REVIEW: ‘The Movies That Made Us,’ Season 2

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The Movies That Made Us debuted in 2019 and released four spectacular episodes that allowed viewers to take a look behind-the-scenes at the making of some iconic films. Now, The Movies That Made Us Season 2 is back, and the documentary series team are ready to deep dive into another series of seminal films that would launch careers and influence pop culture for decades to come. The Netflix original series is produced by Brian Volk-Weiss from the Nacelle Company (Toys That Made Us, The Holidays That Made Us), and features the narrative voice, and guide of the show Danny Wallace.

Season 1 was such a fantastic experience with the humorous tone of the narration, paired with facts, and first hand stories of the production of the films, I was instantly hooked. Enter season 2, with four films that will undoubtedly create joy. Back to the Future, Pretty Woman, Jurassic Parkand Forrest Gump.

The joy of the show is that each episode is able to stand alone, so as a viewer you can choose to watch some, or all of the show without affecting your viewing pleasure. Although I highly recommend watching them all.

Volk-Weiss approaches the tone of the series from the perspective of, “here’s that film that’s a pop icon, but did you know it was almost shut down, had its budget slashed, or was drastically rewritten from the original script that was optioned?” Which, from a narrative standpoint, is astoundingly fun. These four films have stood the test of time, and have embedded themselves into our culture to the point where fans know them inside and out. As Volk-Weiss highlights though, there’s a lot more entertainment to be absorbed from these movies.

There are so many top moments that make this show a necessary watch. For example, during Episode 1, “Back to the Future,” the film had originally cast Eric Stoltz in the role of Marty McFly due to Michael J. Fox having to prioritize the filming of Family Ties. The movie was six weeks into filming, and Stoltz was delivering a very heavy, drama-infused performance, as the young actor clearly missed the note about this being a comedy. Finally the director begged the show runners of Family Ties to let Fox play the role, to which he begrudgingly agreed. Fox actually filmed his sitcom during the day and the movie during the evening, noting he had to sleep in-between scenes.

During Episode 2 “Pretty Woman” I was stunned to learn that there were multiple versions of the script, to the point where the actors themselves had no idea which version of the film they were shooting on a daily basis. The director, Gary Marshall, had no clear vision about what tone the film should embody. Jason Alexander recalls doing several scenes in completely different styles from angry, to brooding, and a whole range of emotive styles. The show also details that Pretty Woman launched the acting careers of Julia Roberts and Jason Alexander to household names, with the latter getting the part of George on Seinfeld based on his performance from this film.

The third episode was, without a doubt, my absolute favorite by a country mile. Jurassic Park was not only a stunning film, but it definitively changed the landscape of filming forever. Originally, the action adventure film was meant to be shot in part with claymation, namely the dinosaur scenes. However, one rogue ILM employee, Steve ‘Spaz’ Williams, was pushing hard to show Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy that these types of action shots should be captured electronically, which at the time had never been done before. He met a considerable amount of obstacles and objections along the way, but this young creative persevered and pioneered a whole new avenue for graphics in films that would revolutionize the industry.

The last episode, Forrest Gump, was quite mind-blowing. I was stunned to learn that this book-to-screen adaptation took nearly 10 years to bring to life. The script was optioned several times by different studios, it was shelved several times, but finally it came to fruition. Even then, the filming hit several snags and the studio was intent on trying to slash the budget and remove certain key scenes. Honestly, as the crew are talking about the conflict between the directorial staff and the studio it’s clear that the Forrest Gump we know today could have looked completely different if it wasn’t for the vision of the director, and Tom Hanks himself.

Overall The Movies That Made Us Season 2 picked four fabulous films to deep dive into. The anecdotes from the cast and crew are utter pearls of pure joy. The comedic and exploratory perspective of each of the films allows the viewer a completely new frame of reference when considering these legendary pieces. Watching the series is like going up into your attic and dusting off boxes of childhood memories, and having the chance to remind yourself why you fell in love with these films all over again. I, for one, hope we get several more seasons of this documentary series because it’s just nostalgia in a can.

The Movies That Made Us Season 2 is now available exclusively to stream on Netflix.

The Movies That Made Us Season 2
  • 8.5/10
    Rating - 8.5/10
8.5/10

TL;DR

Overall The Movies That Made Us Season 2 picked four fabulous films to deep dive into. The anecdotes from the cast and crew are utter pearls of pure joy. The comedic and exploratory perspective of each of the films allows the viewer a completely new frame of reference when considering these legendary pieces. Watching the series is like going up into your attic and dusting off boxes of childhood memories, and having the chance to remind yourself why you fell in love with these films all over again. I, for one, hope we get several more seasons of this documentary series because it’s just nostalgia in a can.