I meet a lot of my music at the theater. Sometimes I don’t even bother seeing the movie. And there was an era in the ’90s when soundtracks were the only reason I’d even care about a film. So this is a nod to those flicks outdone by their tunes. Not all are bad movies. But they’re among my favorite albums of all time.
10. So I Married an Axe Murderer
I always liked this movie. Loved, maybe. It’s full of quotable hilarity (It’s like an orange on a toothpick.) Ironically, one of its only weaknesses is the incessant recurrence of “There She Goes” throughout its entirety. But as fine as the movie is, and as annoying as that song becomes by the time it’s over, I love the soundtrack more. But since the movie’s so good, it comes in at number 10. (Let’s be honest, this one’s just here as an argument starter; I could have just as easily listed Tommy Boy.
Soundtrack highlight: “Brother,” Toad the Wet Sprocket
9. Dead Man Walking
Another great movie. And great in an entirely different way. But the soundtrack is complete, a work of art.
Soundtrack highlight: “In Your Mind,” Johnny Cash
Singles wasn’t terrible, but it pales in comparison to the Seattlecentric mix of greatness assembled by Cameron Crowe. And really, Crowe deserves a list devoted entirely to him. And that’s no slight against his skills as a filmmaker, he’s just got supreme taste in music.
Soundtrack highlight: “Breath,” Pearl Jam
7. Pump Up the Volume
Christian Slater delivered a disturbingly fun performance as the same character he played in every movie from Heathers on, but he didn’t have a prayer of living up to the music his character cued up throughout this flick.
Soundtrack highlight: “Wave of Mutilation,” Pixies
6. Natural Born Killers
Oh, Oliver Stone. I remember this movie. I can’t dream of a scenario when I’d ever watch it again. I could do with another spin of that album, though.
Soundtrack highlight: “Sweet Jane,” Cowboy Junkies
Cameron Crowe, again. I debated leaving this one off and substituting Hope Floats somewhere in here, but that movie was so not good, I didn’t see the point in including it’s just-okay soundtrack. This one, however, was inspired by Patty Griffin. In the end, the decision was a no-brainer.
Soundtrack highlight: “Jesus Was a Cross Maker,” Rachael Yamagata
4. Marie Antoinette
Sofia Coppola is probably a great director. One of these days I’ll actually watch one of her films. It would be easier if I could stop listening to this music.
Soundtrack highlight: “Natural’s Not in It,” Gang of Four
Take away the soundtrack and what have you got? Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon would be the hardest game ever. John Lithgow would be a beet farmer in Pennsylvania. Sarah Jessica Parker never would have been sexy in the city, nor would she have married Ferris. And what’s-her-name who played the lead female role would have a shelf full of Oscars.
Soundtrack highlight: “Footloose,” Kenny Loggins
2. Dirty Dancing
This movie is not good, people. It’s not. But it did bring dancing back with music that made it easy.
Soundtrack highlight: “Hungry Eyes,” Eric Carmen
1. Reality Bites
Never has a movie made it easier for critics to be honest with their one-liners. I mean, really. It’s too bad, because the music is so fantastic. And the cast is all kinds of awesome . . . look at those three! Just don’t watch the movie. Ouch.
Soundtrack highlight: “Stay,” Lisa Loeb