It wouldn't be hard to make the argument that I'm actually a man child in a state of arrested development. However I'm sure many of us that are still obsessed with movies can say the same. Regardless, I have to admit that my taste in movies and television has definitely matured for the most part, which is actually somewhat frustrating. I wish I was able to channel my youthful perception of movies instead of the cynicism of my adulthood. That way I could actually enjoy the Transformers movies without wanting to throat punch Michael Bay. Every once in a while I'll watch a movie I enjoyed as a kid and cringe at how horrible everything about it was. A prime example is the cataclysmic failure of 1997's Batman and Robin. Everything about that movie sucks, from Mr. Freeze's ice puns to George Clooney's bat-nipples. Today I hate that movie, but as a 12 year old it was pretty cool (especially Alicia Silverstone in leather). Still It doesn't take long for me to notice if a movie isn't as good as I remember. That doesn't necessarily matter, I still might really enjoy it! Those are the movies I consider my guilty pleasures. Those movies that conjure not only nostalgia but the naivety and imagination of my youth. So below I've listed my Top 10 guilty pleasure movies from my childhood.
10.) WILD WILD WEST
Okay, so I watched the majority of this film on TV somewhat recently and I have to be honest I was annoyed most of the time, disappointed for Will Smith the rest of the time and gawking at Salma Hayek all of the time because...DAMN! I can't remember the plot really. Kevin Kline is an inventor and Will Smith is a U.S Marshall and blah, blah, blah. I do remember not being able to turn the channel though. I was so hyped for this movie as a kid and I even listened to the radio until Will Smith's song for the movie which was also titled Wild Wild West would play so I could record it via cassette. Yeah I'm old, and the song was definitely a bigger hit than the movie. I think it's pure nostalgia, love for Will Smith, Salma Hayek's everything and the Steampunk aesthetic that gets this Men In Black in the West wanna be on my list.
9.) SPACE JAM
I still wanna be like Mike! And no I'm not referencing that God awful LIl' Bow Wow movie. I'm talking about Michael Jeffery Jordan people. As a kid and as an adult the only thing that rivals my love of movies is my love of sports. So in '96 when they put Michael Jordan in a movie with Bugs Bunny, I was sold. Jordan and the NBA was at the height of their popularity and with roles from some of my favorite NBA players from the 90's like Charles Barkley alongside other Looney Tunes characters like Daffy Duck this was sure to be a hit. Throw in a cameo from Bill Murray and a classic hit from R. Kelly before he was peeing on minors you have a cultural icon. Also you can still visit the original Space Jam website which is a legend in and of itself from way back in the dial up days.
8.) STAR WARS EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE
Oh brother, this one stings. I am one of the many huge Star Wars fans that live on this planet today and I was beyond excited for The Phantom Menace. Like so many others, after the first viewing I drank the Kool-Aid and proclaimed this movie the next great chapter in the saga only to get more and more disappointed with each viewing. The filter of time and a brand new truly great Star Wars film in The Force Awakens only solidifies my opinion that this film not only sucks but defecates on everything great about Star Wars. Or does it? Because here's the thing, I still enjoy watching it. I don't know why honestly, because I want to start a Gungan genocide every time Jar Jar Binks opens his stupid mouth and I really hate they picked a kid to play Anakin. However Obi Wan, Qui Gon and Darth Maul are all really cool and so is their lightsaber duel. The score is amazing and there is just enough Star Wars in the movie for me to actually consider this a guilty pleasure. Regrettably.
7.) ROCKY IV
So the first Rocky movie won three Academy Awards including best picture. It was a rag to riches, American dream, character driven story that featured some boxing and has been submitted to the Library of Congress as culturally significant. Rocky IV was a shallow, money grabbing, testosterone driven boxing film that exploits the height of the Cold War for a cheap antagonist and I don't care because I love every damn minute of it. It's so cheesy, it's so dated and so predictable. But because the first film and the subsequent two sequels makes you care so much for the characters you become very invested. When Ivan Drago kills Apollo Creed and you desperately want Rocky to kick Drago's communist ass. Throw in a couple of rock fueled workout montages and Reagan era imagery you'll want put on some gloves, take some steroids and topple the Soviet Union yourself.
6.) DAYS OF THUNDER
TOP GUN IN A RACE CAR!!! Yeah that's basically the idea behind this film. Growing up in rural NC not far from Charlotte I was living in the heart of the exploding NASCAR craze. I even met several of the drivers as a kid so naturally I was a big fan. In fact NASCAR is definitely my sports guilty pleasure to this day. Many scenes in the movie Days of Thunder was filmed very close to my home. In Charlotte there is a theme park called Carowinds and in the 90's it was owned and operated by Paramount Studios who built a Motion Simulator ride based of Days Of Thunder. It was freaking awesome!! After the first time I rode the Days of Thunder ride I begged my Dad to rent the movie for me on VHS. I watched the shit out of that movie and upon watching it again recently I still kinda like it. While the racing scenes are way way over the top the characters are in my opinion very accurate to the mentality of the NASCAR of the 90's. Especially the way they react to Tom Cruise's California open wheel driver character Cole Trickle. It foreshadows the real life reaction to Jeff Gordon who arrives in NASCAR a few years after the release of this film.
5.) ACE VENTURA WHEN NATURE CALLS.
Alrighty then! I'd like to think my sense of humor has matured in the past 15-20 years, for the most part anyways. It seems it has because most of the comedies I enjoyed growing up I think are just plain unfunny now. The sequel to Ace Ventura is an exception and to be honest I'm not even sure this qualifies as a guilty pleasure or a socially acceptable comedy. I still remember so many of the jokes from this film and I quote them quite often "happy helperton", "Bumble Bee Tuna", "Like A Glove", " Re-e-e-e-e-eallly...I could go on and on. In fact I'd say this movie may be one of the most underrated comedies of all time. If you haven't seen this movie at least check out the rhinoceros scene. It's classic.
4.) AIR FORCE ONE
Russians are notorious for sometimes making not so bright decisions. Just go on YouTube and type "Meanwhile in Russia" and you'll see what I mean. In the movie Air Force One a group of Russians make the decision to mess with the United States of America which rarely turns out very well. Especially in an alternate universe where the POTUS is Indiana f***ing Jones!! So Gary Oldman and his evil terrorist group hijack Air Force One in an attempt to persuade the US government to release a war criminal named General Ivan Radek, who was the former leader of a terrorist regime in Kazakhstan. Gary Oldman's character who is also named Ivan thinks President Marshall (Harrison Ford) was jettisoned in an escape pod during the hijacking. But we all know Harrison Ford isn't going out like a punk ass president. He stays on the plane and decides to take control and you can imagine how that turns out for the bad guys. With the exception of Ford and Oldman most of the acting isn't that great and neither are the Russian accents. Still this movie is really fun to watch even if it is Die Hard knock on a plane.
3.) DEEP IMPACT
A disaster movie with the title of a porno, DEEP IMPACT. The summer of 1998 had two blockbuster meteorite movies. One was Michael Bay's Armageddon which almost made my list even though Bay couldn't make a good movie with a awesome Aerosmith soundtrack and a built in excuse to use explosions. Deep Impact however is one of my guilty pleasures for sure. The first half an hour to 45 minutes of the movie is the best part to me because it seems plausible that the government would hide our imminent doom from us until the last possible minute. The rest of the movie is kind of a slow build up to the inevitable impact of the meteor that was in every trailer. I don't know if nostalgia or denial is clouding my judgement but I feel this movie is a little underrated. I hate it however when disasters always conveniently strike major metropolitan areas in the movies. You never see a meteor hit Scranton, PA.
I probably watched Hook at least billion times as a kid and I know for a fact most kids of the 90's can stay the same. For some strange reason I went well over a decade between viewings of what I considered a classic. One morning I stumbled upon Hook while channel surfing and out of curiosity I decided to look at Hook's Rotten Tomato score and my heart was broken when I saw this beloved treasure of my youth had a green splat score of 30%! WHAT! 30% How could this be? Spielberg as director, Hoffman as Captain Hook, Julia Roberts as Tinkerbell and Robin Williams as Peter Pan how could this ever fail. But alas, I like Peter Pan in this movie grew up and while I still enjoyed reliving my childhood viewing Hook I could now see that this film was a clumsy, muddled and complicated exposition. But damn it's got so much heart and will definitely be seen by my future kids one day if I have anything to do with it.
1.) A KNIGHT'S TALE
A Knight's Tale barely makes the cut of what I consider my youth. Either way this movie isn't just a guilty pleasure but is honestly one of my favorite films of all time! The boldness to make a medieval sports comedy about jousting with a soundtrack highlighted by 1970's rock artists like AC/DC, Queen, David Bowie and Thin Lizzy doesn't just take admirable audacity but huge giant balls. How did director and writer Brian Helgeland convince any studio to let him make this movie and how did he get it to work? If you take this film too seriously you'll hate it. It's absurd that the blacksmith invents lightweight Nike armor. It's over the top that Chaucer is reduced to a medieval fight announcer like Michael Buffer. This movie completely disregards history at times and fully embraces it at others. It's inconsistent and nonsensical ridiculousness but it's really, really fun. I love the characters and their relationships with each other and you can't help pulling for Sir Ulrich Von Liechtenstein. It's like a poor man's Rocky and a poor man's Star Wars had a baby in the middle ages. If you have never seen any of the movies on this list and I can only recommend one it would be A Knight's Tale!
So that's my top 10 list of movies I loved in my youth that are guilty pleasures as an adult. It was extremely difficult to narrow this list down to 10 titles and many times it came down to whether or not I could consider a film a "guilty" pleasure. To be honest I'm not sure if all the movies I chose would qualify. I guess the deciding factors were my guilt and metascore's. Movies I really like such as Contact, The Replacements, Independence Day and Mrs.Doubtfire barely made the cut. What did you think of my list and what are some of your childhood cinematic favorites turned guilty pleasures of adulthood?