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The Year In Film: 1991



Introduction By @TrueGodImmortal
After last week's look at superhero films, I felt it was only right to go back and finish off the year in film series right. With that being said, there aren't many years left in the series, but of course it's a must we discuss a pivotal film year in the 90's with 1991. 1991 was actually one of the most versatile years in film and definitely featured a number of classic black films on the year in the theater. While every film wasn't a hit or even great, 1991 gave us enough releases to be satisfied as moviegoers. The year began in only a way that a film year in the early 90's could: with a Jean-Claude Van Damme movie hitting the big screen. He would star in the action packed movie Lionheart, which served as the actual first widely released film of the year. The movie itself wasn't the greatest, but it had some good moments, like most Van Damme action flicks. There weren't many popular movies to speak of through January for film, but February 1991 did bring us a few gems, depending on your preference of film.




Julia Roberts was riding a wave of popularity following her star making turn in Pretty Woman and she would use that to gain a huge starring role in the moderately successful Sleeping With The Enemy. While this film isn't one of my personal favorites, it was still an important role for Julia, and a popular film for the year. However, the most successful film of February came in the form of the arrival of Hannibal Lector in The Silence Of The Lambs. Starting Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster, this film was one of the most popular films, not only in 1991, but of the entire decade. Nominated for numerous awards, The Silence Of The Lambs is a huge highlight for 1991, and it might be the overall most important movie of the year for the mainstream viewing audience. I'll explain why I used "mainstream viewing audience" as a measure later, but for that demographic, there was no film this year as important as The Silence Of The Lambs. There were a few other films in February that gained slight interest like King Ralph and Nothing But Trouble, but those weren't nearly as good or as popular as the aforementioned two films. As the year moved into March however, we would see another group of really solid films that had an impact, for better or worse.





When I say March would have some impactful films for better or worse, well, it was mostly worse. Two films were important this year, but in retrospect, they weren't all that great. Meanwhile, there were two bright spots in the month, and they were both huge classics for the movie world and in the black community. The two movies that could have been better are The Doors biopic and the sequel to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film. Now, let me first state that I think Val Kilmer is solid in The Doors, but the overall pacing of the film and the execution is just all wrong. Honestly, I think it would have been much better as a TV series than a full length movie, but it still was fun to watch the portrayal of Jim Morrison, even if it was a bit underwhelming overall. As far as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II, it's not a bad film necessarily, it's just that I've never been a big fan of TMNT as a movie series, but more so the cartoon. This live action film was somewhat fun, but it didn't age very well to me. However, one of the two movies from March that did make a lasting impact is of course, New Jack City. New Jack City showcased the acting talents of Ice T, made Chris Rock popular for his portrayal of Pookie, and immortalized Wesley Snipes for his excellent portrayal of Nino Brown. I still think Wesley deserved a ton of nominations for this role, but of course, a black actor in a black film wasn't likely to get those. Still, New Jack City is a classic and honestly, it might be my 2nd favorite film of the year. What was my first favorite film of the year? Well, surprise, surprise, it is The Five Heartbeats, which is a top 3 film of all time to me personally. Based on the legendary group The Dells with inspiration pulled from other legendary groups, this film is just perfection. It showcases great acting, beautiful music, and a timeless classic vibe that can never be duplicated. Simply put, The Five Heartbeats takes the crown as the best movie of the year for me. These two are definitely both classics and two of the most important black films of the 90's and easily the top two impactful films of 1991 for me, and I have to think March 1991 for giving us these pieces of art.







April and May 1991 really didn't spawn much in terms of good films, at least not any that I was a huge fan of. Perhaps you enjoyed Drop Dead Fred, Oscar, A Rage In Harlem (a solid film honestly), Backdraft, Thelma & Louise, or Hudson Hawk, but I wasn't too fond of those films personally. June did bring some solid films however, as Jungle Fever released and City Slickers came out that month. The first half of the year 1991 was definitely a bit underwhelming overall, but there were still a few bright spots like The Five Heartbeats, Jungle Fever (Wesley Snipes again), New Jack City, and The Silence Of The Lambs to captivate the audience. The second half of the year was actually a bit better overall, but we'll get into that in the outro. For now, let's take a look at another opinion on the year 1991 in film.





@JADBeats
1991 was one of my favorite years for film. My top takeaways were the kid adventures, comedies, and action flicks that I enjoyed when I was young.
My first choice to discuss is Problem Child 2, a sequel where Junior worries about possible new stepmoms and he may have met his match when a little girl Trixie is just as mischievous & protective over her mother as he is his father. Then, there was the classic My Girl that showcased Vada, a troubled 11 yr old with an emotionally distant father who believes she killed her mom during birth and she also has a crush on her teacher. Her escape is her best friend Thomas who happens to have a crush on her. This is a sad story and has a pretty sad ending as well, but it is a really good movie.



I really enjoyed White Fang this year as well. Jack Conroy (Ethan Hawke) takes a wolf/dog hybrid in who has been mistreated and nurses him back to health. This creates a close bonding friendship between dog and man.
For the horror lovers, there was of course The People Under The Stairs. A boy breaks into a huge creepy house only to find an incestuous couple has tortured and held numerous boys prisoner inside the stairs of their home. He runs into their daughter and hope they can escape in time. Of course, Terminator 2 Judgment Day has to be mentioned. John Connor becomes the target of a new modeled T-1000 from the future who shape shifts and phases through objects. This T-1000 was sent to kill him and the T-800 Terminator must protect him. A classic action film here, Terminator 2 is the most popular of the series really.




Another horror film, Critters 3 showcased little fur ball alien creatures who roll around and attack and eat anything in sight. This was Leonardo DiCaprio's first feature film debut apparently as well. Finally, for me, Boyz n the Hood and New Jack City were two of the first gangsta films I saw. These are definitely the most impactful about different issues and different regions, one about boys and the other about men. Their lifestyles and involvements lead to others or themselves getting hurt or killed. Both films birthed some unforgettable roles and actors. Ice Cube, Wesley Snipes, Cuba Gooding Jr, Laurence Fishburne, Chris Rock, Morris Chestnut, Ice T, and more all got more notoriety as a result of these two films. Both are true classics. Here are a few others that I enjoyed in 1991.

House Party 2
KickBoxer 2
Child's Play 3
The Silence of the Lambs
Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare
Straight Out of Brooklyn
The Addams Family
Necessary Roughness







Outro By @TrueGodImmortal
As I mentioned, the second half of the year was pretty good, and July kicked off with a bang. Problem Child 2, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and Boyz N The Hood all released on the same week to different results. I'm partial to Boyz N The Hood as I think it is one of the greatest black films ever, and it's definitely one of my favorites this year, probably no. 3 after The Five Heartbeats and New Jack City. Terminator 2 is a great action film, and it was a huge success at a time when Arnold was the biggest action star in the world. Other solid films in July included Point Break, Mobsters, and Hot Shots, all of which fit well for their intended audiences. August wasn't the best month overall for films, as only Child's Play 3, Doc Hollywood, and Double Impact could be considered highlights, but after a huge July, it wasn't too big of a deal that August didn't have blockbuster releases like that. Admittedly, September wasn't the greatest either, as only Mississippi Masala, The Indian Runner, and Necessary Roughness were noteworthy, but October, November, and December sought to right the wrongs of those two months and  of course, those three months would succeed in a major way. 














Mainly, October would succeed with one huge sequel, House Party 2. The Kid N Play sequel showcased great humor and was almost just as good as the first one. Denzel Washington would have a solid hit in Ricochet, City of Hope would be a solid film, and Stepping Out was a popular film, but November would be a huge month this year for film. For action lovers, there was Highlander II, for horror lovers, there was The People Under The Stairs, for holiday festive folks, there was All I Want For Christmas, as well as the underrated film Strictly Business (old school Halle Berry, Tommy Davidson, and more), and the classic Cape Fear. There was a childhood favorite with An American Tail: Fievel Goes West, along with the massively successful Disney animated Beauty and The Beast, and the very sad film My Girl. December didn't disappear at all either, as we got Star Trek VI, Hook, The Last Boy Scout, Bugsy, Father Of The Bride, JFK, and Fried Green Tomatoes, all successful with their intended audiences. Simply put, 1991 wasn't the greatest year of film, but it had some amazing movies and classics that made it a very good year for films.


-DAR

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