The Worst of the 1990s
(not including Jean-Claude Van Damme, Steven Seagal, or Pauly Shore)
Ever since the dawn of the movie era, there have been movies, and the 1990s are no exception. They have much in common, these movies. They are shot on film; they have actors, and, often, they tell a story. But, upon closer scrutiny, we at AboutFilm.Com discovered differences. Vast, shocking differences. Some movies, we found, stunk. Many of them, in fact. Often they featured Pauly Shore. Our scholarly interest piqued, we set out to identify the worst. We unearthed, to our dismay, literally hundreds–perhaps thousands–of movies that can justifiably be included on a list of the worst of the decade. It was, therefore, tempting to post Jean-Claude Van Damme's filmography, throw in a couple Carnosaur movies, and call it a day.
We didn't do that. Our goal was not simply to identify run-of-the-mill bad movies, but movies that were spectacularly bad. We wanted to spotlight movies that failed in spite of big budgets, media attention, star power, or high-minded ambitions–movies that somehow, against the odds, managed to be formidably, preposterously awful.
To achieve this high standard of heinousness, we immediately disqualified any movie that was not widely released in theaters. (Shannon Tweed fans can breathe a sigh of relief.) Then we spent the past ten years watching deplorable film after deplorable film. We dissected each one carefully, then traced and retraced our steps. Back and to the left. Back and to the left. We drafted rankings and prepared snarky remarks with infinite care. Sometimes only one word a month could be mustered. To ensure maximum precision, we submitted the list for review to teams of highly paid scholars, who confabulated and tinkered. Finally, it was ready.
Take care with this feature, friends, for it is not only the product of ten years of faulty filmmaking, but in a way, it is life. The list is life!
30. The Bonfire of the Vanities (1990)
Starring Tom Hanks, Bruce
Willis, Melanie Griffith, Kim Cattrall, Morgan Freeman.
De Palma's knack for comedy is almost as apparent as Hitler's knack for multiculturalism. –Dana
29. The Man in the Iron Mask (1998)
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio,
Jeremy Irons, John Malkovich, Gérard Depardieu, Gabriel Byrne.
The Man in the $12.98 Wig. –Jen
28. Armageddon (1998)
Starring Bruce Willis, Ben
Affleck, Liv Tyler, Billy Bob Thornton, Steve Buscemi.
Armabludgeon. Don't forget your dramamine. –Carlo
We're all gonna die – Yeee-Haaaw! –Jen
27. Striptease (1996)
Starring Demi Moore, Burt
Reynolds, Armand Assante, Ving Rhames.
Funniest moment: Demi Moore rips open her top with a snarl, revealing the decidedly ugly and wholly unnatural results of her cosmetic surgery. –Carlo
Unsexy nudity. Unfunny comedy. Unwatchable movie. –Dana
26. Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (1993)
Starring Uma Thurman, Lorraine
Bracco, Pat Morita, Keanu Reeves, John Hurt.
A group of people actually sat down at a table and, after careful consideration and discussion, green-lighted this project. –Carlo
"What does it matter that it's a philosophical novel with a decidedly 70s sensibility? It'll make a great movie! We've got Uma Thurman with giant thumbs! We're gonna paint Keanu Reeves orange! It's a blockbuster waiting to happen!" –Alison
25. Johnny Mnemonic (1995)
Starring Keanu Reeves, Dina
Meyer, Ice-T, Takeshi Kitano, Dolph Lundgren.
Johnny Moronic. –Jen
"Let's make a movie for them, whaddayacallem? Generation H'ers? They like the computers, and the Keanu Reeves, and the Henry Rollins, and the environment, what about the Dolph Lundgren? Do they like the Dolph Lundgren? Hey, who doesn't like the Dolph Lundgren, really?" –Alison
24. Prêt-à-Porter (a.k.a. Ready to Wear) (1993)
Starring Julia Roberts, Tim
Robbins, Sophia Loren, Kim Basinger, Forest Whitaker.
Who cares about these people? –Jen
23. The Avengers (1998)
Starring Ralph Fiennes, Uma
Thurman, Sean Connery.
So over-stuffed with quirky art direction they couldn't squeeze in characters or a plot. –Dana
All the king's horses and all the king's men could not put this story together again. –Carlo
Read Carlo's Review
22. Safe (1995)
Starring Julianne Moore, Peter
Friedman, Xandor Berkeley.
If environmental pollutants don't give you a tumor, this unrelievedly droning art-house favorite will. –Dana
Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger,
Danny DeVito, Emma Thompson, Frank Langella.
Because when you look at Arnold Schwarzenegger, your first thought is, "My, but he needs a ripe, fruitful belly!" –Alison
20. Speed 2: Cruise Control (1997)
Starring Sandra Bullock, Jason
Patric, Willem Dafoe.
When some people talk about how much they hated the Big Boat Movie, I think they must mean this one. –Carlo
One of the few stinkers Keanu Reeves actually avoided making. –Alison
19. Assassins (1995)
Starring Sylvester Stallone,
Antonio Banderas, Julianne Moore.
Someone should've assassinated the screenwriters. Oh wait, they were the Wachowskis. What gives? –Jeff
18. Major League II (1993)
Starring Charlie Sheen, Tom
Berenger, Corbin Bernsen, Dennis Haysbert, Omar Epps.
Bears the Tom Berenger/Corbin Bernsen emblem of quality. –Carlo
That sure is a pretty ballpark. Shame about the movie. –Alison
17. Sphere (1998)
Starring Dustin Hoffman, Sharon
Stone, Samuel L. Jackson, Peter Coyote, Liev Schreiber.
a.k.a. Snore –Jen
Regarding that ending, maybe we can all hold hands and make this movie go away. –Carlo
16. Drop Dead Fred (1991)
Starring Phoebe Cates, Rik
Mayall, Marsha Mason, Tim Matheson, Carrie Fisher.
My sentiments exactly! –Jen
15. Lost and Found (1999)
Starring David Spade, Sophie
Marceau, Patrick Bruel.
Because all hot French chicks really want is weaselly little dognappers who can belt out Neil Diamond. –Alison
14. Message in a Bottle (1999)
Starring Kevin Costner, Robin
Wright Penn, Paul Newman.
SWF Journalist seeks pouty,whiny widower who likes sailing, walks on the beach, and treacly love montages. Tragic death a must. –Dana
One can only hope that Paul Newman's fragile film career will recover from this misstep. –Carlo
Read Dana's review
13. Color of Night (1994)
Starring Bruce Willis, Jane
March, Rubén Blades, Lesley Ann Warren, Scott Bakula.
I didn't need to see Bruce's willis! –Jen
12. Patch Adams (1998)
Starring Robin Williams, Monica
Potter, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Daniel London.
The feel-bad movie of the year! –Carlo
Have they made a patch for Patch Adams? The film has all the charm of an open wound, and is twice as painful. –Jeff
11. Batman and Robin (1997)
Starring George Clooney, Arnold
Schwarzenegger, Chris O'Donnell, Uma Thurman, Alicia Silverstone.
Boring and Rotten –Jen
Bring back Tim Burton. –Carlo
The foulest of foul movies in the foulest of foul movie franchises. -Jeff
10. City Slickers 2 (1994)
Starring Billy Crystal, Daniel
Stern, Jon Lovitz, Jack Palance.
Twice the cornpone! Double the insipidity! –Jeff
As broad as a barn. –Carlo
9. Ace Ventura 2: When Nature Calls (1995)
Starring Jim Carrey, Ian McNeice,
Many people felt the original Ace Ventura was too slyly nuanced and elusive. At least, that's the only reason I can think of for this one. –Jeff
Evidently, when nature calls, this is the result. –Carlo
8. Ricochet (1991)
Starring Denzel Washington,
John Lithgow, Ice-T, Kevin Pollack.
I want my two hours back. –Carlo
7. Hook (1991)
Starring Robin Williams, Dustin
Hoffman, Julia Roberts, Bob Hoskins.
As in, "Get out the..." –Dana
If you look up "dross" in the dictionary... –Jeff
6. Chain Reaction (1996)
Starring Keanu Reeves, Morgan
Freeman, Rachel Weisz, Fred Ward.
I hope Morgan Freeman was able to afford a house with this paycheck, or maybe a boat. A nice big fishing boat. –Alison
Suggested plot revision: Nobel Prize laureates Bill and Ted discover an inexhaustible clean energy source, and the Evil Government Conspiracy challenges them to a game of Battleship. –Carlo
5. Freejack (1992)
Starring Emilio Estevez, Rene
Russo, Mick Jagger, Anthony Hopkins.
Being Emilio Estevez. –Carlo
And Mick Jagger still doesn't have an Oscar?!? –Alison
4. The Postman (1997)
Starring Kevin Costner, Olivia
Williams, Will Patton.
Refused–Return to Sender –Jen
The Good, the Bad, and the Sullen. –Carlo
3. Showgirls (1995)
Starring Elizabeth Berkley,
Gina Gershon, Kyle MacLachlan.
Put Elizabeth Berkley into an angora sweater, and you've got an Ed Wood movie about the dark underbelly of showbiz. –Dana
Only Gina Gershon's career made it through in one piece. –Carlo
2. Exit to Eden (1994)
Starring Rosie O'Donnell,
Dan Aykroyd, Dana Delany, Paul Mercurio.
Entrace to Hell. –Jen
1. North (1994)
Starring Elijah Wood, Bruce
Willis, Jon Lovitz, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jason Alexander.
If you look up "What were they thinking" in a dictionary... –Dana
Is there any group of people this movie didn't manage to insult? More to the point, is there any group of people who found it funny? –Carlo
Pulitzer-Prize Winner Roger Ebert, stated it best, "I hated this movie. Hated hated hated hated hated this movie. Hated it. Hated every simpering stupid vacant audience-insulting moment of it. Hated the sensibility that thought anyone would like it. Hated the implied insult to the audience by its belief that anyone would be entertained by it." –Jeff
If we had expanded our list to include 50 films, the next twenty would have been, in alphabetical order:
Grumpier Old Men
The Hard Way
Home Alone 2
Very Special Dishonorable Mentions:
Though we excluded them from consideration, a very special dishonorable mention must be made for: