Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Favorite Movie Championship Belt

Sometimes I have ideas for the blog, and then sit on them forever.  A couple years ago, I had DVR'd The Fugitive, and was trying to convince Teens, who had never seen it, to watch it with me.  When she asked me to describe it, I started with, "Well, it was definitely my favorite movie when I was 11 years old."  And bingo, I knew I wanted to write a post where I go through the timeline of all the favorite movies of my life.  I also knew I wanted to frame it like a wrestling championship belt, since it fits well, and wrestling references are awesome.  In the two years since, Grantland has written columns with the same premise.  Why am I explaining this?  I guess I just wanted you to know I'm not intentionally being an unoriginal bastard here.

Anyway, from as early as I can remember, here is the timeline of what movie was my personal champion of the world. 

(Note:  I'm leaving all the Star Wars movies out of this exercise entirely.  It would skew everything and make this even more pointless than it already is.)

I can't exactly remember my first ever "favorite" movie.  My earliest memory of a movie was The Blues Brothers, and I know I was really into Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Short Circuit, and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.  Let's just start in 1990 with Home Alone and call it good.

April 1992- Terminator 2: Judgment Day

My parents were notoriously strict about what I could watch/read/listen to.**   So needless to say, it took a ton of cajoling, and a pre-viewing on their part, for them to let me watch this movie.  Between special effects and the time travel premise, I think this was the first time a movie really blew my mind.

**Example: in 8th grade, my friends were going to see Jerry Maguire, and my parents called the movie theater to ascertain every single questionable scene from the poor movie theater employee and decide if I could go or not.  Verdict:  Locker room scene, so no, I couldn't go see it.  In 8th effing grade!  Oh, so I can work 14 hours a day gutting our basement after the flood, but I can't see Cuba Gooding Jr. naked and yelling "SHOW ME THE MONEY!!!"?  OK.  I get it.  (And yes, I know that's not the right scene.  Maybe if my parents had let me see this movie, I would remember it better.)

August 1993- Jurassic Park

Dinosaurs, bro.  Dinosaurs.

December 1993- The Fugitive

We watched this at my 11th birthday party.  My previous two birthdays featured a) my friends and I attacking the Happy Joe's mascot and tearing the dog costume off of him, like literally jumping off a table like it was the top turnbuckle and putting him in various leg locks and sleeper holds; and b) Aubol's face getting skated over during a free skate at the old Englestad Arena.  So in comparison, when I told my parents I just wanted some pizza and some movies for this party, they were so relieved I probably could've requested a bukkake film and they would've approved of it.

A couple other things here:  I usually have weird pictures as my iPhone lock screen, which drives Teens nuts, as she is a girl and wants pictures of us everywhere.  Instead, I usually have a rotation of Roger Dorn from Major League, the Mighty Ducks Goodwill Games team from D2, and this one.  "YOU FIND THAT MAN!"

Also, if we ever buy a dog, there's a 100% chance we're naming it Doctor Richard Kimble-- that will be a prerequisite to me agreeing to get one.  If we have a son, I'd say there's a 27% chance I can talk Teens into that same name.  You might think those odds are high, but I can be pretty persuasive.

1994 was a shitshow of awesome movies that were all released within a few months of each other, and at one point I called each one of these my favorite, so rather than try and list them in order of when I think I watched them, I'm just gonna list them in chronological order of their release date.  As my trivia friends can attest, my memory is good...but it ain't that good.

Ace Ventura, Pet Detective- Jim Carreys tho!

Speed- Everybody loved Speed when it first came out.  I loved Speed.  You loved Speed.  It's OK to admit it, Jack.

No Escape- We had a couple-year tradition where we'd watch this movie at Easy E's birthday party.  At the time, we just thought it was a great movie.  With the benefit of age and wisdom, we now know that it's a perfect example of a good-bad movie.

True Lies- All things considered, probably the most embarrassing entry on this entire list.  There's at least one semi-defensible excuse for every other movie listed here.  This movie, on the other hand, co-stars Tom Arnold.  (However, I will say that between True Lies and Trading Places, Jamie Lee Curtis played a large role in bringing me through puberty.)  

Stargate- Another fantastic good-bad movie.  I think the fact that we were studying the Egyptian gods in elementary school around the same time may have influenced me a bit.

Dumb & Dumber- One of the primary personality-shaping pop culture cornerstones of my youth.

April 1995- Tommy Boy

Brother loves this movie as much as I do, but I would still be willing to bet that on some levels, he wishes this movie was never made.  Top 3 ways I have used this movie to annoy the shit out of him:

3.  Spilling things in his car, and remarking "I think they'll be OK in here...they have a thin candy shell.  Surprised you didn't know that."

2.  Since moving to Kansas, every time I'm back in North Dakota, riding in a car with him, noticing that an old business has closed down, and pointing and yelling "Hey, the old muffler plant's gone too!"

1.  Beating him home from school, locking the door and making him ring the doorbell so I could re-create this scene, over and over and over again.  Also, I haven't called him AJ since this movie was released.

January 1996- Mortal Kombat

Wanna know how I was spending my free time in 7th grade, besides locking Brother out of the house, talking to girls on the phone, playing a shitload of video games, and talking to girls on the phone while playing a shitload of video games?  Walking to the grocery store with Easy E, shoplifting candy bars and Mountain Dew (earmuffs Mom & Dad), and watching and re-watching and re-watching (and re-watching) our VHS of Mortal Kombat that we taped off of a STARZ free preview weekend.  Life was simpler in the 90's.

May 1996- Happy Gilmore

This was the summer I started really getting into golf, and really getting out of baseball.  Was it due to this movie?  Tiger Woods?  Or the realization that my "It doesn't matter how fast you throw, all you have to do is throw strikes" style of pitching rapidly became unsuccessful once we moved up a league and they moved the pitching mound back?  Whatever the case, I effing loved this movie-- and still do, it has held up pretty well for me, besides the fact that Julie Bowen's hotness level is on some Benjamin Button shit.  I can't wait to see her when she's like 80.

August 1996- Tommy Boy + Dumb & Dumber

Over the next couple years, these two movies just took turns beating each other and trading the championship belt back and forth, too many times to keep up with.  Sorta like The Rock and Mankind in the late 90's.

August 1998- He Got Game

As a pseudo-test, I used to make potential girlfriends watch He Got Game and Above the Rim back to back.  It was a decent idea in theory, but after awhile I stopped, as I realized that if I ever wanted a girl to touch it, I either had to ditch this movie fest, or move to the Bronx.  However, now this pendulum has now swung too far back in the other direction, as I discovered the other day that Teens has NEVER seen either of these movies.  This oversight will be corrected shortly.

December 1999- Fight Club

Probably my favorite movie for a couple days or so; that sounds about right.  The equivalent of when Yokozuna won the heavyweight championship from Bret Hart, but then lost it five minutes later when Mr. Fuji screwed him over and Hulk Hogan beat him for the title.  Find me a high school-aged white boy living in suburbia who didn't think Fight Club was the most badass movie ever, for at least a small amount of time.  HIS NAME.  WAS ROBERT PAULSON.

December 1999- He Got Game

There were some other challengers, such as the DVDs we wore out while shooting pool in Ike's basement (American History X, The Matrix, Office Space), but Junior and Senior year of high school, my "Damn, I wish I was black" hubris was at an all-time high, so He Got Game quickly returned to the throne.  Oh yeah, my first email address was jakeshuttlesworth@hotmail dot com.  You wanna holler, MSN me.

July 2001- The Godfather

The summer after I graduated high school, I took a road trip to Seattle and Portland with Karan and DR, both of whom were older than me.  It was my first real long-distance vacation without family, and among other things I learned on the trip (how to play the main guitar riff from 'Beat It'; what crack rocks look like in real life and how much they can be sold for on the street; a decent-looking college girl with a personality trumps a super-hot high school B every single time), I was introduced to the Godfather universe.  First I read the book, then I watched the movies, and my taste in cinema was forever altered.  Big ups to DR and Karan for my education.

October 2001- Goodfellas

The mafia movie hill proved to be a slippery slope, and while I was balls-deep in all these gangster movies (Scarface, Casino, Donnie Brasco, Heat, A Walk to Remember, etc.) one emerged from the pack as the clear favorite.  If we're continuing with the wrestling analogy (and yes, we are), then Goodfellas is probably the Hulk Hogan.  There were some challenges from The Macho Man (The Shining), The Ultimate Warrior (The Royal Tenenbaums), The Undertaker (Mulholland Drive), and Shawn Michaels (Donnie Darko), but he's still probably the champion of all champions.

August 2004- Anchorman

HEY-OOOOO!!!  It's me, Papa Burgundy!  I don't need to say much else; it's been discussed ad nauseum on this blog.

September 2005- Goodfellas

Paul had moved away, so Anchorman started bumming me out just a little bit since it reminded me of him, juuuust enough for Goodfellas to come back and reclaim the title.  Note from this era:  Wedding Crashers and The 40-Year-Old Virgin are probably the Rowdy Roddy Piper and Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase of my lifetime, as in the best movies to never hold the championship belt once during their careers.

October 2006- The Departed

I saw this movie three times in the movie theater, a non-Star Wars personal record for me.  Obviously it was clear that Scorsese already knew how to cut to the core of me, but the bus that now had its wheels in motion was....

September 2010- Inception

.....Leo!  I used to make fun of DiCaprio and Titanic on the reg, but after The Departed, Shutter Island, Inception, Django Unchained, Wolf of Wall Street, and some re-evaluating of Gangs of New York and The Aviator after the's pretty clear that I'm just like every 13-year-old girl was in 1997.  I swoon over Leo too, just in a different way.


So we're going on almost four years of the same champion now.  As you can see, as I get older, my favorite movie doesn't change every couple of months anymore.  I'm not sure if that's a sign of maturity....or just a result of Hollywood not making high-quality movies like Mortal Kombat with the same regularity anymore.  It's anyone's guess, I suppose.