Today in the Pandemic Film Festival: "Outbreak" from 1995

How does Hollywood deal with what we're going through right now? in "Outbreak," less social distancing and more helicopter chases. And a monkey.

April 14, 2020
Watching a movie

John Fisher

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I was looking for a movie to watch and I started wondering how many films over the years deal with the situation we're in right now -- a global pandemic.

I turned to this very helpful list, The 79 Best Pandmic Movies to Binge in Quarantine, and started with a Hollywood blockbuster from 1995 -- Outbreak. It’s on Netflix, with , and Renee Russo, plus a young and kinda pervy-looking .

In a nutshell, Outbreak is about a virus that originated with an African monkey and through an unfortunate series of events winds up in the United States. The first half is pretty riveting because it shows how easily and unwittingly we can spread a virus: kissing someone who's clearly deteriorating from the virus, taking a bite out of a cookie that an infected stranger was eating on a plane -- you know, the usual methods of transmission. Oh, and a graphic depiction of a person coughing and spewing microscoping droplets all over the place should sell you on wearing a face mask if you're not already doing it.

There's also a government coverup that adds an interesting wrinkle, but then it gets a bit in the weeds when it focuses a little too much on a love story, so while people are panicking about the outbreak, everything grinds to a halt while this couple wonders if splitting up was a mistake (you can see the answer coming a mile away.)

And of course because it’s a movie from the 90s there has to be a giant chase scene toward the end. But in this movie it’s not the typical car chase, it’s a HELICOPTER chase. Totally plausible.

Anyway, so Outbreak is like 50 percent "yikes, this is freaking me out" and 50 percent "man, movies sure were cheesy in the 90s."

You really can't go wrong with this cast, which also includes a power-mad Donald Sutherland and an energetic young Cuba Gooding, Jr.

Despite the 90s cheese factor, this is the kind of film that's methodically constructed to put you on the edge of your seat (back when people sat in seats to watch movies rather than chillaxing on the couch.) The chase scenes, the over-the-top yelling and the frantic musical score seem dated now, but they still manipulate a viewer the way they were meant to, so Outbreak is a fun ride for these uncertain times.

Read more about Outbreak here.

And . . . the trailer:

 

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