Movies where 'you had to be there'

Films that hold up well, IMO:
Conan the Barbarian: excellent score and production values for the time, great costuming, and Arnold being perhaps the perfect actor for the lead role. Not to mention James Earl Jones as Thulsa Doom.

Jurassic Park: despite some flubs, the score, the sets, the pacing, the acting, and yes, the dinosaurs are still holding up for me. That “holy shit!” moment when the T.rex first comes into full view still looks a LOT better than nearly every CG dinosaur scene that’s come after. (and yeah, when I saw it in theaters opening day, and the T.rex burst through the fence, there was dead silence in the theater for an instant, then some guy about three rows ahead of me actually muttered, “holy shit!”)

The List could go on, but the OP was really asking about what films don’t stand up today, right? So here’s my list:

Nearly every Friday the 13th movie. They so quickly became parodies of themselves it’s sad.

Dreamscape. The plot is paper-thin, the villain is a caricature, and the claymation snake monster is laughably bad.

The Dark Crystal. Love the puppets and all, but the story bores me to death now.

Among TV shows, the ones I used to love but can’t enjoy now include:
Night Court
Hart to Hart
Facts of Life
Pretty much anything with Tony Danza or Scott Baio, and somehow I merged my disdain for them in my mind.
The Cosby Show seemed brilliant at the time, but I just don’t find it very funny most times I’ve seen reruns these days.

Actually, I think you’re the one who’s confused. You seem to be mixing up Episode I with what was later retitled Episode IV.

That must be it. He confused me with the reference to 1977.

That said, I was disappointed in Episode 1 by the movie itself, at the time. To me, it’s not an example of “had to be there”. And I think you could have had a good experience at the film if it had actually been good – it’s got nothing to do with expectations.

I saw it with no knowledge of the twist and absolutely loved it. My wife and I went out for a meal after and picked it apart scene by scene. “Oh that’s why when he reached for the bill…”

A week later I was catching the train to work and a bunch of high school students were talking about it. They were being careful to not spoiler it for those that hadn’t seen it. Someone mentioned the surprise twist and one guy said, “What twist? Do you mean that Bruce Willis is dead?”

Everyone groaned and began to abuse him. He said, “It was no twist you saw him die at the start of the movie.”

I just loved the fact that he sat there and watched a completely different movie to me. Next time I saw it I watched his version.

Oh, wow, how could I forget Jurassic Park? That’s still one of my all time favorite movies–when it first came out, I went to see it probably a dozen times (every week at the first morning show at the theater after the initial viewing on opening night). And yeah, you’re right–the CGI in that film was so far above anything most people had ever seen that it wasn’t even in the same league. One of my friends that I went to see it with was actually extremely uncomfortable during the whole T-Rex sequence and almost had to get up and leave (and this was a guy who was in his 30s at the time).

I think it’ll be a long time before the effects in that film look cheesy. They did a great job with keeping everything dark and atmospheric most of the time, but even the first “reveal” of the dinos in full daylight still looks pretty damned impressive.

Or the movies have been parodied so that I don’t really want to watch the originals. For example, Robot Chicken’s take on Dark Crystal.

I totally agree. Jurassic Park has some of the best CG I’ve ever seen. The dinosaurs in it looked many times more believable than those in King Kong.

Not exactly an action flick, but I really think you have to be in a certain frame of mind, with certain people and preferably drunk to appreciate the humor in The Big Lebowski.

Bionic Woman is pretty damn funny nowadays, too, as is Superwoman.

Easy Rider… I was a kid when it came out and I wanted to see it so bad and there was NO WAY that my mom would’ve let me watch something like… THAT!

I rented it on VHS as an adult. I have never been so disappointed in any other thing in my life.

Near the end when the Peter Finda character says, “No man, we blew it.” I said out loud, “You sure as hell did.”


I was 14 when Jurassic Park came out and I saw it on opening weekend with my dad. The first reveal of the dinosaurs, with that John Williams score firing on all cylinders, was probably the first time I truly understood how magical movies can be. Outside of the bikes-flying-past-the-moon scene in E.T., it’s probably Spielberg’s most “Spielbergian” moment. It amazes me that the CGI has held up so well – in truth, you could release that movie today and no one would think the effects look dated. That said, people now have seen effects that are just as good, so maybe the magic wouldn’t quite be there anymore.

I was 17 when I saw The Godfather (on a big screen no less) and it remains my favorite movie ever, so I don’t think that was a “you had to be there” moment, at least not for me.

Here’s one: There’s Something About Mary. It really pushed the existing boundaries for broad, raunchy, comedies at the time, but now everyone knows why Cameron Diaz’s hair is standing up and has probably seen even worse things on screen.

That was exactly my reaction to that stupid movie. Bruce Willis dies at the beginning, and then we meet a kid who can see ghosts and talks to Bruce Willis. How is it a surprise if it’s the freaking plot of the movie? It would have been a twist if Bruce hadn’t been shot through the stomach at close range in the first 2 minutes.

I think The Exorcist still holds up. The director’s cut that was released 10 or 12 years ago is better, IMHO, (that’s the one that contains the scene with the spider walk and a few other things). But even if you don’t find it scary anymore, it’s one hell of a good movie. We watch it three or four times a year just because we enjoy it as a film.

If that hasn’t happened, it wouldn’t make as much sense and the audience would feel cheated. It’s cool that you figured it out though, but there’s no need to disparage the rest of us who didn’t see it coming.

I agree about how well these effects stand up. A good deal of the dino effects in Jurassic Park are actually very good animatronics. They used a combination of animatronics and CGI.

Again, I think you need to reread Superhal’s original message. He said that to really appreciate how big a disappointment Episode 1 was, you would have to have experienced the buildup and excitement leading up to it. He didn’t say people weren’t disappointed at the time. In fact, just the opposite.
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner may fit this category. IIRC, someone on this very board tried to convince us that Sidney Poitier was miscast, because no one could possibly have an objection to having their daughter date him, and it should have been someone more Malcom-X-ish. Back at that time though, I suspect that was exactly the point. The parents, who believed themselves progressive and “color-blind”, found out just how deep and ingrained racism could be.

Well, the reason I didn’t see it coming was because I’ve been trained by 30 years of watching Hollywood movies that the lead character played by the A list actor who has above the title billing simply doesn’t die of a little lead to the belly in the first 10 minutes of the film. Or being pounded in the face by 32 henchmen, or falling off the top of a building, or being caught in an exploding car, or…

I see the gun, I see the gunshot, I see the lead character look shocked and fall back on the bed, and then I see the title “Two Years Later” and…I forget, a bench in a park, perhaps?

I see nothing that subverts the common Hollywood convention that The Lead is Infallible, and I assume his wife called an ambulance and the paramedics saved his life… as every other film and not a few real life gun shots to the belly have been saved. And I assume the rest of the movie will show him addressing his feelings of guilt for failing the young man who shot him by treating the young boy who was also on the movie poster. Why is that stupid?

Alas, my post was not only misunderstood, it was misunderstood twice. :frowning:

I thought it was pretty well written too. :frowning:

Exactly. Despite whatever flaws have been in his subsequent work, Shyamalan deserves full credit for the masterful job he did in The Sixth Sense. He put the whole thing right there in front of us and misdirected our attention for the entire movie so we didn’t notice it.

Pretty much my reaction, too. The moral of the story seems to be “Don’t even bother trying to be free.” It is a bit of a “You had to’ve been there,” though, as happy endings had been the norm for so long that when filmmakers began rebelling against that in the 1960s, it made for quite the surprise.