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The Quest of the Wild Card: The Single Finest Film of Our Generation?

We have traversed through booby trap-laden hallways. We have skated swiftly on the ice of Midwestern team spirit. We have surfed vehemently into epic crashing waves and Presidential-themed bank robberies gone awry. We have journeyed amongst majestic prehistoric creatures and Jeff Goldblum's sweeping neuroses. We have driven wildly past the heart of danger that is the Los Angeles freeway and entered the chasm of terror known as Dennis Hopper's maniacal laugh. We have battled notoriously against extraterrestrial invaders of our planet with the help of a truly Fresh Prince and other, more forgettable menfolk. And most recently, and almost certainly most benignly, we have been slashed and hooked amidst supple teen flesh on the docks of a pleasantly generic upper-middle-class seaside American town. The Quest for the Single Finest Film of Our Generation, my friends, is nearly over. Here are your finalists...

Home Alone, The Mighty Ducks, Point Break, Jurassic Park, Speed, Independence Day, and I Know What You Did Last Summer

Think hard. Think deeply. Use the gut and whimsy that led you to so many ill-fated but eternally nostalgic decisions from your youth to ponder over the next two weeks your number one from this group of fine fine films. Because, in the end, only one can be the finest. Only one can outrank all other films (as narrowed down by me) from our glory days of cinema (as determined by me). Yes, I seem to have usurped much power from this process, but thus, my friends, is the beauty of democracy. I use you as my pawns to determine my own feelings about my childhood. Hopefully you can find some blah blah blah to help you understand your own past love for cinematic blah blah, but ultimately, I think we all know this Quest is as personal as it is universal, if not more so. So, let me use you, and allow these two weeks to help you in some way identify your own number one theatrical high from your youth. What grabbed you by the balls/uterus and didn't let go upon that first viewing, only to find years later that that pure childlike wonder not only translates to an enjoyable viewing in your twenties, but also makes for a fine laugh-out-loud rebuke of past tastes and treasures. What brings you to a Road House-esque level of bewilderment and riotous raucous that adolescents from the 80s certainly experienced?

But before you answer that on November 10th, there is another, more treacherous element of democracy that we indeed must consider as well. The Wild Card. As your benevolent dictator of cinema nostalgia, I must at least let you grovel for a bit until the final voting period opens up. So let this be your forum. What films from your youth signify not only a time and place in which your tastes were unbound by artfulness or intelligence, but also now represent a conscious shift in movie enjoyment? What cinema treasure beckons you to find its curious entertainment value all over again 11-19 years-ish later, only to be rejoiced with crowded apartment viewing featuring snide comments and snobbish laughter? The joy is still there for me when watching these movies, it just manifest itself in a new and exciting way, equally as relentless, but magnified through a different lens. You are by no means required to follow my convoluted mess of rules when nominating Wild Card candidates, but in case you're curious, here are my guidelines once again...

-Released between 1990-1997, the most vividly joyous years of adolescent cinema-viewing, in my estimation
-Must be in the Top 50 of the Box Office for its year, to satisfy the argument of universal cultural relevance
-Must have been viewed at least three times during the years in question, plus at least a desire to rewatch again as an adult must be prevalent
-The first viewing(s) must be concrete nostalgic memories of epic proportion, constituting an impactful childhood movie-going/renting experience
-Cannot be genuinely good, meaning the emotions derived and artfulness learned from said film in one's youth cannot be directly similar to the emotions derived from or artfulness appreciated from viewing as an adult

Let the Wild Card ranting begin! Fill the comments with the films that have not been mentioned that you would like to make one final argument for including the final nominations. I will choose between 1-3 of the best arguments (or most backed up, so second someone else if you agree with them) from the comments section to add to the current list of seven. Here are some examples that have come up throughout the Quest to start you off...

Mrs. Doubtfire, Free Willy, Under Siege, Little Big League, Dave, Sleepless in Seattle, Rookie of the Year, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The American President, Apollo 13, French Kiss, Now and Then, Mallrats, Sneakers, The Fifth Element (begrudgingly)

And some others grabbed from Googling the Box Office receipts for 1990-1997...

Ghost, Total Recall, Kindergarten Cop, Flatliners, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, City Slickers, The Addams Family, Father of the Bride, Backdraft, Hot Shots!, Lethal Weapon 3, Sister Act, A League of Their Own, Patriot Games, Honey I Blew Up the Kid, Cliffhanger, Cop and a Half, The Three Musketeers, The Santa Clause, The Flintstones, Clear and Present Danger, The Mask, Maverick, Batman Forever, Casper, Waterworld, Species, Mission: Impossible, The Rock, The Nutty Professor, Phenomenon, Eraser, Men in Black, Liar Liar, Conspiracy Theory, Dante's Peak, Anaconda

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  1. Blogger Unspar! | 12:17 PM |  

    Perhaps anticlimactically, I don't think any of these suggested (or un-suggested, for that matter) films deserve to hang with the nominees as they are. The appeal just isn't the same.

    That said, I'm really confused. So these are movies that were meaningful for us as children, thus producing nostalgia, and still good enough for us to want to see again, but not good enough for us to want to genuinely enjoy it on its own merits when we watch it again? Actually, as I wrote that, it suddenly made sense.

    I'm gonna go with the following nominees:

    BATMAN FOREVER: The only generation-defining cast member this movie is missing is Keanu. We've got Val Kilmer, Chris O'Donnell, Jim Carey, Tommy Lee Jones, and Nicole Kidman (and those last two won major acting awards in the '90s, which we have to admit is hard envision ever happening again, especially considering how forgettable The Hours turned out to be). At the time, this was like the apex of what superhero movies could offer--over-stylized costumes, superfluous special effects, a pleasing combination of action and intrigue (not too much of either), and extremely thin storyline. Through the nostalgia lens, those are the very things that make this movie ironically enjoyable. As bad as everyone says Batman Forever is, they'd probably actually enjoy it for the same reasons they once thought it was terrible.

    I was gonna try to make a case for The Rock or Anaconda too, but it's not worth it.

  2. Blogger qualler | 12:23 PM |  

    I'm totally with you here, Unspar. How was Batman Forever not included in the Quest for 1995? It is sadly my most viewed Batman movie, but I totes loved the bangin' hilarious-to-a-12-year-old lines like "The car, right? Chicks dig the car" as well as bafflingly delivered by Val Kilmer lines like "Mister E...Mister E. Nygma. Edward Nygma!" Plus, Nicole Kidman gave me a 12-year-old funny-feeling-down-there. And, there's the hilarious inside jokes that LQ and I used to do, like overemphasizing when Batman sees Robin's uniform for the first time and says "R...(REALLY LOUD INHALE OF BREATH)...what's that stand for" "Robin(REALLY LOUD EXHALE OF BREATH)". Today the film probably holds up on account of the totally mid-90s datedness that will definitely only apply to the Schumaker Batman films.

    Therefore -- my wild card selection -- Batman Forever.

  3. Blogger DoktorPeace | 1:46 PM |  

    I'll argue for TMNT, even though I still garner genuine enjoyment every time I flip by it.

    Those turtle suits were a great representation of the pre-CG movie years that ended soon after this quest era with the Phantom Menace.

    Casey Jones was the perfect 90s badass, and I just realized upon my last viewing that he sneaks in a weird anti-gay joke:
    Turtle - "I think Casey's claustrophobic."
    Casey - "I've never even looked at a guy!"

    The fact that April consistently wears no bra and has banging, nip-showing breasts also well exemplifies the weird sort of laissez-faire, pervy attitude that went into many kid movies of the time.

    Raphael's "DAMN!!!!!" shocked me for years to come.

    And more. Leonardo/Splinter mind meld. Random rebellious kid who falls in with the Foot and learns his lesson by the end. Bad guy falling to his "death." Cop cars lighting the final scenes.

    This is one of the few movies (and only one eligible here, I think) that I had recorded off of television after seeing in theaters and watched over and over and again.

    Cowabunga! Turtle power!

  4. Blogger DoktorPeace | 1:47 PM |  

    And you can do whatever you want with your 5th element, Chris, since I just saw it for the 1st time last week; although I do love your begrudging face.

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