Tag Archives: James Cameron

Movies We Still Care About – 1989 – Part 2 of 2

(For an explanation of this, read the Introduction.  Other posts in this series can be found here.)

Movies We Still Care About

  •  Batman
  • Field of Dreams
  • Heathers
  • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
  • The Little Mermaid
  • Say Anything
  • When Harry Met Sally

Other Fond Memories

  • Dead Poets Society
  • Steel Magnolias

Other Notable Movies

  • The Abyss
  • UHF

Best Picture Nominees:

  • Driving Miss Daisy (Winner)
  • Born on the Fourth of July
  • Dead Poets Society
  • Field of Dreams
  • My Left Foot

Top Grossing Films (US)

  1. Batman
  2. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
  3. Lethal Weapon 2
  4. Look Who’s Talking
  5. Honey, I Shrunk the Kids
  6. Back to the Future 2
  7. Ghostbusters 2
  8. Driving Miss Daisy
  9. Parenthood
  10. Dead Poets Society

Rotten Tomatoes Top Movies

  1. Sex, Lies, and Videotape (98%)
  2. Say Anything (98%)
  3. Do the Right Thing (96%)
  4. The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (94%)
  5. The Little Mermaid (92%)
  6. Parenthood (92%)
  7. Glory (93%)
  8. Crimes and Misdemeanors (93%)

Movies We Still Care About

The Little Mermaid

This started Disney’s string of brilliant animation that continued into the early-mid 90s, which in my opinion was far superior in quality to the classic Disney animation like Snow White and Sleeping Beauty.  It combines a rich visual style with engaging story, humor, and amazingly catchy songs.  I bet to this day you can still hear in your mind Under the Sea, Part of Their World, and Kiss the Girl.

And just in case you can’t, here they are.

As a more modern audience, we can look down on this film for its anti-feminist message of the heroine giving up her identity in pursuit of a man.  It is a product of its time in that respect, and I can certainly see why parents might want to exercise caution before showing this to children of an impressionable age.

But on the other hand, that crab is hilarious.

Side note: Once when I was in college, I went with a friend to see the movie Mortal Kombat: Annihilation.  But it was sold out, so instead we saw the re-release of Little Mermaid.  True story.

Say Anything

There’s this scene:

 

When Harry Met Sally

Widely considered one of the best romantic comedies of all time.  It redefined the genre and was innovative for the way that it told a story spanning decades.  And as someone who also fell in love with and married my best friend, I can certainly appreciate this.

But I know you’re all just waiting for me to embed the orgasm scene.

Other Notable Films

The Abyss

I had a professor in film school that argued that the best big movies were those that were really a small movie in disguise.  (And this professor knew what he was talking about, seeing as he wrote a small movie called Top Gun.)  The Abyss is a perfect example of this.  It’s a simple story of a man reconnecting with his ex-wife whom he still loves, set in the backdrop of trying to protect aliens from a nuclear bomb at the bottom of the ocean.

It largely gets overshadowed by James Cameron’s other work, but it’s an excellent movie in its own right and well worth revisiting.  (Make sure you watch the extended edition.  The theatrical version hacked out a bunch of important story elements and ended up not making much sense, which is part of the reason why this movie isn’t as remembered as it should be.)

It also had some ground-breaking special effects for the time, which Cameron would re-use to great effect two years later in Terminator 2.


UHF

As I write this Weird Al is more relevant than ever, having the number one album in America.  (The first comedy album to reach #1 since JFK was President.)  Twenty-five years ago he released this bizarre but hilarious movie.  It bombed at the box office, but has continued to hold a cult status among nerds.  And its theme of an imaginative outcast who sees the world differently achieving greatness through his unique vision continues to resonate.  Plus it manages to spoof deep cable reality shows long before those shows even existed.  (And check out a pre-Seinfeld, pre-racist rant Michael Richards playing a delightfully weird character.)

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Do you disagree with any of these choices, or think that I missed something?  Leave a comment below.

Movies We Still Care About – 1986 – Part 1 (A-H)

(For an explanation of this, read the Introduction.  Other posts in this series can be found here.)

Movies We Still Care About

  • Aliens
  • Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
  • Highlander
  • Little Shop of Horrors
  • Stand By Me
  • Top Gun

Other Notable Movies

  • Back to School
  • Big Trouble in Little China
  • Crocodile Dundee
  • The Fly
  • Labyrinth
  • Star Trek IV
  • Three Amigos
  • Transformers: The Movie

Best Picture Nominees:

  • Platoon (Winner)
  • Children of a Lesser God
  • Hannah and Her Sisters
  • The Mission
  • A Room With a View

Top Grossing Films (US)

  1. Top Gun
  2. Crocodile Dundee
  3. Platoon
  4. The Karate Kid Part II
  5. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
  6. Back to School
  7. Aliens
  8. The Golden Child
  9. Ruthless People
  10. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

Rotten Tomatoes Top Movies

  1. Aliens (98%)
  2. Hannah and Her Sisters (93%)
  3. The Fly (91%)
  4. Stand By Me (91%)
  5. Little Shop of Horrors (90%)

Movies We Still Care About

Aliens

This is one of the best intense action movies of all time.  I think what’s really interesting about this is that it’s a sequel to one of the best horror movies of all time.  I can’t think of another example of a sequel to an excellent movie that completely changed genres, and ended up even better than the original.  (The closest would be the mindless action film Rambo: First Blood Part II following the psychological drama First Blood.  But neither of those are in the same league as Alien or Aliens.)

Aliens was the first time James Cameron was given a big budget to play with, and he showed what he can do with it.

It also has one of my all-time favorite one-liners:

And one of my favorite speeches.  This is a great thing to watch/listen to when you want to get pumped up. (As long as you ignore that Hudson later turns into a sniveling coward.)

And one of the best openings to an action scene:

 

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

This movie continues to resonate with audiences today because it perfectly captures the wish-fulfillment fantasy of absolute freedom.  Ferris is able to do whatever he wants with complete liberty and no consequences.  For both teenagers and adults, when we are at our most libertine we wish we could be Ferris Bueller.

The sad reality is that we spend far too much our lives trapped in a humdrum Ben Stein world:

And whenever we are in a situation like that, we wish we could instead twist and shout:

A few side-notes:  I was on Win Ben Stein’s Money in 2001.  It really annoyed me that one of the bonus round questions was about the Hawley-Smoot tariff.  I got it right, as did Ben Stein, but it didn’t seem fair to ask him a question that was more or less quoting one of his most famous lines.

Next side note: In the original script, Ferris talked about how he used to have a depressed friend who he tried to help, but failed.  The kid ended up dropping out of school and becoming a druggie.  This was Charlie Sheen’s character, who meets Jeannie at the police station.  It explains why Ferris was so eager to help break Cameron out of his depression.

And then there’s a fan theory saying that Ferris didn’t exist at all, and was just a figment of Cameron’s imagination.  Which makes the movie a whole lot more depressing if you buy into it.

Highlander

This isn’t a great movie and it doesn’t really hold up.  But the idea of highlanders has entered our culture, as has the phrase “There can be only one.”

And yes, I know that technically Highlander refers specifically to Connor MacLeod (and Duncan MacLeod from the TV show), who were from the Highlands of Scotland, and not to immortals in general.  But much like how Frankenstein is the scientist and not the monster, the incorrect terminology has made its way into our popular lexicon.

Other Notable Films

Back to School

This is a movie that a lot of people have forgotten about.  But it’s worth revisiting, sheerly for the comedic brilliance of both Rodney Dangerfield and Sam Kinison:

 

Big Trouble in Little China

This has more or less fallen to cult status.  It has its hard-core fans. (Including my former roommate, who runs the biggest BTiLC fan site on the internet, and will be happy to sell you a variety of t-shirts.) But most people have forgotten about it.  Which is a shame, as it’s a really fun comedic adventure of the sort you rarely see these days.  It’s certainly worth another look.

Crocodile Dundee

This doesn’t really hold up, but we all remember this scene:

I tried to find the Simpsons scene spoofing that, but my google-fu failed me.  So instead, here’s two random dudes reenacting the Simpsons scene spoofing Crocodile Dundee:

 

The Fly

A weird creepy cult horror movie that is still beloved by fans of weird creepy cult horror movies.

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Do you disagree with any of these choices, or think that I missed something?  Leave a comment below.