May is a great month. It’s the gateway to summer when the cool spring air gives way to warmer days. May 1997 is also a great month for movies. No matter what genre you like there is a movie for you.
As always some are better than others but the month is a perfect start to the summer movie season. There are good (and not so good) comedies, lots of action, thrillers and a great Sci-Fi adventure.
Let’s look at the movies released in April 1997.
Movies from May 1997
Let’s kick this month off with a comedy that misses the mark from start to finish. Danny Glover and Joe Pesci star in their first and only movie together outside the Lethal Weapon universe. They are fishing buddies who win a fishing trip to Florida.
It’s a a dumb comedy. Not that there’s anything wrong with dumb comedies, this one just doesn’t work. Glover and Pesci work well together in Lethal Weapon but this movie is missing the comedic timing that works in Lethal Weapon.
If they would have cast Mel Gibson as the conman it might have made this movie a bit better. Maybe they offered him the role and he turned it down after reading the script. Gibson was in three other movies in 1997, including one this month, maybe that was enough for him.
Gone Fishin’ was a box office bomb. It made $19 million on a $53 million dollar budget.
You can watch Gone Fishin’ on Max GO
I’m a big fan of Kurt Russell, he’s been in some great movies over the years. Breakdown is no exception. Breakdown starring Kurt Russell, J.T. Walsh and Kathleen Quinlan is a thriller that will have you second guessing people you meet on road trips.
During a cross country trip Jeff (Russell) and Amy’s (Quinlin) Jeep breaks down in the middle of the southwestern desert. A friendly truck driver, Warren (Walsh) stops and asks if they need help. He offers to give Amy a ride into the nearest town to call a tow truck. She accepts and Jeff stays with the Jeep.
While Jeff is waiting he sees the problem is a loose battery connection. He fixes the Jeep and drives to the town to pick up his wife. Only no one has seen her. He runs into Warren who pretends he’s never seen Jeff or Amy and denies giving her a ride.
At this point Jeff is a little freaked out. He talks to the sheriff, who is no help and then returns to the diner. This is when the plot starts to unfold. Jeff meets someone who saw his wife leave with several men earlier.
The plot twists and turns to perfection as Jeff tries to uncover the mystery of his missing wife. It’s a brilliant script that has you trying to solve the mystery along with Jeff. It’s also a good lesson to never let your wife go with a strange truck driver in the middle of the desert!
This was J.T. Walsh’s last movie in a starring role. He was in over 75 movies including Good Morning, Vietnam, Executive Decision, Backdraft, Tequila Sunrise and A Few Good Men. He had a few small roles after Breakdown. Walsh died of a heart attack at the age of 54 in 1998.
Breakdown was released on 02 May and was a hit at the box office. Unfortunately, it was quickly overshadowed by the other big blockbuster movies that were released later in the month.
If you haven’t seen Breakdown I highly recommend watching it.
You can watch Breakdown on HBO Max.
Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery
Austin Powers opened the same weekend as Breakdown. If you look at the box office numbers you’d think Austin Powers was the #1 movie that weekend. It wasn’t. Breakdown was the #1 movie. Austin Powers was a box office hit and it never reached the #1 spot.
Mike Myers plays the titular character, Austin Powers. Danger is his middle name. Austin Powers is a 1960s spy who was frozen in case his nemesis, Dr. Evil ever reappears. Thirty years later Dr. Evil is back and Austin Powers is thawed out.
The movie is a parody of the James Bond films and does it to superb perfection. Dr. Evil is based on Ernst Blofeld the supervillain from multiple James Bond movies. They even include a cat for Dr. Evil, Mr. Bigglesworth, a creepy looking hairless creature.
All the characters in Austin Powers are caricatures of James Bond characters. Random Task is a spoof of Oddjob from Goldfinger. Oddjob threw his hat as a weapon, Random Task throws a shoe. (“Who throws a shoe? Honestly”).
Allota Fagina (Pussy Galore, Octopussy), Basil is based on M. Number 2 is based on Emilio Largo, a thug for Blofeld who goes by the code name Number 1.
As a long time James Bond fan I loved this movie. It made fun of all the Bond movies but in a respectful manner. Without James Bond there would be no Austin Powers. If you want to hear my thoughts on James Bond check out the James Bond episode of the TRN podcast.
I saw this movie twice in the theater, bought the VHS, bought the DVD and then the Blu-Ray. I even own a digital copy. I know, I’m a little weird, I’m reminded of that fact daily.
While I go find some sharks with frickin’ laser beams attached to their heads you should go watch Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. Yeah, Baby!
The Fifth Element
The Fifth Element is a Science Fiction movie from French filmmaker Luc Besson. The first movie I saw from Besson was 1990’s La Femme Nikita. Then I saw 1994’s Leon: The Professional. Both excellent movies.
When I heard Besson was making a Sci-Fi movie starring Bruce Willis I was intrigued. I, along with the rest of the nation, went to see The Fifth Element opening weekend. No one was disappointed.
The plot revolves around an ancient alien race, the Moonshawans and a great evil which appears every 5,000 years on earth. In the year 2263 the great evil appears and the Moonshawans hold the weapon to defeat it.
The weapon is powered by the four classic elements; earth, water, fire and air and a fifth element.
The Moonshawans spacecraft is hijacked and destroyed by mercenaries working for Zorg, played by Gary Oldman. From the wreckage the Earthlings are able to recreate a woman named Leeloo, the Fifth Element. Leeloo is played by the lovely Milla Jovovich in here breakout role.
Leeloo escapes the laboratory and jumps (falls) into the flying taxi cab of Korben Dallas (Bruce Willis). Dallas is a former Major in the Special Forces and is asked to help save the world.
The Fifth Element was a huge hit. It debut at #1 and held the spot for two week before it was overtaken by prehistoric creatures. It would earn over over $263 million dollars, placing it at #9 for the highest grossing movies of 1997.
The Fifth Element is a fantastic Sci-Fi movie by a master filmmaker. Luc Besson continues to make great movies. Along with the movies listed above his credits include the Taken franchise, The Transporter franchise, Kiss of the Dragon, District 13, Ong Bak and dozens more.
You can watch The Fifth Element on Amazon Prime.
The Lost World: Jurassic Park
The Lost World is the sequel to 1993’s blockbuster Jurassic Park. The original film, The original film, directed by Steven Spielberg and based on the Michael Crichton novel of the same name has earned over $1 billion!
The Lost World is also based on a Michael Crichton novel. It picks up a few years after the events in Jurassic Park.
A yacht lands on Isla Sorna, an island near the orignal Jurassic Park Island. A little girl wonders off and is chased by dinosaurs. Jeff Goldblum returns as Dr. Malcolm and discovers Isla Sorna was the first island to hold dinosaurs but was abandoned during a hurricane and the dinosaurs were left to roam free.
Malcolm joins a team traveling to the island to document the dinosaurs in their natural habitat. He soon discovers InGen wants to take the captured dinosaurs back to the States as an attraction in a theme park.
A T-Rex is loose on the island and a herd (pack? flock? troop?) of velociraptors are terrorizing everyone. Can Malcolm stop InGen from taking the dinosaurs off the island and save everyone?
I enjoyed The Lost World. But it wasn’t as groundbreaking as the first movie. The special effects were better but the characters weren’t. Even the dinosaurs weren’t as exciting. In the original movie they had a personality of their own.
The Lost World seemed like a rehash of the first movie. That didn’t stop movie goers though. It earned over $73 million it’s opening weekend It would go on to earn over $618 million dollars worldwide. Making it the #2 highest grossing movie of 1997.
The Lost World was nominated for the Best Visual Effects Academy Award. It lost to Titanic.
You can watch The Lost World: Jurassic Park on HBO Max.
Other movies released in May 1997
There were a lot of movies released in May 1997. I only saw a handful of them. Below are the other movies released. Mel Gibson had a small role in Father’s Day, which was released around Mother’s Day.
I’ve heard good things about Truth or Consequences, N.M. I may have to watch it sometime this year. If you watched any of the movies below let me know in the comments
That ends our look at May 1997. A month filled with iconic movies that are still loved today. It was a good mix of movie genres too, action, Sci-fi and comedies.
Next month is an action packed extravaganza you don’t want to miss!
What are your favorites from May 1997?
Next week we’ll look at June 1982.