Saturday, September 18, 2010

Cole's Nineties Crushes

I've been feeling nostalgic/masochistic lately so why not? To protect the innocent (even if they're not) we'll stick to actresses and performers I've never actually met. At least the pleasure/pain/confusion they inflicted on my fragile psyche and naive ideas of attraction and romance was nothing personal.

5. Tiffani Amber Thiessen
What I saw her in: "Saved by the Bell", Saved by the Bell Hawaiian Style, Son in Law, "Saved by the Bell: The College Years"
Kelly Kapowski

She's the least personal, facilitating her taking the five spot. Basically I got to know her through her portrayal of a single character, "Saved by the Bell"'s Kelly. Unlike the other entries, Thiessen (who doesn't use the Amber part of her name professionally anymore) didn't represent any sort of girl that I found relatable or attainable; she just represented a part of what her show told me was highschool. When I was a preteen watching this junk, I couldn't WAIT to get to highschool, where you were apparently never in class and absolute babes like Kelly walked the halls. I was too young to have really figured out my place in the social order of my peer group, so the fact that Kelly was definitely the type of girl I'd never exchange more than eight words with wasn't relevant. She was nice, she wasn't noticeably stupid and she was hot. That was enough.

What she's been up to in the past decade that I actually care about: Absolutely nothing. And she's aged terribly to boot. Hey, I calls 'em like I sees 'em.

4. Jennifer Love Hewitt
What I saw her in: "Kids Incorporated", Sister Act  2: Back in the Habit, House Arrest, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Can't Hardly Wait

A young and blurry Love Hewitt
What's most interesting about this entry is that during the nineties, I thought she was two separate girls. In the early part of the decade, Love Hewitt did three episodes of a lame show I watched on Family Channel called "Kids Incorporated" - a cookie cutter plot of the week show featuring an ever-rotating cast of preteens (including, oddly enough, Mario Lopez from "Saved by the Bell") who performed popular songs at their local hangout "Place" (the gag here being that it was called Palace but the second letter on the neon sign [SO MUCH FREAKING NEON on this show] was burnt out) - although I remember her being in more. But I guess I'll just have to trust imdb on this one.

Anyway, she played Robin and had what I then considered to be an absolutely enchanting voice. I think it's possible I watched the show for so long simply because I wanted to see more of her. A couple years later I would also watch Family's "The Mickey Mouse Club" nineties revival but neither Britney (Spears) nor Christina (Aguilera) made the impression on me Love had (I don't even remember Aguilera).

Hook Guy's gonna get you...
Flash forward to the late nineties - I'm a sassy teen now and girl-crazy to boot. I've also developed a taste for slashers (more on this later) and although I'd read my sister's copy of "I Know What You Did Last Summer" and found it yawnful, I was still pretty set on seeing the movie. Knowing the story was no great shakes, the filmmakers wisely elected to fill the main roles with extremely hot actors and Jennifer Love Hewitt (who at some point realized that just going by "Love" was retarded) was among them. I'm fairly certain this movie also introduced me to Sarah Michelle Gellar but my fixation on her didn't really kick in until the 2000's.

I would watch Can't Hardly Wait (1998) when it was new on video simply to get more of Hewitt. It, alright. Seth Green was there. Doin' stuff. I was aware that she was on "Party of Five" but let's face it: I had a crush on her, I wasn't obsessed (you'll have to read farther to get to that). No way I was gonna watch that.

It wasn't until a few years ago that I realized that she'd been on "Kids Incorporated". It's kind of interesting that I had two separate crushes on her bookending the nineties.

What's she's been up to in the past decade that I actually care about: Once again, absolutely squat. She's in the two horrendous Garfield movies, one of Jackie Chan's worst mistakes and a show about talking to dead people. She is still quite pretty though and can actually sing.

3. Neve Campbell
What I saw her in: The Craft, Scream, Scream 2, Wild Things

My all-time favourite survivor girl, Sidney Prescott
Scream was something of a game-changer for me, and Canadian actress Neve Campbell was certainly a big part of that. Wes Craven's clever sending-up of the very genre that had made him a household name still doesn't get the credit I believe it truly deserves. But hopefully the time when it is properly appreciated is not far off.

As for Campbell, who was actually twenty-two when the movie was shooting, her youthful looks and reserved acting made her one of the very few believable fake high school students I've ever seen. Her performance as the nineties version of the "survivor girl" trope won me over instantly. Sidney Prescott was smart, spunky and strong - but still innocent, pure and naive.

Neve gets witchy in The Craft (1996)
I recall that the first time I watched Scream (1996) was in Ryan's basement and there were several of us present. We remarked on how hot the girls who were getting killed were. I kept quiet though, because although her looks didn't compare with, say, Rose McGowan, in the mainstream sense, I still preferred her. Sidney came across as a girl I would have been friends with, probably harbouring secret feelings for her in a rather obvious fashion much like Jamie Kennedy's character, Randy, did.

I was actually downright upset by her role in Wild Things (1998), and couldn't stand seeing Denise Richards and Matt Dillon with their paws all over her. I still won't watch that movie today. She played an even more prominent role on "Party of Five" than Hewitt and, in hindsight, maybe I should have watched it since I could see them both that way.

But I was happy to see her return for Scream 2 (1997), since it was really her character that I was infatuated with.

What she's been up to in the past decade that I actually care about: Sensing a trend yet? Really, the only thing that comes to mind is doing two episodes of "The Simpsons" and neither was particularly good. It was just as well, really, as I've really no desire to see her now that she's older. I just want to remember her for what she was. Apparently Sidney Prescott will indeed be in the upcoming Scream 4 and I'll have to watch it on principle but at the very best it could only be bittersweet for me.

2. Claire Danes
What I saw her in: "My So-Called Life", Romeo + Juliet, The RainmakerLes miserables, Brokedown Palace

Highschool in the nineties - I was there, man
Oh, we're reaching mildly obsessive territory now. Unlike her contemporaries on this list, I did watch Danes's show. In fact, it's how I was introduced to her. The reason being that "My So-Called Life" was actually a very good show. Unlike almost any other teen drama I can think of, its drama was serious without ever being cheesy or forced. It could also be funny in a sort of devastatingly real and depressing way. So naturally, it only lasted one season.  As Angela Chase, Danes played an angsty, sometimes sarcastic girl torn between the loyalty she felt for her old friends, and the longing to be accepted by a "cooler" group, who were often trouble-makers. She also knew something about unrequited love, falling for a young Jared Leto who was barely aware of her existence.

I found her relatable (smart but insecure, disinterested in lots of things our peers thought important) and incredibly appealing. Definitely an ideal girlfriend.

Next she starred opposite the almost as pretty Leo Dicaprio in Baz Luhrmann's modern take on "Romeo and Juliet" in 1996. This film (Romeo + Juliet) features a scene where Danes is wearing a costume that has wings. Yeah, I was pretty sold. 1998's The Rainmaker then would have her as a bandage girl. The only thing she wasn't doing in those days was fighting crime and/or zombies in a sexy outfit. But she did play Cosette (Les miserables) which is still pretty cool.

What light from yonder window breaks?
What she's been up to in the past decade that I actually care about: Well, the only film of the 2000's I've seen her in was Terminator 3: Rise of The Machines (2003) and not only was that pretty lame, I also noticed that her looks were...not going right. As she's aged, Dane's somewhat angular features seem to have become more pronounced and, if you ask me, that's not a good thing. Honestly, you can joke all you want that I can never find a use for any women over twenty-five but just look at any before and after pics of her - it's true. She's lost her look and now seems downright ordinary.

I have a passing interest in seeing Shop Girl (2005) as it was written by Steve Martin and Stardust (2007), since it's based on a work by Neil Gaimon. But I really don't like seeing Danes now that she's older. Sue me.

(note: sometime in 2001 I saw 1997's Princess Mononoke (an amazing film that I own today) which stars Danes in the title role, but that obviously only features her voice and since it's a nineties work that I didn't see until after the nineties were over, doesn't fit the criteria for this list.)

1. Rachel Leigh Cook
What I saw her in: The Baby-Sitters Club, Carpool, She's All That

Rachel as Mary Anne in The Baby-Sitter's Club (1995)
It started in the books. My sister was just as much the voracious reader she is now when she was a kid and in those days probably about 80% of the stuff I read was stuff she had read first. Sometimes this veered me into strange territory as there was definitely some material that was more geared towards girls. The best example of this was Philis Reynolds Naylor's "Alice" series, which I continued to read well into adulthood. "The Baby-Sitter's Club" was a less successful endeavour. But I still read enough of them to become familiar with the characters. At first, my favourite babysitter was Dawn - the blonde hippy girl from California. But then I saw the movie and from then on, I only had eyes for Mary Anne Spier.

Of the babysitters, Mary Anne was the most caring and sensitive. In fact, she could be downright wimpy, often bursting into tears over the stupidest things. But when I could imagine her as Rachel Leigh Cook, those suddenly became endearing qualities. 

Ironically enough, Mary Anne was the only member who actually had a steady boyfriend - the chicken-fried Logan, whom I grew to despise. I should take my revenge in some totally immoral and disturbing fan fic.

Anyway I can't exactly recall how I wound up seeing the suckfest that is Carpool (1996) but I was delighted to see my Rachel in it. It was my main motivation for watching She's All That (1999) and I'll still defend that movie just to protect my sweetheart. Guess what, people? Putting glasses on Rachel Leigh Cook doesn't make her unattractive!

Sometime in the mid nineties she starred in a memorable update of the "This is your brain on drugs" public service announcement. It shows her desmonstrating the effects heroin can have on your body and your life by COMPLETELY FLIPPING OUT WITH A FRYING PAN. It was basically the hottest thing I'd ever seen in my entire life.

What she's been up to in the past decade that I actually care about: Hey, if she's in something, then I fucking well care about it. She's still amazing and beautiful. I really wish that the tv series based on "Fearless" (another series of books I wound up reading because of my sister) had gotten off the ground because Rachel Leigh Cook as Gaia = AWESOME. Apparently there is a tv movie of it that I guess was supposed to serve as the pilot so I really need to watch it then...go off by myself for awhile.

Also, her lovely voice can be heard in several otherwise forgetful episodes of "Robot Chicken" and she is the official English voice of Final Fantasy VII's Tifa which means a lot to someone like me.


Ryan said...

Oh Rachel Leigh Cook... you made multiple viewings of Josie and the Pussycats seem completely normal.

Cole D'Arc said...

damn right. i can't believe that movie is nine years old. stop the world, i want to get off!!

Shane said...

Great list, though I find it a little weird and embarrassing that five guys making lists took this long to do one about hot women. Forget about neglecting TV related lists, what abouts them ladies!? lol

In my opinion Tiffani Amber Thiessen was most hot in the later seasons of Beverly Hills 90210. I will not go into details on how or why I watched said episodes.

Jennifer Love Hewitt is the one I have the biggest crush on out of your list. She is still gorgeous today, though I wish she was doing something cooler than Ghost Whisperer. (That is never not on!)

Also you should definitely watch Stardust. Not because of Claire Danes, but because the movie is delightful and really entertaining.

Cole D'Arc said...

aha, by beating you all to the punch i have proven that i'm the only one who is not gay! it's too late for the rest of you now! you're out!

i guess since this list was about actresses that stirred up feelings in me besides just thinking that they're hot, it was a little long in coming. i had to be in a certain frame of mind to do it properly.

i will get around to Stardust. ive read it in graphic novel form and really liked it. as for Danes, i'll be sure to pick up My So-Called Life on dvd sometime soon.