The headlines for Disney Plus’s November 12 launch are all the original series the streaming service is launching, namely the Star Wars show The Mandalorian and upcoming Marvel shows, and its archive of animated classics and Marvel/Star Wars films. However, the storied history of Disney also includes live-action films throughout the decades, many of which will be available to stream immediately.
The ‘90s were a particularly fruitful decade of Disney live-action, although those films didn’t get as much attention as the studio’s animated output that decade. It’s hard to compete with the likes of Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and The Lion King but perhaps Disney Plus will be a chance for Disneyphiles to discover or rediscover some gems from the ‘90s.
Ben Stiller takes on Disney plus size in ‘Heavyweights’
Heavyweights was a pretty lowbrow high concept movie. It was a fat camp comedy about all the shenanigans the kids get into. It’s actually a rather endearing teen comedy, but it’s not above a good fart joke.
The standout is Ben Stiller playing an outrageous character. Fitness guru Tony Perkis (Stiller) takes over the fat camp and he’s an extreme caricature of ‘90s workout culture.
This was just after Stiller’s sketch comedy show on Fox and he would take this sort of extreme fitness persona even further as Dodgeball’s villain White Goodman. Perkis is a magnificent foil to these rebellious kids who you enjoy seeing thwarted at every turn.
‘Honey, I Blew Up the Kid’ should’ve blown up more
The sequel to Honey, I Shrunk the Kids doesn’t get talked about nearly enough. Both are on Disney Plus and even the straight to video Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves is. Honey, I Blew Up the Kid is definitely worth watching.
It’s a great spoof of giant monster movies with an adorable kid. It is also a fun reversal of the original premise. Wayne Szalinsky (Rick Moranis)’s inventions are still causing trouble for his kids.
This time, instead of a miniature adventure in the backyard, he enlarges his toddler to unwieldy sizes, causing hilarious destruction. You can see a young Keri Russell in her first movie after the Mickey Mouse Club.
‘Iron Will’ is Disney plus snow
Iron Will must have been a tough sell in 1994. Kids probably weren’t flocking to movies about the Iditarod dogsled race, and Iron Will wasn’t a huge hit. The Disney name assured parents it was quality family entertainment, and indeed I was actually sent to see it to babysit a group of kids and I was impressed.
The Iditarod is a harrowing race and the film conveys just how intense it is. Will Stoneman (Mackenzie Astin) competes in the race to save his late father’s farm. It was already a bygone era in the ‘90s but now even more so, Iron Will is a worthwhile reminder that young people can persevere in nature and within bureaucracy.
Disney keeps promising ‘The Rocketeer’ is only a prequel
The Rocketeer makes lots of lists of underrated or underappreciated superhero films but it bears repeating. Based on the Dave Stevens comic, this tale of a pilot who finds a rocket pack and uses it to save the world is a keeper.
Setting the film in the past was seen as a detriment in 1991, and it may still be a hurdle for new Disney Plus subscribers. Just remember Indiana Jones was set in the ‘30s and The Rocketeer is an equally thrilling historic adventure. They keep talking about a long-awaited sequel. Everybody watch The Rocketeer on Disney Plus and maybe they’ll finally make it.
Disney plus Fox = ‘The Sandlot’
This was a 20th Century Fox movie so now it’s in the Disney library since they bought the studio. It was always a sweet kids movie that deserved more attention. Maybe now it will get it on Disney Plus.
You don’t have to be a baseball fan to love The Sandlot. A new kid in town tries to make friends and joining the neighborhood kids in baseball was the way to do it. Even though The Sandlot is set in 1962, its tales of schoolboy crushes, childhood friends and confronting scary grownups are timeless.