name a comedy from the 90's devoid of a groin shot or an exaggerated diarrhea scene.
However...as paint it by the numbers as the plot may be, there is no denying the sheer brilliance of the scene in which they kick the shit out of the fake pizza dude stoner bros, or how about when the bullies steal their bikes? Colt is like ROCKY WE COULD KICK THE FUCK out of these guys! But then good guy Rocky is all like 'no Colt, we can only use our forces for good! Grandpa said!' Note: The third incarnation of franchise, 3 Ninjas: Knuckle up, made the unusual move of upping the rating. At PG-13 I fully expected the 3 Ninjas to start ripping out throats or performing fatalities of some sort. Unfortunately I think we had just reached PEAK Colt moodiness and he said 'shit' a couple times.
"Aim small" (I still think of this when I play golf. It should also be stated I am awful)
"ROCKY LOVES EMILY"
9. The Mighty Ducks (1992) 15%
What a critic said:
"I chose to be a cashier at a gas station instead of being an extra in this. I chose wisely" - Alex Sendell
Why he's wrong:
Aside from the fact that working at a gas station is among the professions in which you are most likely to get shot in the fucking face, The Mighty Ducks is arguably the best sports movie of the 90's. With a haunting score and an all star cast, Mighty Ducks also introduced us to Gordon Bombay, the best sports coach of all time. It's important to note that in 1992 hockey was NOTHING. Most people outside of Canada and Detroit saw Slapshot and thought it was a documentary. Mighty Ducks introduced a generation to the sport (spawned a pro franchise) and helped Joshua Jackson become a star.
Do you remember the Dawson's Creek episode where they all had to do detention? Dawson was there for punching Pacey in the face. I think Joey got caught smoking a cigarette and Jen was probably there for having sex with a grip. (Michelle Williams is notorious for fucking below the line crew on set) Do you guys remember why Pacey was in detention? He got caught jerking of in the bathroom. CLASSIC!
D2: The Mighty Ducks faired slightly better with critics at 21% That film famously featured The Knuckle Puck, roller blading through Mall of America and Benny the Jett Rodriguez not knowing how to stop. It was also flush with xenophobic undertones about GO AMERICA and FUCK Iceland. I still think all Icelandic people are naturally villainous.
Bombay: You think losing is funny?
Avery: Well not at first, but once you get the hang of it.
8. The Sandlot (1993) 57%
What a critic said: "In The Sandlot's nostalgia for simpler times, a single-sex world seems to be a key component." - Dave Kerr
Why he's wrong:
Oh go fuck yourself and your socially conscious crusade Dave Kerr. I was 12 once and we played a lot of backyard baseball, and guess what the girls weren't fucking invited. Do you know why? Is it because I am a woman-hating misogynist? No, it's because we were fucking 12 and girls had cooties. And what about Wendy Peppercorn?!? Was she not a fully fleshed out female character? She existed only to save a male character and then have all of his babies while pursuing no career of her own!
Oh god I would love to watch that scene with a bleeding heart feminist. THE SCENE IN WHICH SQUINTZ FAKES HIS DEATH TO KISS WENDY SUPPORTS RAPE CULTURE, but they got married in the end? That makes it ok right, isn't that what the Ray Rice case taught us?
Sorry for the tangent. It's a movie about a bunch of kids dicking around in the 50's playing baseball. It is also a reminder that while everything changed from the 50's to the 90's, nothing changed. I spent my summers playing baseball in the backyard, going to the pool and having miserable experiences with tobacco...and man did I love fireworks.
'You play ball like a girl!' (This line could no longer exist in film, but bobbing for apples in the toilet would probably still be fair game)
7. Jack (1996) 17%
What a critic said:
"Barf." - Cole Smithey
Why he is wrong:
While I appreciate the understated subtlety Mr. Smithey is attempting in his concise review, I think he is missing the point. If you were born with a rare degenerative disease in which by age ten you appeared to be 40, what would you do? Answer: Buy a bunch of porn and beer and hang out in a tree house with your friends. This is Francis Ford Coppola we are talking about, he directed the fucking Godfather, do not BARF on an adult looking kid living out every pre-teen fantasy? It's basically Big without the life-size keyboard. And sure Robin Williams' Jack will likely die shortly after college, but the closing scene shows him graduating, just a feel good parable about accomplishment.
"Hey Jack, you ever get a boner? You know an erector?
Not yet, but I'm hoping to get one for Christmas."
6. Angels in the Outfield (1994) 35%
What a critic said: "On behalf of Angels fans everywhere, I demand an apology from the filmmakers." -Rob Vaux
Why he's wrong:
First of all, can we take a moment and discuss how fucking ridiculous this cast was? Glover, Danza, Lloyd, Gordon-Levitt, Dermot Mulroney and then relative unknowns Adrien Brody and Matthew McConaughey. Sadly it appears that the actor who portrayed JP never worked again. The thing I appreciate about this movie looking back is that it accurately portrays Anaheim for the shit hole that it is. The only part of southern California that might be more depressing than the Valley is the 98% of Orange County that isn't Newport Beach, but the OC ruined this reality for you. But I assure you, take 10 steps inland and you might as well be in Riverside. I dare anyone to step foot in Knott's Berry Farm during the summer without getting shivved by some illegal from Tustin. It's a horrible place, just like Angel Stadium, where the California, I mean Anaheim I mean LOS ANGELES ANGELS (of Anaheim) play their home games.
But if you don't have a soft spot for little orphan Levitt flapping his arms causing angels to intervene and make the (still shitty) team win, you have no soul. He just wants Dermot Mulroney to turn that motorcycle around and come back for him. Honestly, all I ever wanted was to use a wooden bat in little league so that it would explode when I hit a home run. "Must've been the chili dogs!"
Killing Tony Danza was a low blow and a little too preachy even for a Disney movie. I don't even think we knew cigarettes were bad yet in 1994. Fun note: ABC produced a string of sports themed b-movies in the 90's for Disney's Wide World of Sports. The first was Angels in the Infield, but a weeks later Danza would get his revenge in the Garbage Picking, Field Goal Kicking, Philadelphia Phenomenon.
"You can't fire me! I have a contract! I'M RANCH WILDER!
Easy Ranch, less is more."
5. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990) 40%
A critic said:
"What troubles me about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is that it's basically an exploitation movie aimed at young children." - Jay Boyar
Why he's wrong:
Look, I'll be honest. The original TMNT trilogy doesn't really hold up. Turtles 2 was meh, and the 3rd one where they go to Japan or whatever, that was an abomination. But the original live action movie was fucking great. No Vanilla Ice, no stupid time travel element (respect to the video game Turtles in Time though) just anamorphic turtles beating the shit out of Sam Rockwell and eating pizza. (Oh you didn't know?)
By the way, is it just me or is EVERYONE'S favorite turtle Raphael? Despite being a colossal dick and by far the worst playable character in the video games, all of my friends wanted to be him when we were fucking around with our action figures. I think in my older age I've drifted more toward Michaelangelo for his nihilistic outlook on life or Donatello for his intelligence. But back in the sandbox? Oh man, my Raphael would sai the SHIT out of Baxter Stockman and then attach him to 35 bottle rockets taped together and send him to the moon. I would then immediately make my mom take me to Toys R Us for a new Baxter Stockman.
"Wise man say forgiveness is divine but never pay full price for late pizza."
4. Jumanji (1995) 50%
What a critic said: "A gloomy special-effects extravaganza filled with grotesque images, generating fear and despair." - Roger Ebert
Why he's wrong:
Oh Ebert, I love you. And I admit that portions of this movie were terrifying. (Those mosquitoes though...) But despite miserable CG monkeys stealing David Allan Grier's police car (who is a cop, not a sneaker designer because Robin Williams shredded the shoes) I remember wanting nothing more than for this movie to be real. I wanted to live in a world where I could play the Jumanji board game. In fact let's rank the 10 scariest things that happen in that movie. LIST WITHIN A LIST. INCEPTION!
10. The lion (surprisingly a non-issue)
9. The bats
7. The Monsoon
6. The hunter
5. The monkeys
4. The spiders
3. Getting turned into a monkey
2. The stampede
1. A tiny bite can make you itch, make you sneeze, make you twitch...those fucking mosquitoes.
(Not ranked: the fast growing plants, because fuck them)
Anyway God bless this movie for introducing us to Kirsten Dunst and what would come to be a top 5 natural rack. I've heard Melancholia is a beautiful film, I've only seen one still frame...but ya, pretty beautiful.
"In the jungle you must wait, until the dice read 5 or 8"
3. Space Jam (1996) 35%
A critic said: "An empty, soulless corporate product, designed for one purpose: to separate us from our wallets." - Rob Vaux (Again!)
Why he's wrong:
Space Jam has been broken down a million times by Grantland and Deadspin. UCB even did a live read and Yahoo even did a fake 30 for 30 on the game.
All I can add is that this game exemplifies everything that was great about the NBA in the 90's, while also curiously working as an allegory for steroid era baseball. (The Tune Squad only defeat the Monstars after downing Mike's Special Stuff, an obvious performance enhancer) Also it has Bill Murray dishing the game winning assist and the greatest movie soundtrack of all time.
"Larry isn't white, he's clear."
2. Home Alone (1990) 54%
A critic said: "Home Alone is the apex, the pinnacle, the culmination of every bad bit Hughes has ever written or directed." - Marc Savlov
Why he's wrong:
Oh, I'm sorry Marc, attaching a full size Michael Jordan cut-out to a train to simulate adult movement is A BAD BIT?!?! Playing the audio from Angels with Dirty Faces and lighting off firecrackers to scare the pizza guy away is a bad bit? Setting your house with booby traps up to and including aerial paint cans TO THE FACE is a bad bit? You know what? Fuck you Marc, the Austin Chronicle is whack and newspapers are dying.
This is and always will be my definitive Christmas movie. Definitely the best Daniel Stern outing since Breaking Away, and nice to see Joe Pesci show some range outside of a two bit crook. Wait. Scratch that.
It's also nice to remember a time before Macaulay Culkin was a total whack job. The innocence in which he portrayed wealthy Kevin McAllister as wise beyond his years really strikes a chord with my midwest ideals. A few fun facts about Home Alone...
-Devin Ratray (Buzz) now weighs about 500 pounds, he was one of the dipshit cousins in Nebraska.
-Kevin McAllister used to bang Mila Kunis
-Buzz's girlfriend (woof!) is actually a boy in drag. The director didn't want some girl to live with the shame of being the ugly girl in the picture that Buzz dated.
-The Home Alone house is in Kenilworth, IL, the nicest of the Chicago North Shore villages. I'm sure there is a deleted scene in which Kevin walks to Captain Nemo's.
I actually preferred Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, slightly more because the booby traps were more elaborate and being in an unfamiliar setting raised the stakes. RT did not agree, the movie has a 24% (yet the stupid 3rd one with an entirely new cast and a bad guy that looked like Dylan McDermott got a 27% I'm FUCKING DONE with Rotten Tomatoes)
"Keep the change, ye filthy animal"
A few notes before number one. There were a few movies that didn't quite make the cut. Ace Ventura 1 was in contention, but I no longer count it among Jim Carrey's best. Happy Gilmore is BARELY fresh or it would have made the list and I contend that an in his prime JTT should have carried Man of the House to a more respectable rating than 14%. Alas there was one movie mentioned earlier that really made my blood boil. In one of my scripts I wrote the plot of a fake movie in which two nerds travel the country beating up film critics that bashed their favorite movie. I honestly think I might do it for this one, so let's go full circle and dive in.
Hook (1991) 31%
"No matter how much cash Hook earns, it will take more than pixie dust to fly this overstuffed package into our dreams" - Peter Travers
"Who wants to spend over two hours with a Peter Pan who screams, 'Don't mess with me, I'm a lawyer!' - Doug Hennessey
Hook is overwhelmed by a screenplay heavy with complicated exposition, by what are, in effect, big busy nonsinging, nondancing production numbers and some contemporary cant about rearing children and the high price paid for success. - Vincent Canby
The exposition is so underlined and re-underlined, you could teach yourself to fly waiting for something to happen.- Desson Thomson
Fuck these guys.
Especially the usually great Peter and this Desson clown, you guys just couldn't help yourself. HAD to squeeze in a flight metaphor/pun didn't you!! You're RUINING it!
Here is the long and short of it. I relate to the Peter Pan story on a very human level, it's a story about a kid that never wanted to grow up. This film flips that on it's head, he grew up, but he needs to learn how to believe.
When I was about 20 years old, 40 of my high school friends took a party bus to one last Dave Matthews concert. I think it might be one of the last things we did as a group, before we went our separate ways and started to cling more with our college friends. At the concert, the movie Hook came up and we agonized for hours over the name of the fat Lost Boy. You remember him, he would curl up in a ball and roll down stairs bowling over any bad guy that got in his way. Man I would've given ANYTHING to be a lost boy. Anyway, we finish 17 fifths of Jagermeister (oh 2007) the concert ends and we still can't remember (this is pre iPhone.) Finally we text a buddy who is obsessed with the film and eagerly await a response.
Thud Butt. The fat black guy who rolls like Sonic is named Thud Butt. The bus erupted in cheers.
It wasn't just Dustin Hoffman shooting people that tried to steal 2nd base or Robin Williams remembering to be a kid again, dunking on Rufio as other lost boys skateboarded by, it's those little moments that bring me genuine pleasure. Thank you Robin Williams for making us laugh and cry. I'll miss you. As for those critics that saw this remake as a shameless cash grab, watch this scene and tell me it's not god damn magical. YOU'RE DOING IT PETER!
Stephen Speilberg, still the best.