From Pulp Fiction to Can't Hardly Wait, the most memorable on-screen breakfasts of the decade
Ah, the ’90s. They taught us so many lessons about growing up in a time when the internet was just becoming a “thing” – when we slowly graduated from VHS to DVD between spending afternoons playing Super Nintendo, sipping on Hi-C Ecto Cooler, and trying not to fall on our faces while using our Skip-Its. One thing many of these films has in common? The impactful breakfast scene. Whether in comedy, drama, fantasy, or a place between, some of the best movies of this deliciously nostalgic decade teach some of its greatest lessons over breakfast. Here are eight of the best.
Pulp Fiction (1994)
The bookending scenes of this 1994 Quentin Tarantino classic take place in a diner, where the characters are having breakfast and also casual conversations about robbery. It’s the meal where Pumpkin and Honey Bunny remind us of the many layers true love can possess, where Vincent Vega and Jules Winnfield discuss how filthy and charming pigs are compared to dogs, and where the latter proudly proclaims his wallet is the one that says “Bad Motherfucker” after opening that famous briefcase whose glowing contents remain a mystery 22 years later.
Before bookworm girls had Hermione Granger, they had Matilda Wormwood – in both Roald Dahl’s classic book and its film version, which turns 20 years old this July. And in the movie, the precocious titular character (played by child-actress-turned-feminist-hero Mara Wilson) not only takes daily trips to the library by herself beginning in her toddler years, but learns to make a full breakfast on her own before she even starts kindergarten. The charming pancake-making scene, backed by “Send Me On My Way” by Rusted Root, is all the morning-meal goals.
Life with Mikey (1993)
While most would claim Back to the Future as their favorite Michael J. Fox movie, I’m over here pledging loyalty to 1993’s Life with Mikey. This film tells the story of down-on-his-luck former child star and present child-talent agent Michael Chapman. He forms an unlikely friendship with a street-smart kid named Angela, who ends up saving the agency owned by Chapman and his brother, played by Nathan Lane (Cyndi Lauper also stars so please, go watch this right now).
Angela moves in with Chapman and makes his life better in the end (duh). But along the way, she calls him out on all his disgusting habits – including being OK with expired milk, which he uses to make a point that backfires spectacularly (and disgustingly). Angela 1, Chapman 0.
Many ’90s preteen girls discovered their sexuality via the end scene of 1995’s Casper. You know the one – where Devon Sawa shows up as human Casper and Christina Ricci’s character Kat is all of us when she floats in the air while Casper asks if he can keep her and kisses her? Just me? Fine.
Anyway, there’s another sweet part of the movie that goes (understandably) unappreciated due to the epic levels of the last scene, and that’s where ghost Casper makes Kat breakfast – AKA, the real way to a grown person’s heart. You know, when school dances are no longer a reality and rushing hungrily out the door to be on time for an early meeting very much is.
Big Daddy (1999)
The late ’90s were the era of the two great Adam Sandler movies (don't @ me): 1998’s The Wedding Singer and 1999’s Big Daddy. And one of the funniest scenes in the latter is when Sandler’s Sonny takes his kid Julian (played by the then-adorable and now-all-grown-up Dylan and Cole Sprouse) to McDonald’s for breakfast. Sadly, they stopped serving breakfast a half hour ago. But while Julian cries, Sonny is the one to have an epic meltdown.
Whether McDonald’s starting serving all-day breakfast to prevent real-life scenes such as this from happening, I can’t say. But I have an inkling we owe at least a little to Big Daddy.
Reservoir Dogs (1992)
Aside from the ear-slicing scene – equally intriguingly and disturbingly set to the upbeat tune “Stuck in the Middle with You” by Stealers Wheel – the breakfast diner scene where the guys debate with Mr. Pink, AKA Steve Buscemi, about tipping etiquette is one of the most memorable cuts in a Quentin Tarantino film. Final verdict? Mr. Pink is a jerk, though to be fair, maybe servers were paid a fairer base wage in 1992 Tarantino world then than they are now.
Somewhat of a fun fact: This is the third movie on this list that Buscemi makes an appearance in, believe it or not – he’s the homeless man in Big Daddy, but he also has a brief scene as “Buddy Holly,” Vincent and Mia’s waiter at Jack Rabbit Slim’s, in Pulp Fiction. Buscemi (and Tarantino, come to think of it) must really like his movies with hard-hitting breakfast scenes.
Can’t Hardly Wait (1998)
The penultimate scene of this movie – which is, in my opinion, the best teen comedy of the 1990s and vastly underrated for its amazing cast and soundtrack alone – features most of the main characters aside from Preston and Amanda, who get their own separate happily-ever-after in a train station. The rest of the main cast congregate in a diner during the morning after their epic graduation party, and we learn how each of their paths played out after high school. Some of them met obvious fates while others surprised us, but one thing is for sure: Kenny and Denise, AKA Seth Green and Lauren Ambrose, are the real relationship goals of this movie.