Summer Movies 1997 Revisited: Week 2 (May 9, 1997)

Summer Movies 1997 Revisited: Week 2 (May 9, 1997)

This weekend sees the wide or semi-wide release of 4 movies: Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, the Amy Schumer-Goldie Hawn comedy Snatched, Doug Liman’s The Wall (which apparently is not as “Great” as the Matt Damon flick from earlier this year), and Lowriders. Let’s get in our time machine and go back to this weekend in 1997 though.

May 9, 1997

Big News Story: Newt Gingrich and other members of Congress sent letters to the heads of the network entertainment divisions demanding more “family” programming in family hour, the first hour of primetime.



Stars: Bruce Willis, Milla Jovovich, Gary Oldman, Chris Tucker

Director: Luc Besson

IMDB Synopsis: In the colorful future, a cab driver unwittingly becomes the central figure in the search for a legendary cosmic weapon to keep Evil and Mr Zorg at bay.

Budget: $90M

Domestic Box Office: $63.8M

Worldwide Box Office: $263.9M

Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 72%

IMDB User Rating: 7.7/10

Critics Consensus: Visually inventive and gleefully over the top, Luc Besson’s The Fifth Element is a fantastic piece of pop sci-fi that never takes itself too seriously.

What I Said Then: This is one goofy movie. It’s trying to be funny but it’s not very skilled at comedy. Wait. What is Luke Perry doing here? And, who is this Chris Tucker dude and what kind of character is Ruby Rhod? Why does Gary Oldman have a southern accent? Are we supposed to take this movie seriously? SO MANY QUESTIONS! Still, it looks really cool – that flying car chase sequence is a stunner – and Milla Jovovich’s costumers are rad. I think I kinda dig it.

What I Say Now: There’s a lot of imagination on display here, and, love it or hate it, Luc Besson certainly commits to a singular vision. You just have to be on the right wavelength, and you’ll enjoy it. Besson’s got Valerian coming out this summer, which looks highly reminiscent of The Fifth Element. Hopefully, it can reach some of the same dazzling heights. This is one of the more memorable sci-fi offerings of the last 20 years and deserves its cult status. Chris Tucker would establish himself in the Rush Hour films a year later. The blue alien singing opera remains a killer scene. Look for it to return to theaters for a 20th anniversary screening on 5/14 and 5/17.



Stars: Robin Williams, Billy Crystal, Julia Louis-Dreyfus

Director: Ivan Reitman

IMDB Synopsis: A woman cons two old boyfriends into searching for her runaway son by convincing both that they are the boy’s father.

Budget: $85M

Domestic Box Office: $28.6M

Worldwide Box Office: $35.6M

Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 25%

IMDB User Rating: 5.1/10

Critics Consensus: Fathers’ Day has a few laugh-out-loud sequences, but it’s nothing to celebrate.

What I Said Then: Oof. What a dog. Completely laugh-free, which is almost unforgivable given the level of talent involved. I had been really looking forward to it too. The pairing of Williams and Crystal was a no-brainer, and they had a fun cameo on Friends right before the movie came out. A total disappointment.

What I Say Now: I haven’t revisited the movie since it hit video in 1997, but I remember it did not improve on a second viewing so there was no reason to do so. Why the hell did this cost $85 million to make – did Williams and Crystal each pocket $40 million? Shouldn’t it be Father’s (not Fathers’) Day instead? Reitman struggled in the ’90s and ’00s to replicate his success with comedies in the ’80s. His son, Jason Reitman, would restore dignity to the family name by directing well-received flicks like Juno and Up in the Air. Williams and Crystal are great together. Just not here. What a waste of Julia Louis-Dreyfus too. I forgot she was even in this movie!


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