1996 is a year I love, so my picks this year are less on the ‘I hated this side’ and more on the ‘meh’ side. Brassed Off is a shining example of this – there’s nothing wrong with the movie, and it’s certainly a damn sight better than the usual 90s English comedy fare I despise. But still, it is a quirky English comedy so it’s never going to be more than ‘meh’ for me.
Everybody loved Fraiser, right? Sure, it wasn’t as laugh out loud as Friends, and it lacked any emotional connection, and it presented a world of high class intellectualism that few of us could relate or aspire to, but it was still a good show. Kelsey ‘that’s not a real name, and neither is my surname’ Grammer attempts to cash in on his flagship show’s fame by making this Police Academy/Airplane knock-off. It’s funny in places, but it feels out of place in the 90s.
Lets get out the checklist again, shall we? English? Costume Drama? Quirky rom com? Gwyneth Paltrow. Oscar Bait? This was a cert for my bottom films of the year as soon as it was announced. I like Jane Austin as much as the next English Literature University Graduate, but I much prefer these texts on page than on screen. It’s the story and characters I care about – not the costumes or the setting which are admittedly… pretty? Don’t care. But you ruin it by throwing Paltrow in there who, by her third starring role, I’d long since given up on ever making something I’d be remotely interested in.
The English Patient
This is more of the same, but at least they dispense with any quirky comedy, replace Paltrow with Binoche, and have the film set in a period I’m actually interested in, but they hike up the sentimentality and the Oscar bait to ridiculous levels. You knew this was down for Best Picture as soon as it was announced, regardless of quality. It’s fine, but not my thing.
Escape From LA
John Carpenter didn’t have the best of decades in the 90s – he made a batch of interesting films and relative flops, some less interesting material too. Escape From LA feels like a last gasp attempt to win his fans over again, a sequel to one of his most culty cult favourites and featuring one of his most beloved characters. But it’s horrible, mostly a rehash of what was done better in the original, with the added slap in the tits of some shocking special effects. There’s some interesting stuff here – the casting, the score, the nihilism, but there’s also all of this silly misplaced humour… I’m not sure what went wrong but another go over the script, and update of the effects, and a few tonal shifts and I’m sure it would have been a much stronger film.
The First Wives Club
I’m not sure why I even put myself through this in the first place as a glance as the synopsis was enough to make me vomit through every pore in my body. It must have been because Hugh Wilson helmed, and he gets a pass for me every time thanks to Police Academy. But Bette Midler, Goldie Hawn, Diane Keaton – actresses I’ve never cared for – and even worse they have Maggie Smith and Stockard Channing in supporting roles. Silly comedy and a silly story, annoying characters, and the whole thing is aimed squarely at the middle aged woman market who lapped it up like a discount Yoga DVD. All together now – not. for. me.
Jingle All The Way
This should have been for me – Christmas movie and Arnie? What could go wrong? Well, nothing in the entire movie goes right. Brian Levant has never made a good movie – Beethoven is about as close as he came – and what’s more, he’s been attached to a Police Academy reboot for a while, so God help us all. I know it was successful, and I know it was a festive release, but who the hell was this for? It’s an utter mess from top to bottom with not even an Arnie one-liner to redeem a single second.
I’ve probably mentioned it before, but as much as I dislike quirky English comedies, I equally can’t stand Irish drama. There’s so much potential here, but they end up being so dour, so divisive, and so Award-baity. Michael Collins is each of those things, with the added bonus of featuring a character and story I’m never going to be interested in. It’s mostly well acted, and Neil Jordan knows his way about a movie, but it’s yet another example of the sordid history of a group of island nations whose greatest heroes are also war-mongering murderers.
How exactly do you have a movie called Striptease and not show any boobs? At least Showgirls had the dignity to, you know, show girls. Sadly, the film is so boring and uneventful that there probably were boobs all over the place but I was too bored to notice. Look, it was a good year so I’m struggling with what movies to pick – this one is legitimately bad.
There you go – any favourites above? What other terrible movies were unleashed in 1996? Let us know in the comments!