Thursday, February 7, 2013

1991 Movie Bracket

So here at Table 71 we have decide to to an ultimate movie bracket for each year.  What that means is that we take the Top 10 movies by Domestic Gross Sales, put in six wild cards and have them duke it out to see what will reign supreme as the top movie of the year.  We seed the movies based on their Rotten Tomato score and may the best one win.

The next year that we are going with is the year 1991, the year of the unoriginal movie.  The top 16 is littered with adaptations of books, television shows, children stories, and older movies.  This was the start of Hollywood running out of original ideas.  This will be a common theme throughout the next 20 years, but the early 90s were the start of it.  Now without further ado which adaptation is going all the way to the top.  Let’s go on that journey together.


Round 1

(1)    Terminator 2 vs (16) Sleeping with the Enemy

Terminator 2 might be one of the finest sequels ever made.  It's a movie that upon its release made the original Terminator look like the dated 80's movie it was.  Arnold was positively iconic in this film, and Linda Hamilton oozed unbridled, but believable insanity.  The original Terminator was a frightening thriller, T2 evolved into an epic. Never before had CGI been incorporated so impressively into a film, and it was awesome.

Sleeping With The Enemy was another solid fastball from Julia Roberts. This is a clever and creepy little movie, Patrick Bergin is just plain weird. Although this movie can't stand up to the T2 it will make damn sure you fold the towels right.
This is a typical 1-16 massacre and Terminator advances to round 2.

(8) What About Bob vs (9) Cape Fear

What about Bob? is hilarious and charming. I saw this movie once, and it forever ensconced itself in my brain. This is one of my favorite Bill Murray performances(a distant 2nd to Groundhog Day). It's hilarious how he turns Dreyfuss's family against him and the Dreyfussian rage that follows.

Regretfully, I have not seen the 1962 version of Cape Fear, so this haunting version is the only one I know.  De Niro does a great job with Max Cady, who, in my opinion is the best kind of villain. Yeah, he's twisted and sick, but you get his motivations, and he's a hell of a lot tougher then Nick Nolte's cowardly character.  I think the "Come out, come out, wherever you are" scene is a pretty accurate depiction of this.  You hire guys to kill a guy, he dispatches them like he's Bruce Lee on crack, and then you hide in the darkness because your too scared to fight him.  How am I supposed to root for a character like that? Am I? I kind of enjoyed the role reversal .  The thought provoking Cape Fear advances to the next round to face off against Arnie.

(4) Beauty and the Beast vs (13) Robin Hood

In the early 90s you had two things that you couldn’t escape from.  Disney movies and Kevin Costner.  The first round matches these two against each other as Kevin Costner and his band of Merry Men goes off against Cogsworth, Lumiere and the rest of the gang. 

Even though the Little Mermaid was first, Beauty and the Beast started the titanic run for Disney in the early 90s, with Aladdin and The Lion King to follow.  Those other two movies will also show up on this countdown and they will also be a fairly high seed I’m guessing.  In Beauty and the Beast you have two of the all-time great Disney Characters in Gaston and Chip.  Both of them are funny when they want to be and serious when they need to be.  This movie is a perfect example of finding good in every person, a trait which doesn’t happen all too often.

In the 1990 movie bracket I wrote about my lack of enthusiasm for Kevin Costner.  It’s not that I think he is a bad actor per say, I just think he is one of those actors that should be typecasted.  It is no coincidence that his best two roles are in Bull Durham and Tin Cup (If you want to argue Field of Dreams please leave a comment and we will hash it out).  His role is best as a washed up comedic athlete.  Since he isn’t drunk, an athlete, or all that funny I don’t like him in this role so yes, Beauty and the Beast wins.

(5) Thelma & Louise vs (12) The Addams Family

In one movie you have the start of Brad Pitt’s career and in the other movie you have the start of Christina Ricci’s career.  Feel old yet?

I am totally man enough to admit that I love Thelma & Louise.  Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon are perfect as the title characters.  This was back when Harvey Keitel was in every good movie and he doesn't disappoint here.  I love well executed road trip movies and this is certainly one of them.  Just thinking about this movie makes me want to watch this flick again, it has been a few years.

As for the Addams Family it had Christopher Lloyd as Uncle Fester and Angelica Houston as Morticia, but it really was Christina Ricci as Wednesday Adams that stole the movie.  Her deadpanning to the camera was hilarious and she stole every scene she was in.  This movie is all about an accountant wanting to steal the Addams Family’s money and sending in Christopher Lloyd as a fake Uncle Fester.  Wednesday Adams was not having anything of it and her scenes with Christopher Lloyd are the highlights of this movie.  Unfortunately there not enough of these scenes and the rest of the movie is just blah.

Thelma & Louise is not just the movie that launched Brad Pitt, it is undeniably the better movie between these two.  Congrats on advancing ladies!

(2)    Boyz in the Hood vs (15) Hook

John Singleton made an absolute gem of a movie with Boyz N The Hood, the story of three friends growing up in the ghetto.  The cast is deep and rock solid.  You have all of these colorful and often unsavory characters in this movie pulling Cuba Gooding Jr's character all in different directions. Cuba's character is probably the straightest in the movie, at least in the beginning, before the pressures and tragedies really attempt to corrupt him.  Through it all, Lawrence Fishburne as his father is relentlessly honest and articulate, trying desperately to pull his son out of the life so many of his friends have fallen into.  Boyz N The Hood is a mercilessly fair and well made movie.

Hook was a movie that I grew up on and always thought it was a good movie.  You had Dustin Hoffman as Hook, Julia Roberts as Tinker Bell, and Robin Williams as a Peter Pan who loses his magic and grows up.  As far as live action children stories go you could do a lot worse.  The Lost Boys are fantastic and who doesn’t shed a tear when Rufio meets the end of Hook’s blade.  At the end of the day though the best character is Smee.  As Hook’s right hand man it is his job to be at his masters’ beckon call and he does so well. 

As good as Hook is, it met a terrible matchup here in Boyz in the Hood.  That is not a movie that can be ousted in the first round, so as Hook would say “Bad Form” as Dustin Hoffman gets eaten by that alligator once again.

(7) JFK vs (10) Father of the Bride

JFK, if nothing else, is an interesting movie.  The cast is excellent, it’s well made, but none of that is really relevant.  The topic is what makes JFK so interesting.  It ensconces itself in the conspiracy theories that have been spun over the years.  It tells the story convincingly, so convincing is it that after the movie you totally believe in the "facts" of the case.  That is, until you do a little research and realize Oliver Stone is a quack

Father of the Bride is a classic Steve Martin movie.  What I mean by classic is that it has some funny moments but for the most part it just leaves you wanting more.  This had the potential to be a good movie because it is relatable.  I feel like every man in the world who had a daughter knew what Steve Martin was feeling and yet it didn’t do it for me.  Maybe if we do this bracket in ten years and I have a daughter I might relate to it a little bit more but until that die it is just a so-so movie.  That is why it gets knocked out in the first round.

(3)    Silence of the Lambs vs (14) Naked Gun 2 ½

The Silence of the Lambs is a great, haunting, creepy movie.  What's to say about this movie that wouldn't sound redundant?  How about the fact that after playing Buffalo Bill Ted Levine went on to play entirely strait laced characters for the next twenty years?  Or that this absolute classic spawned Hannibal, a surefire candidate for a bad sequels bracket whenever there is one.  Hopkins gets all the love, and rightfully so, but its Jodie Foster who carries this movie.  That's all I'll say for now, I think this titan moves on.

Let me get this out of the way right now.  I find Leslie Nielsen to be freaking hilarious.  Some of his one-liners are in the pantheon of one-liners.  Unfortunately none of those one-liners are from the sequel to the criminally underrated original Naked Gun.  This movie is not terrible, but when you see what it is going up against I’m sure that you, our esteemed readers, realize that this movie can not advance to the next round.  Hannibal onward!

(6) City Slickers vs (11) Point Break

So, City Slickers gave Billy Crystal top billing. And this was back when Billy had his fastball. But damnit, Jack Palance stole this movie.  This was back when the old codger was doing cologne commercials with the tag line, "Makes a man feel, sexy".  His portrayal of a tough bastard cowboy dwarfs Billy Crystal playing every Billy Crystal character ever.  But, let's give a shoutout to Daniel Stern, who decided that the only way he was going to get signed on for roles was to get the shit kicked out of him in every movie.  I Cheer Daniel Stern, your sacrifices on the altar of physical comedy are not forgotten.

A little piece of useless information before we get into our Point Break synopsis.  Does anyone know who directed this movie?  Why it is none other than Kathryn Bigelow, she of The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty fame.  Now I am just as shocked as you are that she got her start directing Keanu Reeves, Patrick Swayze, and Gary Busey but those are the facts.  By the way let’s look at those three actors again.  Keanu Reeves.  Patrick Swayze.  Gary Busey.  In the same movie.  Can you imagine that set?  That must have been the most unintentional funny set in cinema history.  Unfortunately that alone is not enough to get it past Billy Crystal, Jack Palance, Daniel Stern and City Slickers.

Great Eight

(1)    Terminator 2 vs (9) Cape Fear

Now we get to the good movies.  Both Terminator 2 and Cape Fear are movies that I enjoy watching, mood depending.  If I am in a mood to shut my mind off and watch some ass kicking action then you can do far worse than Terminator 2.  If I am in the mood to watch a thought-provoking why-does-the-bad-guy-always-have-to-lose that Robert DeNiro made famous, Cape Fear is the choic.  Both of these movies are still good to this day, when many movies made during that time period haven’t aged well.

So who wins?  Even though Max Cady and Cape Fear does make you think about who is really the bad guy, Terminator 2 has to advance here.  Everything from the acting, directing, editing, music, was so well done.  The special effects were not over the top but were good enough to believe that a man made out of mimetic poly-alloy was sent back in time to kill a teenager.  Works for me.  Arnie and the Terminator advance to the Final Four.

(4)    Beauty and the Beast vs (5) Thelma & Louise

You can’t help but feel bad for the beast.  Sure he was a dick and that is why he was cursed, but once he sees a beautiful woman he is just as awkward as the average horny American teen-ager.  It was sweet.  Belle was a no-nonsense girl who found the good in everyone and even though it was tough to find in the Beast she did.  This movie has one of the most iconic scenes in Disney history, with Belle and the Beast dancing around the Grand Ballroom while Mrs. Potts sings still tugging at my heartstrings.  And it should at yours as well. 

Thelma & Louise has a pretty iconic scene in it as well.  At the end of the movie when they realize they are trapped and they will not surrender they decide to drive off a cliff.  That scene has stayed with me all these years and since you don’t see them land, you hope that they make it to the other side. It is hope.  That is what makes that scene memorable.  Even though you are 99.99% certain they just drove to their death, you have that .01% chance that always makes you wonder.  That is what good movies do. 

So which scene moves on to the finals to face Terminator 2?  The unknown hope of Thelma & Louise against the growing hope of Beauty and the Beast.  I am going to with the known hope and Beauty and the Beast advances to the Final Four.  Gaston would be so proud.

(2)    Boyz in the Hood vs (7) JFK

This matchup begins and ends with authenticity. JFK is a movie that doesn't let facts get in the way of a good conspiracy theory and Boyz N the Hood is, to its bone, authentic.  There isn't really a fairy tale ending, yeah, it’s a little uplifting, but Cuba's character is really only one of two characters that any real hope springs(the other, is probably the most tragic).  

Boyz N The Hood, at least to me, has far more memorable moments than JFK. Hell, the most memorable JFK related moment is the Seinfeld re-enactment.   Boyz N The Hood has Furious(Lawrence Fishburne) spinning a tale about how white men moved cocaine and heroin into the ghetto's to kill black men. Ice Cube's "Do we have a problem?" scene is probably the most famous. And when Cuba decides he's going to enact vengeance, and Furious gives him a speech/verbal undressing rivalled by few.  Just a real, truly, powerful movie.  That is why it gets the edge here.

(3)    Silence of the Lambs vs (6) City Slickers

City Slickers is a fun movie, a great mid life crisis movie.  It's a good old fashioned tale of life throwing characters an unexpected adventure and how they rise to the occasion, all through a comedic lens.  Is this a great movie? No, but it’s not supposed to be. It's meant to be enjoyed, and it certainly is.

Silence of the Lambs is about society's underbelly bubbling up into plain sight.  Although Buffalo Bill and Hannibal Lecter are the epitome's of calculated insanity, Clarice Starling aside, the rest of the characters are sordid and self serving.  This movie gets away with its eccentricity because it does it so well. Few movies force the viewer to mutter, "What the fuck?" In a tone that combines disgust, horror and appreciation.
City Slickers is a fine movie, but this is where we separate the movies from the films. And Silence of the Lambs is a film my friends.

The Final Four 

Well now this is interesting.  I think that this might be the one and only time that the top 4 seeds advance to the Final Four.  This is what we are calling our chalk bracket as the higher seeded movie advanced every single time except for once.  I think for the most part you readers will agree with the choices made but if you do not please leave us who you think should be in there and why in the comments below.  We here at Table 71 love a good debate.  Now onto the Final Four! 

 (1)    Terminator 2 vs (4) Beauty and the Beast 

 Beauty and the Beast was a truly uplifting story about looking beyond the exterior of a person, that there is more to someone than meets the eye.  It had great secondary characters in Lumiere, Cogsworth, Mrs. Potts, Chip, and of course Gaston.  Gaston is one of the most underrated villains in movie history.  He is an absolute riot and the song below is one of the many reasons why. 

That being said I can not put Beauty and the Beast in the Finals.  Terminator 2 was as close to a perfect movie as you will find on this countdown.  The secondary characters in this movie were fantastic as well, from Miles Bennett Dyson to John Connor’s step parents.  Every single character brings something different and unique and necessary to the movie.  Every scene in this movie is so crucial in telling the story of how the machines took over and why someone is always trying to kill John.  As mentioned earlier Linda Hamilton was fantastic as the crazy protective mother who would do anything to save her son.   All in all this movie had no flaws and while Beauty and the Beast was a very good movie, it gets knocked out here as the Terminator makes the finals. 

(2)    Boyz in the Hood vs (3) Silence of the Lambs 
Parting is such sweet sorrow. Boyz N The Hood is a fantastic movie.  It's true authentic filmmaking.  That movie is good, but Silence of the Lambs is better.  Hannibal Lecter was on screen for what? 12 minutes?  Yet he instantly became one of the greatest characters in cinema history.  How coy and genius is a movie that causes the audience to half support a homicidal cannibal towards the end of the film?  It’s the idea that in all levels of life, there is a certain morality, and those that follow it.  As dark and twisted as this movie is, I often find myself picking it up halfway through and anxiously awaiting the next great scene.  Whether its Starling and Lecter's first meeting, "Put the lotion in the basket", or Lecter's artistic dismembering of his guards.  How clever, and how imitated, is the ending scene where Starling is searching through Buffalo Bill's house with night vision goggles on.  Silence of the Lambs understands that anticipation and the audiences imagination builds terror on its own. It doesn't need to create too many false jumps or artificially build tension.  Silence of the Lambs comes of its terror naturally, and that, on its own, is brilliant filmmaking.


The finale, two heavyweights of cinema and two iconic movies.  Silence of the Lambs was a completely unique movie, that cannot be duplicated and has been imitated poorly by a great many movies.  Weird shit like The Cell ring a bell anyone?  Terminator 2 had truly groundbreaking special effects and kicked off the big budget action movies of the 90's.  Director James Cameron first utilized the effect that he used for the Terminator's liquid metal in the 80's movie The Abyss (with the impeccable Ed Harris, yep, he didn't have hair then either).  In T2, he refined it and incorporated it in ways that still stand the test of time 22 years later.  A lot of movies, even movies as relatively new as Lord of the Rings have CGI that hasn't aged well.  T2's effects have held up remarkably with few exceptions. But, that's not why this was the greatest movie of 1991.  It's because T2 was so fucking entertaining. Every action scene is a home run.  From the motorcycle chase on the freeway to the gun battle at Cyberdyne Systems, every scene is thrilling.  The movie is damn quotable as well. What makes this truly the perfect action movie is that it makes the audience care.  There is a legit relationship between The Terminator and young John Connor as the kid tries to humanize the robot.  And yeah, every now and then, it gets a little dusty when Arnold says, "I know now why you cry, but it is something I can never do." What an absolute outstanding movie.  LOVE IT! Hasta la vista baby!


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