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The reality is starting to set in that for many of us this time inside, away from our normal lives, may last longer than the initial estimates. There is only so much of this time, too, that can be spent panic perusing the news, looking at the latest updates on testing, spread, and the infrastructure issues with the COVID-19 coronavirus. For those in essential professions, like medical workers, grocery store clerks, cleaners, and delivery persons, the stress is also mounting.
It can feel hard to predict what is coming next, because we can't predict it. This uncertainty and stress reaches from children to adults, from the young to the old. And the need for diversion and distraction is universal.
Even though it's so hard to look forward, we can still look back. If watching these 80s movies started some quality time for you and your family, keep it up by revisiting these 90s classics.
Released in 1990, Pretty Woman was the quirky and oddly endearing Cinderella story of a sex worker who finds true love with a rich businessman. Julia Roberts and Richard Gere in this make a great on-screen couple, and the love story is just as good to sit and watch now as it was 30 years ago. Interesting fact: this is Disney’s highest-grossing R release of all time.
When I was a teenager, Tim Burton films were my kind of scene. I loved the story lines and costumes, the offbeat characters. I honestly still do. The 1990 Edward Scissorhands featured one of my favorite Johnny Depp roles, perfectly paired with Winona Ryder. This story is about fitting in, finding love, and learning your place in the world... even if you have hands made of scissors. Rated PG-13.
No list of 90s films can leave this film off. 1990 brought us Home Alone as well as Macaulay Culkin. In addition, this film has spawned an infinite number of memes, from kid-themed ones on what children can accomplish, to giving props to moms who don’t travel to Europe without a kid. Well done. The pranks in this film are so enthralling for kids. So far, none of my children have attempted to replicate any of them. Perfect. Rated PG.
Beauty and the Beast
I can sing you all of these songs. I won’t. But I could, on the spot. This 1991 animated Disney film is one of my favorites because the characters are just so relatable. Belle, singing that she just wants more than her current life, meets the Beast, who is looking for someone to see through his exterior, and Gaston who is all looks and a total toad… this movie is just a great one. Rated G.
Another Disney animated classic. Disney was on a roll in the early 90s—Aladdin came out in 1992. From street thief to prince, this movie is all about how important it is to tell the truth, even when it’s hard, and a it's also sweet story about love despite differences. Rated G.
This 1992 film is perhaps one of Quentin Tarantino’s best. And you either love Tarantino or loathe him. With complicated relationships set up around a heist, the movie explores trust and loyalty. And betrayal. The ear scene will get you. Violence and strong language: don’t plop a small child down for this one. Rated R.
Released in 1993, The Sandlot is commonly described as a coming of age film, or a movie about baseball and childhood. Watch this even if you don’t love sports movies or films about coming of age, because the friend group dynamics in this are so perfect it would be a shame to miss it. Rated PG.
This was Bill Murray’s big 90s film, right? Released in 1993, it’s a day that keeps repeating: Groundhog Day. How would you handle finding that a single day keeps happening, and no one else realizes it? Some dark themes despite the rating. A love story and funny moments abound, however. Rated PG.
Nightmare Before Christmas
A classic Tim Burton film, this one released in 1993. I’ve watched this movie too many times to count, both with my kids and on my own when I was younger, or with friends. Always a winner. Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King, finds himself struck down by ennui. He’s dissatisfied with his lot in life, despite friends, popularity, and a community that loves him. Exactly the way he is. He sets out to try something new, upending holidays. Along the way, he finds love and some contentment. Rated PG.
This came out in 1994. Forrest Gump has so many themes to talk through with older kids. Learning about the world and relationships. What makes relationships bad, and good. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time—or the right place at the right time. Tom Hanks is superb in the role of Forrest, giving us so many lines that are evergreen. “My mom always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get.” PG-13.
The Lion King
Again, Disney in the 90s really had some magic. The Lion King came out in 1994 and had amazing songs and a story line that is as watchable today as it was then. Simba loses his father and has to fight for his family. He also falls in love with his childhood friend. And there are great songs and dances through all of it. Amazing. Rated G.
When this came out in 1995 it was one of the coolest things then kid-me had ever seen. I’m not kidding. I was 10 and the messages of friendship, fitting in, and finding your place in the world of childhood really resonated. And these messages fit just as well with my kids today. Prepare to cry through some of the songs—or maybe that’s just me. Rated G.
This movie came out in 1996 and really personifies 90s horror for me. Is it corny at parts now? Yes. Do I still love it? Also yes. Suspense and a whodunit make this a worthy addition to a classic lineup from the decade. Rated R.
When this came out in 1997 there was some scandal over the frontal nudity drawing scene. You’ve seen the movie. You know what I mean. This was a big deal then. The story of a famous ship that tragically went down, loss of life, and a fictitious love story, Titanic has a little of everything. Some pretty emotional music if you want to sit and have some movie catharsis, too. Rated PG-13.
Grosse Point Blank
This came out in 1997 and is funny and dark. A film about someone who has demons both in his past and his present-day, Grosse Point Blank also looks at morality, why we make the choices we do, and asks what if that high school flame is actually the One. For the hero of this tale: she is. It’s about a hitman, so use your discretion. Rated R.
The popularity of this Coen Brothers' film has grown and grown and spawned conventions since its 1998 release. The plot is twisting, complex, and really not what you watch it for. Rather, the characters, the witty lines, the whole feeling of the film is what draws you in. This is an experience. One for adults. Don’t miss it, but don’t sit down with your 7-year-old with it, either. Rated R.
When this was released in 1999 it was absolutely the thing to see. You saw this with friends. You discussed it. Red pill, or blue? The Matrix as an idea really has woven itself into our culture, and the original film is the best of the series. Rated R.
10 things I hate about you
I remember watching this in my literature class. Junior high, 1999. This is a modern retelling of William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. Nostalgia is intense in this: a Seattle as it was in the late 90s. Young Heath Ledger. Timeless teen angst, love, and drama. Pg-13.
When this came out in 1999 it was pretty ground-breaking, right? The ending, especially. If you expected that, you were far better at guessing things than I. Brad Pitt was gave perhaps his finest performance in this. Let me leave you with this: “The first rule of Fight Club is: You do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is: You do not talk about Fight Club. Third rule of Fight Club: Someone yells "Stop!" goes limp, taps out, the fight is over. Fourth rule: Only two guys to a fight.” Rated R.
The Sixth Sense
When this came out in 1999 my best friend and I saw it in theaters. Repeatedly. We really liked it. Bruce Willis did an amazing job in this film, but let’s be honest: Haley Joel Osment was pretty fantastic, too. Twists and turns along the story of peace, death and loss, make this a powerful film to consider right now. Rated PG-13.
If you’re at the point—or your partner or kids are—where life or work or school is just too much right now, take the moments of peace in your day, and disconnect. Spend some time together, eat some food, and watch movies that remind us of different times. Talk through your day today, as well as connecting and staying in touch with the people in your life, both in your home and through calls and tech. We get through this together.