It’s an action packed month! There’s also some good comedies and thrillers and more action. High school reunions, epic team-ups, an international spy, giant snakes and heads in a duffel bag.
I saw most of these movies in theater. Some I discovered while browsing the shelves of a local Blockbuster video store.
Overall it’s a good month for movies and it has something for everyone. Comedy, Action, Thriller, Romantic Comedy, whatever genre you like there is a movie this month. No horror movies, but it’s April, there shouldn’t be an horror movies.
Let’s look at the movies released in April 1997.
Movies from April 1997
Kevin Smith is loved by the pop culture crowd. I’ve only seen two of his movies. Clerks and Chasing Amy. I’ve enjoyed both movies.
Chasing Amy stars Ben Affleck as Holden and Joey Lauren Adams as Alyssa. Holden falls in love with Alyssa who, unbeknownst to him, is a lesbian. It’s an unconventional romantic comedy that works.
Smith has a knack for writing great dialog in his movies and this one doesn’t disappoint.
Roger Ebert gave Chasing Amy three and a half stars saying “”While the surface of his film sparkles with sharp, ironic dialogue, deeper issues are forming … Smith knows that at some level there’s nothing funny about being in love: It’s a dead serious business, in which your entire being is at risk.”
If you haven’t seen it, you should give Chasing Amy a chance. It’s a good movie.
You can watch Chasing Amy on Max GO.
Dennis Rodman is a NBA Hall of Fame basketball player and five-time NBA champion with two different teams. The 1989 and 1990 Detroit Pistons and the Chicago Bulls three-peat run from 1996-1998. While he was in the middle of the three-peat run he joined World Championship Wrestling and had his first match in July 1997’s Bash at the Beach, partnered with Hulk Hogan.
If that wasn’t enough in 1997, Rodman also starred in Double Team with Jean-Claude Van Damme (JCVD). Rodman lost his match at Bash at the Beach and the team up with Van Damme wasn’t much better.
When this movie hit the theater I was traveling to Virginia and Washington, D.C. for work. I extended my trip to visit my cousin who was in Virginia after getting out of the Army.
We went to a local Megaplex and saw Double Team during my visit. The movie wasn’t the highlight of the trip.
Now, I’m a big JCVD fan but I wouldn’t rank this movie in his Top 20, or even Top 30 movies.
JCVD is a superstar, Mickey Rourke who plays the villain is a superstar and Rodman is a (basketball) superstar.
Director Tsui Hark is incredible. His first movie The Butterfly Murders is phenomenal and his Once Upon A Time in China saga is a masterpiece. Twin Dragons, The Swordsman, The Master, Iron Monkey, I could go on and on. It’s safe to say, Hark is an Action Film master.
Even with all the talent involved the movie was a dud.
JCVD is plays a counter-terrorist agent trying to capture a international terrorist played by Rourke. Rodman is a flamboyant arms dealer. The only thing made up about Rodman’s character is the arms dealer part…and that might even be true.
Overall the movie falls flat. Nothing about it stands out and it’s entirely forgettable. There are two things makes it noteworthy. It’s the film debut of Dennis Rodman and it’s the Hollywood debut of Tsui Hark.
Rodman went on to star in one more movie, Simon Sez, which was also a failure.
JCVD and Hark teamed up again in 1998 for Knock Off. It wasn’t a success either. Hark blamed the movie studios for his lack of control on the movies. He returned to China to make movies he had more control over.
On a side note, Jackie Chan has the same complaint about making movies in Hollywood, lack of control. He would much rather make a movie in China.
You can watch Double Team on Netflix.
The Saint had so much potential but didn’t live up to it. It could have been the next great spy thriller franchise but it wasn’t meant to be.
The Saint, real name Simon Templar is an international spy that predates James Bond by over 30 years. The original author, Leslie Charteris, wrote 12 novels and over 100 novellas about The Saint. There is plenty of material to work with.
The Saint is a Robin Hood type hero, helping the underdog every chance he gets.
Roger Moore played The Saint in the highly popular British TV series from 1962 to 1969. It helped him get the James Bond role a few years later.
1997’s The Saint stars Val Kilmer as Simon Templar and Elisabeth Shue as Dr. Emma Russell. Templar, The Saint is trying to stop a Russian oil oligarch from obtaining the formula for cold-fusion. With the formula the oligarch would be able to create cheap energy while he creates an oil and energy shortage in Russia to overthrow the President.
Dr. Emma Russel is the scientist who discovered the formula and The Saint is determined to protect her and the formula and stop the oligarch.
It’s a good movie. Not the same tone and style as Bond movies but good in its own right. It was a mild success in the US making over $60 million at the box office. Internationally it made over $110 million.
It wasn’t enough to make a sequel or a franchise. There have been rumors swirling around for years of a reboot but nothing so far.
The Saint is a good movie to add to your watch list.
You can watch The Saint on Paramout+
Sometimes you want to go to a movie to escape real life and watch people kill giant snakes. Anaconda starring Jennifer Lopez in her third of four movies this year, Eric Stoltz, Ice Cube and Jon Voight fits the bill.
I was at the theater the weekend this came out. What’s not to love, giant snakes, Kari Wuhrer, J-Lo…
A documentary film crew (Lopez, Stoltz and Ice Cube) are in the Amazon filming a looking for a long lost tribe. The crew finds Voight, who is a hunting a lengendary green anaconda. Voight takes over their boat and forces them to help him capture the snake.
Most critics hated this moive. Surprisingly Roger Ebert gave it three and a half stars out of four saying it was a “…slick, scary, funny Creature Feature, beautifully photographed and splendidly acted in high adventure style.”
For once I agree with Ebert, I love Anaconda. I’m not the only one, it was the #1 movie for two weeks and was a box office smash earning over $135 million. It also spawned four sequels.
You can watch Anaconda on Netflix.
Grosse Pointe Blank
I went to my ten-year high school reunion. I haven’t been back. I might go to the 50th if I’m still around. I discovered most people were the same ten years out of high school. Some had changed, most didn’t. I probably didn’t either.
I can say my reunion wasn’t as exciting as the one in this movie, or an upcoming movie on the list. It was basic, a fancy supper and some mingling. They wasn’t even a DJ or dancing…
Grosse Pointe Blank starring John Cusack as Martin Blank is about a man going home for his ten-year high school reunion. He is anxious about seeing his old friends, mainly because after high school he joined the Army and then the CIA as an assassin.
He reunites with his high school sweetheart and decides the life of an assassin is no longer what he wants. He tries to retire but other assassins are on his tail.
Grosse Pointe Blank is a entertaining movie and features one of the best soundtracks this month. With songs like “Blister in the Sun”, “I Can See Clearly Now”, “Under Pressure” and “Live and Let Die” the soundtrack hit #31 on the Billboard Top 200.
8 Heads in a Duffel Bag
Joe Pesci’s made a good living playing a wiseguy. Whether it’s a cold hearted killer like Tommy DeVito in Goodfellas or an obnoxious rat like Leo Getz in Lethal Weapon.
In 8 Heads in a Duffel Bag Pesci plays another wiseguy, Tommy Spinelli. The premise is simple, Spinelli needs to take 8 severed heads to a crime boss across the country as proof of death. Spinelli books a flight to see the crime boss and his bag with the severed heads is switched with one of the passengers.
This movie could go two ways, a hard core action thriller or a dark comedy. It took the comedy route. I’d like to say this movie is bad, but I can’t. I enjoyed it. I didn’t see it in the theater, I don’t think anyone did.
Spinelli spends the movie trying to get the heads back and deliver them to the crime boss. No one seems grossed out by the severed heads either. At one point someone is hold a head, shaking it and talking to it.
Then there’s the part when the 8 heads, lined up on a dresser start singing Mr. Hitman to the to tune of Mr. Sandman. Then headless bodies break through the walls and attack Spinelli. Was it all a dream? Maybe.
8 Heads in a Duffel Bag is a crazy dark comedy that is worth watch. Give it a try.
You can watch 8 Heads in a Duffel Bag on Tubi TV.
This is a goofy comedy based on goofy sitcom from the 1960’s. I used to watch reruns of the 60s sitcom with my dad and enjoyed the show. The movie is another matter, it’s a mess.
Mchale’s Navy stars Tom Arnold, David Alan Grier, Debra Messing, Tim Curry and Ernest Borgnine. Borgnine was the lead character in the sitcom playing Lt. Commander McHale, in the movie he is Rear Admiral McHale, Sr. Tom Arnold plays Lt. Commander McHale, Jr.
I don’t recall much of this movie. McHale and his crew try to stop a terrorist (Curry) from getting nukes, or weapons, or something. They aren’t the cream of the crop but somehow manage to bumble their way to success.
They should have torpedoed this movie. It was a box office flop making $4.5 million on a budget of $42 million. Critics and moviegoers agreed it was bad.
If you haven’t seen Mchale’s Navy don’t bother. The sitcom from the 60s is worth watching though.
You can watch McHale’s Navy on Starz.
Murder at 1600
Someone is murdered in the White House and Wesley Snipes is going to find the killer. Murder at 1600 is your average, middle of the road action thriller. Nothing to special about it.
With a murder in the White House you can imagine there is all kinds of political intrigue and backstabbing. The movie is full of twists and turns in the plot, some are obvious, some aren’t. But it never fully pulls you in to care about the outcome.
It’s not the best Wesley Snipes movie either, he’s been in better movies before and the following year (1998) will star in Blade, a fantastic movie.
Murder at 1600 also stars Diane Lane, Dennis MIller, Alan Alda and Ronny Cox as the President of the United States.
I wouldn’t call it a bad movie it’s just OK, like vanilla ice cream, not the best but at least it’s still ice cream.
You can watch Murder at 1600 on Tubi TV.
Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion
Another high school reunion movie. This one starring Academy Award winner Mira Sorvino (Romy) and Lisa Kudrow (Michele) of Friends fame. This is the second movie in 1997 starring a Friends cast member. It won’t be the last. Five of the six Friends cast members star in a movie in 1997. The sixth, Matt LeBlanc will star in a movie in early 1998.
I rented this movie because why not. It’s a surprisingly good movie. Lisa Kudrow essentially plays her Friends character, Phoebe on the big screen and it works. It’s a fun comedy about two girls who don’t want to appear average at their ten-year high school reunion. They decide to makeup fake careers to impress their classmates.
Their lie is quickly exposed and they decide to be themselves. When the high school nerd Sandy arrives, now handsome and a billionaire, he confesses to Michele he still loves her and asks her to dance. She agrees as long as Romy can dance with them.
They have a strangely appealing interpretive dance to Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time.” After the dance the three of them leave in Sandy’s helicopter.
Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion is a funny, goofy comedy about friendship and loyalty.
It has the other best soundtrack for movies this month with songs like “Venus”, Dance Hall Days”, “Karma Chameleon” and “I Want Candy.” It is a 2-CD set with over twenty songs!
Strangely they didn’t secure the rights to “Time After Time” for the soundtrack only for the movie. It wasn’t the only song left off the soundtrack due to copyright issues, there were over a dozen songs in the movie that don’t appear on the soundtrack, including “Y.M.C.A”, “Footloose” and “Addicted to Love.”
If they included all those songs it would be the best soundtrack of the month, maybe the year.
The movie debuted in the #2 spot the weekend it opened, right behind the next movie on our list…
You can watch Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion on Tubi TV.
This is the second volcano movie released in 1997. The first being Dante’s Peak.
Ever notice how Hollywood releases dueling movies close together? Tombstone and Wyatt Earp released six months apart. In 1998 Armageddon and Deep Impact release two months apart.
Volcano stars Tommy Lee Jones as Mike Roark, the Emergency Director for Los Angeles and Anne Heche as Amy Barnes, the state geologist.
A previously undiscovered volcano stars spewing lava in L.A. and Roark teams up with Barnes to learn about volcanoes and save the city.
This is one of those action movies where you check all logic at the door, grab some popcorn and enjoy the show. That’s exactly what I did!
This is over-the-top, high octane action. Lava bombs flying everywhere, cars and buildings melting from the lava and one man is there to stop it.
There are so many flaws in logic and physics it’s not worth getting into, remember you have to check all that at the door.
What I love about these kind of disaster movies is they give life to a purely inanimate object. It’s great.
It was a mild success, although critics were mixed. Roger Ebert compared it to Dante’s Peak saying “Dante’s Peak had better special effects, a more entertaining story, and a real mountain.”
If you want to sit back and veg out for a couple hours while L.A. is devoured by lava, this move is for you.
It’s a mindless popcorn movie. And that’s not a bad thing.
Other movies released in April 1997
There were a lot of movies released in April 1997. I didn’t see them all. Here are the ones I missed. If you’ve seen any that are good let me know in the comments.
That concludes our look at the movies of April 1997. I enjoyed the majority of the movies I saw. Some didn’t live up to expectations (Double Team) while others surpassed them (Romy and Michele).
I’m still hoping some one remakes The Saint, it is a good property and could make a good franchise in the right hands.
Next month kicks off the summer blockbuster with great action, Sci-Fi and comedies. Yeah Baby!
What are your favorites from April 1997?
Next week we’ll look at May 1982.