by Patrick Bromley
Tomorrow is F This Movie Fest 4. You probably already know that. And while we've got a pretty kickass lineup of 1993 movies (WE KNOW WHAT WE'RE DOING), there are a LOT of movies that came out that year that are worth a look for a number of reasons -- some because they're really good, some because they're messing with interesting elements and some because they're completely crazy (cough barf Super Mario Bros. barf cough). While the titles below might not represent the best of the rest, they do represent a lot of movies that don't often get talked about when talking about that year. Or ever, for that matter.
Chris Rock's first real attempt at breaking out as a movie star following his SNL success was the 1993 hip hop satire CB4, which is a real mixed bag. Some of it is incredibly observant and clever in the way it goes after a particular style of music (one which really doesn't exist anymore), but then there's a bunch of stuff that's broad and unfunny in the way that a lot of early '90s studio comedy was. Still, unlike most studio comedy of the time (especially that born out of Saturday Night Live), there's a voice and a point of view to CB4 that makes it stand out even when it's not working. Chris Rock would spend the next two decades floundering as a movie star; messy as it is, this one showed promise.
Sam Raimi in a story of friends who reunite as adults at their childhood summer camp. The scenery is very pretty and the cast appealing, even if the whole thing is incredibly slight. It's the kind of movie that's just...nice. Pleasant. That's a rarer thing than you might think.
Tom Holland). The first half hour sets it all up in spectacular fashion, with a still-recognizable Lara Flynn Boyle vamping it up and people being killed off by office equipment. The longer it goes on, though, the more ridiculous and uninteresting it becomes -- just another example of the many " _______ from Hell" that were so popular in the early '90s (girlfriend, student, nanny...and in this case secretary). It's a bummer to watch it all slip away, but for a while it really seems like The Temp has something.
George A. Romero's adaptation of Stephen King's novel The Dark Half, which finally made it to theaters in 1993. It had a rough road getting there; the shoot was tough, actors didn't get along (for more on this, check out Scream Factory's recent Blu-ray release of the movie), Romero fought with the studio over the edit. It didn't make much money when it came out, but it's a film that's only recently being rediscovered and appreciated. The location photography is gorgeous (it's a great movie to watch in the Fall) and Timothy Hutton, despite apparently being difficult on set, is quite good in the movie. Romero didn't make a ton of studio movies, but this one proves that he had the ability to work inside the system and still retain a sense of himself. If you've never seen it or wrote it off back in '93, it's worth another look.
music career of Tomas Ian Nicholas.
True Romance the same year and Juliette Lewis' turn as a similarly white trash serial killer in Natural Born Killers one year later, but it's a really solid early-'90s thriller. This is the movie that made us think former music video director Dominic Sena was going to have a career of real substance. To prove us wrong, he went on to direct Swordfish and Gone in 60 Seconds and Season of the Witch.
RoboCop 2 was a bad idea. In an effort to move away from mean-spirited violence and nihilism of RoboCop 2, the studio insisted that 3 be the PG-13, "kid-friendly" RoboCop. So there's that. Frank Miller was back to work on the script, so there's a lot of shit like robot ninjas and cyber yakuza or something. Peter Weller was done with the part, so Robert John Burke stepped in to play RoboCop. He's a good actor, but no substitute for Peter Weller. Also, RoboCop flies. And Anne Lewis dies for no reason. Everything about this installment feels more like the RoboCop TV show that would come later on, but it's not Dekker's fault. At least he directs it with energy and casts EVERY SINGLE role with a character actor who would go on to bigger things. That's the most fun thing about watching the movie now.
There are other movies worth mentioning from '93, of course. Several of them are titles we've written/talked about already: The Sandlot, Super Mario Bros., Fearless, Free Willy, Hocus Pocus, Tombstone and Batman: Mask of the Phantasm.
Was '93 a GREAT year for movies? Not really. There were some great movies; we're watching a few for F This Movie Fest. There were some great movies that we're not watching for F This Movie Fest, too (like Groundhog Day and Schindler's List and Matinee and Mr. Nanny). What the year had going for it was that there were a lot of movies. Studios released a ton of stuff -- mid-budget movies that could turn a little profit without having to gross hundreds of millions of dollars. Those days are over. That's a bummer. But while the system has changed for the worse, the movies live on -- on TV, on DVD, on streaming, on sites like this or just in conversation. Like the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park, life finds a way.
See you all for F This Movie Fest.