The Archivist XLVIII: Time Traveling Back To My Youth with AIRBORNE and IF LOOKS COULD KILL


The Archivist
Welcome to the Archive. Following the infamous “Format Wars” (R.I.P. VHS), a multitude of films found themselves in danger of being forgotten forever due to their admittedly niche appeal. Thankfully, Warner Bros. established the Archive Collection, a Disc On Demand & Streaming service devoted to some of the more idiosyncratic pieces of cinema ever made. Being big fans of the label, we here at Cinapse thought it prudent to establish a column devoted to these unusual gems. Thus “The Archivist” was born — a biweekly look at some of the best, boldest and most batshit motion pictures the Shield has to offer. Some of these will be recent additions to the collection, while others will be titles that have been available for awhile. With over 1,500 pictures procurable on Warner Archive (and more being added every month), there’s no possible way we’ll get to all of them. But trust me when we say we’re sure going to try.

The year is 1994, I am 13 years old, and I am spending the night at my best friend’s house. My friend’s parent are HBO subscribers and he doesn’t have much of a yard to play in, so we hang out in the basement watching movies and playing GI Joes. This is a typical Saturday in my adolescent life.

Between HBO, basic cable, and the WPIX Saturday Afternoon Movie, there are a handful of films that we watched seemingly on repeat. Adventures in Babysitting, The Goonies, The Monster Squad,A Christmas Story… just a few of the ones that stand out as movies we watched more than our share during this period of my life. Two such movies are part of the Warner Archive, so it only seemed fitting to revisit them and share their glory with the world… though, this could only work if the films were able to hold up (Spoiler Alert: they do).


Remember rollerblading? If you’re under 28, chances are it was nothing more than something you did once or twice as a young kid, but us 30-somethings remember when they were the “it” thing. Everyone was rollerblading, whether at the rink or in the skatepark (though there it was “aggressive inline skating”). Kids, teens, and even grandmas had their own pair of blades.

Well, in 1993, we were at the height of “cool” when it came to blading and Airborne is all about blading. This surfer dude from Cali moves to a little hockey town in Ohio to live with his aunt and uncle while his parent are overseas (going overseas and leaving kids stateside was all the rage in 90s TV and movies, for some reason). The surfer, Mitchell, moves in with said aunt and uncle, and their son, Wiley (Seth Green). From here we have a formulaic teen dramedy… outsider kid doesn’t fit in, falls for the sister of his new worst enemy, scuffle scuffle scuffle, the two sides must unite to fight a common foe, and all is well in the end. Throw in the sports drama tropes, but change the typical sports to roller hockey and street racing, and that’s the film.

The 90s outfits, hairdos, and slang permeate every inch of this film. For a nostalgic child of the 80s who grew up in the 90s, this is not a bad thing at all. In fact, it’s a large part of what I still love about this film. It’s not all I love though; the film has a ton of heart, cheesy and sentimental heart, but heart nonetheless.

As I watched the film, I was right back on my friend’s basement couch, drinking cran-apple juice with seltzer and eating a snack or three. One of the things I didn’t know back then that I can’t avoid now is the film introducing me to a little known Jack Black. Long before he started the D or argued about rock records with John Cusack, he played a high school hockey goalie named Auggie. It’s a small role, but the unmistakably Jack Black in nature. He pulls some of his spazzy moves, uses his body as a tool in his comedy belt, and shows that charisma that the whole world now knows.

If Looks Could Kill

I decided to watch these two films back to back, which was almost total 90s overload. Richard Grieco stars in this teenage James Bond film (despite being almost 27 at the time he played the role) where he is essentially a brown haired version of Zack Morris that is mistaken for a spy, thus having to become one in order to survive. Grieco looks just like he did during his time on 21 Jump Street, so the dual role of being a high school kid and undercover feels natural.

The effects aren’t awful and the film is fun, though there are period where it drags a bit. In fact, despite being the more action oriented of the films in this 90s two pack, Airborne‘s pacing is stronger and more upbeat. The acting isn’t anything to write home about but there’s also no reason to complain. In short, it’s a decent little action flick that is more-or-less the predecessor to the Agent Cody Banks movies of the 2000s.

Unlike most other editions of the Archivist, this pairing is extremely simple and light. There’s virtually nothing heavy in either of these films, when you get down to it. However, as a double feature during a week where the world around you is going apeshit with murders, police brutality, and a circus-like election cycle, it was perfect. Airborne, especially, comes highly recommended as a perfect little piece of time. Even if the film doesn’t hold the same nostalgic value for you, it’s hard not to magically whisked away to 1993 when you watch.

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the author

Justin Harlan mostly watches kids movies because he has two toddlers who hog the Roku remote. When they go to sleep he occasionally has time to watch films that he wants to. His taste is often questionable according to Liam, but he's still good people.