Wednesday, 29 January 2014

I Love The 90s: Robin Williams

Last weekend, I went round my sister's house and found my niece was watching Jumanji. A wave of nostalgia swept over me, and I was transported back to my youth. Robin Williams helped to define my childhood growing up the 90s. Yes, I know he may have been around since the 70s, and is still making films to this day, but despite those films being terrible, Robin Williams used to be a Cinema God! Coming out with classic after classic, year after year, he was hands down the biggest star of the decade. Join me as I take a trip down memory lane to revisit some of my favourite films of his.

Throughout the 80s, Williams made the remarkably rare transition from stand up comic and TV star to movie star and critically acclaimed actor, a feat that not many can claim to have achieved. By 1989, he was a box office star and two time Oscar nominee ready to continue his success straight in to the 90s. The decade started well for Williams; he won rave reviews in Awakenings and The Fisher King, which saw him winning a golden globe and picking up a third Oscar nom but I was 5 at the time and had no interest in a homeless man in search of the Holy grail, no thank you very much. I was far more concerned about what would happened to Peter Pan if he left Neverland and grew up. 

With Hook, Williams answered my questions and established himself as a big family box office draw. Hook was my first Robin Williams experience and I bloody loved it. I was obsessed, I had all the action figures, the bed sheets and the book but I didn't have the tree house. To this day, I still want that bloody tree house.

Although the critics weren't won over by Hook, Williams continued to make family friendly films. The following year, he starred in Toys, which critics hated, but not me, oh no, I love it! Looking back now though, I see it wasn't great, hell, it wasn't even good. It bombed at the box office, but that was soon forgotten with his next film, Aladdin. Williams completely stole the show here with a brilliant and energetic performance that was pretty much improvised throughout. Sure I didn't get half the references as a kid, but I didn't care. I thought the genie was the funniest thing I'd ever seen.
By the mid 90s, Robin Williams was churning out hit movie after hit movie. With the brilliant Mrs Doubfire, he earned yet another golden  globe award... he must a have a million of them by now. As much as loved Mrs Doubtfire, I loved Jumanji even more. Again, the film didn't get the best reviews but was another box office hit. Jumanji blew my ten year old mind. Monkeys in the kitchen? Rain inside the house? A stampede?! Madness! As I sat next to my niece on the floor, I found myself quoting lines before they were even said and I haven't seen this film in over a decade. Classic.

During this period of time, Williams was churning out so many movies that for every God awful one, there was always something to save face, like 1996's The Birdcage, which I only discovered when I was older. Birdcage is one of my favourite of his films, featuring a brilliant performance from Williams and the entire cast. That's right, even Calista Flockhart! The same thing happened the following year when he made Flubber, which I certainly did not like. To right the wrong he'd made, Williams starred in a film that would see him finally get his hands on that oh so deserved Oscar, Good Will Hunting. Psst, I've never seen it. I know, I know.

The decade came to a close with yet another film the critics hated but I enjoyed, Bicentennial man. It's not one I think I'll get around to re watching any time soon though. Throughout the decade, Williams saw some incredible highs and some terrible lows, but for 10 years, Robin Williams could do no wrong in my eyes. If only he could have continued his extraordinary run of success into the 2000s, but I suppose nothing can last forever. 

What's your favourite Robin Williams film? Feel free to let me know. Right, I'm off to watch Aladdin and suggest you do the same.  

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