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When Dinosaurs Ruled: Ranking The Movies Of Summer 1993

When Dinosaurs Ruled: Ranking The Movies Of Summer 1993

Jurassic World,” Colin Trevorrow’s revival of the dino-franchise, hits theaters today, and though reviews are quite divided (with ours on the strongly positive end of the spectrum), it seems likely that it’ll be a box-office Indominus Rex, and its projected to open well over $100 million. 

Dinosaurs tearing into the box office this weekend is just one of the reasons that sends us back to the summer of 1993. Bill Clinton announced his “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy for the military. Prince changed his name to The Artist Formerly Known As Prince. And at the movies, “Jurassic Park” dominated, taking over $914 million worldwide, more money than any movie up to that point (not adjusted for inflation), holding the record until “Titanic” arrived four years later. 

So “Jurassic World” has inspired considerable nostalgia for that time at Playlist HQ, and we thought (as we did for the summer of ’84’ last year) that we’d cast a look back not just at “Jurassic Park,” but all the movies released that summer and which in many cases were overshadowed by it. Below, you’ll find all 52 of the major releases ranked from worst to best. Agree? Disagree? Let us know your own favorites in the comments. 


53. “Super Mario Bros.” (May 28th)
Can we definitively say that Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel‘s film is inherently worse than these next ten titles? Maybe not, but it hurts more: it’s a charmless, murky, incomprehensible film —everything the sweet, gonzo yet intuitive source material is not. Wasting Bob Hoskins, Dennis Hopper and John Leguizamo only makes it more embarrassing, as does the evident expense. There’s never been a good video game adaptation, but this is ground zero for how bad they can be.

52 “Carnosaur” (May 21st)
Dinosaurs and Laura Dern‘s DNA rampaged into theaters a full three weeks before “Jurassic Park” in this cheapie “Mockbuster” from the Roger Corman stable. Starring Dern’s mother Diane Ladd as a mad scientist devouring way more scenery than the shoddy dinos she creates (Why, to END HUMANITY, of course, bwahahahaha!) it must have done its job —like its 8,000,000% better progenitor, it spawned three sequels, though sadly, none starring Chris Pratt‘s dad.


51 “Dennis The Menace” (June 25th)
Taking the vacuous comic strip and turning it into a distasteful version of “Home Alone” (John Hughes co-wrote the script here), “Dennis the Menace” runs the gamut from pointless to obnoxious. A celebration of a saccharine view of suburban, slingshot-based Americana that it’s hard to see modern kids or adults relating to at all, it wastes Walter Matthau as the exasperated Mr. Wilson before taking a grimy turn in the second half to become actively unlikeable.

50. “Excessive Force” (May 14th) 
A completely generic action movie intended to launch “Karate Kid Part III” villain Thomas Ian Griffith as the next big action star (mostly intended by Griffith himself, who wrote and produced the movie), this film sees him as a cop trying to take down Burt Young’s mobster, only to find that his cop colleagues are corrupt too. Deeply right-wing, boringly shot and totally familiar, this demonstrates a reason that Griffith never reached Van Damme levels of stardom. 


49. “Weekend At Bernie’s II” (July 9th) 
Doing a similar job to “Transformers II” by making a dire original look passable by comparison, this how-can-we-possibly-squeeze-another-film-out-of-this-concept plot involves the same dead guy from the first film being partially reanimated by a voodoo curse so he dances whenever music plays, like one of those novelty sunflower toys. The increasingly sweaty and glazed-looking Andrew McCarthy and Jonathan Silverman caper and careen around unamusingly, and the whole thing feels, like death warmed over.

48. “Needful Things” (August 27th)
For every Stephen King adaptation that turns out well, eight do not, such as this one directed by Charlton Heston‘s son Fraser C.. A decent cast —Ed Harris, Ray McKinnon, Bonnie Bedelia, Amanda Plummer and JT Walsh— revolves around Max Von Sydow, whose perfect casting kills any suspense: could his sinister shopkeep be, gasp, The Devil?? The real mystery is why Satan, famous for The Holocaust and other scourges, would bother with birdshit in a nowhere town. It’s never solved.

47. “Surf Ninjas” (August 20th) 
“Kids love surfing! And they love ninjas!” So must have gone New Line Cinema’s development meeting for “Surf Ninjas,” a witless martial arts comedy that sees two teenagers attempting to overthrow a dictator (Leslie Nielsen, for some reason). Partly financed by Sega (the film’s tie-in game features heavily in the plot), and featuring Rob Schneider as comic relief, it’s notable only for the most irritating trailer in history, and for containing surprisingly little surfing. 


46. “Son Of The Pink Panther” (August 27th)
This attempted reboot of the ‘Pink Panther‘ franchise works hard to recapture the vibe of the original, retaining Blake Edwards as director and co-writer, Herbert Lom as the ever-exasperated Dreyfus, Burt Kwouk as Kato and even “The Pink Panther Strikes Again’s” Claudia Cardinale. But despite Roberto Benigni‘s best efforts as the bumbling detective’s illegitimate son, the conclusion (rubber stamped by the Steve Martin version too)  is that only Peter Sellers ever made Inspector Clouseau funny.

45. “Son In Law” (July 2nd)
Trading on the thinnest stereotypes about Cali-vs-the Midwest for a fish-out-of-water comedy is shoddy enough, but having California represented by the terminally toecurling Pauly Shore is unforgivable. Here his drawling party duuuude is supposedly so attractive to student Carla Gugino that she brings him home to South Dakota for Thanksgiving. Horseshit that it is (and with the hilarious farm hi-jinks, also chicken-, cow- and pigshit), it’s still better than Shore’s previous outing “Encino Man.

44. “Only The Strong” (August 27th) 
A mix of an inspirational teacher movie and a martial arts picture, this movie about a Miami green beret attempting to clean up his old high school from drug dealers was intended to launch Mark Dacascos as a star, as well as to establish the Brazilian martial art Capoeira as the next big thing, but it fundamentally failed to do either. The actor has some screen presence, but it’s a fundamentally slly story given a thoroughly reactionary treatment by “Double Impact” director Sheldon Lettich. 


43. “The Meteor Man” (August 6th) 
There was a time, after indie debut “Hollywood Shuffle,” where Robert Townsend seemed like he might be the real deal, especially after his underrated Denzel Washington-starring follow-up “The Mighty Quinn.” But his promise was swiftly squandered, beginning with “The Meteor Man,” a dire superhero riff about a schoolteacher trying to clean up his neighborhood. It’s well-intentioned but mostly leans lowest-common-denominator, and barely even attempts to hang together as a story. 

42. “Rookie Of The Year” (July 9th) 
The lone directorial effort of “Diner” and “Home Alone” star Daniel Stern (who also gives a painful ‘comic’ performance in the film), this is a lowbrow wish-fulfillment fantasy about an inept young baseball fan whose tendons heal “a little too tight” after an injury, leading him to near-supernatural pitching abilities and a spot with the Chicago Cubs.  It’s harmless enough, and there’s a surprisingly affecting Gary Busey performance (!!!), but this is otherwise forgettable. 

41. “Tom And Jerry: The Movie” (July 30th) 
An attempt to revive the classic cartoon cat-and-mouse duo that reacts against the ‘Itchy & Scratchy’ parodies by toning down the violence, giving the pair voices and dropping them in a rescue-the-orphan musical plot that’s more of an homage to “The Rescuers”-era Disney, this cheapo animation is difficult to actively hate, but has little to love beyond a decently jazzy score by Henry Mancini (this is alongside the same summer’s “Son Of the Pink Panther” his last work). 


40. “Father Hood” (August 27th)
Quick —name a 1990s crime movie based on a non-fiction expose by Nicholas Pileggi. If you went straight to “Goodfellas,” hopefully that’s because you haven’t seen this one. Starring a lunkish Patrick Swayze as an unskillful petty thief who kidnaps his kids from an abusive foster system, it’s a road movie possessed by a bewilderingly asinine moral stance, annoying kids and a backgrounded Halle Berry. Marketed as “zany,” it’s a good reason to hate the word “zany.”

39. “Life With Mikey” (June 4th) 
A signifier of the difficulties Michael J. Fox had in terms of escaping the shadow of Marty McFly after the “Back To The Future” trilogy wrapped up (it came around around the same time as the equally forgotten “For Love Or Money” and “Greedy”), this comedy sees the star as a child actor-turned agent who makes his latest client a streetwise young con artist (Christina Vidal). There’s some sparkiness, particularly from Vidal, but it’s ultimately formulaic and sentimental. 

38. “Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday” (August 13th) 
With a title that proved both short-sighted and entirely inaccurate (though a full nine years passed before “Jason X”), New Line killed off their “Friday The 13th” horror icon at the opening of this dire first chapter (with a grenade!), then let his spirit possess various other folks. With questionable mythology, dull characters and not much good gore, this ranks near the bottom of a series that is mostly rubbish to begin with.  

37. “My Boyfriend’s Back” (August 6th) 
A disappointing follow-up to his hidden-gem horror-comedy “Parents” for character-actor-turned-director Bob Balaban, this sees a teen (Andrew Lowery) returning to woo Traci Lind. It’s unpleasantly stalky in a lot of ways, and has some fun matter-of-fact humor to the premise, but it’s wildly uneven and the leads are pretty dull. Keep an eye out for early roles from Matthew Fox, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Matthew McConaughey

36. “Made In America” (May 28th)
When an onscreen couple feel totally unbelievable and yet actually were an offscreen couple, you know something’s wrong. The Ted Danson/Whoopi Goldberg odd couple schtick is sadly unsparky here, but it has got balls: making a mixed-race couple the center of your rom-com was (and still is) an unusual prospect. But director Richard Benjamin relies on contrivance and broad caricature, especially for Danson, so the inevitable happy ending lacks any sense of reality.

35. “Coneheads” (July 23rd)
Presumably even more baffling to modern audiences unaware of Dan Aykroyd-era “Saturday Night Live,” even in 1993 this throwback to a late-’70s sketch felt oddly timed. But high-concept suburbia/consumerism satires had a faddish moment at the time, with Michael Lehmann‘s “Meet the Applegates,” then this, before colonizing TV with “3rd Rock from the Sun” (which also starred Jane Curtin). Nowadays, “Coneheads” is a graceless curio from Steve Barron of original “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” movie infamy.

34 “Another Stakeout” (July 23rd)
Having watched the original “Stakeout” relatively recently, and been pleasantly surprised — it’s a lot better than we’d remembered — sadly we’d no such experience with the sequel, which is exactly as recycled and rote. Director John Badham returns, as do Richard Dreyfuss and Emilio Estevez, but here their droll chemistry is muted by the addition of Rosie O’Donnell and a rottweiler, as they impersonate a vacationing family in a plot so overused it’s threadbare.

33 “Hocus Pocus” (July 16th)
Without wishing to be all “WTF is up with Millennials?” seriously, WTF is up with “Hocus Pocus”‘ newfound cult status? It’s not even fun-bad — an unfocused, untidy, unconvincing story of three Salem witches (Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy and Sarah Jessica Parker) returned to wreak havoc on Thora Birch, Vinessa Shaw, Omri Katz etc. Shrill and expensively unpleasant, it’s not even journeyman Kenny Ortega‘s best tweeny film (he’s also to blame for the “High School Musical” series).

32. “Once Upon A Forest” (June 18th) 
“Mercifully short” is the highest praise we can lavish on this pedestrian but well-meaning animation, that follows an inter-species band of furry friends on a rescue mission after a chemical spill caused by some Bad Humans (and there are no other kind) makes adorable badger Michelle (voiced by Elisabeth Moss!) gravely ill. Kind of murky to look at, with forgettable songs, it might be ok for young kids who’ve never seen a Pixar film and aren’t prone to depression. 


31. “Guilty As Sin” (June 4th)
If you’re looking to unearth forgotten yet archetypal artifacts of the ’90s you could do worse than this Don Johnson, Rebecca de Mornay yuppied-up, classed-down clone of “Jagged Edge.” But you could do a lot better too. Director Sidney Lumet is at his most anonymous, but the film is not without its pulpy pleasures, a filler addition to the “dunno if they’re guilty but they sure are sexy” subgenre, also populated by sine qua non 90s eroto-thriller “Basic Instinct.”

30. “Rising Sun” (July 30th) 
The crown prince of the Japanese-panic sub-genre sparked when foreign corporations started buying up movie studios (see also: “Black Rain”), “Rising Sun” was the OTHER Michael Crichton adaptation of the Summer 1993, this sees Japanese expert Sean Connery and cop Wesley Snipes teaming up to solve the murder of a prostitute in the offices of a corporation. Philip Kaufman’s film is marginally less racist than its source material, but is still a thin, insubstantial murder mystery. And also still pretty racist. 

29. “Robin Hood: Men In Tights” (July 30th) 
Poking fun at the short-lived Robin Hood trend from a couple of years before, exemplified in “Prince Of Thieves,” this was a rather sad return to big-screen spoofery for Mel Brooks, with much more miss than hit at play. The cast, including Cary Elwes in Westley mode and a debuting Dave Chappelle, are game, but it’s mostly airless and joyless, a late reference to “Blazing Saddles” only serving to remind you how much better that was. 


28. “Poetic Justice” (July 23rd)
Marking a precipitous tumble from first to second film, “Boyz ‘N The Hood“‘s John Singleton returned with this bland Janet Jackson vehicle most remarkable now for its atypical, non-gangsta Tupac Shakur performance. The acting garnered the film some acclaim, but seriously how much time can one have for a film called “Poetic Justice” because its lead character is named Justice and writes poetry (actually penned by Maya Angelou presumably having a bit of an off day)? 

27. “Sliver” (May 21st)
If 1992’s “Basic Instinct” made Sharon Stone the defining female star of the 1990s, Philip Noyce‘s “Sliver,” based on an Ira Levin novel, basically coasted by in the Verhoeven film’s slipstream. It’s utterly terrible, but watchably so, a daft would-be thriller about the erotic charge of voyeurism. Alongside Stone, a sleazy Billy Baldwin and a barkingly weird Tom Berenger “sizzle” their way through a trashy Joe Eszterhas script you can practically taste the cocaine and amyl nitrate off.

26. “The Man Without A Face” (August 25th) 
Mel Gibson became a pretty strong director by the time “Apocalypto” came around, but you wouldn’t necessarily know it from “The Man Without A Face,” his directorial debut. An adaptation of Isabelle Holland’s novel, it stars Gibson as a burn-faced painter who forms a bond with a young boy (Nick Stahl) that he’s tutoring. It’s somewhat reactionary stuff, and mostly there to showcase Gibson’s performance, but it’s reasonably engaging as far as this sort of thing goes. 


26. “Cliffhanger” (May 28th)
A plot we’ve seen a million times before transposed to a mountainous setting with just enough flair in the action sequences from director Renny Harlin to buy it a pass, “Cliffhanger” doesn’t skimp on the cliffhanging, just the characters. And the story. And the performances (Sylvester Stallone is Stallone-ish, but surely John Lithgow‘s villain takes the wooden spoon here). But it’s solid enough, with a memorable opening sequence that may still be the gold standard for mountaineer-in-peril thrills.

24. “Posse” (May 14th)
Slick, intermittently enjoyable, and a bit soulless, Mario Van Peebles‘ black Western, starring himself alongside Blair Underwood, Charles Lane, Stephen Baldwin and Pam Grier was another disappointing sophomore effort from a promising black director. But if Van Peebles’ “New Jack City” is not as good as Singleton’s “Boyz N The Hood,” “Posse” is more fun than his “Poetic Justice,” it’s just a shame that with the decent actors and well-mounted gunslinging, there wasn’t a little more characterization.

23. “Lost In Yonkers” (May 14th) 
Martha Coolidge’s “Lost In Yonkers” adapts Neil Simon’s 1991 autobiographical, puzzlingly Pulitzer Prize-winning play about two young Bronx boys who go to live with their fierce grandmother (Irene Worth), childlike aunt (then-recent Oscar winner Mercedes Reuhl) and no-good uncle (Richard Dreyfuss, in a part that helped to make Kevin Spacey’s name on stage). It’s got some charm, though Coolidge and Simon aren’t great fits, and now feels like something of a dusty relic. 


22.“The Thing Called Love” (July 16th)
Playing out kind of like “Nashville Jr,”  Peter Bogdanovich‘s tale of the intersecting lives and loves of young struggling country musicians is best known these days for the sad reason that it was the last film River Phoenix completed before his untimely death. Also featuring Sandra Bullock in a perky supporting role, Samantha Mathis and Dermot Mulroney, it’s unobjectionable and sometimes even heartfelt, even if it’s difficult to watch Phoenix’s troubled, James Dean-esque performance here without a retrospective shiver.

21. “Free Willy” (July 16th)
A beloved kids’ film for millennials, this sees troubled kid Jason James Richter forming a bond with the titular orca in a theme park, and setting out to release him back into the wild. Richter’s irritating enough that you kind of wished he got Rust-and-Boned, and the film follows formula to the letter, but there’s a winning sincerity to the film, and a well-meaning environmental message, that makes it hard to dislike. 

20. “Hearts And Souls” (August 13th) 
An innately likable fantasy rom-com, this sees Robert Downey Jr as a heartless banker type who has to help his childhood guardian angels — Kyra Sedgwick, Charles Grodin, Alfre Woodard and Tom Sizemore — clean up their unfinished business before they can pass over to the other side. Like most attempts at capturing the spirit of Capra, it doesn’t entirely work, but the cast are fun, and Downey Jr in particular gets a good showcase here. 


19.  “The Ballad Of Little Jo” (August 20th) 
Overly earnest but a million times better than the trashy “Bad Girls,” Maggie Greenwald‘s absorbing study of sexism and racism in the Old West is worth a look for atmosphere and its performances (lead Suzy Amis is good, if never wholly convincing as a man, while Bo Hopkins and Ian McKellen are terrific in support). Amis plays Josephine, living as a man in a frontier town, but Greenwald mostly plays down sensationalism in this unusual, based-in-truth story.

18. ‘What’s Love Got To Do With It?” (June 25th) 
A sleeper hit, and one of the few summer of ’93 movies to trouble the awards voters (both leads won Oscar nominations), Brian Gibson’s biopic of Tina Turner, focusing on her abusive marriage to the thuggish Ike, hits most of the musical biopic tropes note by note. But what it lacks in imagination, it makes up for in the sheer power of the turns by Angela Bassett and Laurence Fishburne, who’ve rarely gotten better showcases. 

17. “Hard Target” (August 20th) 
The English-language debut of action master John Woo was a riff on “The Most Dangerous Game” that sees Jean Claude Van Damme taking on a group of wealthy sportsmen hunting the homeless in New Orleans. It can’t match Hong Kong peaks, or even the later lunacy of “Face/Off,” mostly because of the Belgian lump of wood at its center, but it’s still got a fun Cajun flavor, and some typically strong action sequences. 


16. “Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story” (May 7th)
The story of the legend whose mysterious early death became part of his mythos, ‘Dragon’ was freakishly released in theaters barely a month and a half after the death of Bruce Lee‘s son, Brandon, a rising star who was killed in a tragic prop gun accident filming “The Crow.” It all seems uncanny now, but the film itself is a decent biopic, with a magnetic central turn by Jason Scott Lee and some good action direction from Rob Cohen.

15. “The Secret Garden” (August 13th) 
Agnieszka Holland’s adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s beloved children’s classic, about an orphan who discovers both an invalid cousin, and a semi-magical locked-off garden, in her uncle’s country house home, isn’t as strong as Alfonso Cuaron’s “A Little Princess,” which followed soon after. But it’s still a charmingly old-fashioned family film that’s nicely shot and that manages to pack an emotional punch without being mired in sentiment. 

14. “Hot Shots! Part Deux” (May 21st) 
A rare movie that outdoes the original (and rarer still in the spoof genre), Jim Abraham’s “Hot Shots! Part Deux” swaps the “Top Gun” focus of the first film for a “Rambo” parody, as Charlie Sheen’s Topper Harley has to rescue a group of hostages from Saddam Hussein. It’s hit and miss, but there’s some inspired stuff (including a cracking Martin Sheen cameo), and a throw-it-all-the-wall silliness that makes it closer to “Airplane!” than “Meet The Spartans.”


13. “Searching For Bobby Fischer” (August 11th) 
The directorial debut of “Schindler’s List” writer Steve Zaillian, “Searching For Bobby Fischer” is manna from heaven for chess fans, and pretty decent for everyone else. The film focuses on a youthful chess prodigy (Max Pomeranc) caught between two teachers: the strict, ruthless Ben Kingsley, and street hustler Laurence Fishburne. It’s well performed, and smart and wise on the nature of genius and competition, but is still a bit of a slog for those of us who struggle with the game.

12. “So I Married An Axe Murderer” (July 30th)
Nestling in between the “Wayne’s World” and “Austin Powers” franchises, “SIMAAM” is the unloved orphan in Mike Myers‘ back catalogue, which is unfair considering it’s way better than most of his sequels. A murder-mystery rom-com also starring Nancy Travis, Anthony LaPaglia, Alan Arkin and Amanda Plummer, it’s a fun Hitchcock-inflected romp that loses steam by the end but still contains some pretty great, quotable bits, to be delivered in a terrible comedy Scottish accent.

11.  “The Firm” (June 30th)
An overlong but glossy thriller elevated by Sydney Pollack‘s assured direction, and a strong supporting cast, if not necessarily by Tom Cruise‘s rather forgettable hero, “The Firm” feels unfashionably self-serious nowadays, but still marks a high watermark for John Grisham adaptations rarely attained thereafter. Gene Hackman, especially, stands out as the morally compromised mentor to Cruise’s naive young buck and with Robert Towne on the script team, the speechifying is above-par too, even if there’s too much of it.


10. “Last Action Hero” (June 18th)
Unloved on release, but gradually being reclaimed as a fun, self-aware actioner, John McTiernan‘s film of Shane Black‘s irreverent script is a car crash, but the wheels don’t really come off till the end and the inventiveness on the way there is worth the ride. It wants it both ways — it’s an Arnie blockbuster that satirizes Arnie blockbusters — but it’s clever about it, and then audacious when the clever runs out.

9. “Much Ado About Nothing” (May 7th)
Perhaps a little twee in its straight-on adaptation, especially in contrast to Joss Whedon‘s recent, ultra low-budget version, Kenneth Branagh‘s film of Shakespeare’s frothy play is still a delightful confection. Attractively played by Branagh and Emma Thompson, along with Denzel Washington, Robert Sean Leonard, Keanu Reeves, Kate Beckinsale and Michael Keaton as a splutteringly incomprehensible Dogberry, it’s almost shamefully sparkling and sunny for a story that hinges on a girl’s besmirched virginity.

8. “Sleepless In Seattle” (June 25th) 
Nora Ephron’s best non-“When Harry Met Sally” rom-com, and one of the biggest hits of the summer, this sees reporter Meg Ryan fall for widower Tom Hanks after hearing him talk about his late wife on a radio show. The film bucks genre trends by keeping its leads apart for most of the running time, and there’s some dated gender stereotyping at play, but it’s still a witty and sweet picture that proved heavily influential for years to come. 


7. “Dave” (May 7th)
While not as well remembered as the Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan movie above, this high-concept comedy starring Kevin Kline as an everyman who’s a ringer for the President, and Sigourney Weaver as the First Lady attracted to “her husband” for the first time in years, is the better film for any of us who prefer screwballish set-ups with a brush of satire over starry-eyed romances. Boasting an adorable Kline performance and a dash of Washington commentary, it’s the closest anyone’s got to Frank Capra for a while now.

6. “Menace II Society” (May 26th) 
Picking up on the momentum by the acclaimed “Boyz N The Hood,” “Menace II Society,” the tough, gritty directorial debut by the Hughes Brothers tracks Caine (Tyrin Turner) as he enters a life of casual violence and drug dealing in South Central L.A. It’s bleak and dark to an unrelenting degree, but the Hughes pair direct with real compassion, and stylistic flair, and gathered a terrific cast together. Shame they never lived up to this promise, though. 

5. “In The Line Of Fire” (July 9th)
The ’90s delivered many character-driven suspense films (along with schlocky erotic thrillers and dumb-as-hair Pauly Shore comedies: it wasn’t all roses), and this satisfying Wolfgang Petersen film is among the best — a cat-and-mouse game so well psychologized that it feels human. Clint Eastwood plays the Secret Service guy with the mother of all guilt complexes having been on Kennedy’s fatal cavalcade, John Malkovich his often-offscreen adversary, along with Rene Russo as a low key love interest.


4. “Manhattan Murder Mystery” (August 18th)
A brilliant mid-career high from Woody Allen, why “MMM” hasn’t gotten more props is a mystery to rival the one in the film (or surpass, if we’re honest, plotting not being its strong suit). Proving that Allen’s comic instincts can work even within a cast of four age-appropriate adults (Allen, Diane Keaton, Alan Alda and Anjelica Huston) it may have a higher body count than most of his classics but it’s just as funny, and a surprisingly sweet portrait of a resilient marriage of equals. 

3. “Jurassic Park” (June 11th) 
Swiftly capturing the zeitgeist and the biggest box-office haul of all time (then), “Jurassic Park” still stands up today as a blockbuster of rare skill and texture (it’s easy to forget how much humanity Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum bring to the movie). The film’s not always narratively satisfying, lagging in the second act and ending with something of a whimper, but even then, it’s apatosaur-head and shoulders above almost everything released that summer. 

2. “The Fugitive” (August 6th) 
A model of the TV-to-film translation (and achieving what “Jurassic Park” couldn’t by picking up a Best Picture nomination), “The Fugitive” feels like a rare moment of the studio planets aligning to create a well-crafted, fat-free thriller that’s barely aged a day. Harrison Ford shines as the good-man-on-the-run, with Tommy Lee Jones reinventing his career as his pursuer, and director Andrew Davis gifts them with more than one immediately iconic set piece. 


1. “The Wedding Banquet” (August 6th)
The smallest little movie of the summer was also the best. Ang Lee’s second film, the Oscar-nominated “The Wedding Banquet” is a delicate, utterly charming little romantic comedy of a sort about a gay Taiwanese man deeply in love with his American boyfriend, who agrees to marry a Chinese woman to help her get a visa and placate his parents. Culturally specific in more than one way, and drawing more on classic 19th century literature than, say, “When Harry Met Sally,” it’s an almost miraculously warm, surprising, compassionate, funny and emotionally refined picture that truly paved the way for Lee’s extraordinary career to come. 

That’s not quite everything: the summer also saw Disney profitably re-release their first ever animated feature, “Snow White & The Seven Dwarves,” which proved to outgross most of the movies above comfortably, despite being nearly sixty years old at the time. As a cash-in, an unofficial sequel called “Happily Ever After” was released in May as a cash-in: long delayed by legal threats by Disney, it tanked, and led to the bankruptcy of producers Filmation. Perhaps as a result, we couldn’t find it anywhere: if you saw it back in the day, let us know where in the list you’d place it. 

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