Welcome to the weekly movie thread, your place on the Avocado to talk about films! Have you seen something new in theaters? Caught a classic on streaming? Have very strong opinions and want to drop a hot take? This is the place for you!
Today’s bonus prompt: what’s your favorite film of 1992?
If there’s anything to say about this year, it’s that there was a lot of stuff for kids. There was a lot of stuff for the adults. And teenagers? This ain’t your year. Watch Catwoman in a stitched up dominatrix outfit and come back next year for Jurassic Park.
This year is deep into the Disney Renaissance, as Aladdin captured the title for highest grossing film of the year. The movie was directed by Ron Clements and John Musker (hitmakers who were also responsible for The Little Mermaid and Moana) and was bolstered by the presence of one Robin Williams — who was reportedly unhappy that he was featured so much in the promotion despite getting a promise from Jeffrey Katzenberg that he wouldn’t. The outsized presence of Robin Williams would change animated movies forever. The era of dedicated voice actors would soon make way to high profile celebrity voices.
The success of Disney would also inspire other studios to try their hand at animation. Don Bluth would still keep plugging away with his chicken movie, Rock-a-Doodle. We forever saved the environment with FernGully: The Last Rainforest (which also featured Robin Williams in a voice acting role). Robin Harris’ stand-up routine about dating a woman and taking care of kids who weren’t even hers got turned into Bebe’s Kids. A Japanese film based on the cartoons of Windsor McKay finally saw a US release (Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland). And most bizarrely, Ralph Bakshi had a terrible time trying to create the next Who Framed Roger Rabbit? with the baffling Cool World.
Animation wouldn’t be the only motion picture option for kids. Three massive franchises debuted in 1992. Beethoven would introduce kids to a big, lovable beast named Charles Grodin and also a dog. The Mighty Ducks would launch Disney’s mighty film, cartoon, and NHL franchise. And, to a far lesser extent, John Turteltaub (National Treasure, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, The Meg) finally combined ninjas, skateboarding, and backward caps with Three Ninjas. Home Alone, meanwhile, keep trudging on with its second entry where Kevin McAllister gets lost in New York.
The creeping paranoia of the 90’s must have been in the air this year as well, because it was a great year for thrillers. Romantic, erotic, mystery… you name it. Right behind Aladdin as the second highest grossing film of the year was the Kevin Costner/Whitney Houston film, The Bodyguard. Two more places below that? The film best known for a scene where Sharon Stone may have let you see too much: Paul Verhoeven’s Basic Instinct. The production of the film was picketed by gay and lesbian rights activists protesting the portrayal of a bisexual villain, which only added to the film’s notoriety.
Rebecca DeMornay infiltrates a family she blames for her husband’s death in The Hand that Rocks the Cradle. Jaye Davidson plays a transsexual involved with an IRA man in The Crying Game. Jennifer Jason Leigh tries a make-over to look like Bridget Fonda in Single White Female. And finally, David Lynch is at his David Lynchiest when he directs a prequel to his once popular TV show. Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me was initially poorly received but has gone on to become a cult classic.
Quentin Tarantino made his presence known on college dorm posters everywhere with Reservoir Dogs. Cameron Crowe directed Singles, his sophomore effort that captured the 90’s Seattle grunge movement on film. Spike Lee and Denzel Washington teamed up for his most “epic” film yet, Malcolm X.
George “Mad Max” Miller would buck expectations and direct a sad drama about a boy with ALD in Lorenzo’s Oil. Francis Ford Coppola would direct perhaps his last huge hit with the absolutely bonkers Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Clint Eastwood would direct what felt like the closing chapter of his Western films with Unforgiven.
Penny Marshall, meanwhile, would direct one of her most beloved films: a movie about a women’s softball team coached by Tom Hanks called A League of Their Own. The next year would see the true Hankaissance (Sleepless in Seattle and Philadelphia.) Fellow comedian and future EGOT winner (Daytime Emmys count!) Whoopi Goldberg would also hit the big time and charm the pants off of general audiences as a Vegas singer disguised as a nun in Sister Act.
This was also a great year for legendary film catchphrases, with A Few Good Men (“You can’t handle the truth”), Scent of A Woman (“Whoo-ah!”), and The Last of the Mohicans (“You stay alive, no matter what occurs! I will find you!”) all hitting theaters in 1992.
The year also saw one of the most legendary Oscar upsets when Marisa Tomei took home the Best Supporting Actress Award for My Cousin Vinny. The win became a punchline afterwards. This was horribly unfair, as My Cousin Vinny is a great and funny film and Tomei is a great actor. Who did the pundits want to win… Vanessa Redgrave in Howard’s End? No one remembers that movie!
And finally, there were the really odd genre films. Tim Burton got to finally take Batman in his weird, sadomasochistic direction with Batman Returns. David Motherflippin’ Fincher took the Alien franchise in a bleaker direction than before with Alien 3. Sylvester Stallone’s action career seemed to be winding down with Cliffhanger, while Steven Segal punched his way into audiences’ hearts with the surprisingly sold Under Siege.
Next week: Movies you appreciate as you get older