Tuesday, December 18, 2018

1998 at the Movies: 20 Years Later

by Adam Riske
Random thoughts and memories to finish off my retrospective of 1998 in film.

Note: I missed many good movies from 1998 as you will soon read. I blame the ’97-’98 Chicago Bulls and working at Office Depot. Please let me know in the comments which I should prioritize. This column is a little bit of a cry for help.

• My English teacher in high school had the theatrical poster up for the ’98 Great Expectations and it was distracting.

• I thought Hard Rain looked sooooo gooood!

• I think about the line “The doctor said I need a backiotomy!” from Half Baked about once a week.

• I’ve always felt oddly defensive about Star Kid.

• Still need to see: Desperate Measures, Firestorm, Zero Effect

• I just thought about the Billy Idol cameo in The Wedding Singer this week and then went to check out his greatest hits album from the library.

• Still need to see: Caught Up, Dark City, Kissing a Fool, Palmetto, The Replacement Killers, Sphere

• I once believed U.S. Marshals to be a terrific film. I wanted to be a U.S. Marshal after seeing it and researched that job in my high school’s career development office for a solid 10 minutes.

• I saw The Man in the Iron Mask on opening night for some reason.

• I thought John Travolta had an Oscar in the bag after Primary Colors.

Wild Things was an event to high school me and my friends.

• I had no tolerance for The Big Lebowski in 1998. Now I love it just like everyone else.

• I was so disappointed by Mr. Nice Guy that it ruined my day.

• I wanted to see Chairman of the Board really bad. I thought the trailer cooked!

• Still need to see: Nothing. Good work, me!

• I love the Alanis Morrissette song (and Dennis Franz) in City of Angels.

• I thought Bruce Willis had an Oscar in the bag after Mercury Rising.

• I used to have to convince my friends that The Big Hit was not a good movie.

• A lot of families were seeing Paulie during the one weekend I worked in a movie theater.

• I used to hate Species II. Now I think it’s pretty bad, but entertainingly so.

• I’ve always felt oddly defensive about My Giant.

Major League: Back to the Minors is one of the worst movies ever made.

• People rented Suicide Kings from my Blockbuster a lot.

• Still need to see: Lost in Space (came free with my first DVD player), The Player’s Club

Deep Impact is better than I remember it being.

• The theater by me played Godzilla ('98) on I think eight screens opening night and advertised that it was playing every 20 minutes! My screening had less than 20 people in it. Hubris!

Bulworth does not hold up.

• I didn’t get carded when I bought my ticket for He Got Game, but I did get carded by the dude tearing ticket stubs. Asshole.

• Finally saw Black Dog recently. It wasn’t as good as I wanted it to be, but it had some great truck mayhem.

• I’m one viewing away from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas clicking for me. It was close last time.

• I watched Almost Heroes entirely on breaks from my job during the weekend I worked at a movie theater.

• Still need to see: The Last Days of Disco, Quest for Camelot (I dunno…the poster works)

• I went through a phase where I thought The Truman Show was amazing, then I thought it was pretentious. I’m curious what I’d think of it now.

• I thought Mulan was terrific the one time I saw it, but I haven’t revisited the movie since that late 90s.

Out of Sight is possibly the best movie that came out in 1998.

• So many people I know love Can’t Hardly Wait but I never have. It has a very good Third Eye Blind song on the soundtrack, though.

• Still need to see: Dirty Work, Six Days, Seven Nights (came free with my first DVD player)

Saving Private Ryan should have won Best Picture.

• I remember my friend’s dad picked me and my friends up after seeing Armageddon and he was driving barefoot like Fred Flintstone. Do people do this or is he the only one who ever has?

• I don’t know what it is, but There’s Something About Mary has never clicked for me. I felt a lot of pressure to love it by the time I saw it.

• I was with a group when I went to see Lethal Weapon 4. To impress the girls, I jumped from one aisle into the one in front of me. I intended to land butt in seat in one smooth motion. The seat didn’t fold down, and I slammed ass first onto the theater floor. It hurt a lot.

• I really wanted to see the remake of The Parent Trap in theaters, but I was 16 so I couldn’t tell anyone. I ended up seeing it on cable about 10 years later.

• I always want to love Small Soldiers, but I just like it. My boy Frank Langella does a voice, though, so that’s cool.

• I saw The Negotiator while on vacation in Hawaii. That’s the only way to see it.

• I saw Mafia! before I saw The Godfather.

• I thought Disturbing Behavior was going to change the game when it came out.

• My friends used to quote BASEketball and I would just stand there and wait for them to stop.

• I was one of those guys at Blockbuster who was like “Mulan is fine for your kids, but have they seen Pi?”

Full-Tilt Boogie is one of the douchiest movies I’ve ever seen.

• Still need to see: The Mask of Zorro

• There was nothing cooler than Blade the day after I saw Blade.

Snake Eyes is a movie I don’t really like but will watch once every three years.

• Pretty sure I like Halloween: H20 more than Halloween (2018). I like Jamie Lee Curtis more in H20 for sure. I think they were more creative with the character in that movie.

The Avengers (1998) is not as good as The Avengers (2012) but I would rather watch the ’98 version if you put the two in front of me right now.

Dead Man on Campus felt important because Zack Morris was in college.

Return to Paradise is underrated and features a great dramatic Vince Vaughn performance. It also is the movie with the most laughable character names of maybe any movie ever (John ‘Sheriff’ Volgecherev, Beth Eastern, M.J. Major).

• Still need to see: 54, How Stella Got Her Groove Back, Why Do Fools Fall in Love?

Rush Hour was the first movie I drove to after I got my driver’s license. I remember I drove up onto the curb of the movie theater because I was a bad driver. My friends were like “You’re a bad driver” and I was all “You’re lucky you even have a ride, I hate all of you.”

Urban Legend has really grown on me over the years.

• I will stop to watch Rounders anytime it’s on cable.

• I thought Simon Birch would be nominated for Best Picture.

• I’ve seen Knock Off three times. Once I walked out, once I thought it was hilarious, once I couldn’t finish it on DVD and turned it off.

• I wanted to like Clay Pigeons so badly, but I don’t. I was in a big post-Swingers Vince Vaughn phase back then.

Cube was a popular movie in my fraternity during college. I still like it, but I haven’t seen it in over a decade.

• Still need to see: Permanent Midnight, Ronin

• I used to think Life is Beautiful was a masterpiece. Customers at Blockbuster would always rent the dubbed version over the subtitled one.

• For the life of me, I cannot believe I went to Navy Pier to see T-Rex: Back to the Cretaceous.

• I really don’t like Practical Magic. I still feel bad, Ale.

• I used to like Bride of Chucky but not anymore. The original, 2 and Curse are my jams.

A Night at the Roxbury rented well when I worked at Blockbuster.

• I was excited about John Carpenter’s Vampires in 1998 because the villain was the bad guy from The Karate Kid Part III.

• I remember Soldier being kinda underrated, but I’m afraid to revisit it and potentially prove myself wrong.

• I watched 10 minutes of Holy Man on cable once this year. I didn’t miss anything.

Apt Pupil was a very uncomfortable movie. It probably is even more so in 2018.

• I had friends who always wanted to rent American History X and I was like “You know I’m Jewish, right?” They thought it was super deep. Their eagerness to revisit was concerning to me.

• I thought The Mighty was going to be nominated for Best Picture.

• Still need to see: Beloved, Pleasantville, Strangeland, What Dreams May Come

• I have never rewatched A Bug’s Life because bugs are gross.

• I never liked The Waterboy. It was the first Adam Sandler movie I didn’t like. There were many more to follow.

Enemy of the State is maybe the best Will Smith movie.

• I’m with Patrick on Meet Joe Black. It’s so good.

The Siege is depressing as fuck.

I Still Know What You Did Last Summer has a better Jennifer Love Hewitt song than Jennifer Love Hewitt movie it's featured in.

• I always want to love Babe: Pig in the City as much as Babe, but I just like it.

I’ll Be Home for Christmas (1998) is a miracle of nuttiness. I kinda love it.

• I saw Very Bad Things almost by mistake and ended up really liking it. I showed it years later to a few friends who turned on it and then were mad at me because apparently I ruined their night and how dare they ever see a movie they don’t like.

• Many people told me the opening credits scene of Belly was the only bit of cinema I needed to see in 1998. People loved that scene.

• I’ll always love the movie The Red Violin because it was the indie I really went all in on during my high school cinephile phase (same with The Eel). I recommended it to so many people. I was totally in the bag for Francois Girard and Don McKellar back then. Half of the people who know about Colm Feore know about him because of me in 1998 and 1999.

• Still need to see: Elizabeth, Gods and Monsters

• I remember seeing Patch Adams once and thinking it wasn’t terrible but I’m sure I was wrong and it’s terrible.

• I saw You’ve Got Mail on my first date ever and it means a lot to me for many other reasons too. I wrote about it once as “A Movie I’m Thankful For.”

A Civil Action is the type of solid, star-studded drama I wish were still in theaters.

• I saw The Faculty on my second date ever. The movie’s not that great.

The Thin Red Line is very good, but I prefer Saving Private Ryan in the showdown between 1998’s WWII films.

Jack Frost ('98) won this year’s Christmas Movie Scorecard.

• Despite hating it, I have seen Psycho ('98) maybe five times or more.

• I have oddly no opinion of Rushmore.

A Simple Plan is fantastic, and I’m embarrassed I’ve only seen it one time.

• Still need to see: Affliction, Mighty Joe Young, Shakespeare in Love, Star Trek: Insurrection, Stepmom (came free with my first DVD player)

My 20 Favorite Movies from 1998 (alphabetical order): Babe: Pig in the City, The Big Lebowski, A Civil Action, Cube, The Eel, He Got Game, Meet Joe Black, Mulan, Out of Sight, Primary Colors, The Red Violin, Return to Paradise, Rounders, Rush Hour, Saving Private Ryan, A Simple Plan, Urban Legend, The Wedding Singer, Wild Things, You’ve Got Mail


  1. On some of the movies you haven't watched - Pleasantville and Ronin I would say are two you must get to in 2019. And then Shakespeare in Love, in order to see what Saving Private Ryan lost to. It is a very good movie and I like it, but in no way should it have won Best Picture.

    A couple I really like are Palmetto and Replacement Killers. Palmetto is one of those erotic, sun drenched noirs where nothing really happens for a while but for some reason you just find yourself really liking it because famous people. Replacement Killers is a straight up John Woo rip off and a dang good one/fun one. Chow Yun Fat is still in boss mode and Sorvino holds her own.

    As for others, I love Primary Colors, Black Dog (country stars in 90s movies was a genre to itself), and Rush Hour. What a pivotal movie of my young teens.

    I definitely like H20 better than 2018 Halloween

    Major League Back to the Minors ruined my day much like Mr Nice Guys did yours. How in the world did that get a theater release?

    1. Thank you for the recommendations, Ben. I'll start with those first five you mentioned. Happy Holidays!

  2. I'm in agreement about 1, 2 and curse being the better chucky movies

    Truman show manages to pull off being both amazing AND pretentious.

    My college roommates favorite movie was Ronin. I watched it with him once and it did absolutely nothing for me. I should revisit Ronin to see if maybe I just wasn't ready for it at the Time.

  3. I haven't seen Ronin (it's on my list), but I'll second Ben's recommendations for Pleasantville and Shakespeare in Love.

    I rewatched I'll be Home for Christmas after you guys wrote about it earlier this month I'd seen it before, but had no recollection, and man was it fun. Looking forward to Jack Frost later (another one I've seen but remember not at all).

    The last time I saw the Negotiator, I was on vacation with family a few days after having knee surgery. I think I may have been a little daffy on painkillers when I made the pick, and my grandmother was not a fan of the profanity in that movie. Sorry Nana--I still love the Negotiator.

  4. To this day, my mom and I still randomly quote Rush Hour. I will always and forever love that movie.

    I also say watch Pleasantville and Shakespeare in Love.

  5. Patrick was saying just a couple (few?) weeks ago that there was a scene in Pleasantville that would always make him cry...or something like that, right? I've been curious to know what that is!

  6. "Still need to see: The Mask of Zorro": only if you enjoy fun, joy, adventure, swordplay, nuanced villains, sweeping scores, Westerns, charm, wit, and first-class stunts!

    1. Haha. I thought of your reaction as I was writing that.

    2. I was almost as sure there'd be an F!-cast for its 20th anniversary as I was that the Tom Cruise Mummy would prompt an Honest Trailer for the real one ('99!). In both cases, my heart is only starting to mend... :P

  7. Zero Effect is one of my favorite movies from 1998.

    1. I'm putting myself in the recommending Zero Effect camp.

  8. I really want a Patrick and Adam episode on The Big Hit. There is so much to unpack there it could probably go 3-4 hours easily.

    I'd recommend Dark City. Plus if you pick up the disc there is a Roger Ebert commentary. I'm only aware of two of those, one on Citizen Kane, one on Dark City...

    1. There's a commentary track fron Ebert on Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls

      But yeah, Dark City is awesome

  9. I'm jumping on the bandwagon of people saying you need to see Pleasantville!

  10. I agree with the beginning of Belly.

  11. You’ve Got Mail is not a perfect movie, but it is the perfect movie to see on a first date. Well done sir.

    The Mask of Zorro puts 90% of modern blockbusters to shame for its sheer awesomeness.