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The Quest For The Single Finest Film of Our Generation.

[Cue "The Final Countdown".] Ladies and gentlemen, we are here today to pay special tribute to the films of 1990-1997. Over the course of the past four months, we have discussed together choice box office blockbusters of this particular time period that we do not hold a special place for in our hearts because they are fine works of art, but rather because they are spectacles of the soul. Many may argue about the value in trying to recapture, re-document, or even understand the past, but everyone I believe can agree that the vivacity of nostalgia, the bold currents of electricity that jolt our minds into tizzies of wonder with the thought of a pleasant memory, is strong enough to at least tempt us. And succeed it shall in its temptation, for what other purpose does a pop culture blog hold than to celebrate a life of appreciating the stories that bound us together as a universe of awkward adolescents, the special effects that wowed us with awe, or the sentimental heart string-pulling that let us know emotions could be felt in the safety of a large dark air-conditioned room? Now it is your final task, if you so choose, to declare one of the ten final nominees below as the Single Finest Film of Our Generation in the comments. I bid you good luck and Godspeed, and hope we meet again, in future attempts to hold in our minds (if only for a moment) the unadulterated joy of entertainment cinema...

Home Alone (1990): In an attempt to not repeat myself and also because there's fricking ten movies to talk about here, these blurbs will be short and sweet. Click the title links to revisit the post from which the nomination was originally made. In many ways, it's appropriate that our first nominee on this cumbersome (but totally necessary) list of ten is the famous Macaulay Culkin vehicle. Foremost, I think we all found such a strong connection to the misadventures of solitude that Kevin McCallister endured in 1990. Just like our protagonist did not fully understand the consequences of a life of loneliness until he experienced it firsthand, we only fully immersed ourselves in ultimate fantasy fulfillment when we witnessed the child without the parents, the boy without the adults, alone in our own little world of escapism in that movie theater during the holiday season.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990): Pushed in by a one DoktorPeace (and rightfully so) during the last-minute wild card round. I believe I originally claimed it ineligible due to what I remember being an astonishing amount of artfulness for a movie about anthropomorphic amphibians. And while that deduction still rings true, it does not preclude the very true fact that it is indeed still a movie about naked 14-year-old turtles whose fetishes include early-90s surfer slang, a killer combo of pepperoni and extra cheese, and Judith Hoag (a veritable human hottie). Arbitrary art vs. entertainment debate aside, the original TMNT does indeed deserve proper consideration for your vote because not only is it the quintessential action figure/cartoon/comic book adaptation from our youth, but because as much as we were amused and fueled by little boy testosterone to watch it umpteen times, in its quite literal interpretive translation, there was a turtle living in a sewer, trying to do good, in all of us. Some of us were natural leaders, some of us were tantrum-prone jerks, some of us were goofy class clowns, and some of us were...uhh...Donatello. But the one thing we all had in common? We had yet to become accepted by surface-dwelling adults who had shed their shells long ago.

Point Break (1991): Okay, so forget the whole "brief" thing. I'm just gonna write what I want. Deal with it. Moving on, I'll be honest. Point Break is the only movie on this list of ten that I did not see in the theater when it came out. I didn't see an R-rated movie in the theater until The Crow in 1994 with my brother posing as my "legal guardian." But he was also my gateway into the world of screen violence (and as he told me early on, "the mandatory sex scene") present in the glorious universe of Restricted cinema on home video. The Keanu/Swayze surfing bank robbers action bromance had no resonant emotional connection to the younger, more impressionable version of myself like the aforementioned films, but its ability to morph throughout the years in different capacities of "entertainment" should be noted and considered, as it very well may have been the first 90s action film to successfully retain its seriousness while simultaneously becoming 100% unserious 17 years later.

The Mighty Ducks (1992): You guys voted for this one; not me. I held steadfastly on the strength of Encino Man, and while my ardor for that film has diminished, I can still firmly say that if I had to eliminate one nominee from this otherwise practically flawless list of ten, this would be the one. I'm sorry, folks, I know many of you wear your love for Emilio and his gang of misfits on your sleeves, but I have to be honest here. I only offered up TMD as a possibility in the first place because I felt some kind of vague obligation to do so, like I would be banished from Childhood Film Recollection Club if I had left it off the table for discussion. Did it instill some kind of underdog belief system in so many of us at such an influential age that to leave it in the past would be some kind of heinous act against our own code of ethics? Possibly. Or maybe it's just that it really is the perfect "buck up, nerd!" story of our youth and to deny its supremacy is to deny our own former selves. Maybe.

Jurassic Park (1993): I think we all know it sticks out like a sore thumb, and unlike my dissent of the only film to inspire a professional sports team name, I can speak to little to no ill of the one, the only JP. I, like so many others, had been fascinated by all things dinosaur years prior to Spielberg's stab at the subject, so much so that one of my mom's favorite stories is when our priest asked me once "do you have any questions about what you're learning in Sunday School?" and I responded, "no, but why did God kill off the dinosaurs?" I don't think he answered my question, but I knew the answer some years later when I sat in a sold-out theater, mouth agape with Milk Dud residue on my teeth, scared out of my wits that Newman would get eaten by those oil-spitting creatures. If God didn't kill the dinosaurs, we wouldn't have Jurassic Park eons later. And thus, for a brief moment in time, the cinema became a twisted house of prayer.

Speed (1994): For everything Point Break did for the action genre three years earlier, Speed arguably did better only three years later. So much so that, as Qualler has pointed out, it may even transcend entertainment value and head into downright art territory. But we can't dwell on this kind of nonsense too long. The truth of the matter is that Speed is possibly in my opinion, Jurassic Park included, the only film on this list with infinite re-watch power. Its distinct three gimmicky acts (elevator, bus, subway) are so meticulously crafted with such an endless supply of taut tension combined with the dopey heroism of Keanu, the manic obnoxiousness of Sandra Bullock, and the crazed villainy of Dennis Hopper that its magnetism is impossible to deny, much less quantify. It was childish and kooky enough to wrap me into its tentacles of velocity and intensity, but also masterful enough in its ridiculousness to admire as an adult, and hopefully, for years to come.

Batman Forever (1995): The second and final last-minute addition to the list of nominees due to a well-justified double-vote in the wild card round. Bravo and kudos to Unspar and Qualler for their incredibly thoughtful cases presented in favor of including the death of the greatest superhero franchise ever began into the Quest. They opened my eyes to understanding, nay, appreciating, what was once viewed by many (present company included) one of the worst pockmarks on the history of American cinema (which in my experience, included only the films of the 90s, and some from the 80s). It is, still, without a doubt, one of the most heartbreaking memories of all time, going to see Batman Forever on opening day, waiting in line, and hearing some jackass say "Batman dies in the end!" as he leaves the theater. Possibly more heartbreaking? Batnipples. But as Unspar points out in his comment nomination, the very reasons Batman Forever seemed so terrible back in the day are what make it so appealing to revisit again today.

Bad Boys (1995): Okay, so screw you guys. I know it has no chance whatsoever at winning, and would inevitably place last if these ten films were ranked amongst us all. And I know I threw a little bit of a hissy fit when seemingly no one besides myself had even seen the should-be infamous buddy action flick starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence during the original Quest of 1995. And I know no one should really be exulting and waxing nostalgic about the film that catapulted Jerry Bruckheimer and Michael Bay into Hollyweird's spotlight. And I know it's just a watered down version of 48 Hours, the Lethal Weapon series, and Beverly Hills Cop, all of which are B-grade action flicks from the 80s. But C'MON! This was MY watered down buddy action flick starring former sitcom actors with hyper-stylized editing and flashy gunfights and subpar quips only made notable by the volume and density of cuss words delivered by Smith and Lawrence's characters. I mean, seriously, C'MON! Where WERE you people in 1995?!

Independence Day (1996): It wanted to be the event of the decade so bad that it practically willed itself into being such. If Will Smith didn't get his just desserts a year earlier in a drug bust/machismo cop flick, he surely did as the dude with an underdeveloped bromance with Harry Connick, Jr. and a knack for punching squid aliens directly in the face. Basically this, Vivica A. Fox's dog somehow jumping out of the path of a booming city-wide fireball at the last second, and Bill Pullman's "thinking face" remain the most memorable points of this generation-defining film, even after dozens and dozens of viewings. A less thoughtful me would vote ID4 with unyielding enthusiasm and blind joy, but upon further inspection, while it is and forever will be a high point of my movie-going youth, it by no means is a masterpiece, either in the moment, or in retrospect. But then again, maybe that's exactly what makes it the Single Finest Film of Our Generation? [Slight pause.] Naw.

I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997): And once again, if these films were ranked, as we faded from the glory of pure movie enjoyment in this final year post-ID4 apex, Kevin Williamson's prime example of "coattail cinema" would surely be toward the bottom, just above the film that no one besides me saw during the 90s. Was the slasher boom of the late 90s that followed this formulaic yet admittedly satisfying both terrible and awesome? Surely. Can the source that it's attributed truly be the Single Finest Film of Our Generation? Surely not. As we officially became teenagers as the teenagers of this film got killed off one by one, we as well died a little on the inside as we came to coat a new lens of film appreciation and analysis over our eyes, so as a turning point, IKWYDLS is the perfect transition piece. But like the falling action of every movie's plot, the falling action of our most viciously vivid love with the silver screen is not as notable or enjoyable, but is necessary. So thank you Mr. Williamson, for partaking in our journey through the years; be proud enough to be the man that killed our youth and let us enter into a new dark and scary world of endlessly trying to recreate our salad days.

"So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past." -F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

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  1. Blogger Unspar! | 9:38 AM |  

    Nice touch with the Gatsby quote at the end.

    Because you mentioned rankings, I decided to rank mine. Perhaps the Blogulator will take up the Minnesota electoral trend and adopt ranked choice voting?

    1. Point Break
    2. Speed
    3. Jurassic Park
    4. Batman Forever
    5. Independence Day
    6. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
    7. I Know What You Did Last Summer
    8. Home Alone
    9. The Mighty Ducks
    10. Bad Boys

    I'd like to put Bad Boys higher, actually, but having never seen it, I have to put it at the bottom.

    Also, I almost put Jurassic Park above Speed, but I rewatched JP recently, and it didn't have the magic I thought it had. It's still good, but it's just not Keanu-good.

  2. Blogger Brigitte | 3:18 PM |  

    Home Alone and Jurassic Park still fill me with excitement whenever I watch them. I think between the two I might have to go with Home Alone though. Or Jurassic Park! Ahh, I don't know!

  3. Blogger Lady Amy | 6:10 PM |  

    OMG this is waaaaaay too hard.

    I have to say Jurassic Park, Home Alone, and Mighty Ducks for sure. Then there's Independence Day, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Speed.

    I guess that's my ranking. Eeeeee. Too difficult!

  4. Blogger Unspar! | 8:37 AM |  

    HOW COME NO ONE IS VOTING???

  5. Blogger qualler | 8:13 AM |  

    Ranked choice (good idea Unspar):

    1. Home Alone
    2. Speed
    3. Jurassic Park
    4. Batman Forever
    5. TMNT
    6. Independence Day
    7. Point Break
    8. The Mighty Ducks
    9. IKWYDLS
    10. Bad Boys

    Too tired from working a 18 hr day to elaborate!

  6. Blogger Christine | 7:10 PM |  

    I plan on voting, but it's too hard right now!

    I can say that my rank will probably be almost exactly the opposite of Ben's.

  7. Blogger Christine | 6:02 PM |  

    Okay, here's my rank:

    1. Home Alone
    2. The Mighty Ducks
    3. Jurassic Park
    4. Speed
    5. Independence Day
    6. TMNT
    7. I Know What You Did Last Summer
    8. Batman Forever
    9. Point Break (Sorry Ben)
    10. Bad Boys (Sorry Chris)

  8. Blogger Christine | 6:05 PM |  

    No wait! I'm switching! I have a better conscious about this list:

    1. Home Alone
    2. Jurassic Park
    3. Speed
    3. I Know What You Did Last Summer
    2. The Mighty Ducks
    5. Independence Day
    6. TMNT
    8. Batman Forever
    9. Point Break (Sorry Ben)
    10. Bad Boys (Sorry Chris)

  9. Blogger chris | 6:42 PM |  

    Okay, here are the official composite rankings, including my votes (for now anyway - anyone else please feel free to vote and I will adjust the rankings!):

    1. Jurassic Park
    2. Home Alone
    3. Speed
    4. Independence Day
    5. TMNT
    6. Point Break
    7. Mighty Ducks
    8. Batman Forever
    9. IKWYDLS
    10. Bad Boys (GRRRR!!!)

  10. Blogger Christine | 7:28 PM |  

    Chris, I hope you were able to see past my misnumbering there :)

  11. Blogger chris | 7:50 PM |  

    Haha indeed I was, Christine. Indeed I was.

  12. Blogger DoktorPeace | 3:50 PM |  

    I have no idea how accurately these rankings reflect my sentiments, but I need to bite the bullet and vote. That's what democracy's all about:

    1 - jurassic park
    2 - independence day
    3 - tmnt
    4 - speed
    5 - i know what you did
    6 - point break
    7 - mighty ducks
    8 - home alone
    9 - bad boys
    10 - batman forever

  13. Blogger qualler | 4:07 PM |  

    OK, I've had more time to think about this, and I think I need to move Speed to the top of my list, and move Point Break way up there too now that I've seen at least 20 minutes of it (it is truly awesome, brah). And the more I think about it, the more boring the last 45 minutes of Jurassic Park are, once the big T.Rex scene finishes. So, here are my new rankings:

    1. Speed
    2. Home Alone
    3. Batman Forever (that's right! I love me some Batman Forever! The Batman franchise wasn't really ruined until Batman & Robin!)
    4. Jurassic Park
    5. Point Break
    6. TMNT (moreso for my constant reading of the comic book based on the movie that I got after I got my tonsils removed when I was seven years old. The comic book had the word "Damn" AND "Hell" in it. How edgy.)
    7. Independence Day
    8. The Mighty Ducks
    9. IKWYDLS
    10. Bad Boys (sorry Chris, Michael Bay inclusion is a major party foul.)

  14. Blogger chris | 5:40 PM |  

    The new rankings! Only J. Love improved!

    1. Jurassic Park
    2. Home Alone
    3. Speed
    4. ID4
    5. TMNT
    6. Point Break
    7. IKWYDLS
    8. Mighty Ducks
    9. Batman Forever
    10. Bad Boys (I will kill you Qualler!)

  15. Blogger Unspar! | 8:18 AM |  

    Point Break doesn't even break the top 5? Wow. Christine, even though you're not very interested in it, well, you'd still probably rank it second-to-last. But I'm still a little disappointed.

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