the mask
Source: New Line Cinema

15 '90s Movies That Haven't Aged Well at All


Apr. 16 2020, Updated 5:32 p.m. ET

When was the last time you watched your favorite '90s movie? If it's one of the 15 films on this list, I urge you to just leave your memory of that film in tact and never revisit it with 21st century hindsight. There's a saying that you can never truly go home again, and the sentiment applies to a lot of movies you loved as a kid. 

Sometimes it's a simple issue of technology. Computer animation then wasn't quite what it is today, and high-definition screens only make the flaws that much more apparent. But a few of these films aged badly due to certain story elements or jokes that just aren't OK now — if they ever were.

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1. 'Hackers'

Source: United Artists

Was this a good movie when it came out? Absolutely not (though Roger Ebert gave it three our of four stars). The "state-of-the-art" technology these high school hackers were using was already obsolete when it was filmed. But it isn't just people drooling over 28.8 BPS modems that make it bad. It's that the filmmakers didn't seem at all concerned with knowing anything about hacking, because they figured most filmgoers wouldn't know anything about computers anyway. If people were as tech savvy in 1995 as they are now, this would never have passed the smell test.

2. 'Lawnmower Man'

lawnmower man
Source: New Line Cinema

The photo really says it all. If you think a late '90s techno-thriller is painfully dated now, try an early '90s techno-thriller. In case you've never seen it, this was a completely serious horror film about the sinister potential uses of virtual reality, not a Saturday morning TV show teaching kids about shapes.

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3. 'You've Got Mail'

youve got mail
Source: Warner Bros

Not all the movies on this list are cringe-worthy due to their dated outlook on "modern technology," but we can't get out of here without talking about Nora Ephron's 1998 rom-com / AOL commercial. Joe and Kathleen meet in a chat room and exchange emails and don't discover IMs until You've Got Mail is more than halfway over. Look, even in the '90s, this would've been going down in the DMs, not over email.

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4. 'Blank Check'

Since Home Alone is a holiday classic, I'm sure you're already aware that the '90s was a time where we were not only surprisingly OK with adults trying to murder kids, but we found it super funny. We also apparently were OK with adult women passionately kissing 11-year-olds in the '90s, which you will learn if you rewatch Blank Check. I remember my little sister loving this movie and now I'm honestly shocked Disney gave that scene a pass.

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5. 'American Beauty'

american beauty
Source: Dreamworks

The 1999 Best Picture winner wouldn't have aged well even if you didn't know what we now know about Kevin Spacey. This is a film where the protagonist lusts after his teenage daughter's friend, goes on the most despicable midlife crisis spree of irresponsibility, and he's the hero. I guarantee if you watch that movie today you're gonna see Annette Bening's character a lot more favorably.

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6. 'Empire Records'

empire records
Source: Warner Bros

I recently rewatched this cult classic on Rex Manning Day (April 8). It's not good, y'all! I mean, nostalgia has deluded me somewhat into still finding it endearing, but by 2019 standards, there is not a single likable character in this ensemble comedy and the "dramatic" moments are so overacted it makes you laugh out loud.

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7. 'Chasing Amy'

chasing amy
Source: Miramax

It's not like viewers in the '90s thought Ben Affleck's character was sympathetic, but it's really hard to watch the final act of this film in 2019. A woman who identifies as a lesbian falls in love with a straight man, and then that straight man finds out he wasn't the first man she's been with and devolves into a slut-shaming, biphobic mess and suggests the solution to his relationship problems is a threesome with his girlfriend and his male best friend, whom he accuses of being gay. There's no way to imagine that movie being made today.

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8. 'Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves'

robin hood prince of thieves
Source: Warner Bros

Sorry to ruin this 1991 swashbuckler for you, but Kevin Costner's defiantly American accent and very anachronistic hair is the least of the film's problems. Perhaps the biggest is the final battle, which is one long scene of attempted rape that gets interrupted by sword fights.

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9. 'Clerks'

Source: Miramax

Kevin Smith was a big part of the '90s zeitgeist, but his films do not stand the test of time. This black-and-white indie comedy was a critical darling but it's very hard to watch through a modern lens and not wonder why anyone would want to spend 90 minutes watching a guy complain about working on his day off.

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10. 'She's All That'

shes all that dance
Source: Miramax

OK, this was never a masterpiece, but when it came out, She's All That seemed like your typical rom-com. However, there are some aspects that age it painfully. For one thing, there's a weird choreographed dance number for no other reason than if Usher is employed as your school DJ and asks you to learn a dance, you learn that dance. There's also that scene where Laney makes Zack do a performance art spoken word piece about hacky sack.

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11. 'Spawn'

Superhero movies are ubiquitous nowadays but aside from the occasional Superman or Batman adaptation, they were kind of novel in the '90s. Comic fans may have been excited to see Spawn come to the big screen, but in a post-Avengers universe, it's honestly excruciating to watch that trailer, especially any shot of that horrible CGI cape.

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12. 'In & Out'

in and out
Source: Paramount Pictures

The 1997 story of a high school teacher coming to terms with his sexuality seemed progressive as heck when it came out (no pun intended), but yikes, is it hard to watch 20-plus years later. Full of insulting stereotypes about gay men, the antiquated ideas about masculinity really date this movie and keep it from feeling as celebratory of queerness as it clearly meant to be.

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13. 'Dances With Wolves'

dances with wolves
Source: MGM

Yikes. Aside from being a total "white savior" movie, Dances With Wolves is a movie about Native Americans that still manages to center two white people. 

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14. 'The Mask'

the mask
Source: New Line Cinema

Some humor transcends time, but the cartoonish, rubber-faced schtick that made Jim Carrey famous does not translate well in the 2010s. I remember this movie getting huge laughs in 1994, but it feels forced, annoying, and tired now.

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15. 'Ace Ventura: Pet Detective'

ace ventura
Source: Warner Bros

...But at least The Mask wasn't driven by a totally transphobic plot where the villain is a transgender woman, and the biggest gags in the movie revolve around the "reveal" that Lois Einhorn was disgraced football player Ray Finkle. It's not just problematic but super harmful to trans women, who disproportionately find themselves victims of physical violence due to their gender expression.

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