It’s no surprise that the 1990s is one of the internet’s favorite decades ever. In terms of its output of movies and TV, that decade was the gift that kept on giving — especially when our favorite stars from the small screen found themselves on the big one.
As Cruel Intentions turns 20 (!) years old this week, and with the recent loss of Beverly Hills 90210 and Riverdale star Luke Perry felt all across pop culture, we decided to go down a very nostalgic rabbit hole to highlight some of the most memorable ’90s films headlined by TV stars that you should definitely see.
1. ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’ (1992)
While far from a box office hit upon its initial theatrical release in July of 1992, writer Joss Whedon’s first stab at Buffy has gathered a fierce cult following. Kristy Swanson is near-perfect in the role of the SoCal high school cheerleader-turned-slayer, but our hearts swoon the most for Luke Perry’s understated (and funny) turn as Pike – an outcast at Buffy’s school who becomes her unlikely ally and love interest.
2. ‘Scream’ (1996)
“What’s your favorite scary movie…?” For many a ’90s kid, the answer to that question is Wes Craven’s Scream.
This landmark slasher movie reinvigorated the very genre it skewered, thanks to Kevin Williamson’s clever meta script. The twisty, bloody plot pits its high school heroine – then-Party of Five star Neve Campbell – against Ghostface, a killer who wields horror movie tropes as deadly as he does his butcher knife. Friends‘ Courtney Cox arguably steals the show as a self-centered, tabloid TV journalist who becomes one of horror’s most unlikely and fierce Final Girls.
3. ‘Romy And Michele’s High School Reunion’ (1997)
Shocker to no one, here’s another ’90s entry featuring one more star of Friends – Lisa Kudrow.
The once and future Phoebe Buffay plays Michele, best friend of Romy (Mira Sorvino), and the two twenty-somethings are creeping up on 30 and feeling like they have nothing to show for it in life. Nothing like a high school reunion, surrounded by adult-sized versions of the teens that treated them like outcasts, to inspire Romy and Michele to hilariously re-invent themselves in time for the shindig. Many quotable lines ensue. And that dance number? *chef’s kiss*
4. ‘Titanic’ (1997)
While we always remember Leo as the best sketcher of French girls ever, Jack Dawson (RIP), we’ll never forget him as Luke, the homeless teen the Seavers took in on ABC’s Growing Pains. That’s right. The future Oscar winner and renowned actor got his start as a scrappy, scrawny kid on the wholesome family sitcom.
5. ‘Picture Perfect’ (1997)
Jennifer Aniston has found the most success on the silver screen thanks to Friends boosting her profile. And while her fellow Central Perk castmates had more creative misses than hits in theaters, she arguably had one of the better movie outings with the underrated Picture Perfect. What’s not to love about an Aniston joint featuring Kevin Bacon?! He plays her boss, who is more inclined to promote from the ranks of their advertising agency if said person is married or about to wed. So, naturally, Aniston’s character fakes having a fiancé (Jay Mohr) and that sparks several LOL-worthy rom-com hijinks.
6. ‘Fools Rush In’ (1997)
It’s a borderline shame that more people don’t talk about Matthew Perry’s Fools Rush In. Salma Hayek’s comedic timing alone is grounds for revisiting this title, which is a very ’90s take on Judd Apatow’s Knocked Up. Perry, a stuffy New York architect (is there any other kind in movies?) has a one-night stand with free spirit Isabel (Hayek). He returns to the Big Apple only to be surprised by Isabel and the news that she is – surprise! – pregnant.
Fools Rush In has that type of breezy premise that makes it the perfect “watch on a plane” movie, meaning one that can easily be ignored or treated as a background distraction while you do other things. But viewers that actually pay attention will be rewarded with this comedy’s delicate and effective balancing act between the laughs and the drama, bolstered by the two stars’ insane likability and charm.
7. ‘The Object Of My Affection’ (1998)
More of a dramedy than a pure comedy, Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd have considerable sparkage here as the former starts to develop romantic feelings for the latter – her gay best friend. While the story’s pacing hits some speed bumps, the chemistry of its two leads more than make up for that as they invest every scene with the exact amount of whatever it needs to tell its heartfelt story honestly.
8. ‘The Iron Giant’ (1999)
Yes, we know this is an animated movie. And another title here featuring Jennifer Aniston (well, her voice talent). And we’d be remiss to not make an exception for Brad Bird’s gorgeously-animated and poignant story about a young boy in the ’50s and his giant space robot. It has all the heart of E.T. put through the lens of the Cold War era in a way only Bird could pull off.
9. ‘Cruel Intentions’ (1999)
You know your movie is special when its poster can be found hanging on dorm room walls and its fans share its most savage and quotable lines in GIF form 20 years after release.
For over two decades, Cruel Intentions‘ fierce fanbase have kept this tonally complex drama-thriller-dark comedy hybrid alive – and for good reason. A modern updating of the French novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses (which also inspired the 1988 Oscar-winning film, Dangerous Liaisons), Cruel Intentions centers on one of the most unsettling and creepy love triangles in movie history. Spoiled teen and borderline-evil sibling Kathryn (played by TV’s Buffy, Sarah Michelle Gellar) has a bet with her cold and calculating stepbrother, Sebastian (Ryan Philippe): Sleep with goody-two-shoes Annette (Reese Witherspoon), she wages, and then you can sleep with me. What Kathryn doesn’t count on is her bro falling for Annette. And that’s when the trouble starts. Despite some dated fashion and hair choices, Cruel Intentions is a guilty pleasure that only gets better with age thanks to its twisty story and all three of its leads’ engaging performances.
If you never got to see it in theaters 20 years ago, you’re in luck! Sony is rereleasing it in theaters for a short run to commemorate the 20th anniversary. Get your tickets here.
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