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5 Videos I Rented Over and Over As a 90s Kid

I've written a few times about the great little video rental store where I grew up called "Dollar Video."  I spent a lot of time in that store, and it was one of the things I most looked forward to during the week.  On most Saturday mornings, Mom would take us down the road to Dollar Video, and we'd each pick out a video or a video game for us to watch or play that weekend.   

More often than not, we'd also hit up the town's library and rent movies for free.  They had these great big black binders with little circle-shaped stickers to indicate what age group the movies were appropriate for.  I remember green, orange, and red, but I may be mistaken.  The binders were full of page after page of photocopies of the VHS box art, and I loved taking my time thumbing through them. 

Like many of us, when I look back, I've found that I would often select the same movie repeatedly.  I was thinking the other day about the 90s and how some of those movies I loved never got their just due.  While many of the films of that era are readily available on DVD or streaming, some of them have never been released on an upgraded medium like DVD or BluRay.  Some were released when the DVDs first hit the market in such limited quantities they are hard to find these days.  

I like to have a physical copy of movies and have a growing DVD collection.  Streaming is terrific, and my wife and I have memberships to several platforms, but it's always nice to know that we don't have to worry about the constant shuffle of inventory on streaming platforms.  We can just pop in the disc and watch what we want to watch when we want to watch it.  Also, they can't edit or censor the DVD like some of the streaming platforms have done with some movies or older TV shows.  

Thinking about all of this, I've compiled a list below of Five of the VHS tapes I rented most frequently growing up, in no particular order.  Leave me a comment below or drop me a note (sidebar for desktop, below on mobile) with some of the VHS tapes you wore out from frequent renting!  

1.  Angus (1995)

Angus is a 1995 young adult comedy based on the short story "A Brief Moment in the Life of Angus Bethune" by Chris Crutcher.  Considered a box office success, Angus made $4 million on its minuscule $1.5 million budget.  It had moderate success at the box office but truly became a hit with my generation on VHS sales and rentals.  Angus has been highly praised by critics.  Even famed Roger Ebert gave it 3 stars and a glowing review.  It's also been critically acclaimed for its soundtrack, which was likely the first introduction for my generation to bands like Green Day, Weezer, and the Goo Goo Dolls.

It stars Charlie Talbert as Angus Bethune, an overweight insecure high school freshman.  Angus pines away for popular girl Melissa, played by Ariana Richards (Jurassic Park.)  Melissa's boyfriend, the star quarterback on the football team, does his best to make Angus' life miserable.  Her boyfriend, Rick, is played by James Van Der Beek (Dawson's Creek) in his first film role ever.  Chris Owen, George C. Scott, Rita Moreno, and Kathy Bates also appear.

I loved this movie because I felt a connection to Angus.  I was the nice kid, overweight at times, with the goofy bowl-cut hair that floated somewhere between the popular crowd and the weird nerdy kids.  Much like my experience with the Wonder Years (CLICK HERE), I felt like this movie came out at just the appropriate time in my life.  I know every teenager has the same social awkwardness in middle or high school, but going through it, we all feel it's unique to us, and this movie hit home at the right time.  

Angus did make it to DVD several years ago and is available now on HBO Max.

2.  A Goofy Movie (1995)

Nearly everyone I know has seen A Goofy Movie.  The 1995 animated film from Disney is based on The Disney Afternoon television series "Goof Troop" and serves as a follow-up film to the cartoon series that had ended years earlier in 1992.  Several famous names lend their voices to the movie, including Jason Marsden, Jim Cummings, Pauly Shore, Jenna von Oy, and Wallace Shawn.  A box office smash, making $38 million domestically on its $18 million budget, A Goofy Movie performed even better with the VHS market.

Taking place three years after the events of Goof Troop, the film follows Goofy and his son Max on a cross-country road trip.  When Max's lighthearted prank on the school principal finally catches the attention of his longtime crush, Roxanne, he asks her on a date.  Max gets in trouble for the stunt, and Goofy is convinced he needs to bond more with his son over a cross-country fishing trip just like the one his own father did for him.  This impromptu fishing trip throws a kink in Max's plan to date Roxanne, and the journey becomes a head-on collision between Goofy's desire to bond over fishing and Max's desire to become independent and attend a popular rock concert.  

This was definitely a library rental, as I remember selecting this one from those big binders time and time again.  In nearly every movie I've written about, I talk about how I enjoy a good road trip movie, and this movie was one of my first experiences with the genre.  My favorite scene is when they stop at The Neptune Hotel for the night.  I'd spend hours drawing my own roadside Route 66 style motel, creating different themes and gimmicks based on this scene.  In a world before the internet and iTunes or Youtube, I recorded several of the catchy pop songs, namely "Eye to Eye," from the soundtrack by shoving my tape recorder up against the TV speaker.  Hey, it's the best technology we had back then.

A Goofy Movie was caught in a political struggle at Disney's executive towers between the outgoing Jeffrey Katzenberg and CEO Michael Eisner.  It was released to theaters almost as a contractual obligation but caught on quickly with home media release.  A rabid cult fanbase followed, and as millennials grew up and began spending money on nostalgia items, it has become a much more visible property within Disney.  A direct-to-DVD sequel was released in 2000 called An Extremely Goofy Movie.  It's currently available on DVD and streaming on Disney Plus.

3.  Sandlot (1993)

The Sandlot is a coming-of-age film that tells the story of a group of young kids who enjoy playing baseball together during the summer of 1962.  It stars Tom Guiry and Mike Vitar, among a cast of many other child actors.  The movie also includes Karen Allen, Denis Leary, and James Earl Jones.  Set in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, CA, the movie grossed $34 million worldwide to critical acclaim.  Roger Ebert gave the film three stars, comparing the movie to a "summertime version of A Christmas Story," based on the tone and narration.  It has since developed a large cult following, complete with a host of quotes and internet memes.  

In Sandlot, we see a nerdy, awkward fifth-grader named Scott Smalls have difficulty making new friends after moving to the LA suburbs.  He tries to join a group of boys who play ball daily at a local sandlot, but has no athletic skills whatsoever and is laughed off the field.  Benny Rodriguez, the group leader, sees potential and becomes Scott's mentor in baseball and life.  The group goes on several adventures together as the summer draws to a close.  

Sandlot was a movie I watched over and over again.  Even today, the fireworks scene makes me nostalgic for Americana over the 4th of July as the great Ray Charles sings America the Beautiful.  I always liked baseball, and for a time, right around 1993, I even played little league for a season.  Ice hockey was always my favorite sport, but I went in spurts following baseball.  I was a giant New York Mets fan during the mid to late 90s, but unfortunately, I don't have the time or desire to pay attention to sports today.  I digress, but Sandlot was always one of the go-to rentals at Dollar Video.  It was popular with the kids in school, and the movie was one my brother and I could agree on watching together.  I remember several times in the summer where we'd watch the tape and head right outside with the Wiffle ball to simulate our own World Series.  We rented this one so much my Mom eventually decided it was cheaper to buy it for us!

A DVD was released years ago with several updates and special editions.  When Disney Plus debuted in 2019, Sandlot was one of the original movies available for on-demand streaming.

4.  Remote (1993)

Here's a movie you likely haven't heard of yet it was one of my go-to library rental movies growing up.  I often mistakenly refer to this movie as "Remote Control," but that's an entirely different movie made in 1988.  The tape that I nearly burned out in our VCR titled "Remote" was released directly to VHS in September 1993 by Paramount Pictures and Moonbeam Entertainment.  Starring Chris Carrara, Jessica Bowman, and John Diel, this film focuses on Randy Mason (Carrara) and his suburban neighborhood set in any-town, California.  

Randy is a tech whiz who designs and uses remote-controlled models as a hobby.  He shares the activity with his good friend (and love interest) Judy.  Judy (Bowman) is an avid baseball player and helps Randy discover the vacant model home in a new neighborhood still under construction. It serves as a secret hideout for their remote-controlled machines and an after-school hangout.  One night when he's hiding out in the attic of the model home, three store robbers break into the house to hide from the police, trapping Randy inside.  Randy then must use his remote-controlled machines to escape and call for help.

This movie was easily one of my early favorites growing up.  I must have burned this tape out I watched it so many times, and the poor kid who rented it after me (if there was one) got a grainy static-filled video.  Remember "Tracking" on your VCR?  Ah, good times.  

It was a movie that I could put on and watch, or put on and play with my figures and just have on in the background.  To this day, my wife and I put stuff on TV just to "have something on in the background," and I guess I started that with Remote.  I loved the gadgets, and as an 8 or 9-year-old when this movie came out, the exciting escape scenes with the bad guys reminded me of Home Alone.  Most people I ask have never heard of this movie, but I guess it never got the broad audience it deserved when it went straight-to-video.  Admittedly, the film would not be used in film school, but it's still a fun, lighthearted film that holds a special place in my youth.  

Remote was released directly to VHS and has never been released on DVD.  It is currently available for streaming from Full Moon Features and is slated to be released for BluRay in February of 2022.  You know I'm ready to preorder this when it becomes available.

5.  Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown (1977) and Bon Voyage Charlie Brown (1980)

I'm not sure when I kept checking these tapes out from the library, but it had to be in either the late 80s or early 90s.  Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown is the third in a series of films based on the Peanuts comic strip, while Bon Voyage was the fourth full-length film.  There were several movies in the Peanuts line that my Mom checked out for me, but these two were my favorites.  

In Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown and the gang head off to "Camp Remote" in the mountains for the summer.  Always his luck, Charlie Brown is accidentally left behind by the bus while at a desolate rest stop, and he's forced to hitch a ride on Snoopy's motorcycle.  When the kids all make it to camp, they are immediately exposed to a regimented schedule and lack of comfortable amenities like at home.   A trio of bullies and their cat Brutus intimidate the gang and challenge them to the annual raft race.  Broken into groups, we follow the struggle and adventures of each team as they float down the river in a race to win.  After the bullies sabotage the other rafts, the teams merge to take on the bad guys.  Boarding the bus for home, Charlie decides to be more confident and assertive.  Unfortunately for his new plans, the bus leaves without him again.

In Bon Voyage, Linus introduces two new French-exchange students, Babette and Jacques.  In exchange, Charlie and Linus are headed to France, and Snoopy and Woodstock tag along.  Somehow, Peppermint Patty and Marcie are also going to tag along.  Stopping in London, Snoopy plays tennis at Wimbledon but is banned after his temper flares at the judges.  The group heads to the English Channel, where Snoopy must pilot the hovercraft since he's the only one with a driver's license.  The Peanuts gang arrives at the French chateau, owned by a very unfriendly baron and his niece Violette.  Linus explores the property and finds that Charlie's grandfather, Silas Brown, had helped Violette's family during World War II.  The chateau accidentally catches fire when a candle is knocked over, but the gang controls the fire until the fire department arrives.  After seeing Charlie and his friends work so hard to stop the blaze, the Baron has a change of heart, and the gang heads back to America with new friends in France.

I watched these pretty routinely during my elementary school days.  Maybe it was the plane ride to London in "Bon Voyage," or the summer camp mountain and woods vibe of "Race," but I really enjoyed these.  I'm not sure they hold up in terms of what kids today enjoy, but for a nice nostalgia blast, it's worth checking out if you can find them online. 

They were released on DVD a few years back, and both movies are currently available on Paramount Plus and for rent on several other streaming platforms.