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1999: A Look Back, Pt. 2

11.24.2009

Here's Part Two of my ongoing look back at the year 1999. Yesterday's look back at two of the year's biggest blockbusters got a great response, and with a lot of people asking where the love was for THE SIXTH SENSE, I decided to use today's column to focus on some of the year's biggest sleeper hits.

SOUTH PARK: BIGGER, LONGER, & UNCUT

Initial Reaction: I remember being cautiously optimistic when SOUTH PARK: BIGGER, LONGER & UNCUT opened on the 4th of July weekend, opposite WILD, WILD, WEST- which turned out to be one of the year's biggest busts. While I loved SOUTH PARK on TV, I wasn`t sure how they would translate to the big screen. The trailers were fairly weak, and I wondered whether or not the boys should have been left to the small screen.

Then I saw the film...

Wow- I can honestly say that I`ve never laughed as hard at a movie as I did at SOUTH PARK: BIGGER, LONGER. Once `Uncle Fucka` kicked off, I almost pissed my pants in laughter. The film didn`t let up for another ninety minutes, and coming out of the theater, I was literally unable to talk for several hours after, due to laughing so loudly throughout the film.

Needless to say, I wasn`t the only one laughing...

In a pleasant surprise, SOUTH PARK: BIGGER, LONGER, & UNCUT grossed a healthy $52 Million domestically. While it wasn`t a blockbuster, it nonetheless was a very profitable movie for Paramount Pictures, and the film even got an Oscar nomination for "Blame Canada," which Robin Williams sang at the ceremony. Sadly, they lost to Phil Collins for `You`ll Be In My Heart`- his fiendishly catchy theme song to Disney`s TARZAN, which, amusingly, was exactly the type of film being satirized in SOUTH PARK.

Effect: Surprisingly, Matt Stone & Trey Parker never made another SOUTH PARK film, although the show is still running, and is as popular, and sharp as ever. They did return to the comedic musical a few years later with the underrated marionette/ Bruckheimer spoof TEAM AMERICA: WORLD POLICE.

Read JoBlo's Original Review!

AMERICAN PIE

Initial Reaction: The other big comedy of `99, AMERICAN PIE was a true word of mouth sleeper that summer, and the perfect, R-rated antidote to many of the awful, PG-13 teen movies (most of them starring Freddie Prinze Jr.) that we`d seen in the years leading up to this.

Teen audiences went crazy for this film, and it grossed over $100 million domestically, and become a runaway best-seller on DVD (also becoming one of the first films to get an `unrated` edition, which has become quite the cash-cow over the years, with pretty much every big film getting an `unrated`cut).

Effect: I remember the film being fairly shocking in `99, especially the scene where star Jason Biggs humps a pie. Funny enough, the film seems remarkably tame these days, thanks to years of gross-out comedies that were a result of this film`s runaway success. While the official sequels weren`t great (let's ignore the neverending series of DTV follow-ups), AMERICAN PIE is actually a fairly big-hearted, sincerely funny, teen rom-com, with a great young cast- although of the main actors, only Seann William Scott has broken out as a fairly big star.

Read JoBlo's Original Review!

THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT

Initial Reaction: Before there was PARANORMAL ACTIVITY, there was THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, another DIY, micro-budgeted, shot on DV horror flick. Yes, back in the summer of 1999 BLAIR WITCH was all the rage, with people literally being scared shitless by a film in which nothing really happens.

In all honesty, I must admit to never being a BLAIR WITCH fan. I thought it wasn`t scary, or particularly well-acted, and I never got what the fuss was about. Obviously, I`m in the minority here, as the film grossed an incredible $140 Million domestically, on a budget of only $60,000. It remains one of the most profitable films ever made.

Effect: I think it`s safe to say, PARANORMAL ACTIVITY, as well as films like THE SEPTEMBER TAPES, REC, & OPEN WATER wouldn`t exist without BLAIR WITCH. Nevertheless, the follow up, BOOK OF SHADOWS, was a huge flop, and the directors haven`t done much since although word has it that a BLIAR WITCH reboot is in the cards (sigh).

Read JoBlo's Original Review!

THE SIXTH SENSE


INITIAL REACTION: "I see dead people." And presto- the most overused catchphrase of the decade was born! Of all these films, nothing defines a sleeper hit like THE SIXTH SENSE. BLAIR WITCH had buzz out of Sundance, AMERICAN PIE was hyped through word of mouth screenings, and SOUTH PARK had a TV following. NO ONE saw THE SIXTH SENSE coming. All we knew off the trailers was that it was a thriller starring Bruce Willis and a creepy kid, and that it was directed by a guy with a really cool name.

I remember seeing this at a matinee on opening day not knowing at all what to expect. Suffice to say, I spend the next 100 minutes on the edge of my seat, before having my world rocked by one of the greatest WTF endings of all time. Everyone nowadays likes to say they say the big final reveal coming- but I had NO IDEA Willis was a ghost. People loved this film, and by the end of it's run, it grossed an astronomical $293 Million domestic.

Effect: Suddenly, the director M.Night Shyamalan was being touted as the next Alfred Hitchcock, and Haley Joel Osment not only copped an Oscar nom, but even got signed as the lead to Steven Spielberg's highly anticipated Stanley Kubrick riff, the ill-fated A.I.

Suffice to say, what comes up, must come down, and Osment has more or less slid into obscurity over the last few years. As for Shyamalan, he followed up THE SIXTH SENSE with the great UNBREAKABLE, and had another megahit with SIGNS. After that, he seemed to get a little too big for his britches, and follow up films just got worse and worse, with THE VILLAGE, LADY IN THE WATER, and THE HAPPENING all being universally reviled. This summer, he tries his hand at action-fantasy with THE LAST AIRBENDER. Time will tell if he recaptures his former glory.

Read JoBlo's Original Review!

 

Source: JoBlo.com

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9:13AM on 11/28/2009

Where is the SPOILER ALERT for this one?!

SPOILER ALERT!! Sure, the movie is 10 years old, but the great thing about this retrospective is that you are reminding people of some movies they may have missed, or some younger movie watchers who haven't yet discovered all the great movies of 1999.

Give them a chance to see the movie as intended.
SPOILER ALERT!! Sure, the movie is 10 years old, but the great thing about this retrospective is that you are reminding people of some movies they may have missed, or some younger movie watchers who haven't yet discovered all the great movies of 1999.

Give them a chance to see the movie as intended.
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5:29PM on 11/29/2009
Seriously? Newsflash - spoiler alert: "Rosebud" was the name of Charles Foster Kane's childhood sled. Gimme a break.
Seriously? Newsflash - spoiler alert: "Rosebud" was the name of Charles Foster Kane's childhood sled. Gimme a break.
4:06AM on 11/26/2009
i still remember some cocksucker told me the ending of Sixth Sense before i saw it. Motherfucker!

american pie rocked!
blair witch sucked!
i still remember some cocksucker told me the ending of Sixth Sense before i saw it. Motherfucker!

american pie rocked!
blair witch sucked!
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3:49PM on 11/25/2009
Man, reading these, I'm getting flashbacks of 1999, definitely a great year for quality flicks. I was completely surprised by the ending of "The Sixth Sense", as was everyone I knew. I think the people who nowadays claim that they predicted the ending beforehand are lying through their teeth. Plain and simple.
Man, reading these, I'm getting flashbacks of 1999, definitely a great year for quality flicks. I was completely surprised by the ending of "The Sixth Sense", as was everyone I knew. I think the people who nowadays claim that they predicted the ending beforehand are lying through their teeth. Plain and simple.
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9:50AM on 11/25/2009

It should be noted...

...that south park got their own back on Phil Collins in an episode, where he carries his oscar around, keeps polishing it and spounting 'I'm Phil Collins dammit! I won an oscar!'
...that south park got their own back on Phil Collins in an episode, where he carries his oscar around, keeps polishing it and spounting 'I'm Phil Collins dammit! I won an oscar!'
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3:39AM on 11/25/2009
Ya great article & i remember seeing the 6th Sense & blown away by the surprise ending, cuz u never see it coming. American Pie too this day is still one of my favorite high school movies cuz it was smart & funny & crude but felt real at the same time. South Park movie was freaking hilarious enuff said. However im sorry but Blair Witch is easily one of the most overrated movies of all time & now so is paranormal activity which is even more boring. That said yes 1999 was a great year for
Ya great article & i remember seeing the 6th Sense & blown away by the surprise ending, cuz u never see it coming. American Pie too this day is still one of my favorite high school movies cuz it was smart & funny & crude but felt real at the same time. South Park movie was freaking hilarious enuff said. However im sorry but Blair Witch is easily one of the most overrated movies of all time & now so is paranormal activity which is even more boring. That said yes 1999 was a great year for movies but Fight Club should be mentioned also even though it wasn't a box office hit it now is a cult classic with another surprise ending that equals 6th sense if not even more unexpected.
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12:51AM on 11/25/2009

The Sixth Sense

I saw 6th Sense a month before release when my theater hosted a special trade screening for the regional theater bookers. I was the projectionist who ran the film and I was blown away by what I saw. However, I'll never forget what I said to the other bookers that asked my opinion: "It was amazing but I don't think it'll be a big hit. It seemed too smart for a summer movie." Boy, was I wrong. The weekend it opened I took my Mom to see it. She turned to me, after Bruce Willis gets shot, and
I saw 6th Sense a month before release when my theater hosted a special trade screening for the regional theater bookers. I was the projectionist who ran the film and I was blown away by what I saw. However, I'll never forget what I said to the other bookers that asked my opinion: "It was amazing but I don't think it'll be a big hit. It seemed too smart for a summer movie." Boy, was I wrong. The weekend it opened I took my Mom to see it. She turned to me, after Bruce Willis gets shot, and asks, "is he a ghost?" Swear to God.
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9:56PM on 11/24/2009
I love this series of articles.. brings back great memories. 1999 was definitely an important year in cinema history. What an incredible closure to already incredible decade.
I love this series of articles.. brings back great memories. 1999 was definitely an important year in cinema history. What an incredible closure to already incredible decade.
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6:17PM on 11/24/2009
I was totally obsessed with Blair Witch, i ate up all the hype and couldn't get enough, it exceeded my expectations when i finally had the chance to see it at the Angelica in downtown Nyc, i couldn't wait for them to release it by me.

I remember the first time i went to see it, it was sold out, so i checked out another great movie from '99, Run Lola Run.

When Blair was at the height of it's popularity, it was like nothing i had ever witnessed, message boards and video sharing sites were
I was totally obsessed with Blair Witch, i ate up all the hype and couldn't get enough, it exceeded my expectations when i finally had the chance to see it at the Angelica in downtown Nyc, i couldn't wait for them to release it by me.

I remember the first time i went to see it, it was sold out, so i checked out another great movie from '99, Run Lola Run.

When Blair was at the height of it's popularity, it was like nothing i had ever witnessed, message boards and video sharing sites were still in their infancy somewhat, just hitting their stride, there was no shortage of people arguing over the merits of Blair, discussing the ending, the symbols found in the forest, what happened to Josh, all manner of Blair discussion dominated everywhere, i loved it. Then you had these video sharing sites( yep they existed before YT) that hosted numerous spoofs, most of them were quite hilarious, it was all part of the experience.


It's weird because if 6th Sense wasn't released when it was, Blair would have probably went on to make even more money than it did, Blair was still tearing it up when 6th came out and Blair still managed second place on 6th's opening weekend.

At first, i totaly dismissed Sense because i was a full fledged indie art house goon after seeing Blair. I gave it a chance on dvd and i thoroughly enjoyed it but my heart was always with the no budget, brilliant creepfest, i can relate to a film such as that more readily than a slick and packaged studio effort, it's way more primal and less manipulative.

That's not to say 6th was bad, it was an excellent film with terrific visuals and a genuinely creepy atmosphere but upon repeat viewings it becomes more tedious, once you know the twist, the film loses most of its power, not so with Blair, a film that still fascinates me with it's simplistic but highly effective nature to this day.


Paranormal Activity was just as good as Blair in a different way but it doesn't lend itself to as much post viewing analysis as Blair.


By the way, you should mention Porky's as the film that paved the way for American Pie, Ap is practically a remake of that film, that is the one that started the whole gross out, horny teenage adolescent genre. It spawned My Tutor, Losin' It, Private School, Last American Virgin among others. AP just revived a genre that was somewhat dead.


Mike Hunt anyone, where is Mike Hunt:)
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4:40PM on 11/24/2009
Unbreakable was great... Even Signs wasn't bad AT ALL, until the end
Unbreakable was great... Even Signs wasn't bad AT ALL, until the end
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4:29PM on 11/24/2009

Shyamalan a One-Trick Pony?

Have our fellow Schmoes not seen Unbreakable?!
Have our fellow Schmoes not seen Unbreakable?!
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1:26PM on 11/24/2009
Wow.. Shyamalan was really a one trick pony wasn't he? The Happening is one of the worst movies ever made and is panned whenever people talk about it. What the fuck happened to him?
Wow.. Shyamalan was really a one trick pony wasn't he? The Happening is one of the worst movies ever made and is panned whenever people talk about it. What the fuck happened to him?
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11:40AM on 11/24/2009

*NOTE*

Anyone who says they saw the ending coming watching The Sixth Sense is full of shit!
Anyone who says they saw the ending coming watching The Sixth Sense is full of shit!
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11:47AM on 11/24/2009
No I'm not. The trailers clearly gave it away. The tag line "I see dead people", then Bruce's character gets shot at the beginning? It's called "telegraphing the obvious". Good movie in spite of the "shocking twist you'll (never) see coming".
No I'm not. The trailers clearly gave it away. The tag line "I see dead people", then Bruce's character gets shot at the beginning? It's called "telegraphing the obvious". Good movie in spite of the "shocking twist you'll (never) see coming".
4:58PM on 11/24/2009
I don't necessarily think the trailer gave it away, but I figured Willis was a ghost, though it still was a shock at the end. I remember being reminded of that civil war short story when I first saw it, but I can't remember the title. "Incident at..."? Something along those lines.
I don't necessarily think the trailer gave it away, but I figured Willis was a ghost, though it still was a shock at the end. I remember being reminded of that civil war short story when I first saw it, but I can't remember the title. "Incident at..."? Something along those lines.
5:58PM on 11/24/2009
Fury, you're thinking of AN INCIDENT AT OWL CREEK BRIDGE. Kudos on the reference, it's a great short story.
Fury, you're thinking of AN INCIDENT AT OWL CREEK BRIDGE. Kudos on the reference, it's a great short story.
3:28AM on 11/25/2009
Fury and Cig. Burn..."An Incident at Owl Creek Bridge" aka "An Occurence at Owl Creek Bridge" was made into a short film for The Twilight Zone in 1964. It's up on youtube in three parts under "Occurence..." Great short story and short film adaption.
Fury and Cig. Burn..."An Incident at Owl Creek Bridge" aka "An Occurence at Owl Creek Bridge" was made into a short film for The Twilight Zone in 1964. It's up on youtube in three parts under "Occurence..." Great short story and short film adaption.
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