In a decade that included the advent of grunge music, the rise of the Clinton family into political power, and the utter domination of Michael Jordan, the 1990s offered the world some truly incredible things. 90210 dominated television, and Tickle Me Elmo caused fist fights in stores all around the country. The cinematic world would be completely redefined over the next decade, as people like Quentin Tarantino, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Tom Hanks would change the landscape of movies forever. Inhabitants of the 90s were treated to Pulp Fiction, Forrest Gump and The Shawshank Redemption in the same year!
Some of my all-time favorite movies came directly from the decade that helped shape me as a person. Now, sentimental memories aside, the 90s also had some movies that were beyond bad. Movies that made you question movie studios and actors like. Movies that had people wondering how easy it was to write a script themselves. How did the decade that gave us Goodfellas also give us Super Mario Bros? I suppose that the universe always tends to balance itself out.
Within the expansive jumble that is 90s movies, we have ourselves some that have been given way more credit than they deserve. I’m not trying to say that all of these movies belong in the same breath as Kazaam, because that’s just callous. These movies just aren’t nearly as amazing as the masses have been led to believe, which places them on our list of “The 15 Most Overrated Movies of the 1990s”.
15. Armageddon (1998)
While Michael Bay continues to receive a barrage of negative feedback over his films, this one might be my least favorite, and that’s saying something. Hitting theaters during the summer of 1998, Armageddon would make a staggering 553 million dollars at the summer box office, and the soundtrack still brings back memories of my junior high school dances. To this day, I find very few people who dislike this film, which puts me in the interesting position of going against the grain.
Keep in mind that Armageddon was not considered a critical masterpiece. Even Michael Bay himself admitted that it was terrible. Yet, audiences continued to stampede to theaters to feast their eyes on the blockbuster. I still question what people see in this movie. To put it lightly, the movie was poorly written, shot, and acted. But hey, it helped catapult Aerosmith to the top of the charts, so there’s that.
14. Starship Troopers (1997)
While this intergalactic war film may take place in outer space, Starship Troopers is anything but out of this world. Based on the 1959 novel, Starship Troopers was an oversized, big-budget movie that failed to deliver any semblance of a decent story to accompany its great special effects and CGI work. While it was a box office success, critics spent the better part of their time pumping out negative reviews for this mess of a film.
How this movie made over 120 million dollars is beyond me. I suppose that sci-fi fans remained optimistic that this movie would deliver the goods. Starship Troopers had an appeal to a small majority of movie fans, and its poor execution as a whole weighed the movie down. But, all was not lost, as the movie was nominated for an Academy Award for Visual Effects. Perhaps in time, the movie will see a reboot in the hands of someone who can do the story some justice.
13. Batman & Robin (1999)
In 1999, the Caped Crusader was making his way back to the big screen with George Clooney taking over as Batman. The all-star cast seemed like it just may pull off a successful return to prominence for the waning franchise, and the marketing campaign was everywhere. When reviews started to trickle out, they shot this movie down in an embarrassing way. In no way, shape, or form was this movie praised. It was ravaged by critics, and rightfully so.
So, how did it end up on this list? This film is so unbearably bad, that any bit of praise seems almost too nice. While I enjoyed Michael Gough as Alfred Pennyworth, just about everything else in Batman & Robin was awful. The batsuit had nipples, Gotham looked more and more like a neon infested rave, and I can’t remember there being any dialogue other than terribly crafted one-liners. If that wasn’t bad enough, director Joel Schumacher found a way to destroy the character Bane. Thank God Christopher Nolan came along and made a trilogy worthy of featuring Batman.
12. The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)
Disney’s renaissance came in the 1990s, as the beloved studio pumped out some of the biggest hits of the decade in abundance. Films like Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, and Aladdin continue to be standouts two decades after their release. Along with every set of masterpieces comes those films that don’t really seem to have a place with the rest. Such is the case for The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
The movie had a massive budget, but was able to rake in 325 million dollars at the box office. The problems with this film lies in its dark tone, overly adult theme of isolation, and its failure to live up to the other Disney standouts of the decade. The movie is quite enjoyable, but, the critical praise is a bit much, as the movie just isn’t up to snuff. The film was well received by critics, but all-in-all, faded away with the decade.
11. Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993)
If you were to take a look at the cast and director, it would be easy to make the assumption that Robin Hood: Men in Tights would keep you laughing, and may even become one of your favorite flicks. You would find yourself sadly mislead, as this movie has been overrated ever since it debuted in 1993. Mel Brooks is a legend in the industry, but the movie is a rare smudge on his illustrious career.
The biggest problem with this comedy is that it is incredibly unfunny for the better part of the movie. A huge portion of the jokes fail in their attempts at humoring the audience, and the musical numbers are terrible. It’s a shame that it’s this bad considering the immense amount of talent in that cast. Brooks is responsible for classics such as Young Frankenstein and Blazing Saddles, and I’m more than happy to pass on this movie to indulge in his better films.
10. Office Space (1999)
Of all of the comedies of the 1990s, this film’s popularity was always a bit puzzling to me. Written and directed by Mike Judge, Office Space was a modest financial success, but has maintained a strong following many years later. The movie was slated to appeal to the everyday office worker, and people seemed to eat it up. For the most part, critics seemed to enjoy movie as well, and Office Space remains alive and well through frequent conversational quotes, and an internet meme featuring actor Gary Cole that still makes its rounds through various websites.
The problem with this movie is that it doesn’t have the legs to work as a full length film. Being the creator of The Simpsons, it would seem that Mike Judge could have used these characters in a recurring show as opposed to a full length film. While the movie is quite funny at times, I’ve always questioned why everyone seems to be in love with it.
9. Face/Off (1997)
In Face/Off, we have a movie about mistaken identity that may be best remembered as a movie with mistaken praise. Directed by John Woo, and starring John Travolta and Nicolas Cage, Face/Off would go on to be a monumental success for Paramount Pictures. The plot had movie goers ready to see how the two stars would essentially portray each other while navigating their way through this summer thriller. 245 million dollars later, Paramount Pictures had themselves a smash hit. Most critics applauded the movie, and it would receive much acclaim.
The movie is a fun watch, but its runtime, due to every other scene being in slow motion, feels longer than it is, making Face/Off quite the task to complete. John Woo does have a gift in making action movies, but everything here is so overdone that it almost becomes annoying. While the actors did a great job in their roles, I can’t help but wonder how great it could have been had John Woo toned it down a bit.
8. Independence Day (1996)
Will Smith is undeniably one of the biggest stars that has ever walked the planet. He’s rare, in the sense that he has had massive amounts of success in music, television, and in movies. Having a career that has lasted as long as his, it’s impossible to hit a homerun on every single at bat. One of his missteps came in the massively overrated blockbuster Independence Day. The movie dominated in 1996, racking up over 800 million dollars, and spawning a God awful sequel almost two decades later. The movie is good, and that’s the truth.
Where Independence Day goes wrong is in its cheesy dialogue and unimpressive characters. The movies effects are solid, but they didn’t exactly set the world on fire (just the White House). As entertaining as it is, Independence Day offers up nothing more than big action and little chuckles. It’s a popcorn movie at its core, and Will Smith is one of the very few reasons to give it a watch.
7. Scream (1996)
Wes Craven has had the distinction of making some of the greatest horror movies of all-time. The Hills Have Eyes and A Nightmare on Elm Street are perhaps two of the best movies in his storied career. So, it came as no surprise that his 1996 film Scream would be one of the biggest thrillers of the decade, having breathed new life into the waning genre. The mask worn by the killer became a Halloween staple for years to come, and the movie spawned several sequels.
The movie, not unlike others in the genre, runs its fingers over stereotypes throughout the film, and is often clunky. It is just another movie about a psychopath on a killing spree. Scream is certainly one of the better movies of the horror genre, but the hype surrounding it was a bit much. Thanks to Scream, the rise of Scary Movie came about, making people laugh the first time around, and then cringe with each sequel.
6. The Truman Show (1998)
Very few actors dominated the 1990s like Jim Carrey. It seemed like he couldn’t do any wrong, and the release of 1998’s The Truman Show was highly anticipated. The movie saw Carrey delve into a darker, more dramatic role, and received much critical acclaim during its theatrical run. After grossing over 264 million dollars, it was released to home video, and I eagerly rented my VHS copy, ready for Jim Carrey to make me cackle with laughter.
The movie, while based around a very interesting premise, was a bit too bizarre for me, and seemed to lose its steam as it progressed. The idea of one man’s life being an elaborate reality show was fitting for the time, especially considering the massive popularity growth of the genre on television. However, The Truman Show fell short of my expectations, and I found myself wanting to just pop in Dumb and Dumber instead.
5. Fight Club (1999)
A film that includes one of the greatest twists of all-time, 1999’s Fight Club is often heralded as a bit of a masterpiece. Director David Fincher, along with incredible performances from Brad Pitt and Edward Norton, make this movie dark, entertaining, and have kept loyal audiences pleased. Author Chuck Palahniuk’s novel of the same name is sublime, and something seems to get lost in translation on its journey from its pages to the big screen.
It is for that reason that Fight Club tends to be overrated as a movie. People clamor over everything the movie has to offer, but the novel is on another level. This movie is a pleasure to watch, but, I’ve never understood people who viewed this movie as one of the best of the decade. Now, while I love the fact that Fight Club is unique, uniqueness doesn’t fully qualify a movie to be the best of a decade. It’s good, but the 90s were replete with movies that reached past good, and charted off into greatness.
4. The Blair Witch Project (1999)
It’s rare in the film industry that something in the horror genre takes the world by storm. But, that’s exactly what happened in the latter part of the 90s. Filmed on a sixty thousand dollar budget, The Blair Witch Project was the creepiest thing to hit theaters in the summer of 1999. After grossing nearly 250 million dollars, rumors surrounding the truth about the movie were everywhere. Was it real? Could something this terrifying truly be lurking in the woods? Nope.
Watching the movie now, it’s almost comical, but, it was horrifying for its time. The overall premise of the film was something that probably can’t be replicated with the same success again, given the unknown nature of the validity of the footage. The shaky camera makes this film almost unbearable, and many people reportedly suffered from motion sickness during its theatrical run. Now that the veil of mystery has been lifted, it just doesn’t pack the same punch that it did all those years ago.
3. The Big Lebowski (1998)
Since its release in 1998, The Big Lebowski has become more popular than the Coen Brothers could have imagined. Starring Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, and featuring a cameo from Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Big Lebowski is a comedic outing that does things its own way. The Coen Brothers have always been standout filmmakers, and they were able to work their magic in capturing some beautiful visuals all throughout the film. The dream sequence may be the best example of their true artistic ability.
But, even though I have always liked the film, I can’t help but find it incredibly overrated. Whenever it comes up in conversation, most people tend to gush about it, and go on endlessly about how incredible it is. Yes, it’s funny and entertaining, but, it often wades into Raising Arizona territory, and that movie just might top a list of most overrated movies of all-time. Well, that’s just my opinion, man.
2. Edward Scissorhands (1990)
Tim Burton‘s 1990 counterculture hit remains as popular today as it has ever been. Starring Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder, Edward Scissorhands was one of many box office successes for Tim Burton, earning over 85 million dollars. Critically, the movie was highly praised, and some consider this movie to be his finest work as a director and storyteller. In typical Burton fashion, the film was able to blend dark characters that are outcast in a brighter, and more colorful world.
When I first watched this movie as a kid, it made me very uncomfortable. As I got older, I gave the film another watch, and was left feeling like I was missing something. It’s bizarre and unique, but I found its greatness to be highly exaggerated. Personally, I think that Burton has stronger films in his catalogue, and would recommend giving one of his other films a watch before diving headfirst into Edward Scissorhands.
1. Titanic (1997)
Nearing the end of the 1990s, James Cameron dropped Titanic, a three hour long mega movie dealing with an ill-fated love story aboard one of the biggest disasters in human history. Starring a bright-eyed Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, Titanic wasn’t just a movie, it was a phenomenon in the 90s, and was the first movie to ever crack the one billion dollar mark. I distinctly remember my mom taking me to see it in theaters, and covering my young eyes when Kate Winslet was topless (I still managed to sneak a peek).
Boy oh boy, this movie was boring. It seemed to keep dragging on and on, with dialogue that was almost unbearable at times. And while Celine Dion kept singing away and bringing housewives everywhere to tears, I was itching to get out of that theater so that I could play some Killer Instinct. Even watching it years later yielded the same results. Sorry Mr. Cameron, but this movie is as overrated as it gets.