We all have them, those movies that you can't defend yourself for watching, yet at the same time you can't look away whenever they find themselves on your TV screen or computer monitor. These are the guilty pleasures, films that are either so bad they're good, or that aren't necessarily bad but yet for whatever reason you find yourself looking around to make sure no one sees you watching them.
We've all seen lists of this type, but this list represents movies that I personally consider the guiltiest of pleasures. Ergo some of the movies you'll recognize from other lists, and some you probably haven't even considered before. And again, not all of these movies are necessarily bad, I just feel guilty for liking them for one reason or another. Let's dive in.
10. Bend it Like Beckham
I want to state for the record that this is not a bad movie. Not at all. In fact it's actually pretty good (which is why it's only at number 10). It's the story of an 18-year-old Punjabi girl with dreams of becoming a football (soccer to Americans) player, despite the protestations of her orthodox Sikh parents. The movie is charming, clever, funny, and filled with heart. I also find Parminder Nagra adorable. So why is it on this list? Because anyone who knows me knows I hate romantic comedies almost as much as I hate "chick flicks", and this movie's got elements of both in spades. In fact I wouldn't have even considered watching it if Cinemax hadn't kept taunting me into doing so by playing it every day for a week while I was sick in bed. I finally gave in and I'm glad I did. I'm just a little embarrassed to admit it.
9. Six Days Seven Nights
It's Indiana Jones as you've never wanted to see him before; trapped in a romantic adventure-comedy with Anne Heche. On all accounts I should not like this movie. The mismatched leads, the predictable story, Ross from Friends, the last minute addition of a pirate threat that included Jango Fett and Machete (Temuera Morrison and Danny Trejo respectively) for no other reason than to keep its already paper thin plot going; this movie had everything working against it. And yet I find myself enjoying it. Perhaps it's the minimal but still present chemistry between Ford and Heche, coupled with Ivan Reitman's skill as a director, I don't know. Either way this bad movie on paper turned out to be a painless and campy bit of enjoyment, albeit a guilty one. Also I'm beginning to think that Harrison Ford cannot pronounce the word "nuclear."
8. The Matrix Reloaded
I loved The Matrix, the Wachowskis' love letter to animes like Ghost in the Shell, and the Martial Arts genre. Smart, filled with cutting edge visual effects, and beautifully choreographed, this movie was destined to become a classic. Then the sequels happened, and the franchise showed us that it had planted its head so deep into its sphincter that it could look up through its own throat (and that doesn't even make sense). I can't stand Revolutions, but there is something about Reloaded that drives me to watch it any time it's on. The acting is so wooden, but as a fan of Keanu Reeves that doesn't bother me much. The fight scenes are still well choreographed (when not interrupted by painfully obvious CGI), and the soundtrack is awesome. Sure its post-modern philosophical ramblings are pretentious and annoying, but when the characters actually shut their traps and starting blowing things up the movie is pretty fun.
Anyone remember this sci-fi action flick about a teleporting Anakin Skywalker being chased by Mace Windu, directed by Doug Liman of The Bourne Identity and Edge of Tomorrow? No? Good. Every director is allowed one or two stinkers, and admittedly this movie isn't even that bad. It's definitely not good, what with Hayden Christensen (the offspring of a human being and a piece of drift wood) as the lead, but at worst it's simply forgettable. The visuals aren't awful, and the concept is actually pretty cool; a race of humans called "jumpers" with the power to teleport, on the run from a religious sect lead by Samuel L. Jackson. It sounds like it should have been a hit, but ultimately the whole exercise was hampered by dull performances (save for Jackson and Jamie Bell) and a meandering plot. Still teleporting is one of my favorite super powers so I can't bring myself to dismiss this thing.
6. The Island
You know your movie is destined to go down in the history of bad films when you are sued by the creators of a movie mocked by Mystery Science Theater 3000...and lose (Parts: The Clonus Horror...go ahead, look it up). I wanted to say that this was the third of Michael Bay's films that was actually good (preceded by The Rock and Bad Boys) and it indeed does start off with promise. But Bay just can't help himself, and by the second act he fills it with all the tropes he's known for; explosions, sunsets, dramatic low angles of people climbing out of cars, racially stereotypical humor, glistening body sweat, the whole nine yards. Who would have thought that a movie starring Obi Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) as clones on the run from an organization trying to cut them up for body parts could be so stupid, and so much fun?
5. End of Days
I can never figure out what genre this movie was supposed to be in. Was it a horror movie, or an action movie? It looked like a horror movie, but felt like an action movie. Perhaps that's due to Arnold's typical over the top performance and huge arsenal of guns (for some reason), combined with the sheer scene chewing goodness of Gabriel Byrne's Satan. In the end this story of a former cop with a troubled past out to save a young woman from becoming the bride of the devil turned out to be neither. It was a spectacle to be sure, but of what I can't tell you. Regardless I still find myself watching it from beginning to end if I catch it on the boob tube.
Now before you comic book movie fans light your torches and brandish your pitch forks, hear me out. Yes this movie is bad. No one is denying that. But I don't think it's as awful as many remember it to be. Jennifer Garner was not a bad choice for the titular assassin, she was just stuck with a truly awful script and the most generic action story ever. A hardened assassin with a heart of gold must turn on her employers to protect her target, a precocious young girl with a mysterious secret that could change the world; been there done that. But the performances were solid, and the film actually boasts some truly beautiful visuals and set pieces. The cinematographer clearly had a vision when he worked on the picture and had the script been better it might have made a difference. This movie is the victim of what happens when you get someone completely unfamiliar with the source material to direct and/or write. That and the villains were pretty lackluster. Even so, the movie isn't awful and actually looks good, so for that I give it a chance if there's nothing better on.
3. Batman Forever
Okay now comic book fans, you've cut me some slack with that last one. Now please grant me a little leeway with number three. Joel Schumacher's love letter to the 1966 Adam West Batman was technically everything it set out to be. It transformed the overly bleak Tim Burton Batman into a more sexy and campy version. Was this a good thing? No, but I must admit I did enjoy the movie. None of the characters were as they should have been. Both villains were basically the Joker, goofing it up in typical Schumacher homoerotic fashion, and Batman prepared to give up the mantel for a woman he only knew for like a week. Robin was an 18-year-old forced to live with a complete stranger (for some reason), and Nicole Kidman was in the movie...because love interest. (And why was Gotham suddenly littered with giant half naked man statues, and neon colored street gangs?) But in spite of all this the movie was kind of fun. Carrey chews the scenery as always, but it works. And say what you will, but this is the first Batman movie (before Nolan saved the franchise) that gave us a solid character study of Bruce Wayne. Got to give it points for that.
2. The Wicker Man (2006)
Of course this movie is in the top 5. Why wouldn't it be up there? This is arguably one of the greatest unintentional comedies in existence. Neil LeBute's perplexing remake of the 1973 classic has rightfully developed a cult following. It's got everything one needs in a so-bad-it's-good movie. Nick Cage playing the worst detective in cinema? Check. Poorly timed jump scares that cause more chuckles than fright? Check. A love interest who couldn't finish a line if a gun was held to her head? Check. Women being punched in the face by a man in a bear costume? Check and check. Everything building up to the "climactic" finale is so hilariously odd that if you don't find yourself wanting to watch this movie again just to see if maybe you missed something, then there's no hope for humanity. What's even more amazing is that the scene everyone talks about wasn't even in the theatrical release. Nope, the infamous "Not the bees" scene exists only in the director's cut DVD, which means enough people actually saw this in theaters and decided that this was a movie they needed to own. If you haven't seen it, please do yourself a favor and change that. And before that, watch this "trailer" to set the proper tone.
1. The Happening
And at last we've come to it; the movie I'm most embarrassed to say I like. I hated Lady in the Water, the movie that assured me that Shyamalan could never recover from his decline as a director. Could his follow up, the 2008 R-rated "horror" film about trees using the wind to make people commit suicide change my mind? No. No it couldn't. What it could do however, was split my sides from hilarity. The movie practically begs you to take its ludicrous premise seriously, at times stopping the narrative in its tracks so a character could explain how this kind of thing could happen and how we, the audience, should be terrified. Too bad we were all too busy laughing at dead eyed Zooey Deschanel and confused faced Mark Wahlberg to care. When your protagonist's plan to evade the toxin is to outrun the wind (I'm going to let that sit with you for a minute) you know your premise is dead on arrival. Sure there were some rather impressive death scenes, but even those were not enough to save this turd. It did make money though, so it gave M. Night the opportunity to hammer the final nail in the coffin of his dead career with The Last Airbender.
So that's it, my list of guilty pleasure films. How about you guys? Did you like this list? Which of these movies would make it on your list? What movies do you consider guilty pleasures?