Here We Are (still), Entertain Us! Looking Back At The 9 Defining Movies of 1995

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Those of us who came of age in the ‘90s have happily endured Woodstock revivals, disco theme parties, new wave dance nights and “Mad Men”-inspired cocktails, all the while holding out for something of our very own to be nostalgic about. Well, good news ‘90s teens! We’re finally old!

And the internet (making us feel ancient ever since Facebook killed Friendster) has been especially rich with nostalgia lately. In case you hadn’t heard, this year marks the 20th anniversary of youth-culture films like Kids and Clueless.

But there are quite a few other popular, fun, or noteworthy films of ‘95 that deserve your recollection. So, strap on your orthopedic shoes, clutch your cane, and, like Hootie and the Blowfish probably sang at your prom, “hold my hand,” as we continue this stroll down memory lane, celebrating 9 films of ‘95 that helped form our formative years.

Empire Records

 

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“Say no more, mon amour!” You know your 90’s ambition was either to work in a record store or “damn the man” in some grandiose fashion. If you’re a girl, in high school you were probably a goody-two-shoes Corey, a slutty-buddy Gina, or a suicidal Deb. (Probably you were some combination of all three.) Why we loved it: Sadly, our crappy after-school job did not involve a cadre of hottie co-workers or a triumphant rooftop concert that saved the day, but at least this movie allowed us to live vicariously.

Friday

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“…It’s Friday, you ain’t got no job, and you ain’t got sh*t to do!” Who could forget the details of this Ice Cube gem? Um, probably every third person who had a friend like Smokey. In fact, even Ice Cube himself admits “It’s the movie you check out when you’re baked.” But Friday offers so much more than peer-pressure “high-jinx”.

Why we loved it: It’s hilarious. And, in addition to showing the lighter side of South Central, the film also offered up a superb soundtrack and the beloved meme: “Bye Felicia.”

Welcome to the Dollhouse

 

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If you’ve never seen the dark comedy Welcome to the Dollhouse, you may “think you’re hot sh*t, but really you’re just cold diarrhea.” Teenagers of the ’90s made this coming-of-age indie a cult classic, perhaps because of our love-hatred for its perpetually put-upon protagonist, Dawn “wiener dog” Wiener, who was Napoleon Dynamite before Napoleon Dynamite was cool.

Why we loved it: Dawn Wiener forced us to confront our most despicable selves: either our abhorrent dorkiness, or our relentless, mean-spirited bullying of those uber-dorks we knew.

Leaving Las Vegas

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For the 90’s teen who grew up with Nancy Reagan’s Just Say No anti-drug campaign, Leaving Las Vegas served up a grittier cautionary tale about the evils of addiction. I distinctly remember being horrified at that scene where Nicholas Cage downs vodka in the shower. And I think my youth ended right at the moment my favorite on-screen babysitter, Elisabeth Shue, poured champagne down her boobs.

Why we loved it: We had suicide on the brain. (Thanks a lot, Kurt Cobain.)

Se7en

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And, speaking of death, no 90’s teen experience was complete without seeing this serial killer classic. Se7en had it all: unadulterated gore, Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, and a shock end starring (SPOILER!) Gwyneth Paltrow’s severed head in a box.

Why we loved it: the bad guy (kinda) wins.

Mallrats

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On a list of movies from ‘95 that made an impact on teens, I realize I would be remiss if I didn’t give a shout out to Mallrats, the prequel to Clerks featuring one of the 90’s most treasured duos — Jay and Silent Bob. But, for me, watching Mallrats was akin to seeing a Pink Floyd laser light show at the planetarium. You know you’re supposed to think it’s really cool — all your friends seem wildly entertained by it — but the fact is, when it’s all over, you can’t shake the feeling that the entire experience was kinda dumb, tedious and forgettable. Anyway. It was something to do.

Why we loved it: Because we believed in Kevin Smith.

The Brady Bunch Movie

 

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We ‘90s teens may not have been the first generation to grow up with TV as a babysitter, but we certainly perfected the art of sitting too close to the screen like zombies, watching endless reruns of our parents’ treasured TV favorites. It’s no wonder so many 90’s teens adored this movie’s culture-clashing premise and its double entendre gags (“Something suddenly came up!”).

Why we loved it: for the cynical 90s teenager, this film’s relentless mockery of one of America’s corniest TV families was a breath of fresh air.

Billy Madison

 

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Trying to decide which SNL-alum film of ‘95 (Billy Madison or Tommy Boy) to feature here is about as futile as Billy Madison’s debate between shampoo and conditioner. “Shampoo is better. I go on first and clean the hair. Conditioner is better. I leave the hair silky and smooth.” So, we’ll just go with this one because thinking Adam Sandler is funny is so retro. It may be hard to believe, but there was a time when Adam Sandler’s antics were endearing rather than annoying. It was some time after “Red Hooded Sweatshirt” and some time before Jack and Jill. I’m telling you, for every guy who only talked in Beavis or Butthead voice, there was another dude who only spoke in Sandler affectation.

Why we loved it: Dude — we were, what? 16? Cut us some slack.

Braveheart

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Truth be told, I’ve never actually seen this film in its entirety. This is the one we 90’s teens told our parents we were going to see when we actually were just using the excuse of the long run-time to have a good buffer of hours to get in trouble.

Why we loved it: Our misguided parents thought our young minds were being stimulated by over 3 hours of violent “history”, when little did they know we were making some checkered histories of our own.

There are plenty (PLENTY) of other noteworthy films of ‘95. In fact, I feel as crappy as that one Dishwalla song for leaving out so many. Let’s continue reminiscing in the comments! I’d love to hear your favorites!

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