7.25.2007

Confessions of a Crappy Movie Lover

A movie snob I am. I have never really pretended to be anything more or less. If I weren't a snob, I wouldn't bother to write reviews for most of the films I see, especially since I don't get paid for it. When people ask me what my favorite kind of movie is, I always say "good ones." It doesn't matter if it's action, drama, comedy, or Italian Neo-Realism (see: "The Bicycle Thief for true greatness), crap is crap and it crosses genres without discrimination.

But let's talk more about "crap." What defines it, exactly, in the movie parlance? Is it poor camerawork? Bad dialogue? Horrible storyline? Well no, not exactly. There are movies that have all of those attributes and can actually still be worth watching, if not downright good. So what is it? It's simple really. A "bad" movie, in the sense that we truly do not like it and never care to see it again, is one which offends our sensibilities past the breaking point. It may have characters we simply hate or cannot sympathize with. It steeps us in piss for two hours and casts us out onto the street feeling lost, angry, and smelling... like piss. It may be morally offensive and disgusting, pushing boundaries of taste that even godless hedonists like myself couldn't justify (see: "Bad Boys II" in order to get an idea of what I'm talking about). A bad movie is simply one that makes us feel, above all else, regret.

So that defines a "bad" movie. But there is a another category that is related, but is not quite the same. And that is the "crappy" movie. The "crappy" movie can be either good OR bad. The "crappy" movie can either offend us and send us packing because of its shoddy production values, or it can reel us in time and time again with some kind of special charm that only we and a select few can see. It's kind of like those guys on Jerry Springer with no teeth and about five kids that two women are inexplicably fighting over. Or it could be like that really nerdy, ugly kid who was in your math class that everyone pushed around and ridiculed, but you were secretly crushing for and would be mortified if people found out.

So what is the allure of the crappy movie? It appeals to something in all of us, I think. The need to drop all pretenses for a little while. In other words, you can go slumming for two hours and get back to your daily routine of attempting to be sophisticated with no one being the wiser. No shoes, no shirt, and you still get service. In fact, I contend that it's easier to like a crappy movie than it is to attempt to revere something just because everyone else seems to. There is a lot of overrated junk in the cinematic world. Can anyone say "Gone with the Wind?" Disney's "Fantasia" is also, for me anyway, an exercise in seeing how far into it I can get before I start snoring.

My favorite "crappy" movies are not in any particular order. It's time finally to come clean. To cast aside my feigned look of disgust, stand tall, and say to the world: "That's right! I LOVED this crappy movie!"

1. The Karate Kid -- I won't lie. The movie is horribly dated and it hasn't aged well from that period of the 80s that most people would like to forget, but I also know a lot of people who still love it, in spite of that soundtrack that makes you want to punch babies. But I can't get past that awesome friendship between Mr. Miyagi (RIP Pat Morita) and Daniel-san. And the movie still makes me want bust out my karate-chop action. See also: The Karate Kid sequels. ALL of them (even The New Karate Kid with Hilary Swank). They suck, yes. But for some reason they're still good!

2. Dirty Dancing -- Isn't it still every girl's young fantasy to go away to some special resort and fall in love with the hot, hunky dancer guy? Or something along those lines? The movie has good attributes, mainly in the form of dancing, but c'mon. The dialog is just not all there, and the story is more pedestrian than a 90-year-old guy on a walker. And songs like "She's Like the Wind" and "Hungry Eyes" will forever seal this movie in the schmaltz vault. Yet... I still love it.

3. Top Gun -- I'll admit it. This movie shouts its gayness from the rooftops at every possible opportunity. Quite simply, the characters were writing dialog checks that I could not possibly cash, and yet the film remains appealing. Is it because it features really hot, shirtless, oily guys playing volleyball? Does it feature those same hot guys in Naval Officer's dress whites? How about flightsuits? And kick-ass F-14 Tomcat footage? Yes, yes, yes, and uh... yes. Oh yeah, and Goose dies, and that makes all the girls in the room cry. Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a winner.

4. Blade -- No, it's not Citizen fucking Kane. In fact, it is usually considered to be on the "Daredevil" tier of the comic book genre (which is somewhere around the basement level, just above "Elektra" and "Ghost Rider"). But that's okay. Why? Because Wesley Snipes kicks ass and slices vampires with swords and other inventive weapons, and that's mighty fine by me. Yes, the dialogue sucks. The special effects also look like they were generated with my own personal laptop, but I have to give credit where it is due, and that is to Snipes' ability to be one bad-ass motherfucker. And did I mention he used a sword?

5. Happy Gilmore -- The thing about Adam Sandler's humor is that he is either loved or hated. Particularly when it comes to his earlier movies, which basically feature the same angry, infantile, non-sensical guy in varying roles. Don't ask me why I laugh more often than not with him. I think Sandler has some kind of a vulnerable, nice-guy humanity that he adds to all of his roles that shines through even when he's trying to beat Bob Barker's ass. Gilmore, the movie about the most unlikely golf-pro ever, is still my favorite Sandler flick, even if it makes little to no sense at all. My favorite part? Is when Sandler's nemesis in the film, Shooter McGavin (Chris McDonald) says: "I eat pieces of shit like you for breakfast." And Sandler shoots back: "You eat pieces of shit for breakfast?"

6. Ghostbusters 2 -- No, it's not in the same league as the first movie. Not even close. That one was a classic, and it simply cannot be replaced. But I have to admit -- I liked the slime in this one. And the characters were still just as likeable and charming as they were in the first one. Quite simply, I'd be willing to follow them pretty much anywhere, even into a crappy movie like this.

My soul feels cleaner now. I'm no longer ashamed. I feel that this list could have gotten much longer, but there was also the feeling that once I started getting into "Tales from the Dark Side: The Movie" territory, you might have lost all respect for me.

Now it's your turn. Confession time!

10 comments:

  1. "The New Guy" and "Road Trip" are two DJ Qualls movies that make me laugh for reasons unknown. Oh, so does "Saving Silverman." I think "Mystery Men" probably falls on this list, although as a send-up of the superhero genre I think it's brilliant.

    I liked "Ghostbusters 2" enough that I remember a lot of the zingers from it ("Viggy, viggy, viggy...you have been a very bad monkey!").

    "Happy Gilmore" was my first date with my wife, who likes bad movies far more than I do (She's got all the "Blade" movies, the "Underworld" movies, and the execrable "Van Helsing").

    Ian

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  2. BTW, in regards to "Van Helsing"...

    She dragged me to see it in a theater. After it was over, I staggered out of the film with the feeling that the "script" (I'm being charitable here) was "written" by a bunch of guys sitting around in a room with pizza and Mountain Dew where the words uttered most often were "Hey, you know what would be even COOLER than that?"

    Ian

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  3. Happy Gilmore is a blast!! There's another movie that is never shown anymore called Rustler's Rhapsody starring Tom Berringer, that I always thought was a hoot. Rock on Allie!!

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  4. Does that mean I'm gonna have to fight to keep Blade as well?

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  5. "Tommy Boy" has got to be my all time guilty pleasure. That movie cracks me up. I also like a few Adam Sandler ones, "The Wedding Singer" and "50 First Dates" are my favorites.

    I have all the Blade movies in my collection and I think "Batman Begins" is awesome. Does that one even qualify as crap? To me it doesn't.

    Mindless action movies are also great. "XXX" is way up on the crap movie list, but fun. Modern martial arts movies starring Jet Li are good go-to crap movies too.

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  6. Ian -- Underworld is probably another good one for this list. At least the first one. The second one strayed into "I don't want to see this again" category. And I'm glad you're seeing what I mean about Ghostbusters 2! lol Van Helsing was horrendously, unforgivably awful.

    Matt -- I shall check this out. I almost put Major League on my list as a shout out to Tom Berenger, who I think has made the type of movie I'm writing about an artform. lol

    Ken -- Shit, I suppose you can have Blade. Our own problems are going to come with splitting up sequels. lol

    SQT -- How on EARTH could you have thought of including Batman Begins on your confession list?! That's probably the best superhero movie ever made!!

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  7. I didn't think Batman Begins belonged on a crap list. But I always get crap from people who don't like comic book hero movies.

    I cannot wait for The Dark Knight.

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  8. You named some classics..except dirty dancing..can't stomach it.

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  9. Sometimes a crappy movie is the best thing to watch.

    You just have to be in the mood.

    -N

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  10. Hey, we all need our guilty pleasures every now and then. I confess that I love "Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle" with it's sophomoric humor and all. Dream sequence with the giant bag of weed -- golden!

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