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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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