Mourning the Loss of the Acceptance of Maudlinness in Film (Specifically 90s Cinema)

While, at the time it was happening, the 90s appeared to be an angst-ridden, moody decade, looking back now, it seems like everyone was complaining when they all had it so easy. The idealism the American population still had is evident in the saturation of maudlinness in films like Forrest Gump, Hook, My Cousin Vinny, Now and Then, A League of Their Own, With Honors, Titanic, Home Alone & Home Alone 2: Lost in New York and Scent of a Woman.

Dustin Hoffman and Robin Williams in Hook
Dustin Hoffman and Robin Williams in Hook
With the Republican years minimal in the early 90s and the liberal optimism of the Clinton administration stretching on for the bulk of the decade, it was almost as though sentimentality in film was par for the hopeful course. Sure, you had your gritty films as well, ranging from gangster movies like Goodfellas and Casino to sulkier Generation X fare like Reality Bites and Empire Records, but, overall, filmgoers were able to stomach a healthy dose of the overly saccharine.
Even oversexed Madonna got in on the cheesiness of 90s movies at the height of her "Sex" controversy
Even oversexed Madonna got in on the cheesiness of 90s movies at the height of her “Sex” controversy
But now, in the modern era of filmmaking, there is virtually no one willing to tolerate anything that’s even remotely mawkish. Some might find this a triumph, but there are a handful who can’t help but lament the state of the twenty-first century filmgoer’s inability to withstand overemotionalism. It makes one wonder if any of the Academy Award-winning movies of the 90s would even be able to get made today. Because we’re the inheritors of a new kind of jadedness–brought upon by a combination of post-9/11 and post-2008 financial crisis realities–that has rendered us incapable of not balking at bathetic staples of 90s cinema (e.g. long, rousing speeches at the climax à la Al Pacino in Scent of a Woman or ostracism and loneliness due to pure-heartedness à la pigeon lady in Home Alone 2).