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.
 Directed by Brian de Palma.

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.
 Directed by Randall Wallace.

The Man in the $12.98 Wig. –Jen


28. Armageddon (1998)

 Starring Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck, Liv Tyler, Billy Bob Thornton, Steve Buscemi.
 Directed by Michael Bay.

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.
 Directed by Andrew Bergman.

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

Even Cowgirls Get the Blues

26. Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (1993)

 Starring Uma Thurman, Lorraine Bracco, Pat Morita, Keanu Reeves, John Hurt.
 Directed by Gus Van Sant.

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

Johnny Mnemonic

25. Johnny Mnemonic (1995)

 Starring Keanu Reeves, Dina Meyer, Ice-T, Takeshi Kitano, Dolph Lundgren.
 Directed by Robert Longo.

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

Ready to Wear

24. Prêt-à-Porter (a.k.a. Ready to Wear) (1993)

 Starring Julia Roberts, Tim Robbins, Sophia Loren, Kim Basinger, Forest Whitaker.
 Directed by Robert Altman.

Who cares about these people? –Jen

The Avengers

23. The Avengers (1998)

 Starring Ralph Fiennes, Uma Thurman, Sean Connery.
 Directed by Jeremiah S. Chechik.

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.
 Directed by Todd Haynes.

If environmental pollutants don't give you a tumor, this unrelievedly droning art-house favorite will. –Dana


21. Junior(1994)

 Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Danny DeVito, Emma Thompson, Frank Langella.
 Directed by Ivan Reitman.

Because when you look at Arnold Schwarzenegger, your first thought is, "My, but he needs a ripe, fruitful belly!" –Alison

Speed 2

20. Speed 2: Cruise Control (1997)

 Starring Sandra Bullock, Jason Patric, Willem Dafoe.
 Directed by Jan de Bont.

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.
 Directed by Richard Donner.

Someone should've assassinated the screenwriters. Oh wait, they were the Wachowskis. What gives? –Jeff

Major League 2

18. Major League II (1993)

 Starring Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger, Corbin Bernsen, Dennis Haysbert, Omar Epps.
 Directed by David S. Ward.

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.
 Directed by Barry Levinson.

a.k.a. Snore –Jen

Regarding that ending, maybe we can all hold hands and make this movie go away. –Carlo

Drop Dead Fred

16. Drop Dead Fred (1991)

 Starring Phoebe Cates, Rik Mayall, Marsha Mason, Tim Matheson, Carrie Fisher.
 Directed by Ate de Jong.

My sentiments exactly! –Jen

Lost and Found

15. Lost and Found (1999)

 Starring David Spade, Sophie Marceau, Patrick Bruel.
 Directed by Jeff Pollack.

Because all hot French chicks really want is weaselly little dognappers who can belt out Neil Diamond. –Alison

Message in a Bottle

14. Message in a Bottle (1999)

 Starring Kevin Costner, Robin Wright Penn, Paul Newman.
 Directed by Luis Mandoki.

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

Color of Night

13. Color of Night (1994)

 Starring Bruce Willis, Jane March, Rubén Blades, Lesley Ann Warren, Scott Bakula.
 Directed by Richard Rush.

I didn't need to see Bruce's willis! –Jen

Patch Adams

12. Patch Adams (1998)

 Starring Robin Williams, Monica Potter, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Daniel London.
 Directed by Tom Shadyac.

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

Batman and Robin

11. Batman and Robin (1997)

 Starring George Clooney, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Chris O'Donnell, Uma Thurman, Alicia Silverstone.
 Directed by Joel Schumacher.

Boring and Rotten –Jen

Bring back Tim Burton. –Carlo

The foulest of foul movies in the foulest of foul movie franchises. -Jeff

City Slickers 2

10. City Slickers 2 (1994)

 Starring Billy Crystal, Daniel Stern, Jon Lovitz, Jack Palance.
 Directed by Paul Weiland.

Twice the cornpone! Double the insipidity! –Jeff

As broad as a barn. –Carlo

Ace Ventura 2

9. Ace Ventura 2: When Nature Calls (1995)

 Starring Jim Carrey, Ian McNeice, Simon Callow.
 Directed by Steve Oedekerk.

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.
 Directed by Russell Mulcahy.

I want my two hours back. –Carlo


7. Hook (1991)

 Starring Robin Williams, Dustin Hoffman, Julia Roberts, Bob Hoskins.
 Directed by Steven Spielberg.

As in, "Get out the..." –Dana

If you look up "dross" in the dictionary... –Jeff

Chain Reaction

6. Chain Reaction (1996)

 Starring Keanu Reeves, Morgan Freeman, Rachel Weisz, Fred Ward.
 Directed by Andrew Davis.

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.
 Directed by Geoff Murphy.

Being Emilio Estevez. –Carlo

And Mick Jagger still doesn't have an Oscar?!? –Alison

The Postman

4. The Postman (1997)

 Starring Kevin Costner, Olivia Williams, Will Patton.
 Directed by Kevin Costner.

Refused–Return to Sender –Jen

The Good, the Bad, and the Sullen. –Carlo


3. Showgirls (1995)

 Starring Elizabeth Berkley, Gina Gershon, Kyle MacLachlan.
 Directed by Paul Verhoeven.

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

Exit to Eden

2. Exit to Eden (1994)

 Starring Rosie O'Donnell, Dan Aykroyd, Dana Delany, Paul Mercurio.
 Directed by Garry Marshall.

Entrace to Hell. –Jen


1. North (1994)

 Starring Elijah Wood, Bruce Willis, Jon Lovitz, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jason Alexander.
 Directed by Rob Reiner.

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

Dishonorable mentions:

If we had expanded our list to include 50 films, the next twenty would have been, in alphabetical order:

          Baby Geniuses
Deep Rising
Fair Game
Great Expectations
Grumpier Old Men
The Hard Way
Home Alone 2

Hudson Hawk
Judge Dredd
The Last Action Hero
Milk Money
The Pelican Brief
The Rookie
Very Bad Things

Very Special Dishonorable Mentions:

Though we excluded them from consideration, a very special dishonorable mention must be made for:

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