When you were a kid, did you ever see one of those movies that you enjoyed and then when you told other people they had no idea what movie you're talking about? This what I like to call "movie gems." These films either became overlooked or just unheard of. I've come across many movies like these in my lifetime, and I'd like to take this time to put the spotlight on some of them.
First, I'd like to talk about a film that almost nobody has ever heard of: And You Thought Your Parents Were Weird. I first discovered this film on the Disney channel when I was ten years old. For some reason, as a kid I had a fascination with science and machines, so I thought this movie would be up my alley. When I watched, I enjoyed it very much. However, anytime I would tell everyone about it, nobody ever knew what I was talking about and still don't. The film is about two young brothers, who follow in their late father's footsteps by becoming inventors and invent a robot. One night, one of the brothers goes to a Halloween party and plays the Ouija and ends up making contact with his father. Not to his knowledge, this causes his father's soul to enter the robot that his two sons invented. Now the boys have a robot dad. The film actually has a theatrical release in 1991, but it was a short run, as not many people saw it and didn't do well with critics. It virtually became unknown. Just like the title suggests, this is a bit of a weird movie. Even as a kid, I thought it was a little odd. However, I recently rediscovered the film and watched it again. I enjoyed it, but I don't think I liked it as much as I did when I was a kid. I mean it has some flaws, besides having an unappealing title. First, I noticed that some of the characters are recycled from other movies. For example, the smart nerdy kid is from Real Genius, his love interest who's impressed with his work is from WarGames and the robot is cross between E.T. and Johnny 5. Also, some parts of the story don't make much sense. Despite it's flaws though, I enjoyed it. I like the robot effects, which was all puppetry and animatronics. I also like what the film was trying to go for in it's message. It's a nice solid little family film that should be seen more.
Next, is a film that's somewhat similar to And You Thought Your Parents Were Weird, but in my opinion a much better film: Fluke. I actually didn't discover this film until two months ago, but I enjoyed it very much. The only thing I saw of it up until then was the trailer, which didn't do the film justice at all. The trailer made it look like another "dog finds his family" film, like Bingo or Homeward Bound, but this film was very different. It's actually about a man who dies and gets resurrected as a dog named Fluke and tries to start a new life and possibly find his family. The latter part of the story like a typical family film, but the first part of it is what makes this film so different, but so good. I mean when you think of a family film, you wouldn't think of a subject this deep. Even the film itself is deep and has very little of the humor, that people expected from a film like this. The film didn't do well at the box office or with critics. People called it "depressing," "pretentious," "too dark for kids." While these criticism are right to a certain degree, I thought it was a very good film. I liked that it tried to be different and treated kids like adults, you don't see that too often. To me, it's like a family art film. The way it's being treated both then and now reminds me of how the Where the Wild Things Are is currently being treated, only Where the Wild Things Are did better both finically and critically. Still though, no one seems to know this film and should be looked at more. Sometimes kids need that serious film where not everything is a happy ending, but more realistic.
The late John Hughes has wrote, produced and directed many films. Everyone has seen Home Alone, The Breakfast Club and Planes, Trains & Automobiles, but I think his most unknown film that he wrote and produced is Baby's Day Out. The film is about a baby who loves this book about a baby having a day in the city. One day, his rich parents decide to get his picture taken by some professional photographers. However, what they don't know is that the photographers were kidnapped by three kidnappers, who go to the house and pose as the photographers. They plan to take the baby ransom to get five million dollars from the parents. Once they have baby, they don't know how to take care of it and it soon escapes from their apartment and starts going on the adventures through the city, just like in his book. At the same time, the kidnappers are trying to capture him, so they can get their money. This where the comedic moments start to happen. The film didn't do well at the box office or with critics. I first saw this film when I was very young and enjoyed it and continued to watch it over the years. Although, I soon forgot about it. However, I was recently looking through my VHS collection and saw the tape and decided to watch it. Again, I enjoyed it, but not as much as I did when I was younger. I think the problem with this film is that it's basically Home Alone, but with a baby. Plus, the bad guys are kind of recycled from Home Alone, in that they end up being outsmarted several times by the baby and fall into different traps. They sometimes work and sometimes don't. I think the film would've worked better if it was made back in the silent film era or if it was animated, because it's pretty cartoonish in it's humor. It reminded me of a Baby Herman or Sweet Pea cartoon. It would've worked better that way. Still though, the baby is cute and it has some nice moments. I see it more as a tribute to those cartoons or silent films rather than a rip-off.
Finally we have two films that nobody I know has ever heard of: Invisible Mom and Invisible Dad. I put these two films together because the were made by the same company, have a similar premise and the same director, Fred Olen Ray, who directed mostly B-Movies and softcore porn films, but in the 90's he made a series of direct-to-video family films including The Kid With the X-Ray Eyes and Mom's Outta Sight. Invisible Mom came around in 1996 and was about a boy who's annoyed with his mom and her rules. He also has a father, who's a scientist, and creates a formula that can make people disappear if they drink it. The mother accidentally drinks it, thanks to the boy and now they must find a way to get the mother back to normal. In 1998, Invisible Dad came around and was about a boy and his father who move into a new house after the mother dies. The boy is a computer expert and while cleaning his garage, he's find a machine that was invented by the previous owner of the house. He discovers that it's a wishing machine. Anything that he wishes for he gets. One day, out of anger, he wishes his dad would disappear and his father becomes invisible. Now he must get his father back to normal. I actually saw Invisible Dad first. I was in Blockbuster one day and I saw this cover for the movie and it was one of those covers, where you move it in different directions and the image animates to a new one. The cover had the dad go from being visible to invisible and looked so cool that I rented it and ended up enjoying it. Then I found out there was an Invisible Mom and I rented that and enjoyed it as well. Then, I found out that there was an Invisible Mom II and I rented that, but I don't really remember it, since I didn't care too much for it. However, the original film, as well as Invisible Dad, I've always enjoyed. As I watch them now, they're not that good, but I do enjoy them for the nostalgia factor and they're just fun. They remind me of the old 1950's B-Movies, but for kids. Plus, they have that cheap 90's movie feel to it. I guess you could say that they're guilty pleasures for me.
So, these are the movie gems of my childhood. I know there are more movies I could've mentioned such as The Dark Crystal, Return to Oz or others, but movies like that have gained popularity over the years and are being discovered by new generations, so I can't really call them gems. I just wanted to show some of the gems that get little to no attention. These films weren't great films, but they were certainly good and enjoyable. They're all just nice movies to watch on a Sunday afternoon. It's just too bad that films these don't get as much attention as they should. So, what are the movie gems of your childhood?