I am the author of three middle-grade children's books, and I blog on the side. My favorite topics are movies, writing, and pop culture.
Movies Made For a Certain Generation
Some movies are timeless while others are considered "of its time." They usually resonate with a particular age group because they are movies that they grew up with. These movies also tend to employ the technical and storytelling techniques that were popular and acceptable in those days which may not hold up today. Below are five 90's movies that fall into this category and, despite their popularity at the time, are still primarily beloved by people who were young when they were released.
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom Trailer
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)
Rotten Tomatoes: 85% Audience Score: 81%
IMDB Users: 7.6/10
Roger Ebert: 4 stars
This movie tends to be tied with Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull as audiences' least favorite Indiana Jones movie. Even Spielberg has said that this is personally not his favorite in the series. It’s dark, missing the love-to-hate Nazis, and has two annoying sidekicks in the form of a whiny lounge singer and a stereotypically cute Asian kid. It does not resemble the tone that Raiders set in the franchise, and that disappointed a lot of Indy fans in the 80’s.
I admit, I wasn’t around when the first two Indiana Jones films were released, but it didn’t take me long to find them. I used to tell people that I was going to be an archaeologist when I grew up, and I used to pretend that I was Indiana Jones when I played in my backyard. And over the years, I learned that this occupation tended to be a popular one among people my age.
But many thought this movie was too dark. These days, it's considered to be insensitive in its depiction of Indian culture. These are both valid points. But those who do love it tend to be those who watched it on cable as kids and associate the franchise with the plane crash escape down a mountainside, Indy bantering with Willy and Short Round, and the famous mine car chase scene.
Ghostbusters II Trailer
Ghostbusters II (1989)
Rotten Tomatoes: 51% Audience Score: 61%
IMDB Users: 6.5/10
Roger Ebert: 2 ½ stars
Ghostbusters is one of the greatest comedies of all time. That’s pretty much a unanimous opinion. In fact, I’ve never met someone who didn’t like the original film. The sequel, however, not so much.
Ghostbusters II was considered sentimental, lackluster, and just not the same as its predecessor. Even Bill Murray refused to make a sequel all those years for fear that it would turn out the same as Ghostbusters 2.
This film recycles elements from the first movie, such as Dana Barrett (and now her baby, Oscar), being haunted (and temporarily possessed) by an ancient ghost, the team having to reassemble to go back into business after a five year hiatus, and a giant, iconic figure walking the streets of New York in the final battle. This time, it's the Statue of Liberty in place of Mr. Stay Puft.
Again, as a child in the 80’s I saw Ghostbusters II before I saw the original. It was released in 1989 when I became of movie watching age. So, it must have been on TV a lot in the 90’s followed by the popularity of the animated series that aired on Saturday mornings.
This movie introduced me to the team, contained jokes that even a child could understand, and an endangered baby was something that kids could relate to. It’s also not too scary. The ghosts are more of the Muppet type than that of a hardcore horror movie, and the music keeps the tone light and kid-friendly for a generation that was used to watching scary 80's movies to begin with.
Rotten Tomatoes: 30% Audience Score: 76%
IMDB Users: 6.7/10
Roger Ebert: 2 ½ stars
Steven Spielberg’s continuation of the classic Peter Pan story was a movie that I happened across at the video store one evening while looking for something to rent one Friday night. I hadn’t heard of it before it came out on home video so when we watched and loved it, I felt like we had struck VHS gold.
Hook was colorful, fun, and funny. It had memorable quotes and thrilling action sequences, and when Robin Williams, who is wound tight for the first two acts, is finally cut loose, we finally get the Peter Pan we’ve been waiting for.
I found out later that the movie received many bad reviews. Adults thought it was long and boring. They didn’t like what had been done to the classic character, and they found it silly, sentimental, and over-produced.
Even Spielberg has professed that it didn't come out the way he envisioned and is a bit over-the-top. What he didn’t realize is that going big is exactly what draws in younger viewers. The movie balances humor with seriousness without getting too dark or too silly. It employs that 90’s tendency to have workaholic dads who need to go through exaggerated circumstances in order to reconnect with their kids (ex. Liar Liar, The Santa Clause, Jingle All the Way, etc.).
When Peter's kids are kidnapped, it takes an army of kids, in the form of modern day Lost Boys, to help Pan save them, something that is both inspiring and awesome to a child viewer. Williams goes from stiff adult to a fun loving kid, showing that growing up doesn't mean that you have to lose your childhood self as you know it. It's a good message for cynical adults and a relief to kids who are afraid of becoming one.
Forrest Gump Trailer
Forrest Gump (1994)
Rotten Tomatoes: 72% Audience Score: 95%
IMDB Users: 8.8/10
Roger Ebert: 4 stars
How can a movie that won Best Picture at the Academy Awards become so hated? Easy, you put it on cable five times a day for 20 years and then see if that southern drawl doesn’t sound like nails on a chalkboard to you.
This movie has no villain, just an eyedropper full of plot, and is overly sentimental say some. Eventually, any credibility it had is lost, floating away with the feather that bookends the feature, leaving Forrest behind in his far-fetched attempt to run across the country multiple times with one pair of shoes and no supplies.
Forrest Gump, despite its heavier elements, is an easy to swallow movie, ideal for any time of year, day, or mood. Its cinematography is easy on the eyes, the story is simple, and the hero is lovable. It sent me through the previous few decades that predate me, and as a kid, its tendency to shift tones from inspiring, frightening, funny, action-packed, and sad kept it from getting too heavy or overwhelming, making it easier to understand its adult themes.
Forrest skips along through each scene in a confused but enthusiastic way that resonates with a younger audience. I never get tired of the Vietnam sequence, his sprinkled encounters with his beloved Jenny, and the innocent and funny narration. It feels like you have lived a lifetime after watching this movie, a lifetime that exists just before I did. I haven’t reached my limit on the number of times I’ve watched it. I’ll let the critics know when I have.
Batman Forever Trailer
Batman Forever (1995)
Rotten Tomatoes: 40% Audience Score: 33%
IMDB Users: 5.4/10
Roger Ebert 2 ½ stars
Though this is the third installment in the Batman franchise that began with the '89 movie, it starts fresh with a new director and cast, and it truly is a different brand. It’s overwhelmingly colorful, sometimes campy, and intentionally lighter than the previous films.
This did not sit well with audiences in the 90’s, particularly for fans looking for a gruesome Two Face, a clever Riddler, and a Batman performance as equally admired as Keaton’s. This film did not deliver those things. Instead, they got a neon-infused, Jim Carrey movie that gets lumped in with the even more reviled Batman and Robin as the sequel that made Batman take eight years off from movies, before he took eight years off in the Nolan films of course.
It’s fair to say that this was not a movie that catered to adults, but look at it from a nine-year-old’s point of view in 1995. This was the movie of the summer for kids.
We weren’t dissecting the plot like a film critic or comic book enthusiast. We were too busy rooting for Robin, laughing at The Riddler, and watching scenes from Batman: The Animated Series re-enacted in live action form. Kilmer was not Keaton, but you could have put Adam West back in the tuxedo, and we would have bought it.
Once the mask goes on, we’re mostly watching stunt men punch and kick their way through the film. We got to see the Batmobile, Bat Boat, and Batwing show up in one movie. We saw two arch villains infiltrate Wayne Manor and the Batcave, and we saw Dick Grayson’s origin story unfold before our eyes, not in flashback but in a way that was crucial to the plot.
Do I see the flaws in the work now? Absolutely. Am I ashamed to say that I still like the movie? Absolutely not.
Buy a copy of Hook here!
Finding Your Audience
Every movie has its time and its audience. Liking a movie that others don’t does not give you bad taste or a sentimental attitude. It means that you personally get something out of it that others don’t. Hold on to whatever causes you to like a movie for what it is. Don’t take it personally when others don’t see what you see. A movie is a piece of art, and art is seen differently by everyone who views it.
What are some movies that you watched as a kid that you found to be hated by adults? Leave your responses in the comments below.
AC Wright from New York City on November 13, 2019:
100% accurate! Haha Especially about Batman Forever. That Seal song is pure gold!