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There will never be a general consensus on what the greatest year in the history of movies is. There are just too many options and too many different perspectives. That being said, most people seem to coalesce around the same handful of choices, one of which is 1994. And why not? 1994 was objectively an incredible year for the motion picture industry. Between The Lion King, Pulp Fiction, Shawshank Redemption, Quiz Show, Dumb And Dumber, Interview With The Vampire, Forrest Gump and about a dozen more gems, it offered theatergoers a murderer’s row of greatness to choose between on an almost weekly basis.
In the years since, some of these lesser movies have faded from popular memory, but that doesn’t mean they’re gone. In fact, somewhere in the dank, poorly lit corners of your brain, the names of these films still exist. Your brain has probably been wondering why it’s bothered to hold on for twenty years, but this quiz is the answer to that question. You’ve retained the knowledge so you can crush Cinema Blend’s latest installment of We Bet You Won’t Recognize That Movie.
Here’s a reminder of the rules. We’ll give you a still image, a release date, a cast list, a box office gross, a plot description and since Cinema Blend didn’t exist, an excerpt from a movie review. Figure out the name of said movie in your brain and click over to the next page to see if you’re right. As per usual, there will be fifteen total movies. Keep track of your score and let us know how you did in the poll at the end.
Are you ready? Then without further ado, let’s cruise past 2004, 2008 and 2009 in order to guess that movie, 1994 edition.
Round #1Release Date: February 11, 1994
Worldwide Box Office: $30,577,969
Stars: Brian Bonsall, Karen Duffy, Miguel Ferrer, James Rebhorn, Tone Loc
Plot: Following a bicycle accident, a young boy with a cheapskate father cons a local bank and a criminal into paying him one million dollars. He uses the money to buy an elaborate castle and throws himself a lavish party, all while masquerading as a shady, unseen business tycoon named Macintosh. Eventually, his little ruse is discovered and a Home Alone like game of cat and mouse commences.
Excerpt From Variety’s Review: "_________ wallows in the exuberance of excess so enthusiastically, for so long, that even naive youngsters may have trouble buying pic’s ultimate "money can’t buy happiness" message."
As you can see, the castle house in this movie has a slide going from one of the upstairs rooms all the way down into the pool, which is like 90% as cool as a Clue-style secret passageway.
Round #2Release Date: September 2, 1994
Worldwide Box Office: $18,137,661
Stars: Ed Harris, Melanie Griffith, Michael Patrick Carter, Malcolm McDowell, Anne Heche
Plot: A group of suburban boys head into the big city with a pool of money to find a hooker and pay her to get naked. Following a comedy of errors, she winds up living in a treehouse belonging to one of the boys and later begins dating his dad. Not surprisingly, Ed Harris isn’t exactly stoked about finding out the new woman in his life spent a solid portion of her life as a hooker, but fortunately for all involved, she has a scheme to turn over a new leaf.
Excerpt From Roger Ebert’s Review: "Sometimes they produce a documentary about the making of a movie. You know, like "The Making of 'Jurassic Park.' " I would give anything within reason to see "The Making of '_______' " -- or, for that matter, to simply listen to recordings of the executive story conferences."
In case if you haven’t realized how family-friendly this movie is yet, I’ll hit you with a true story. I watched it with my grandmother once. She only sighed once or twice.
Round #3Release Date: December 25, 1994
Worldwide Box Office: $26,381, 221
Stars: Meg Ryan, Tim Robbins, Walter Matthau, Stephen Fry
Plot: A mechanic falls in love with Albert Einstein’s niece, a brilliant mathematician getting her PHD at Princeton. She resists his charms at first on account of his less than superior intelligence, but eventually, Einstein and his brilliant scientist buddies make it their mission to hook the two up, even if it means whispering all kinds of fancy words and advanced equations into Tim Robbins’ average ears.
Excerpt From Entertainment Weekly’s Review: "Matthau's Einstein is meant to be wise enough to understand that brains aren't everything. That was probably true of the real Einstein, a notorious womanizer, but in the film he becomes a teddy-bear yenta whose idea of a good time is riding on the back of Ed's motorcycle and shouting ''Wa-hooo!'' Even worse, he's been given a trio of cuddly professor colleagues who trail him around campus speaking in toy German accents and making cutesy-poo observations about the sexiness of atomic particles. (If this is genius, give me Jim Carrey.)"
This movie definitely isn’t as bad as that review makes it sound, but in retrospect, it really should have been better.
Round #4Release Date: July 1, 1994
Worldwide Box Office: $30,156,002
Stars: Jeff Bridges, Tommy Lee Jones, Forest Whitaker
Plot: An Irish terrorist heads to Boston to hunt down his former partner who went into hiding years ago. Eventually, he gets close enough to him to start eliminating his friends and family members one-by-one, apparently in an effort to put the fear of God into him before finally finishing off the job. Of course, vengeance is never quite that simple, and the two later get their final showdown to figure out whether Tommy Lee Jones is better at making bombs or Jeff Bridges is better at disarming them.
Excerpt From James Berardinelli’s Review: "This may sound like the storyline for Speed but it's really a thumbnail sketch of some of the highlights of __________... and that's the problem. It's unfortunate that two movies with so much in common have been released within a month of each other. Unfortunate for ________, that is. Because not only is Speed the better movie, but it was released first and, regardless of which film went before the cameras earlier, Keanu Reeves' picture will be viewed as the original by the movie-going public."
This movie shares its name with an underwhelming 1992 movie starring both of the Coreys!
Round #5Release Date: June 3, 1994
Worldwide Box Office: $20,280,016
Stars: Woody Harrelson, Kiefer Sutherland, Dylan McDermott, Ernie Hudson
Plot: Woody Harrelson and Kiefer Sutherland are rodeo stars who travel to New York City to find their friend. Once there, they cause all sorts of aww schucks hijinks and eventually set their minds to finding a killer who badly needs a heaping spoonful of Texas justice.
Excerpt From The Washington Post Review: "Unlike Dundee, McCloud or even the Muppets, the cowboys act more like rube conventioneers than fish out of water. They order an expensive dinner at a posh hotel, where Pepper beguiles the ladies with tongue tricks, and later they visit Central Park, where they meet a mounted police officer and his pretty horse. When they do get down to business, they don't employ their rodeo skills, they just speed around town in their pickup truck."
This isn’t the first film Woody would put on his resume, but if Kiefer were ever trying to get hired as a moustache model, he sure as hell would point people in this direction.
Round #6Release Date: March 25, 1994
Worldwide Box Office: $45,610,410
Stars: Emilio Estevez, Joshua Jackson, Kenan Thompson, Elden Henson
Plot: A ragtag group of America’s best young hockey players join forces with an established squad from Minnesota to take on the best teams in the world, most notably Iceland and their vicious coach Wolf "The Dentist" Stansson. Along the way, they overcome such setbacks as wrist injuries and not being able to stop on skates before ultimately assembling the collection of hockey goalies, knucklepucks and healthy wrists needed to properly represent the Red, White and Blue.
Excerpt From Common Sense Media’s Review: "Most of the players are one-note characters: the bruisers who must learn to control their tempers; the speed demon who must learn to control his speed; the perennial backup goalie who learns patience, etc. The lessons are easy for kids and tweens to absorb."
Round #7Release Date: May 20, 1994
Worldwide Box Office: $183,031,272
Stars: Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster, James Garner, Graham Greene
Plot: A sketchy gambler convinced he’s the greatest descends on an Old West town to play a $25,000 five card draw tournament. In order to gain the rest of the needed entry money, Mel Gibson hustles a few people, does a few underhanded things and generally behaves like a smooth ruffian without a conscience. Eventually, he makes his way to the tournament in question and faces off against a laundry list of feared opponents who may or may not be cheating.
Excerpt From The Austin Chronicle’s Review: "Director Donner made his name with action films, and it shows: maybe the only things this film does take deadly serious are its back-to-back stunts. Certainly, much of the movie's wit and style stem from screenwriter William Goldman, who won an Academy Award in 1969 for his Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid script. This is a rollicking, Saturday afternoon adventure, the quintessential summer movie."
This movie is a hell of a lot of fun, but it never quite became the loveable classic so many expected when it made a small fortune at the box office.
Round #8Release Date: July 1, 1994
Worldwide Box Office: $48,063,435
Stars: Alec Baldwin, Penelope Ann Miller, Ian McKellen, Tim Curry
Plot: An American opium kingpin played by Alec Baldwin is manipulated into becoming a force for good. So, he moves back to the United States from Tibet and starts operating as a superhero in New York City. He quickly builds up a network of underground supports who help him in his quest, which is a good thing because he needs every little bit of help he can get when he goes to war with the last living descendent of notorious warlord Genghis Khan.
Excerpt From The New York Times Review: "One of the failings of _________ is that the film seems wary of pushing its wit too far. Jonathan Winters has an all-too-small role as Cranston's uncle, the police commissioner. When he says to a waiter, "More chives," he inexplicably makes the line hilarious, suggesting how much his nonsensical humor might have added."
The sun is shining, but the ice is slippery…
Round #9Release Date: October 7, 1994
Worldwide Box Office: $170,362,582
Stars: Sylvester Stallone, Sharon Stone, Eric Roberts, James Woods
Plot: Sylvester Stallone and James Woods are bomb experts with different perspectives. The former designs careful and neat explosives that only take out their intended targets, while the latter designs big splashy bombs that cause plenty of collateral damage. Naturally, this causes their partnership to fail and the men’s lives to go in different directions, at least until their paths plunge back together and you guessed it, a series of bombings occur. Sharon Stone is also involved as a woman undercover with the Eric Roberts-led mob.
Excerpt From Movie Metropolis’ Review: "The Woods and Roberts characters are about as evil as evil can be in order to make the revenge plot work better. You can't have a good revenge plot unless the initial crime was really, really heinous and the perpetrators are really, really vile and repellent. They are."
Fun fact: this movie is running at 4% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Round #10Release Date: April 13, 1994
Worldwide Box Office: $7,820,688
Stars: Kathleen Turner, Matthew Lillard, Sam Waterston, Ricki Lake
Plot: Kathleen Turner plays a seemingly pleasant suburban housewife with a serious anger problem and a bloodlust that can’t be contained. She flips out at the most minor offenses and isn’t above knocking people off who commit egregious crimes like forgetting to recycle. It’s over-the-top. It’s satirical and while it’s not John Waters at his best, it’s certainly a worthwhile entry into the Waters canon.
Excerpt From Rolling Stone’s Review: "If _______ merely consisted of watching Beverly knock off victims in lock step, you could dismiss it as a one-joke farce with unusually clever variations. But Waters is chasing bigger game. It's the glamour of crime and the celebrity and riches it confers that draw his satirical barbs. You wouldn't think parody is possible anymore in the age of Bobbit and Buttafuoco, but Waters gives it a game go."
Look for smaller roles from a post porn career Traci Lords, as well as a cameo from famous kidnapping victim Patty Hearst.
Round #11Release Date: March 11, 1994
Worldwide Box Office: $27,058,304
Stars: Nicolas Cage, Shirley MacLaine, Austin Pendleton, Edward Albert
Plot: An extremely capable Secret Service agent played by Nic Cage is shipped off to Ohio to stand watch over the widow of a former US President, played by Shirley MacLaine. She orders him around constantly and routinely blocks his transfers to other positions. Despite her almost constant annoyance with him, she seems to like having him around, which winds up being a good thing after she’s kidnapped for flimsy reasons and Cage sets out to find her.
Excerpt From Emanuel Levy’s Review: "The movie throws together two characters that could not have been more different and shows us how they gradually develop mutual respect and even affection for each other. The plot's machination is based on the idea that people's public images might differ from their real identities. Indeed, on the surface, Tess is a revered First Lady, perceived as a national treasure, but behind closed doors, she is crotchety, bitter, and even boozy."
I’m not really sure why anyone would go out of their way to watch this movie, but if it was airing on HBO, I wouldn’t change the channel.
Round #12Release Date: June 17, 1994
Worldwide Box Office: $131,002,597
Stars: Jack Nicholson, Michelle Pfeiffer, James Spader, Richard Jenkins
Plot: Jack Nicholson is the top dog at a publishing house, but his life begins to go awry after he gets into a hit and run accident and is bitten. Not long after, he gets demoted, discovers his wife is cheating on him and most importantly, his body starts undergoing some uhhhhh changes. Between murders, wild bouts of sexual passion and various trips to the woods, Nicholson wrestles with his new lupine tendencies and sets out on a quest to get his life back.
Excerpt From The San Francisco Chronicle Review: "During the first moments of _______ now available on home video, Jack Nicholson drives down a snow-covered road in rural Vermont. The moon is full, the car seems slightly out of control and Ennio Morricone's music primes us for imminent peril. Suddenly -- bam! -- a wolf runs into the road and takes the full impact of Jack's car."
Is there anything Nicholson isn’t great in? Just look at that picture and tell me you don't want to revisit this classic right now.
Round #13Release Date: October 7, 1994
Worldwide Box Office: $20,059,210
Stars: Marisa Tomei, Robert Downey Jr, Bonnie Hunt
Plot: Following a weird Ouija Board moment and an even weirder encounter with a carnival fortune teller, Marisa Tomei becomes convinced as a child that her future husband will be named Damon Bradley. Years later, this idiotic assurance leads her on a quest through Europe to bump into one of her fiance’s friends who happens to be named Damon Bradley. She meets many men along the one, one of whom is the always dashingly handsome Robert Downey Jr.
Excerpt From The Chicago Tribune Review: "In "My Cousin Vinny," Tomei played a tough, sexy, motormouthed Brooklyn cookie, and she sold every inch of the part. She was swaggeringly funny. Here, her part is under-written, as if Diane Drake expected a hologram of Audrey Hepburn to somehow drop in. Bonnie Hunt gets the funny lines and Tomei is left with hysteria, resentment and confusion."
This movie shares its name with an Andrew McCarthy flick that was released in 1992.
Round #14Release Date: November 25, 1994
Worldwide Box Office: $29,392,418
Stars: Keenan Ivory Wayans, Jada Pinkett-Smith
Plot: An ex-LAPD detective played by Keenan Ivory Wayans tries to track down a large sum of money from a seedy drug lord. That quest turns out to be a little more complicated than expected, especially after the main character’s ex-girlfriend shows up and makes the plot 30% more complicated and 0% funnier.
Excerpt From Time Out’s Review: "Having profitably ransacked the '70s blaxploitation genre for the jaunty send-up I'm Gonna Git You Sucka, writer/director/star Wayans comes up with a few clichés of his own in this contemporary action-comedy."
This movie is running at 0% on Rotten Tomatoes and is way, way less beloved than In Living Color.
Round #15Release Date: July 29, 1994
Worldwide Box Office: $37,939,757
Stars: Nicolas Cage, Bridget Fonda, Stanley Tucci
Plot: A kind-hearted police officer played by Nic Cage short on money tells a waitress, played by Bridget Fonda, he will give her half of the winnings if his lottery ticket pays off the following day. It does, and despite the belligerent anger of Rosie Perez, he follows through on his promise. A long series of hijinks and personal relationship swaps follow as the money rapidly changes hands and the general public falls in love with Cage and Fonda.
Excerpt From The Desert News Review: " The art of gentle comedy with innocent, unassuming characters has all but disappeared in this day and age of in-your-face farce and hardened, cynical protagonists. So, it's nice to have Andrew Bergman's latest effort, __________, which is something of an antidote for just about everything else that's out there."
This is probably the best movie on this list. In fact, it is.
How Many 1994 Movies Did You Get?