Remember the '90s? Sure you do. The music was grungier. The Marky Marks were Markier. You had to choose between your phone and the Internet. And the ponytails were occasionally sideways.
Well, if you somehow missed the decade due to an interference in the time-space continuum — or you just happen to be really young — we've assembled 15 movie clips that best represent what life, or at least movies, were like during that glorious decade. A '90s time capsule, if you will. So sit back, relax and throw on your favorite starter jacket.
1. 'House Party' (1990) — Kid 'n Play Dance-Off
Way before film dance battles occurred in 3D thunderdomes and huge flattop cuts were throwbacks, Kid 'n Play were throwing down the on-screen dance gauntlet with some fly girls in "House Party," a movie that knew enough to not let a plot get in the way of fun and laughs two-thirds of the way through, unlike your Apatow comedies of today. Can't we just go back to having a good time, or have the '00s left us too cold and jaded? If not, can we at least go back to dancing like this instead of twerking?
2. 'Point Break' (1991) — Skydiving Scene
The '90s saw the rise of surfer brah culture, adrenaline junky extreme sports and cheesy, "Die Hard"-inspired pure fun action movies. All three of these elements combined to create "Point Break," unquestionably the greatest surfer-heist movie in modern history. This scene, featuring Bodhi (Patrick Swayze) waking up Johnny Utah (Keanu Reeves) with a "howdy brah" and then informing him they're going skydiving, serves as a reminder that back in 1991 there was simply nothing cooler than impromptu skydiving sessions ... or partaking in any other activity that might leave a laceration, really.
3. 'Slacker' (1991) — Madonna Pap Smear
If you've never seen Richard Linklater's "Slacker," this scene sums it up pretty well: a lotta hipsters talking about their philosophies on life and music, and not a lot of stuff getting done. Somehow this makes for a very entertaining film that went on to inspire loads of contemporary filmmakers. Essentially "Slacker" is one long conversation between Gen X kids with too much time on their hands, but our choice scene has the added bonus of featuring Butthole Surfers drummer Teresa Taylor trying to sell a pap-smear that may or may not have rubbed against Madonna's ray of light. It also includes a guy answering the question "So what are you up to?" with "Lolligagging around, still unemployed. I'm in this band ... I'm sleeping a lot," which is just tremendous.
4. 'Singles' (1992) — Alice in Chains Concert
Popular music in the '90s is pretty well divided between the early '90s, when the Seattle grunge heroes ruled the world like angsty kings, and the late '90s, when the power-pop machine was kicked into high gear by the likes of The Spice Girls, The Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears. Cameron Crowe's "Singles," an ensemble love story rooted in the heart of the Seattle grunge movement, is probably the definitive early '90s music movie with a soundtrack that features Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, and the Smashing Pumpkins and characters that wore enough plaid to cover a roving Lollapalooza festival. Our "Singles" scene of choice has Steve (Campbell Scott) approaching Linda (Kyra Sedgwick) at an Alice in Chains concert to discuss the authenticity of grunge culture, because of course it is.
5. 'Wayne's World' (1992) — I Will Not Bow to Any Sponsor
Back at the dawn of the television age, successful commercial advertising was viewed as getting your brand's name on air as frequently in a 30-second timeframe as was realistically possible. Eventually, somewhere around the early '90s, advertisers decided to take a different approach and sell to their audiences by convincing them they weren't being sold to at all. This was usually done by using objects like skateboards, sunglasses and electric guitars as shorthand for hip in their commercials and placing their products in the hands of popular characters in movies. Here, Mike Myers brilliantly subverts the age of too-cool advertising and product placement, not only mocking the silliness of it all but still schlocking the goods in the process.
6. 'Reality Bites' (1994) — 'Reality Bites' Screening
Featuring a murderers row of Gen X stars including Ben Stiller (who also directed), Winona Ryder, Janeane Garofalo and Ethan Hawke and a soundtrack highlighted by the saccharine angst of Lisa Loeb, "Reality Bites" is arguably the '90s-est '90s movie of all time, making it hard to choose just one choice scene. But we'll go with when a totally-not-down-with-the-kids Ben Stiller reveals his TV station has turned Winona's earnest attempt at documentary filming into a trippy Pizza Hut ad. Her art isn't for sale, you corporate shill!
CLICK HERE to watch the clip.
7. 'Clerks' (1994) — How Long You Been Smoking?
Like "Slacker," "Clerks" was a movie that featured nothing but kind of likable, kind of detestable people sitting around talking and in no way bettering society. It was also highly influential, and would — for better and worse — partially inspire the talk-heavy, plot-light movies we refer to as "mumblecore" today. This scene takes aim at anti-advertising advertising, and in particular the melodramatic, over-the-top anti-drug and anti-smoking campaigns that reached their peak in the '90s. (I learned it from you, dad! I learned it from you!)
8. 'Clueless' (1995) — Cher Checks Out the Bosstones
One of our favorite '90s movie tropes is characters attending a bar/concert/party/prom where the band de jour just happens to be playing (i.e. Big Bad Voodoo Daddy in "Swingers," Reel Big Fish in "BASEketball" and The Offspring in "Idle Hands"). But the Mighty Mighty Bosstones showing up in "Clueless" takes the '90s cake when it comes to band cameos because it just doesn't get more '90s than the chic as-iffing of Cher combined with the misplaced belief that ska might eventually be a popular genre of music.
9. 'Space Jam' (1996) — '90s Hoopsters Lose Their Powers
Despite what folks who worship at the alter of Magic and Bird tell you, NBA culture was never better than in the '90s. Sweet flattops? Check. Short shorts? Check. Epic battles between Reggie Miller and director Spike Lee for some reason? Check. A pre-comedically-jumped-the-shark Shaquille O'Neal? Double check. The only thing missing was Michael Jordan after he unceremoniously left the game to play baseball. Luckily for us he came back, and his epic intergalactic journey back to the NBA was chronicled in the documentary feature, "Space Jam." Our choice scene, however, is the sans-Jordan sequence where the puny aliens steal rebounding skills from Charles Barkley, post moves from Patrick Ewing, dunking ability from Larry Johnson, quicks from Muggsy Bogues and, uh, tall from Shawn Bradley.
10. 'Bulworth' (1998) — Bulworth's Big Money Rap
During the '90s the only thing more hilarious than stodgy, upper-crust types being confronted by some in-your-face hip-hopping was a lame dad-type delivering said hip-hopping. Considering that this scene contains both of those things, we imagine screenings of "Bulworth" must have left audiences in such hysterics that further screenings were banned for health reasons, like that episode of "Pokemon" that induced seizures. All joshing aside, not only is "Bulworth" a pretty great movie but it also gave us a "Ghetto Superstar" video that featured Warren Beatty and ODB in the same four-minute stretch. Where you at, Beatty? America misses you.
11. Can't Hardly Wait' (1998) — Seth Green Wears Goggles
Goggles are generally intended to protect the eyes of mountain climbers, swimmers, skiers and mad scientists, so it was confusing when they began popping up on the foreheads of suburban dudes and boy band members circa 1998. Lots of '90s-tastic stuff happens in "Can't Hardly Wait," including but not limited to: unironic use of the word "dope," the music of Third Eye Blind and the presence of Jennifer Love Hewitt. But none of these things remains as thoroughly entrenched in the amber of 1998 like Seth Green sporting goggles on his forehead.
12. '10 Things I Hate About You' (1999) — Opening Sequence
Between the graffitied-up intro credits, the inclusion of Barenaked Ladies' "One Week," the name drops of Sketchers and Prada and the obligatory "Let me show you the ropes of our high school" scene, the opening few minutes of "10 Things I Hate About You" catapults you back into the '90s quicker than watching a Firby wearing a sideways visor play a Tamagotchi. "10 Things I Hate About You" also notably features the "semi-famous upcoming band playing at a club" trope, but Letters to Cleo, whose most memorable tune is probably their cover of "I Want You to Want Me," never quite made the '90s big time.
13. 'Fight Club' (1999) — You Are Not Your Khakis
The 1990s were an unprecedented time of financial prosperity in the United States. However, the rise of white collar suburbia and cubicle culture brought with it a whole class of people who, left with no true enemies or worthwhile struggles, were taught to define themselves by social and career ladder-climbing. Eventually, they became "very, very pissed off." Here, Tyler Durden gives a rousing speech encouraging Gen Xers to disassociate their identities from their bank accounts ... although the opening images of computers exploding pretty much says it all.
14. 'She's All That' (1999) — Spring Break Daytona Beach
Maybe it was the fact that it starred Freddy Prinze Jr., or that at one point all the students at prom do a perfectly choreographed dance, or that it was an ugly duckling tale starring the clearly gorgeous Rachel Leigh Cook, but at some point "She's All That" came to represent the blandest and cheesiest teen comedy the '90s had to offer. But at no point does the movie try to force more '90s-isms down our throats than when Prinze's popular gal pal reveals how she was wooed by a former Real World cast member at a party that looks curiously like MTV's Beach House. Matthew Lillard shows up as the Broseph stealing that good guy's lady, because that's pretty much what Matthew Lillard does.
15. 'Office Space' (1999) — Laser Printer Beat Down
Mike Judge's cult favorite "Office Space" doubled-down on the tough talk and anti-corporate rhetoric of "Fight Club" but with a (slightly) lighter tone that still communicated the same message: Being male, middle-class and white collar ain't so hot. We're not sure if malfunctioning printers become the symbol for the hellishness of office life before or after this iconic scene, but either way, watching Peter, Michael and Samir 86 still puts a smile on our face. '90s super-bonus for featuring the gangsta rap of the Geto Boys.