My Mom was always pretty cool about letting me watch movies. Perhaps it had something to do with DUMBO being the only thing that'd calm me down when I suffered from strep throat? Maybe it was cheap babysitting? Perhaps it had something to do with my odd habit of humming the songs from An American Tail: Fievel Goes West? My Mom knew how to keep me entertained with a simple trip to the Video Store. I found myself renting certain movies OVER and OVER again, driving everyone else crazy. This Article will cover my most over-rented and never-owned movie selections from my childhood years onto my awkward teens.
Problem Child 2 came out when I was five. I remember the advertisements on TV for the VHS release. Apparently in the early 90's, some video stores experimented with home deliveries. It was sort of an early and far cruder Netflix. The Van pulled up to my house, and my Mom held my Pajama clad mini-body up so I could see the movie selection. I picked Problem Child 2, and we paid the guy. Mom put the movie in the VCR and at the time it was the funniest movie I had ever seen. The opening of the movie featured loud music, a Father and Son road trip, and Junior driving and flipping off a trucker. I asked what the middle finger gesture meant, and my Mom just told me it was bad and I should never do it. I didn't listen, and I often found myself in a lot of trouble for flipping off other kids and authority figures.
I know what some of you may be thinking; Problem Child 2 is nothing compared to the first one, and for me my preference depends on my mood, but mostly I find myself gravitating towards PC2. I loved the gross out Pizza fight, the fact that Junior attacked his Grandpa with nunchucks, and how he had a Space Rocket for a bed. I couldn't get enough of it for years, and it became one of my favorite rentals of all time. One of my Babysitters owned the original Problem Child, so I never really had to rent it. It was more of a borrowed movie for me, but I watched both movies numerous times as well.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day was another movie that was a constant rental. It's the first Rated R movie I was allowed to watch; mainly because I doubt my Mom even realized it was Rated R. I loved Arnold as the Terminator. How awesome is a Robot that can't be killed? On the playground we'd often call out characters we were playing as, but Terminator was the end all. Someone would call out Michelangelo, patron Saint of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles lore, and everyone would be envious that they hadn't thought of Mikey. Some children would instead opt for their second favorite turtle, or an entirely different hero altogether, like Batman or something...but the kid who said the magic words of "I 'll be THE TERMINATOR!" and you knew he was full on EPIC! We didn't know how to kill a terminator...Bullets wouldn't work, obviously. Ninja weapons were out of the question. Batman's Shark Repellent and batarangs wouldn't save the day...Only someone like RoboCop could stand up to the child who picked The Terminator, but it was common knowledge on my playground that The Terminator was cooler than RoboCop, and so The Terminator would always win.
I was so fascinated with Robots back then, and The Terminator was the toughest one of all. I remember the Rental Clerk at our local Video Hub offered to just give us the movie because we rented it so often. I never officially owned T2 until I bought The Ultimate T2 DVD many years later.
A Goofy Movie was my next rental obsession. I always loved Goofy, so when I found out the GOOF TROOP was hitting the big screen, I was on cloud 9. I saw the movie in theaters with my Mom's new husband and his son, and I begged them to take me to see the movie again and again. I must have seen it 6 times in the theater. I knew a lot of the lines by heart, and I couldn't wait till the movie came out on video so I could watch it over and over again. I think I got grounded, or in some form of trouble, because despite having a Recent Releases calendar with the release date marked, I didn't get the movie. I was allowed to rent it, however...but when we went to the store we found it they were all rented out >: 0
Our next door neighbors had secured themselves a copy, so I begged the daughter to let me borrow it after she had watched it. She teased me, and told me she'd only let me borrow it if I did everything she asked for a year. I responded to that offer by throwing a half eaten Nerf football at her head, causing her to burst into tears. She told her parents who in turn told mine, and I was banned from watching the movie. That didn't stop me from renting it every time I visited my Grandparents; they weren't aware of that stipulation. I rented it over and over again, as if to mock my Mom for trying to press on such a stupid punishment. It wasn't just a movie rental, it was a declaration of freedom!
This one wasn't one of mine. My Step-Brother and I were very different kids from one another. His favorite food was Macaroni and Cheese from the box, and mine was Lobster. My favorite movies were the Star Wars Trilogy, The Back to the Future Trilogy, and Jaws...and his...well, let's just say he rented the Pippi Longstocking movies a lot. I was against the movie, as it came down to a decision on whether to rent one movie and a Nintendo game, or two movies of our individual choosing. I really wanted to rent RoboCop on VHS, and get MegaMan 3 for NES, and I begged my Step-Bro with my reasoning that Pippi Longstocking looked stupid, and I had heard that MegaMan 3 was the best video game ever made. He ignored my pleas and rented Pippi Longstocking. At first I refused to watch it, and I instead opted to take a bath. After I got dried off I went to see if the movie was over. It wasn't, and I found myself watching...and kind of enjoying the last half of the flick. It was different then I expected, and the songs the children sang were catchy. That became my Step-Brothers go to movie, and as much as I rented my choices, he'd rent his. I grew to accept it, and even casually allowed him to rent it without much protest.
Around my 9th Birthday nothing on earth was cooler than Martial Arts movies. Van Damme was a cheesy-hard-to-understand-GOD to kids my age. I'd scour the ACTION section of our local video store for at least one of the action stars of the holy trinity; Segal, Lee, or Van Damme. Kickboxer was required viewing for anyone who wanted to be cool, and I had that movie downright memorized. The kids at school were separated into two factions; those who preferred Bloodsport, and those who preferred Kickboxer. When my friends would have sleep overs, at least one of those flicks was selected for the evenings entertainment. I can't recall why I liked Kickboxer over Bloodsport, as now when I watch them they're basically the same plot. I remember when our video store received Kickboxer 2, and I also remember how bummed I was that JCVD had nothing to do with it. As much as I liked ABC's TGIF, Cody from Step by Step DID NOT make up for a severe lack of Van Damme action!
When my Step-Brother and I were just entering our teen years, we'd frequent the local video store that was within walking distance. Even if we didn't have any movies, we could still gaffle some free Popcorn, and it was a temporary cure for living in a town with nothing to do. One day my Step-Brother picked up a movie called Mallrats. I looked at the cover and I asked him why on earth he'd pick a movie about slackers at a mall. His reply was "Look at the back, those two guys are looking at a Penthouse, so there MUST be nudity in it!" and you know something? I just couldn't argue with his logic.
We placed the tape in our VCR and instantly I recognized the movie from the countless Wizard Magazine ads they had promoted it with. Seriously, look at a Wizard that was published in 93 to 95...You're sure to find various mentions and advertisements for Mallrats.
As much as Wizard pushed Mallrats as being the greatest story ever told, it didn't catch much an audience during the initial theatrical run. It later became somewhat of a rental cult classic, and I like to think my countless rentals had something to do with it. The movie had everything I could want when I was at that age! Stan Lee, sexual innuendos, smart ass dialogue, boobs, Star Wars references, characters named after characters in the movie Jaws, and new ways to gross out your friends...
Say, would you like a chocolate covered pretzel? They're a little melty, but damn are they exquisite...
Ahem, sorry. Anyway, the video circulated around all the neighborhood kids, and even found itself being passed around the halls of our middle school. I couldn't start a relationship with a girl until I forced her to watch Mallrats. It was not uncommon for my circle of friends to stink palm teachers and throw out random quotes from the movie; "DO IT DOUG!" was popular during assemblies and spirit rallies, and we all joked about how we'd propose to our girlfriends when Jaws popped out of the water on the Universal tour.
We all went to the theater together to see Dogma and Jay and Silent Bob Strikes Back, and discovered Clerks and Chasing Amy, but Mallrats was the gateway Kevin Smith film for us, and it was a phenomenon that swept our 7th, 8th, and 9th grade year.
We finally got burnt out on Mallrats, and in it's place fell the Bill and Ted movies. Although not directly responsible for this movement, I was there during it's conception. After the Wrestlemania 2001 party my friend Adam threw, we journeyed to the video store. One of our group suggested the two Bill and Ted movies, and thusly the new dawn of Bill and Ted's Excellent and Bogus Adventures began. We were of the age where we remembered the previews for B&T:Bogus playing on TV during our Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles obsessed days, but aside from the humor in seeing Keanu "I'm Neo from the Matrix, whoaaa" Reeve's in an 80's comedy, we really were too young to know much else about them. We watched them both back to back in a time where we were all picking up instruments and trying to put together bands that would crush the current music genre and bring back our heavy metal favorites, so this movie really connected with us. Whereas before we'd call out "DO IT DOUG!" during our spirit rallies and assemblies, we'd now scream "SAN DIMAS HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL RULES!"
We'd use the word "Station!" as a replacement for the now uncool "Awesome", "Rad", "Cool", and it's bastard brother "Coo". During heated arguments about why our bands were sucking, it was not uncommon for someone to suggest hiring Eddie Van Halen as a solid solution. Soon our halls were cluttered with Wyld Stallyns t-shirts. The movies were constantly being rented out; so much so that you'd have a better chance at borrowing it from whoever had it at school than renting it at the video store. The video store had a long waiting list, and classic rentals were 7 days for $2.50. If you had a couch full of change to dig into, you could easily afford a weeks worth of Bill and Ted.
Some blame the new and expensive DVD's for killing the weekend rentals. Others chalked it up as a side effect to growing up and having more of an interest in getting a driver's license and a date to Prom...Whatever it was, renting movies and eating junk food with friends was no longer a priority, and we just stopped our familiar rituals. Years after DVD conquered the households of the US, some of my favorite classic rentals can now be found for a mere $7.50 in Grocery stores. I find myself purchasing them and reflecting fondly of the multiple trips I'd take to the video store just to watch the same movies over and over again.