Brad Pitt smoked a honey-bear bong. (Does the guy ever age?) Perfect Strangers' Balki Bartokomous (Bronson Pinchot) turned into a Hollywood stereotype. James Gandolfini (R.I.P.) had his big-screen breakout as a leg-breakin' tough guy. Patricia Arquette stepped out of big sister Rosanna's shadow, becoming what can only be called a trailer-chic style icon. And screenwriter Quentin Tarantino solidified himself as the go-to guy for "gutter poetry," as Rolling Stone's Peter Travers put it, one year before Pulp Fiction made him a household name. If all that doesn't put it into perspective, here's something that will: Clarence (Christian Slater) and Alabama (Arquette)'s kid Elvis (played by Arquette's biological son Enzo Rossi) is now 24. In a fetal position yet? If so, just keep repeating these three words: "You're so cool."
Robin Hood: Men in Tights
"We're men. We're men in tights (tight tights!)"Admit it, you can still sing along to the theme of this Mel Brooks-helmed spoof of Kevin Costner's 1991 adventure film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves that poked fun at the classic tale – and even Costner himself. "Unlike some Robin Hoods, I can speak with an English accent," British star Cary Elwes says with a smirk, referencing Costner's lack of even attempting one. Although the legendary Brooks has since written and produced other movies, like 2005's remake of The Producers, Robin Hood was his second to last directorial effort. The very last? 1995's Dracula: Dead and Loving It. On the flipside, it's the very first film comedian Dave Chappelle ever appeared in, as the character Ahchoo – at the ripe old age of 19.
Searching for Bobby Fischer
Long before anyone was Searching for Sugar Man, they were searching for this child chess player. Actually, the biographical film isn't directly about the mysterious and controversial Fischer at all; instead, he's used as a metaphor for how main character Josh Waitzkin (Max Pomerac) is taught to play the game. The all-star cast includes Joe Mantegna, Joan Allen, Ben Kingsley and Laurence Fishburne, among others. Then-elementary-school-aged Pomerac, now 29, gave up acting in 1995 after a handful of films, becoming a mystery himself (the real Fischer died in 2008). Maybe someday there'll be a film named Searching for Max Pomerac.
Last Action Hero
Two decades ago, no one would have wagered a bet that Arnold Schwarzenegger would spend two terms running the state of California. No one – and if you claim you saw that coming, you just might grow a nose like Pinocchio. Especially after the fiasco that was Last Action Hero. Long considered one of Ahnold's biggest flops, the flick parodied the genre that made him a mega-star with such hit films like The Terminator, Predator and, everyone's favorite, Kindergarten Cop. (Yes, those are all even older than 20.) But people just didn't want to see the Austrian actor biting the hand that feeds: despite it flopping, the muscle-bound future governator barely skipped a beat, quickly recovering with blockbusters like True Lies (1994), Eraser (1996) and Batman & Robin (1997). Always believe him when he says, "I'll be back."
So I Married an Axe Murderer
Sandwiched between Wayne's World movies, this quirky comedy starring Mike Myers totally flopped. Still, who could ever forget such a title – and premise? For those who don't remember: A commitment-phobe (Myers) falls for a woman (Nancy Travis) who works at a butcher shop and just might be a serial killer. Like many of the other movies on this list, the now-cult fave gained a following over the years as VHS tapes saturated the market – yeah, remember those? They were still popular back in the '90s – then DVDs took over. Axe Murderer came out four years before a guy named Austin Powers turned Myers into a superstar, way back in 1997. Yeah, baby, yeah!
What's Eating Gilbert Grape
Another small but mighty film, Grape put 19-year-old Leonardo DiCaprio on the map, earning him his first Oscar nomination for his role as a mentally challenged boy in a dysfunctional family that includes the title character, played by Johnny Depp. The movie also stars Juliette Lewis, who briefly dated Depp in 1993 after breaking off her engagement to Brad Pitt (yes, that Brad Pitt); John C. Reilly, in one of his first roles; and Crispin Glover, playing a coroner eight years after his role as George McFly in 1985's Back to the Future. Phew, that's a lot to take in, right? Well, here's some more: Darlene Cates, the morbidly obese mother, lost 250 lbs. by 2012, taking her from 575 to 331 lbs. And Depp? He turned 50 in June 2013. Let that sink in.
Sleepless in Seattle
Love it or loathe it, this romantic comedy was inescapable in 1993. Starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan and directed by Nora Ephron, Sleepless was inspired by the 1957 film An Affair to Remember, and follows two would-be lovers who have yet to meet. The Hanks-Ryan duo had previously paired up in 1990's Joe Versus the Volcano and then worked together again on 1998's You've Got Mail. But 1993 was really a banner year for Hanks, as this and his Oscar-winning role in Philadephia represented a seismic shift in his career, moving him from comedic goofball to serious actor. Still, sometimes we just like to kick back and laugh at his roles in The Money Pit and The Man With One Red Shoe.
They ate the bones. Sorry, we couldn't resist, because basically what most people will remember about this film is that Ethan Hawke and the rest of the cast chowed down on each other. But in all seriousness, this biographical flick chronicles the harrowing two-month ordeal a South American rugby team endures when their plane crashes and they're forced to turn to cannibalism. Alive features John Malkovich in an uncredited voiceover role, and came out one year before Hawke's big 1994 Gen X dramedy Reality Bites, which just so happened to introduce the world to one Ben Stiller. Like how we didn't make this one a total Debbie Downer?
Benny & Joon
Young, warped love at its best – and an early glimpse at the oddball acting genius that is Johnny Depp. Before this, he had starred in a mish-mash of titles that included A Nightmare on Elm Street, Platoon, Cry-Baby and Edward Scissorhands, all equally classic in their own right. But there was something about Benny & Joon that showed just how kooky – and brilliant – he could be. While it was the end of an era of sorts for co-star Mary Stuart Masterson, who had previously starred in Fried Green Tomatoes and Some Kind of Wonderful, it signified the beginning of Depp's high-profile trajectory. His game-changing portrayal of Captain Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean is already 10 years old, if you can believe that.
One of the biggest film's of 1993 came in the form of this Sydney Pollack-directed legal thriller starring Tom Cruise, which banked $270 million worldwide. Based on the John Grisham novel of the same name, it follows a promising young lawyer (Cruise) who lands his first big job at a firm where two associates die under mysterious circumstances. The Firm ushered in a new era for then-30-year-old Cruise, who soon launched his action-star franchise Mission: Impossible. Back in '93, Cruise was still married to Nicole Kidman and had just joined the Church of Scientology. 20 years later, though, he still flashes that million-dollar smile and has barely aged a day. If only we could all be so lucky, right?
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CULTURE 14 Gonzo Masterpieces
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