Bill (Alex Winter, from left), Death (William Sadler), and Ted lumber through heaven and hell in 1991’s “Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey.” (Orion Pictures/

It does have a group of fans who enjoy Bill and Ted’s particular version of sincere idiocy that has retained enough of a cult following

“Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey”
Released July 19, 1991
Directed by Peter Hewitt
Where to Watch

In the summer of 1991, Keanu Reeves was having a moment.

The young Canadian actor first came to our attention in his breakout role as Theodore Logan, one-half of the kind-hearted dim-bulb heroes, along with Alex Winter’s Bill S. Preston in “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.” The 1989 teenage comedy was a surprise hit. Combined with his supporting role in Ron Howard’s “Parenthood” later that year, it formed a general impression of the actor that he was a likable, earnest doofus.

Reeves began proving…

Morris Chestnut (left) and Cuba Gooding Jr. debut with career-defining performances in 1991’s “Boyz n the Hood.” (Columbia Pictures/

Singleton humanized the experiences of young blacks in America and made growing up in an urban environment as necessary and consequential in the telling of our nation’s history

“Boyz n the Hood”
Released July 12, 1991
Directed by John Singleton
Where to Watch

Roger Ebert called movies machines for empathy. One of the clearest examples is the remarkable directorial debut of John Singleton, 1991’s “Boyz n the Hood.”

A story about young boys growing up to reach the verge of adulthood, “Boyz n the Hood” is not your average coming-of-age story for one straightforward reason: it is about black children. It shouldn’t seem like a big deal, but it is, because up until 1991, the coming-of-age drama in cinema was almost exclusively the story of white children and…

Tom Hanks and Geena Davis hit career highs in 1992’s “A League of Their Own.” (Universal Pictures/

“A League of Their Own” has the best balance of everything we love about baseball movies.

“A League of Their Own”
Released July 1, 1992
Directed by Penny Marshall
Where to Watch

My hunch is that if “A League of Their Own” were about men, it would easily be considered the best baseball movie of all time by the general public. For right now, we only have my own personal vote for the best baseball movie of all time.

Judging by some social media conversations, I’m not the only one.

Inspired by the real-life All-American Girls Professional Baseball League that formed in 1943 after many Major League Baseball players served in World War II, “A League of Their Own” centers its story on two farmland sisters who are recruited to play: Catcher…

Keanu Reeves (left) and Patrick Swayze take each other to the edge in 1991’s “Point Break.” (20th Century Fox/

It moves with a verve and energy that compels us while Reeves and Swayze debate their righteousness in between the action

“Point Break”
Released July 12, 1991
Directed by Kathryn Bigelow
Where to Watch

Movies are one of our best avenues for us to enter unfamiliar worlds, even when it takes place on our home planet. There are so many activities, places, and sensations that most of us never get to experience in our regular lives that can thrill us in films, which is why when the window to these worlds is opened, it must capture the allure as much as possible.

Take Kathryn Bigelow’s “Point Break.” The action drama from 1991 sees Keanu Reeves as FBI agent Johnny Utah going…

Edward Furlong (left) and Arnold Schwarzenegger fight to protect the future in 1991’s “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” (Tri-Star Pictures/

Good news everybody: ‘T2’ still fucking rips

“Terminator 2: Judgment Day”
Released July 3, 1991
Directed by James Cameron
Where to Watch

When “The Terminator” was released in 1984, the science fiction movie grossed $38.8 million domestically in theaters. By the time its sequel debuted seven years later, “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” made almost that much money in its just first weekend. It would go on to gross $520.9 million worldwide, making it the top moneymaker of 1991.

It’s a testament to how the original movie became such a cult favorite on television and video that there was ample demand for a sequel, but also how clutch…

Harrison Ford faces existential questions in 1982’s “Blade Runner.” (Warner Bros./

Every viewing unlocks more of the picture

“Blade Runner”
Released June 25, 1982
Directed by Ridley Scott
Where to Watch
(Original) (Final Cut)

From conception and box office bomb to multiple versions and critical reappraisals, the behind-the-scenes journey of “Blade Runner” might be more interesting than the film itself. But that might depend on how many times you’ve seen it because Ridley Scott’s sci-fi noir gets better for me every time I watch it.

Based on the Philip K. Dick novel, “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?,” “Blade Runner” concerns a dystopian Los Angeles society 37 years in the future (the 1982 movie gives 2019 as the…

Leslie Nielsen goes back on the case in 1991’s “The Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear.” (Paramount Pictures/

Nobody’s coming to these movies for the gripping story. It’s for the jokes, and, well … we’ve all seen better.

“The Naked Gun 2 ½: The Smell of Fear”
Released June 28, 1991
Directed by David Zucker
Where to Watch

For a while there, there were few things as hilarious as the ZAZ films. Short for the team of Jim Abrahams and brothers David and Jerry Zucker, the cinematic funnymen created an entire film genre by taking the piss out of other movies while stuffing them with jokes at a pace unseen since the heyday of the Marx Brothers. While the quality of the movie spoof genre has circled the bottom of the drain for decades now, the ZAZ movies…

Jack Nicholson’s investigation leads him down the rabbit hole in 1974’s “Chinatown.” (Paramount Pictures/

The perversion of power and abuse in “Chinatown” — and how it’s eventually resolved — is one of the film’s shocks that stays with us long after the final line is uttered.

Released June 20, 1974
Directed by Roman Polanski
Where to Watch

CW: Discussions of sexual and physical abuse, including rape

“Cancel culture.” Two words have become incredibly controversial as cultural forces argue about who’s allowed to have power and freedom. The volume and frequency have increased to the point where people just use cancel culture as a buzzword to gain support and excuse themselves from talking through the issue. Sound and fury, signifying nothing.

But it does leave those of us who like to think and deliberate about something before voicing an opinion a bit dizzy from all the…

Andy Samberg takes the stage in “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping.” (Universal Pictures)

There’s an intention behind the jokes of “Popstar” that aim at high-status targets.

“Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping”
Released June 3, 2016
Directed by Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone
Where to Watch

The entire table seemed set for “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping” to be the enormous comedy hit of the summer of 2016.

For the previous decade, the artists of The Lonely Island — childhood friends Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, and Jorma Taccone — had honed their comedic chops and musical stylings to drop viral music video hit after hit while Samberg was a cast member of “Saturday Night Live.” Their first was the digital short “Lazy Sunday,” the 2005 classic that…

Bill Campbell suits up for high-flying adventure in 1991’s “The Rocketeer.” (Buena Vista Pictures/

If you’re in the mood for a tight adventure film with little on its mind other than entertaining audiences, “The Rocketeer” is a solid pick.

“The Rocketeer”
Released June 21, 1991
Directed by Joe Johnston
Where to Watch

When it was released in June 1991, “The Rocketeer” enjoyed modest success and average reviews. The pulp adventure and proto-superhero film earned a good reputation as a quiet cult favorite, but it never penetrated into cultural memory years after its original theatrical run.

Watching “The Rocketeer” this week on Disney Plus, the streaming hub of so many Marvel productions, served as a revelation that many elements of the movie eventually found their way into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. …

Mark Ciemcioch

Founder of Capen Media and writer who looks back on film history every week. Read past columns at

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