There were more than enough films in the '90s which made you cry. I'm talking those blatantly morose, tear spewing, uncontrollable-sobbing-in-the-cinema films which embarrassed you in front of friends, family and crushes. With films like Titanic, Stepmom and Romeo + Juliet reducing you to a facial fountain of sadness, it's hardly surprising that you were maybe desperate to seek out films which gave you an escape from such feral displays of emotion. The problem is, though, that the '90s were a weird time for movies. Though there was obviously an amazing array of uplifting, fun films which could bring the chuckles and soothe your soul, there were many '90s films which were secretly really depressing, despite all the funnies and the bright colors which tried to trick you into thinking otherwise. Some of these films simply found humor in deeply dark topics whilst others thought you wouldn't care all too much if they interrupted their overall, uplifting message with the death of vital, sweet characters.
Watching many of these films as a child, it wasn't immediately evident that they were in any way sad or depressing. They might have made your tummy feel bad or troubled us in a way that we couldn't quite yet fathom, but returning to these films as an adult seriously highlights their depressing nature. So, be a grown up with me, pour yourself a stiff drink, and re-experience some of your favorite '90s movies through the grim lens of adult, real world experiences.
1. Home Alone
Okay, so, of course there's endless fun to be had watching Kevin McCallister fend off some dim-witted burglars via some innovative, homemade traps but the film had a really sad heart to it. Did nobody else secretly shed a quiet tear once Kevin stops having fun and just wishes his family would return to him for Christmas? It's absolutely heart wrenching.
2. The Lion King
Disney could be so cruel with our fragile, precious hearts back in the '90s and The Lion King was the worst for making you cry into your popcorn when Mufasa, Simba's dad, was killed right in front of him. And sure, the film continued to be upbeat and fun for a lot of it, but trying to soothe the sting of that death scene with a song like "The Circle Of Life" (which is basically excusing the ferocity of Scar's actions with a "That's nature, baby" shrug) just made a lot of viewers feel even more morose about life.
3. Mrs Doubtfire
The late, great Robin Williams was often at his best in roles which were brimming with glimpses of tragicomedy, and Mrs Doubtfire definitely tread that fine line. Focusing on a father in the middle of a custody battle who resorts to impersonating a female housekeeper in order to see his children, the film tried to bury it's pretty heartbreaking subject matter under supremely clownish pathos. But it at it's heart, Mrs Doubtfire was actually incredibly depressing.
4. My Girl
Listen, I don't need to tell you how depressing My Girl was (and remains to be). It obviously features one of the most traumatizing and shocking on screen deaths of the entire '90s, but even prior to that moment the film foreshadowed the grim ending with minor details. Just look at the fact that Vada is growing up in a funeral home or her beloved best friend being tormented by health issues and allergies throughout the movie. I just can't with My Girl, you guys. From start to finish, it's now nothing but depressing as hell.
5. Forrest Gump
You often hear Forrest Gump being mentioned as being an uplifting movie, perfect for restoring your faith in humanity. Which, it kind of does, but it also continuously slays you with death after death of incredibly sweet characters. Like, did Jenny really have to die? Really? Because I'm still super sore about it. It was totally unnecessary, right?
6. The Truman Show
The older I get and the more that the boundaries between real lives and television narratives are becoming blurred, the more depressing The Truman Show has become. The film was greatly ahead of it's time in portraying a person who becomes a televised commodity, with his entire life being broadcast in front of an audience without his knowledge or consent. Reality TV certainly feels as though it's creeping closer to these unethical standards and that's both depressing and terrifying.
Matilda is definitely, without a doubt, an uplifting movie overall, showing the character of Matilda using her other-worldly genius to protect her friends and fight back against the cruel regime of her parents and her school. But the movie was still devastating in portraying Matilda as a deeply neglected child and the way in which lovely characters such as Miss Honey have their kind natures exploited, manipulated and sneered at. The World is a mean place.
Be still my beating heart. Did anyone else have a crush on Casper as a kid? Both as a ghost and when his human form revealed him to look like Devon Sawa? Casper was a sweetheart, and the film was pretty adorable but the monologue that he gives about he died? Oh boy. That definitely put a depressing sheen over the rest of the movie.
9. Cool Runnings
I understand that Cool Runnings is a great movie for showing the importance of getting back up when you fall down and feeling proud of trying to achieve something, even if you don't, but when the team bobsleigh crashes on the course? Ouch.
10. The Iron Giant
A gigantic, metal and misunderstood robot from outer space. It was never going to end well, was it? Despite being incredibly sweet and non-violent (even saving a few kids in the town), the Giant is still hunted down by the US military until he eventually sacrifices himself in order to save the town from it's own violent stupidity. A beautiful movie, yes, but a cripplingly depressing one too.
11. An American Tail
Fievel Mousekewitz emigrates from Russia to the United States with his family but ends up losing them and getting completely lost in their attempts for freedom. Despite being a cartoon about a pack of talking mice, the film actually managed to make some pertinent and heartfelt political statements which hit you square in the heart, every time.
12. The Secret Garden
A supremely magical movie, except it's also emotionally relentless . Lead character Mary becomes an orphan, is neglected and unloved by her uncle and his housekeeper and nearly every second of the film is seeped with death, mourning and morbidity. It's utterly non-stop.
13. The Sixth Sense
I truly don't know who I feel worse for in The Sixth Sense; Hayley Joel Osment's spooky ghost-glimpsing Cole thinking that he's finally made himself a friend-for-life in Bruce Willis' Dr. Malcolm Crowe or Dr. Crowe thinking he's alive and well and just going through a bit of a phase when he's actually, you know, dead and stuff. Way harsh.
I think I definitely need a strong drink, some pizza and some genuine funnies after reliving all of those secretly depressing movies from the '90s. Maybe, I'll just go and watch Clueless on repeat until it all blows over...
Images: Columbia Pictures;