So, here we are in 1993. It was a turbulent time for me personally, as I was dealing with problems in high school and at home. Looking back, I would say that this time period in 93 was one of the worst times in my young life, dealing with different personal issues. Fortunately, I always had the movies for escapism. When I think back on this time, this is probably the period when the movies became so important to me that I wanted to devote my life to them in some way. And while I haven't quite reached my final goal yet, they have played as big a part in my adult life as they did in my youth.

So, the movies of the fall and holiday season of this particular year had a lot to live up to. We had just come off one of the biggest blockbuster summers ever at that time, thanks to a little movie called Jurassic Park. We have some good stuff here, so let's not waste any more time. Grab a seat, folks, because the show is about to begin!

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COOL RUNNINGS
RELEASED: OCTOBER 1

WHAT'S IT ABOUT?:
Jamaican Derice Bannock (Leon) has dreams of being a sprinter in the upcoming Summer Olympics, but his dreams come up short. Not wanting to give up, he comes up with the crazy idea of forming a Jamaican bobsled team, and enlists the help of a disgraced former Olympic bobsledder, Irving Blitzer (John Candy, in one of his final roles, as he would pass away just five months after this film came out). They form a team, and make their way to the Winter Olympics, where they are ridiculed by the other teams, but manage to rise above it all.
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WHAT I THOUGHT OF IT THEN: I never really followed sports as a kid, so I had no idea there had ever been a Jamaican bobsled team. I remember this movie appealing to me back in the day, not only for its underdog story, but also for its sense of humor. The filmmakers obviously took more than a few liberties with the actual story, but they still managed to make an inspiring and likable film. I remember this being one of the more pleasant surprises of the fall season.
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WHAT I THINK OF IT NOW: I hadn't caught up with this film in years, so I was curious about this one, as I didn't remember a lot of it. And really, I still find this movie very likable. Yes, it's goofy, and it can be very cliched. Heck, you feel like you're constantly one step ahead of the characters at all time. Regardless, it's the heart of the film as well as the performances that carried me through. This is not a great movie, but it is a lot of fun, and I enjoyed catching up with it.
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FOR LOVE OR MONEY
RELEASED: OCTOBER 1

WHAT'S IT ABOUT?:
Doug Ireland (Michael J. Fox) is a concierge at a ritzy Manhattan hotel, who spends all day doing anything it takes to make the guests happy. But his real dream is to open his own hotel, and it seems to be within his reach when he strikes a potential business deal with the smarmy business tycoon, Christian Hanover (Anthony Higgins). Complications arise when it turns out that Christian is having an affair with the young and beautiful Andy Hart (Gabrielle Anwar), a woman whom Doug has longed for for years. Now Doug must decide what's more important in his life - Having the business deal go through, or true love, as he's afraid Andy is going to be hurt when he finds out Christian has no intention of leaving his current wife for her.
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WHAT I THOUGHT OF IT THEN: I remember seeing this movie in the theater, but before this article, I would be darned if I could remember anything about it, other than I remember watching it in a literally empty theater. (This wasn't exactly a hit back in 93.) I must not have thought much of it back in the day, because I could not really remember anything about my experience watching it. So, catching up with this movie was going to be interesting...
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WHAT I THINK OF IT NOW: I can see why I had completely forgotten about this one. While it's not terrible by any means, it's one of the blandest romantic comedies I have ever seen. The filmmakers were obviously trying to make something akin to a classic black and white romantic comedy from the early days of Hollywood. It's very sweet, completely inoffensive, and completely forgettable to boot. This is also one of those annoying movies that keeps the lead actors apart, because the female lead is too stupid to realize that the guy she's dating is a pompous bozo, and doesn't even care about her, only to have her realize it during the last five minutes of the movie, and run off with the guy she should have been with all along. This is overall a harmless movie, but one that will leave your mind as soon as it's over.
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DEMOLITION MAN
RELEASED: OCTOBER 8

WHAT'S IT ABOUT?:
In the not-too distant future of 1996, police officer John Spartan (Sylvester Stallone) and gang lord Simon Phoenix (Wesley Snipes) are arch enemies whose battles have caused untold damage and destruction. Because of this, both are tried and sentenced to be cryogenically frozen. (Ah, I remember this happening all the time in 96...) When the two are thawed out to be paroled in 2032, the world has become a much safer, sanitized and non-violent place. Naturally, Simon uses this to his advantage, and begins a murderous rampage. Now John is the only one who can stop him, with the aid of his new partner (Sandra Bullock, who probably thought appearing in this would kickstart her career, but she would have to wait for next summer when Speed came out).
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WHAT I THOUGHT OF IT THEN: I remember this being one of the more hyped movies of the fall season. You couldn't escape this movie, as it was being advertised virtually none stop. And if you dared set foot in your local Taco Bell, you would be bombarded with even more hype, as they were heavily promoting the film, due to the fact that the fast food chain actually figures into the plot somewhat. (Believe it or not.) So, I went to see this movie with my dad during one of our visits together, and I remember finding the movie kind of fun. I enjoyed the film's sense of humor and the satirical elements of the future society. My dad was the sort would enjoy just about any action film, so I remember us both having a great time at this one.
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WHAT I THINK OF IT NOW: This movie has not aged well for me. It's pretty much the early 90s action film personified - Lots of over the top sequences, some politically incorrect humor, and two lead action stars who look good blowing stuff up, but don't have a ton of chemistry up on the screen. There are still some moments that make me laugh, but I can't help but feel that this is a bloated and somewhat disappointing take on what could have been a clever idea. I guess it still works to some extent, but not as much as it did back then.
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TIM BURTON'S THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS
RELEASED: OCTOBER 15 (LIMITED) / OCTOBER 29 (WIDE)

WHAT'S IT ABOUT?:
This stop motion film started life as the idea for an animated short that Tim Burton had back when he was working as an animator at the Disney Studio. It tells the story of Jack Skellington (voice by Chris Sarandon, singing voice by Danny Elfman), the "king" of Halloweentown and the scariest monster of all its citizens. But Jack is secretly bored, and longs for more in his life. When he stumbles upon doors that leads to other holiday worlds, he discovers Christmas and immediately becomes infatuated with it. He wants to do something similar for the kids of the world, and be Santa Claus this year, and sets about a plan where he and the other monsters of Halloweentown take over Christmas. But will the people of the world accept Jack's take on Christmas, and will his actions inadvertently put the real Santa's life in danger?
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WHAT I THOUGHT OF IT THEN: I was a huge Tim Burton fan growing up, so I was really psyched for this one. In fact, I remember my older brother and I driving to a big city that was two hours away so we could see the film in its opening limited release before it went wide. Definitely worth it. Not only was the audience we saw it with really into this one, but I remember immediately falling in love with the film's artstyle, and especially the songs that composer Danny Elfman provided. (In fact, I went to a music store and looked for the CD right after we saw the film.) This was so different from the standard Disney animated musical we were getting at the time, and I remember loving every second of it.
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WHAT I THINK OF IT NOW: I still strongly admire this film, mostly for the same reasons as back then (the art and Elfman's score and musical numbers). However, I do feel it has been a bit overhyped as years go on. It's funny to think that this movie was originally considered not a huge success back in 93, when it's pretty much viewed as an animated classic by most people today. And while I still do enjoy the film, its flaws are more apparent to me. (The story is very thin, and the incredibly brief running time doesn't allow the story much room to breathe.) Regardless, even if I don't love it the way I did when I was 16, I still greatly admire it. It launched the career of animation director, Henry Selick, and pretty much gave Hot Topic stores a reason to exist.
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THE THREE MUSKETEERS
RELEASED: NOVEMBER 12

WHAT'S IT ABOUT?:
In this loose adaptation of the classic adventure story, hree of the King's disbanded Musketeers Athos (Kiefer Sutherland), Porthos (Oliver Platt) and Aramis (Charlie Sheen) team up with young wannabe Musketeer D'Artagnan (Chris O'Donnell) in order to stop the plot of the evil Cardinal Richelieu (Tim Curry).
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WHAT I THOUGHT OF IT THEN: I knew little about the original Musketeer story growing up. I just thought that the trailers looked fun. And indeed, this turned out to be a somewhat campy but still exciting little adventure film. I remember it seemed like the movie must have been a lot of fun to make, and that it came through on the big screen. This was never one of my favorites, but was still highly enjoyable in a goofy way.
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WHAT I THINK OF IT NOW: Now that I am somewhat more familiar with the original story, it's kind of hard to muster a lot of enthusiasm for this. While there still is some goofy charm, it just never seems as good or as fun as it could have been. Even with the presence of Tim Curry as the villain, he's never allowed to throw in the sense of wit that you usually expect from him. And honestly, it's just kind of difficult to take some of these actors seriously as swashbuckling heroes, especially Charlie Sheen. This isn't a terrible movie by any means, but it's not anything worth running out and catching up with.
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ADDAMS FAMILY VALUES
RELEASED: NOVEMBER 19

WHAT'S IT ABOUT?:
In this sequel to the 1991 film, the plot this time finds Uncle Fester (Christopher Lloyd) being targeted by a deadly "black widow" woman, Debbie Jellinsky (Joan Cusack) who wants to marry him then bump him off in order to get her hands on his fortune. In other subplots, Gomez and Morticia (Raul Julia and Anjelica Huston) welcome a new baby boy, Pubert, while Addams children Wednesday and Pugsley (Christina Ricci and Jimmy Workman) try to survive an obnoxiously sunny and friendly summer camp.
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WHAT I THOUGHT OF IT THEN: As I mentioned in my review of the first film, I was a huge fan of the Addams growing up as a kid, so news of a sequel had me instantly excited. This one did not disappoint. In fact, I liked it better than the first one. This one was much darker, had even funnier moments, and just seemed closer to the spirit of the characters. As much as I enjoyed the first movie back in the day, this one was even more fun to me.
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WHAT I THINK OF IT NOW: In my review of the first, I said I still enjoyed it now, but my love for it had faded. This has not happened with Values, and I still find it greatly better than the first. There are some hilarious moments in this one that still make me laugh, and just some absolutely wonderful moments of dark absurdist humor. (I love it when the Addams children stage a revolt against the summer camp.) I remember this movie not being as popular as the first back then, and I've always wondered why, since to me this is the stronger film all around.
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MRS. DOUBTFIRE
RELEASED: NOVEMBER 24

WHAT'S IT ABOUT?:
A recently divorced dad (Robin Williams) finds that he can't live without his children in his life. When he finds out that his ex-wife (Sally Field) is trying to hire a nanny to look after the kids, he dresses up as an elderly British woman, and winds up scoring the job so that he can not only be close to his kids again, but also to hopefully sabotage the relationship his ex is trying to build with the new man in her life (Pierce Brosnan).
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WHAT I THOUGHT OF IT THEN: I remember how this movie seemed to capture the heart and mind of just about all audiences back in 93, and I was right along with them. Is it kind of sappy and corny? A little, yes. But Williams and the rest of the cast manage to make this film work. There was a bit of edge to the humor, while still being appropriate as a family film. I remember seeing this with my mom and brothers during a packed showing over Thanksgiving weekend, and all of us having a great time, despite some difficulties at home at the time. It was the escapism we needed at the time.
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WHAT I THINK OF IT NOW: Honestly, this will always be one of the late Robin Williams' most iconic performances. I know there was talk of a sequel at some points, and I'm glad it never came to be, as there's no way it could ever live up to it. It was a lot of fun catching up with this film, and it brought back a lot of memories of what was going on in my life at the time, and how the film allowed my family to just laugh, despite everything that was going on.
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WAYNE'S WORLD 2
RELEASED: DECEMBER 10

WHAT'S IT ABOUT?:
The offbeat duo of Wayne (Mike Myers) and Garth (Dana Carvey) are back. This time Wayne gets inspired by the spirit of Jim Morrison to throw a rock concert and music festival appropriately named "Waynestock". Meanwhile, Wayne's girlfriend Cassandra (Tia Carrere) is seeing her music career about to take off, and the slimy music manager Bobby Cahn (Christopher Walken) is threatening to take her away from Wayne, so that he can have her all to himself.
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WHAT I THOUGHT OF IT THEN: The original Wayne's World film from the Spring of 92 is a movie that I don't think anyone saw coming. It was fresh, had a surprising sense of humor, and was able to be enjoyed even by people who were not in the built in Saturday Night Live audience, or had no knowledge of the main characters. Wayne's World 2, while still a good movie, didn't seem quite as surprising. I guess there's no way it could be, since this time we knew what to expect. I remember enjoying this one, but also finding it coming up a bit short compared to the first. It just didn't make me laugh as much as the first.
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WHAT I THINK OF IT NOW: Not much has changed. This is still a good movie, just not as memorable or as inventive as the first. Catching up with the movie, there are still moments that make me laugh, such as Wayne's Kung Fu fight with Cassandra's father. But overall, there's a pretty good reason why this one didn't match the heights of success as the first. It's not bad by any means, but it does feel like more of the same, without enough added to make it worth watching.
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SCHINDLER'S LIST
RELEASED: DECEMBER 15 (LIMITED) / FEBRUARY 4, 1994 (WIDE)

WHAT'S IT ABOUT?:
Steven Spielberg's epic drama tells the true story of Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson), a businessman who becomes an unlikely humanitarian amid the barbaric German Nazi reign when he feels compelled to turn his factory into a refuge for Jews. In the end, he manages to save 1,100 lives.
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WHAT I THOUGHT OF IT THEN: Very few movies are powerful enough to deliver what feels like an all-consuming emotional knockout. This is one of those times. I felt emotionally drained when this movie was over the first time I saw it. I remember just being amazed, not just by the power of the film, but that Spielberg could just turn around and make it immediately after delivering Jurassic Park. Going from a thrill ride movie about dinosaurs to one of the most powerful and aching dramas ever made could not have been easy. Regardless, this film ranked back then as one of the true masterpieces of the decade.
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WHAT I THINK OF IT NOW: Do you have to ask? This will always be Spielberg's greatest accomplishment as a filmmaker. No one had quite gone as deep into the topic as he did with this film. Every move he made was right here. From the decision to film it (mostly) in black and white, to the aching music score by John Williams, this is a film that got everything right, and deservedly brought Spielberg his first official Oscar win after years of being recognized, but never winning. It's not an easy film to watch, but it's always rewarding when you do.
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PHILADELPHIA
RELEASED: DECEMBER 24 (LIMITED) / JANUARY 14, 1994 (WIDE)


WHAT'S IT ABOUT?: Lawyer Andrew Beckett (Tom Hanks) is fired from his law firm, and believes that he was fired due to discrimination over the fact that he has AIDS. He aims to sue his former employers, and does so with the help of fellow lawyer Joe Miller (Denzel Washington), who starts out afraid of Andrew due to his disease, but as he spends time with him and the two work together on the case, he learns that he is no different, and deserves justice.
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WHAT I THOUGHT OF IT THEN: This movie got a lot of hype, as it was the first mainstream studio movie release to deal with AIDS. Not only that, but it served as somewhat of a transition for Tom Hanks as primarily a comedic actor to a dramatic one. He had done dramatic work in the past, but this is kind of when his career took a turn. Regardless, despite all the hype and attention, I remember finding this to be a well done and fairly routine courtroom drama film. The performances did help sell this material, definitely, with both Hanks and Washington delivering great work here.
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WHAT I THINK OF IT NOW: This movie has faded just a bit with time, as the subject matter is no longer as controversial or as taboo as it was back in 93. Regardless, I still love the performances here, which definitely made the movie worth watching. I do wish that the film had been a bit bolder, and gone more into Andrew's gay lifestyle, but I also understand that this was a big budget studio film on the subject (and the first one at that), so there were probably a lot of restrictions. It still has some powerful moments, and is worth watching even today.
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GRUMPY OLD MEN
RELEASED: DECEMBER 25

WHAT'S IT ABOUT?:
John Gustafson (Jack Lemmon) and Max Goldman (Walter Matthau) are lifelong friends and neighbors who have spent most of their lives arguing about or fighting over every little thing. When the lovely and lively Ariel (Ann Margaret) moves in across the street from them, they both start to compete for her affections.
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WHAT I THOUGHT OF IT THEN: This was one of the surprise hits of the holiday season that year. It didn't get a lot of hype leading up to its release, but it managed to strike a chord with audiences, and even led to a brief resurgence in popularity for both of its veteran stars. As for me, I found the movie a lot of fun. I loved the chemistry between the actors, and Burgess Meredith was flat-out hilarious as Lemmon's foul-mouthed father. This was a pleasant movie that hit all the right notes.
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WHAT I THINK OF IT NOW: I still hold a lot of fondness for this film. It really is great to see Lemmon and Matthau together, and they're obviously having a lot of fun playing off of each other here. I love how the movie never gets too silly with its concept, and remains grounded in a sort of reality. You really can believe that John and Max exist as friends, and you may even have known elderly people in your life who were like them. This is a great little comedy that works almost solely on its charm and the charm of its cast.
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BATMAN: MASK OF THE PHANTASM
RELEASED: DECEMBER 25

WHAT'S IT ABOUT?:
This feature film adaptation of the hit Batman animated series finds the Dark Knight (voiced by Kevin Conroy) fighting for his life when a mysterious cloaked vigilante calling himself the Phantasm (Stacy Keach) starts murdering some of Gotham City's most notorious criminals and gangsters, with Batman getting the blame for the crimes. At the same time, in his personal life, he has to deal with an old flame from his past, Andrea Beaumont (Dana Delany), returning, with the two of them having to deal with the past pain they shared. All this, and Batman's notorious arch nemesis, the Joker (Mark Hamill), is around also, gunning after whoever is killing the gangsters.
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WHAT I THOUGHT OF IT THEN: Being a huge fan of the animated series, I had to see this. My best friend and I saw this over the Christmas weekend, and I remember we were the only ones in the theater. No matter, however, as when the movie started, we were both completely enthralled. As a fan, this was the best Batman movie ever made at the time to me. It had all the action, drama and complexity of a mature Batman story, despite the film being marketed to kids. (A bad move on the part of the filmmakers, in my mind.) The movie was only roughly 76 minutes long, but it held more emotion and power than most of the 2 hour or so live action Batman films that Tim Burton had put out. This was a huge hit with me - So much so that I actually saw it twice in the theater.
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WHAT I THINK OF IT NOW: This movie was a huge bomb back in the day, but has rightfully gained a cult following, and is usually seen now as one of the better Batman films. My opinion has not changed with this one. I'm still surprised by how complex this film is, as well as some of the violent images they managed to get away with in a film that was being marketed to kids. This movie truly captures the action and drama of the Batman comics better than most of the live action films, even the more recent ones. I absolutely love this film, and it's one I have revisited many times.

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And that will do it for this recap. There was a good mix in 93 of some purely fun film, and some powerfully emotional dramas. Join me again next time, and see if 94 can offer the same.

Until next time my fellow retro junkers, keep the past alive!