Monday, September 10, 2018



Hair gel? Cameron Diaz 
in There's Something About Mary

One of the must see films of 1998 was the Farrelly Brothers's comedy There's Something About Mary. The plot involves one man's (Ben Stiller) obsession with the girl he had a crush on in high school (Cameron Diaz) and his attempt to find her years later. Of course, all the guys in this film fall in love with Mary, hence the title.

This movie often delves into over-the-top hijinx that is reminiscent of a Zucker brothers movie, but is still wrapped around an actual romantic comedy underneath. Somehow all this works just fine and is still pretty funny. Anyone who likes this movie can probably point out some of the same go-to parts: Ben Stiller's zipper, the leathery-skinned Magda, several scenes with Magda's pooch, the seven minute abs serial killer, anything with Mary's mentally disabled brother Warren, the odd cameo from Brett Favre and of course, "the hair gel scene."

Dylan Baker in Happiness

On the other end of the commercial viability spectrum is Todd Solodnz's extremely dark film Happiness. It is a multi-layered drama/comedy that hits upon a lot of very uncomfortable themes. The fine cast in the film includes: Ben Gazarra, Elizabeth Ashley, Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Lara Flynn Boyle. The one character that will probably stick in your mind the most (even if you don't want him to) is family man Bill Mapplewood (Dylan Baker), who is secretly a pedophile. 

Even if you find this to be a good film (understandable), beware recommending it to someone who might be mad at you for doing so (frankly, also understandable). I've mentioned this movie in passing to my wife a couple of times since we saw it and all she can say is, "Yeah, I hated that movie."
Here are some of the movies I've seen that were released in 1998 that I've seen that didn't have the There's Something About Mary or Happiness stuff to make the 1001 list. 

I've divided these movie into a few categories:


Dr. Doolittle-One of my favorite childhood movies (Ill-advised though the choice may be) is the 1967 Dr. Doolittle with Rex Harrsion. In this updated version, Eddie Murphy takes the reins for a movie that has very little to do with the original Hugh Lofting book, and features Eddie as a veterinarian with the ability to talk to animals and have them talk back. Murphy is always good for a few laughs even in something rather silly.
Eddie Murphy and a squirrel in
Dr. Doolittle

Godzilla-"That's a lot of fish" is a line from this movie that my son likes to quote. I think of this ill-advised remake of the Japanese monster films as being a pretty big bomb, but apparently there are some people that must have liked it based on the world box office figures. Somehow the one-two punch of Godzilla and Inspector Gadget didn't end Matthew Broderick's acting career.
Matthew Broderick spots some fish
in Godzilla

Psycho-If I had the directorial clout and resources to make a color scene for scene remake of Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho with a strong cast (Anne Heche, William H. Macy, Julianne Moore, etc.), I'd probably make it, too. That doesn't mean I should.
A miscast Vince Vaughan as Norman Bates
in Gus Van Sant's Psycho

Sci-Fi TV hits the Big Screen!

Lost in Space-Another of my childhood favorite shows gets the big screen treatment. This version of the lost Space Family Robinson...accompanied by the more annoying than evil Dr. Smith and their Robot actually starts out okay. However, someone must have thought they had to put some kind of plot that didn't make sense in it and the wheels really come off the Jupiter 2 during the second half. This plot thread has to do with Will Robinson confronting a future version of himself or something like that. Not a success overall, but does have its moments...and you got to like Gary Oldman as Dr. Smith. I will be looking to see the new Netflix Lost in Space show when I get a chance.
Mimi Rogers and William Hurt
lead the Robinsons in Lost in Space

Star Trek: Insurrection
The Next Generation's time on the big screen was winding down here. This was their last one, wasn't it? Still a fan TNG, but not so much of Insurrection.

Data, Picard and Worf prepare
to kick ass in Insurrection

The X-Files-The truth is still out there! I watched The X-Files some back in the day, but wasn't really a die hard on this one. Interesting that they seem to keep bringing this one back in some form or another every few years.

 Mulder and Scully trying to get to the
bottom of some conspiracy in
The X-Files

Cinema Politique

Primary Colors-Based on Joe Klein's (or Anonymous's) novel about a politician who is obviously a thinly disguised Bill Clinton. Was the movie going public ready for a version of the Bill Clinton story in the middle of the Monica Lewinky scandal? Not really. I did like the movie more than the book and it's a pretty nice Clintonesque characterization by John Travolta.
Bill and Hillary...I mean
John Travolta and Emma Thompson
in Primary Colors

Bulworth-I actually prefer for this category Warren Beatty's film about a politician with no shits left to give who starts telling the people the truth and begins to resonate with them. I wonder how this film would look in today's political climate. Note to self: Re-watch Bulworth
Halle Berry helps Warren Beatty obtain some
street cred in Bulworth

Antz/A Bug’s Life
In the tradition of the Harlow movies of 1965, Fail Safe and Dr. Strangelove in 1964, and Turner and Hooch and K-9 Cop in 1989, comes the 1998 battle between Dream Work's Antz vs. Pixar's A Bug's Life in 1998. I don't remember who won, though. It seems like A Bug's Life might have been a bit more clever, but Antz did have the long awaited teaming of Woody Allen and Sylvester Stallone.

or Bug's Life?
The Rugrats Movie
The Nickelodeon cartoon about talking babies actually got the big screen treatment this year. It was clever show, but  did it really need a theatrical version? It turns out it did quite well and even had a couple of shows what I know.

Nicktoons on the big screen
in The Rugrats Movie

Mulan-Pleasant Disney film about a Chinese girl who dresses up as a man to go to war, has a smart aleck dragon and sings songs with Donny Osmond.
Mulan and her dragon sidekick

The Robin Williams section
Patch Adams-Seems kind of like piling on to rag on Patch Adams at this point. It was one of Robin's most panned movies, yet one of his most financially successful. Let's just say it's good for a doctor to have a light-hearted bedside manner and leave it at that.

Robin is Patch Adams

What Dreams May Come-Well deserved Oscar winner for visual effects was less lauded for the plot of Robin dying and joining that heavenly band of colors. One that might be worth another look.
Robin goes to heaven in
What Dreams May Come

Date Movies

Stepmom-My wife wanted to see this one because she was a new stepmom at the time. Fair enough and I tend to like Susan Sarandon in anything.
Julia Roberts bonds with her husband's ex
in Stepmom

You’ve Got Mail-A little more Sleepless in Seattle than Joe vs. the Volcano in this romantic re-teaming of Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. It is loosely based on the Lubitsch film, The Shop Around the Corner. Note to self: I need to get my wife to watch The Shop Around the Corner.
Bookstore romance with dog thrown in
in You've Got Mail

A Little Bit Sexy

Wild Things
Sexy noir featuring scheming young things Neve Campbell and Denise Richards. Lots of plot twists her. But are there too many?
Those girls are planning something
in Wild Things
Out of Sight
George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez star in Stephen Soderberg's sexy thriller that I liked very much. My wife's less that enthusiastic review does knock this one out of this year's date movie category.
Clooney and Lopez in Out of Sight

Critics Choice...Yet Not Choice Enough
To make the 1001 list

American History X
At times terrifying account of young men in the Neo-Nazi movement. Edward Norton was nominated for Best Actor for his strong portrayal.
Edward Norton in American History X

Toni Morrison's bleak and supernatural look at a family before and after slavery. Despite the critical reception and the influence of star Oprah Winfrey, this expensive film did very poorly commercially. The only Oscar nomination the film received was for costumes.
Oprah in Beloved

Gods and Monsters
Dramatization about the last days of Frankenstein film director James Whale. Star Ian McKellan received an Academy Award nomination and the film actually won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay.
Brendan Fraser and McKellan
in Gods and Monsters

I found this story of two modern day teens becoming stuck in a 50's TV show rather delightful. The film received three academy award nominations, but is considered a box office disappointment.
Reese Witherspoon and Toby Macguire go
back to a safe place in Pleasantville

Shakespeare in Love
The romance of the Bard of Avon and his muse was a surprise hit and an upset Best Picture winner (over Saving Private Ryan) for 1998. It didn't make the 1001 list, but I'd put it on mine.
Shakespeare (Joseph Finnes) eyes his muse
in Shakespeare in Love

The Truman Show
What if your whole life was a TV show and your whole existence was a setup just to entertain the masses? Ah, I've had that paranoid fantasy myself. One of my favorite movies from this year. It received Academy Award nominations for Supporting Actor, Screenplay and Director, but oddly not one for star Jim Carrey.
Don't we all feel like the main character
in The Truman Show occasionally?

That's Armageddon!*

Michael Bay's improbable story of oil drillers being sent into space to stop an asteroid from hitting the earth is actually rather entertaining. It didn't make any 1001 movie list, but proved to be an unlikely later release for the Criterion Collection.
That's Armageddon!
Deep Impact
Some oil drillers are sent on a mission to stop an asteroid from hitting the earth...Wait, did I see this or did I just see Armageddon twice?
Deep Impact
That's also Armageddon! Sort of.

*The seventy-fourth reference on this blog to Kentucky Fried Movie


  1. In my imagination »Happiness« was a commercial success, but checking its Wikipedia page I see my delusion quite clearly...

    1. It may be one for the "I'm glad I saw it once, but am unlikely to ever watch again category." I also call that my "Requiem for a Dream" list.