3 Movies That I Maybe Made Up Inside My HeadSarah Heyward

Awhile back, I wrote about the three television shows I was pretty sure I had made up inside my head. The kinds of shows that feel like remembered childhood fever dreams until you meet someone else who was just as obsessed. But I have just as many of these  misty/trippy memories about movies I swear used to be on TV and available at the local video store – even though now I can barely find anyone who’s heard of them. Recently, some friends and I were talking about how weird it is that as kids, we would rent the same movie every weekend instead of just buying a copy. I even remember renting movies for sleepovers with my friends, watching them once and then watching them again immediately after, not just unironically, but with zero acknowledgment that this was strange behavior. So, tell me, do these exist?

The Wizard

If you do know this movie, you’re most likely something of a passionate devotee. To people like us, it’s epically, historically, fantastically famous. But somehow, someway, so many others have never experienced the glory. There’s a magical combination of late ’80s elements at work in this emotionally-wrought-but-family-friendly Fred Savage vehicle. Our protagonists are three kids – Fred Savage, his seemingly-but-not-explicitly autistic younger brother who hasn’t spoken since the drowning of his twin sister and a spunky street-smart vagabond hottie played by none other than Jenny Lewis, ’80s tween princess and present day hipster chanteuse. Already, I’m hooked. And did I mention they’re all road trip-hitchhiking to California? And that the autistic brother is a non-evil genius at video games?! And that they’re traveling for him to compete in a video game competition in order to prove he doesn’t need to be locked away in an institution? COULD I MAKE SOMETHING LIKE THIS UP? Fun fact, this movie was the world premiere of the “Super Mario Brothers 3″ game. And the German title is “Joy-Stick Heroes” (is it even worth saying that it’s insane this isn’t someone’s band name?). And lastly, it’s because of this movie that I feel I have an invaluable and innate understanding of the city Reno.

She’s Out of Control

I was absolutely obsessed with this movie when I was little, mostly because the entire premise is based around an awesome makeover. There’s really not much more to it than that. Katie, 15, has dressed frumpily her entire life: thick glasses, braces, the requisite ponytail. When her strict father – played by, ahem, TONY DANZA! – goes away on a business trip, Katie gets a head-to-toe makeover courtesy of his hip fiancee (interestingly played by the mom from 7th Heaven). I’m not going to keep you in suspense. Here it is:

Have you ever seen anyone more perfectly encapsulate frothy ’80s angelic dream girl? Is it any wonder why I wanted to devote my life to looking like her? I’m having pangs in my heart just looking at her right now. So, Dad comes home and finds that every single boy in the world wants to date Katie. Again, we’re dealing with some major wish-fulfillment appeal here. He, of course, goes bananas – Tony Danza at his blustering reddening increasingly-psychotic best. And that’s the rest of the movie: Tony Danza trying to deal with the fact that his daughter is dating. Of course, from my elementary school perspective, it was a movie about the prettiest teenage girl ever and all the fun dates she gets to go on. Bonus: her little sister is played by the same groovy chick who plays Nicki Kapowski in “Saved by the Bell”.

Ladybugs

It’s insane to me that Rodney Dangerfield is on the poster for this movie instead of the late, great Jonathan Brandis, the true and obvious star of Ladybugs and not to mention of all of our prepubescent dreams. The premise involves Rodney taking over a girls soccer team in order to impress his boss and get a promotion (it makes sense in the movie) but the team is terrible so he creepily recruits his girlfriend’s athletic son to dress up like a girl and help bring the team to victory. Of course, Matthew (now Martha) falls in love with one of his teammates – who happens to be the boss’s daughter and don’t forget thinks her new friend is a girl, not a boy. Cue what essentially feels like a 90-minute version of one of those “I’m frantically changing back and forth from a boy to a girl and occasionally wearing the wig at the wrong time as a result” scenes made famous in movies like Mrs. Doubtfire and Every Secret Identity Movie That Exists. But for some reason, Ladybugs rocks anyway. There’s a distinctly adult tinge to it – it’s Rodney Dangerfield we’re talking about, not to mention his sassy sidekick Jackee – and the premise makes for legitimately charming teenage hijinks along with a delicate sprinkling of sweet moments. Plus, somehow Jonathan Brandis manages to look hot in both male and female form.

These are the haunted images swirling around inside my brain when I close my eyes at night. What are yours?

Images via amyschmamey.blogspot.com, filmsy.com, moviegoods.com, agentlover.com, isohunt.com

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  1. LADYBUGS!

  2. P.s. Please excuse the typos. Currently I’m writing on my phone, in the dark,with no glasses. Also I’d like to switch my second Damn into a Darn.

  3. Damn I accidently hit not my fan thinking that was a way to reoly to you sarah. Did you discover anything? I have entered in the plot many times to no avail, first she wanted to be a cheerleader followed by a punk rocker to end with being drop dead gorgeous. And the popular guy majes a sleezy move on her on the bleachers. I saw this movie,when I was 8,and its still really vivid! Thanks again…

  4. Damn and yet the Godzilla loving Genie is still a mystery…

  5. Loni Anderson, Dom DeLuise & Jennifer Love Hewitt were in one of the most ridiculous movies to come out of the 90′s and it was called “Munchie”. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mwDYLKDFzzQ

  6. All three movies I love love love…

  7. Okay and I forgot this one but there was a really old (like 80s or 90s) version of Beauty and the Beast that ENDS SADLY. It’s closest to the real story, where he lets her go and he dies. The beast was hideous–Disney’s version is cute&cuddly compared to this one–he is a black demon-looking monster with a bad case of scoliosis…anyway, if anyone remembers it, let me know..I just remember i used to rent it from the library as a kid back in the 90s.

  8. *Serendipity–the movie about the undersea horse. No joke.
    *Don’t Look Under The Bed–Disney Channel movie. Scary as hell but I always watched it every Halloween!!
    *Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer–does anyone remember this?
    *Troll in Central Park
    *Teddy Ruxpin
    *The Princess and the Goblin
    Yeah, these are pretty much the ones I watched as a kid and no one knows what they are.

  9. I loved these movies & “She’s Out of Control” was one of my superfaves!!
    I remember it had a young, jerky Matthew Perry (‘Chandler Bing’)? That was the first time I ever saw him.
    @Sally Neilson, you’re talking about “Teen Witch” which was another one of my superfaves!
    @Carly Thompson, I also loved “Just One of the Guys”!
    Another fave was “American Anthem.” I was in gymnastics back then so a lil obsessed. I wonder if anyone else knows that one?
    Others that I loved/could’ve made up:
    * “Purple People Eater” with Neil Patrick Harris
    * “Mr. Boogedy” with David Faustino
    * “Little Monsters” with Fred Savage (again)
    Full circle complete. Heh!

  10. Yes! I feel the same way about The Wizard. I would always watch it at this one friend’s house but I never remembered what I was called!

  11. I love The Wizard. My movies that I feel like this about are “Gold Diggers: The Secret of Bear Mountain” with Christina Ricci and Anna Chumsky and “Trading Mom” with Sissy Spacek and Anna Chumsky. I was really obsessed with “My Girl” if you couldn’t tell.

  12. I love this article! Just reminded me of all the good times when I would go to the video store and rent the same few movies over and over again. My mom finally told me I had to pick something different and perhaps let other kids have a chance to watch it (secretly she just got tired of either watching or hearing the movies I liked). I don’t blame her though.

  13. Ummmm, The Wizard AND She’s Out of Control are 2 of my favorite childhood films…if you had added “Just One of the Guys” to this list, I would swear you had stolen my life. Also, I have been trying to think of what the Koala bear cartoon was called for-ev-er…THE NOOZLES! Amazing.

  14. I clearly remember being really into a movie called The Peanut Butter Solution. I went to the theater with my cousin to see it and we were the only ones there! None of my current friends have even heard of it. So strange to have been so into something that your closest friends have no clue about!

    • Was the peanut Butter solution where kids kept losing their hair and or/ there were paintbrushes made from hair? I thought I was crazy!

  15. i LOVED she’s out of control because weren’t most of us really the sad, geeky girl and to think that we could become the “after” is great.
    And now i’m wondering – i swear there was a movie about a teenage witch (could’ve been the title – or teen with) she had red hair and kind of the same thing. geeky, no clue turned into hot, popular girl by magic. does anyone else remember this?
    =P

    • Yes! It is “Teen Witch” starring Robyn Lively (big sis to Blake). She does a spell with love powder on her bed to get the hot guy to like here. PS-There’s an ep of “30 Rock” where Kenneth does the friend’s rap of “Top That”.

  16. Omg I totally have a one of these!! A movie I swore I watched, but can not find it anywhere and I have yet to meet anyone who has seen it. I’m tempted to try and make it, only to be sued by the original makers so I can find out what the name of the damn movie is.

    The movie- An asian genie falls in love with his “master” a girl using her three wishes to turn into the perfect girl for this really popular guy she likes, only to find out in the end they have nothing in common and realize she is inlove with the genie too. But when she gets home the genie is gone, because her three wishes has been used but don’t worry cause the genie became a real boy and moves across the street from her, the hint was that the boy looked just like the genie and had a godzilla poster. (the genie loved godzilla)

    PLEASE SOMEONE TELL ME THIS MOVIE IS REAL!!!!
    bekka.maoi@gmail.com

  17. I had a similar experience with the movie The Hugga Bunch. This was my favorite movie for a while when I was a kid, and I picked it out over and over at our local video rental. I couldn’t remember the title for ever, and I thought my dad had told me it was Cuddle Bunch. After reading this article, I hit Google with renewed determination and found it!

  18. She’s Out of Control was one of my favorite movies! I can play some scenes in my head. Lady Bugs was also a hit around my house! Jonathan Brandis was one of my first crushes! RIP JB!

  19. When I was home sick I asked my Mom to rent me The Wizard of Oz. She retunred from the video store and told me they had all been hired out, and she thought I might like The Wizard, instead. A tantrum ensued. I watched it anyway, what else was a bed-ridden me meant to do? Then I fell in love with it. I’ve since tried to explain The Wizard, to other people and they usually tell me I am tripping, that no film exists. Thank you so much for proving it was not just a flu induced hallucination.

  20. Those were 3 of my favorite movies as a pre-teen. Oh man they are great. She’s Out of Control who didn’t want to be Katie.