It was a time that now seems to be a whole geological era behind our own, where post-9/11 fear of extremism was not yet rampant, and society was very different from today.
No social networks, no Internet or cell phones (except for a very few) for a less technological world where if we were on the street and wanted to call a friend, then we needed a phone booth, as well as still being able to look each other in the eye and call by name instead of only knowing ourselves by nicknames.
I know I am a nostalgic old man with arthritis in my fingers and a white beard, but it is always good to point out even what progress makes us lose and not just gain.
Anyway, let’s banish the sadness! Today, we have to laugh, right? So let’s cut to the chase by browsing through the catalog of some of the most famous comedies of the 90s, which may have been movies that were more ignorant and stupid than today, but undoubtedly also more naive and genuine in their entertainment purpose.
Table of contents
My Cousin Vinny (1992)
Our first stop is the small town of Beechum, Alabama, where friends Billy and Stanley are passing through in their Buick on their way home to New York.
To refresh themselves, the two boys pause at a small store to buy a Coke, but they don’t even make it out of town before the sheriff arrests and throws them in jail.
At first, they think they were detained for not paying for the soda, but actually, the store owner was killed by two boys looking like them and driving a similar car.
Terrified of a possible electric chair sentence, Billy calls for reinforcements, and so from distant New York comes his colorful cousin Vincenzo, along with his girlfriend, Mona Lisa.
Vincenzo is a man full of confidence and energy, yet he has yet to really practice as a lawyer, so he constantly messes up with the judge and fellow prosecutor.
Even more frightened at the idea of losing, Billy and Stanley think of recusing him as defense counsel, but when it comes to the interrogations, Vincenzo unleashes all his talent and makes anyone confess the truth with his stubborn gab.
Not surprisingly, the bickering between the actress and unstoppable Joe Pesci is undoubtedly the best part; however, let’s also not forget former Karate Kid Ralph Macchio and his partner Mitchell Whitfield as hilarious victims of this unintentional conspiracy.
Undoubtedly, this remains one of the funniest and wackiest legal movies ever to hit theaters, and if any of you have any objections, I’ll inform you right now that they are all dismissed without appeal.
Sister Act (1992)
The next movie certainly needs no recommendation, but I wanted to talk about it anyway, as I have always liked Whoopi Goldberg, and in the 90s, she was certainly one of the undisputed queens of comedy.
In this story, the charming actress plays Deloris, the favorite singer/lover of underworld boss Vince LaRocca, who must run for her life when she sees her chief commit a cold-blooded murder.
For the police, she is then a valuable witness in dismantling one of Nevada’s most prominent Mafia families, so while awaiting trial, they stuff Deloris into a cassock and send her to a California convent under a fake name.
Despite her fear of the gang, she cannot live with the sisters’ boring routine until she joins the choir that sings during Mass every Sunday.
Exploiting her showgirl talents, Deloris recharges the sisters’ tired litanies with new life, bringing the faithful back to church and winning a personal performance in front of the Pope.
However, among the cops, someone tips off Vince’s men, who once again set out on the trail of the troublesome witness to shut her up for good.
Let’s face it: the plot certainly doesn’t excite, yet Emile Ardolino knows how to exploit cinematic excitement quite well; it’s no coincidence he is the same director of the celebrated love-and-dance cult hit Dirty Dancing.
At the helm of the cast is the great Whoopi, an irrepressible force of nature who also demonstrates good singing talent and entertaining disputes with the other sisters, especially the explosive Kathy Najimy and the more shy but beautifully voiced Wendy Makkena.
In short, what more can you look for in this simple comedy than lots of laughs, misunderstandings, and the usual cascade of good family sentiments for every occasion?
Wayne’s World (1992)
Here we stay with one of my generation’s cult hits during the 90s, though perhaps less famous than the previous movie since we talk about a comedy that is definitely crazier, offbeat, and not always suitable for a family night out.
It revolves around two childhood friends, Wayne and Garth, who run their little TV channel full of irreverent jibes and no-holds-barred pranks more for fun than profit.
When their fame spreads beyond their small audience, they quickly enter the crosshairs of several TV stations looking to grab them before their competition.
Among them is the devious producer Benjamin, who succeeds in obtaining them exclusively on his channel but immediately dislikes the attitude of the wacky Garth and wants to take him out unceremoniously.
While the friends are torn apart by network logic, Garth returns to his neighborhood while Wayne becomes increasingly successful and hooks up with the beautiful singer and musician Cassandra; but, of course, it won’t be long before the show business becomes too overwhelming for him as well.
Original director Penelope Spheeris shapes the idea behind the TV appearances of Mike Myers and Dana Carvey, beloved hosts of the famous Saturday Night Live, which has always been a source of new comic talent later landing in the cinema world.
The Myers and Carvey pair works like a ticking time bomb, although Myers will have much more success than his colleague with the celebrated Austin Powers and even a small role in Quentin Tarantino‘s Inglourious Basterds.
A story of endless friendship enhanced by the beautiful Tia Carrere, as well as a barrage of cameos and quotes with plenty of partying mayhem for these two eternal kids, never-forgotten and worthy representatives of an entire generation of stoners.
Groundhog Day (1993)
Another movie, another unforgettable comedy from the 90s that created a film genre of its own, namely, that where the protagonist lives the same day over and over without end, now with many funny action or sci-fi derivations such as Boss Level or Edge of Tomorrow.
In this case, time trap snaps for the great comedian Bill Murray, here as TV host Phil Connors, always lovable and smiling in front of the cameras for his audience, just as he is utterly selfish and grumpy in his private life.
Indeed, just arrived in a small Pennsylvania town to celebrate the ritual Groundhog Day, an idolized local animal that predicts the weather for the coming year, Phil wakes up the next morning only to relive the same day again and again, in an endless cycle from which not even suicide can free him.
Desperate and alone in this magical loop of laughter and madness, Phil will finally learn to know and respect other people more deeply, instead of merely exploiting them, as well as find love with his delightful colleague Rita, who previously had always seemed immune to his charms.
This role consecrates Murray, even by no means lesser in the other movies, but here, the script enhances all his talent and comic timing to the fullest.
An absolutely perfect character in his silly misanthropy, who, thanks to the love of the wonderful Andie MacDowell, goes from hating the whole world to being friends with everyone in a turn of events that is both sweetly believable and funny.
If you have never seen this movie, get off the Moon and return to Earth immediately!
With today’s latest comedy, we get swept up in three different honeymoons by Carlo Verdone, actor and director of some of the best Italian movies released in the mid-90s.
Verdone ironically sketches the common idiocy of the Italian wildlife through three extraordinarily different couples: Dr. Borroni and his submissive new wife Fosca, the naive proletarians Giovannino and Valeriana, and finally, the uninhibited rough couple Ivano and Jessica.
Each of them celebrates the marriage in their own way, from the oppressive and geometric fussiness of the doctor who claims to control his wife’s every move and breath to the turbulent sex in which Ivano engages his pretty wife, increasingly exaggerated and unashamedly wild just to, perhaps, hide the lack of a deeper feeling beyond physical attraction.
Valeriana and her husband put up with the intemperance of colleagues, supposed friends, and pain-in-the-ass relatives, only to realize that in the end, it is the “normal” couple with the easygoing Giovannino who will win, bearing the stress of an intrusive family.
Because of his stoic resistance as an ordinary man, he and his wife still have that will to live that other couples have stifled with their cumbersome personalities, soon slipping into boredom and the great nothingness of loneliness.
Verdone directs and plays each of these husbands with great verve and versatility, assisted by a trio of wonderful wives/actresses who are one better than the other.
From the aggressive and sexy Claudia Gerini to the more “ordinary” but equally delightful Cinzia Mascoli, concluding with the incredible Veronica Pivetti, who is unquestionably the best of the bunch, even better than Verdone, in portraying this submissive and resigned character in a dead-end marriage from the moment of the fateful “yes” at the altar.