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All summer redbox has been bringing back some older titles from the ’90s and ’00s. Here are some of my favorites from the bunch:
Director Jon Favreau’s third feature film, just coming off the huge success of Elf, is, as the title suggests, an absolutely wonderful young-adult space adventure that tanked at the box. (Possibly due to its similarities to Joe Johnston’s 1995 Jumanji—both movies are based on kids books by Chris Van Allsburg about games that come to life.) But if you’ve never seen it, be sure to check out Zathura—it shows all of Fav’s flair for solid storytelling, human characters, and warm humor, as well as his budding chops for clear, concise special-effects action. A talent that came in handy on his next three films: Iron Man, Iron Man 2, and Cowboys & Aliens.
Hey Look, It’s… Fourteen-year-old Kristen Stewart as the sullen teen sister! The Kids are All Right and The Hunger Games’ Josh Hutcherson as the older brother! Crazy Stupid Love‘s Jonah Bobo as the younger brother! And Ashton Kutcher’s Punk’d pal Dax Shepard in his feature-film debut as The Astronaut!
There are many, myself included, who feel writer-director Joe Carnahan has yet to live up to the edgy, riveting promise he shows in this, his second feature. (Though I do enjoy Smokin’ Aces and The A-Team.) Jason Patric and Ray Liotta are new cop partners, both stretched thin from carrying around painful regrets: One is trying to bust open the truth of an old case to find some peace, the other is doing his best to keep the past buried. Carnahan serves it all up with his now-trademark visual flair, but he also wisely lets Patric and Liotta anchor the raw proceedings with solid, purposeful acting.
Hey Look, It’s… Boston Public‘s Chi McBride playing the first of what would become a long on-screen string of Grumpy Police Captains!
Another tremendous, touching film for young viewers that’s adapted by Frank Oz from Lynne Reid Banks’ 1980 novel with thoughtful care. It’s the heartwarming but entertaining tale of a kinda dorky kid (Hal Scardino) who discovers an old magic cupboard can bring his toys to miniature life—especially a plastic Indian who turns out to be a proud Iroquois named Little Bear (Cherokee rapper Litefoot). Cupboard came out the same year as the first Toy Story and got a little lost in backwash of that other “Toys Come to Life” film’s success, but it’s very much worth revisiting. What’s most impressive is how the film tenderly but honestly approaches issues like the naturalness of death and the historical fate of the Native American nations.
Hey Look, It’s… Richard Jenkins as the father! David Keith as a come-to-life mini-cowboy! Angel and Mad Men‘s Vincent Kartheiser as the older brother! And British comic actor Steve Coogan as the tiny WWI medic!
Spike Lee’s original cinematographer Ernest Dickerson made this, his directorial debut, in the midst of the early ’90s’ explosion of “Hood/Hip-Hop” cinema (Boyz in the Hood, New Jack City, Straight Out of Brooklyn, Menace II Society, and Lee’s and his own Do the Right Thing). It follows a group of four young Harlem friends as they struggle to choose between musical pursuits and lives of crime. In their first dramatic roles, both Omar Epps and Tupac Shakur are terrific as one-time friends falling on opposite sides of those dreams, and 20 years later Juice is a captivating (if melodramatic) time-capsule of the era’s sounds and fashion. It’s also interesting to compare Juice with Dickerson’s DP work for Lee, trying to guess at how much Dickerson picked up from Lee versus how much of Lee’s visual style was contributed by Dickerson.
Hey Look, It’s… Samuel L. Jackson as the wise local figure, Trip! And Queen Latifah as the club owner and organizer of the DJ contest!
In the nearly 20 years since Mike Judge unleashed the twin avatars of his dumb-ass id on us via MTV, the groundbreaking satire of Beavis and Butt-head has been eclipsed by its illegitimate animated children, namely South Park and Family Guy. But Beavis and Butt-head remain a terrifying cultural magnifying glass—as I always say, you have to be very smart to create something this knowingly and laser-guided stupid. If you haven’t seen it in a while, check out the B&B feature film to take a trip down an ugly Memory Lane, strewn with forgotten catch-phrases and Cornholio routines, as well as some cleverly odd stylistic side bits, like the boy’s peyote trip. Plus it’s fun to see Judge flexing his wings a bit in preparation for the satiric genius still to come in King of the Hill, Office Space, and Idiocracy.
Hey Look, It’s… Bruce Willis and Demi Moore as a white-trash husband and wife having marital difficulties! David Letterman as one of the Motley Crue roadies! And Judge’s fellow Austinite filmmaker Richard Linklater as the tour bus driver!
- The Core (2003) — Aaron Eckhart and Hilary Swank burrow to the Center of the Earth! (Read my full review, Reserve it at redbox.com)
- Breakdown (1997) — Kurt Russell faces off against J.T. Walsh in this terrific road thriller (Read more in my Picks, Reserve it at redbox.com)
- The Bone Collector (1999) — A quadriplegic detective (Denzel Washington) tutors Angelina Jolie to catch a serial killer (Read more in my Picks, Reserve it at redbox.com)
- Snake Eyes (1998) — Nic Cage is a corrupt Atlantic City cop in the middle of an assassination at a prize fight (Read more in my Picks, Reserve it at redbox.com)
Other Returning Titles at Redbox:
- Internal Affairs (1990) — Andy Garcia’s out to bring down Bad L.A. Cop Richard Gere without becoming morally corrupted himself (Reserve it at redbox.com)
- Rules of Engagement (2000) — Tommy Lee Jones defends a Marine officer (Samuel L. Jackson) accused of atrocities in Yemen in director William Friedkin’s prescient courtroom drama (Reserve it at redbox.com)
- The Wood (1999) — Omar Epps also stars alongside Taye Diggs in this humorous, nostalgic spin on ’80s youth in the ‘hood (Reserve it at redbox.com)
- The Score (2001) — Another from Frank Oz, this time a thrilling heist film with De Niro and Edward Norton facing off as Marlon Brando (in his final film role) watches (Reserve it at redbox.com)
- The Tuxedo (2002) — Jackie Chan and Jennifer Love Hewitt star in this lighthearted spy flick about a high-tech piece of formal wear (Reserve it at redbox.com)
- Nick of Time (1995) — Many folks forget that in the ’90s Johnny Depp took a stab at more mainstream action roles, like this one as an innocent father caught up in an assassination plot hatched by Evil Christopher Walken (Reserve it at redbox.com)
- Virtuosity (1995) — Denzel Washington has to stop a psychopathic Russell Crowe… who’s really a computer program! ‘Cause we’re in the Cyber-Future! As seen from 1995! (Reserve it at redbox.com)