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Today in Nerd History | June 22

Strap in for a cinematic journey through martial arts mastery, animated antics, and high-octane street racing as we celebrate the anniversaries of three films that left indelible marks on their respective genres. On June 22, we revisit “The Karate Kid” from 1984, which introduced audiences to an underdog story with powerful life lessons; “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” from 1988, a groundbreaking blend of live-action and animation; and “The Fast and the Furious” from 2001, which kickstarted a franchise that redefined the action genre.

Inclusion on this list does not imply that the entry is family friendly, only that is was a nerd culture milestone. Parents should, of course, use discernment.

© Columbia Pictures

1984: The Karate Kid (Theaters)

“The Karate Kid,” directed by John G. Avildsen, tells the story of Daniel LaRusso, a teenager who learns about life and karate from the wise Mr. Miyagi, becoming a cultural touchstone for a generation.

 

Nerdy Facts:

  • Iconic Lines and Moves: The film gave us the classic line, “Wax on, wax off,” teaching audiences about the basics of karate through household chores, and introduced the famous crane kick, which became a symbol of overcoming adversity.
  • Award-Winning Mentorship: Pat Morita, who played Mr. Miyagi, earned an Academy Award nomination for his role, solidifying the character as one of the most beloved mentors in film history.
  • Cultural Impact: “The Karate Kid” spawned multiple sequels, a remake, and most recently, a successful series called “Cobra Kai” that continues the story of the original characters, showing the enduring appeal of its message and characters.

© Touchstone Pictures

1988: Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (Theaters)

“Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” directed by Robert Zemeckis and produced by Steven Spielberg, revolutionized cinema with its seamless integration of animated characters and live-action settings, creating a captivating noir comedy.

 

Nerdy Facts:

  • Technical Marvel: The film was a milestone in visual effects, winning four Academy Awards including Best Film Editing and a Special Achievement Award for Animation Direction.
  • Animation Meets Live Action: To achieve the interaction between the animated world and real actors, advanced techniques and meticulous planning were required, including the use of robotic stands and puppeteering to simulate physical interactions.
  • Cameo Overload: The movie featured appearances by several classic animated characters from different franchises, including Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny, marking a rare collaboration between Disney and Warner Bros.

© Universal Pictures

2001: The Fast and the Furious (Theaters)

“The Fast and the Furious” launched a franchise that would evolve into a global phenomenon, initially focusing on the underground world of street racing and the bonds formed within it.

 

Nerdy Facts:

  • Start of a Franchise: What began as a movie about street racing based loosely on a magazine article titled “Racer X” about the New York street racing scene, grew into a sprawling franchise that spans numerous sequels focusing on heists, espionage, and high-stakes action.
  • Cultural Influence: The film significantly influenced car culture and popularized the import tuning scene, inspiring a generation to modify and race their own vehicles.
  • Star Power: Paul Walker and Vin Diesel became synonymous with the franchise, their on-screen chemistry and real-life friendship anchoring the series through various ups and downs.

June 22 is a day to celebrate storytelling excellence through innovative filmmaking, impactful mentorship, and adrenaline-pumping action. Whether through the disciplined strikes of karate, the comedic jabs of a cartoon rabbit, or the roaring engines of street racers, these films continue to entertain and inspire audiences around the world. Happy Nerd History Day to all who relish revisiting these cinematic classics!

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Station Manager of LTN Radio and co-host of the "Nerd History Podcast" & the "Two Words Podcast". Matt is a third-generation radio station manager who has done pretty much every job in the radio industry. Matt is the father of two boys and a little girl. It's probably the best thing about him.

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