Everybody does it.

What are “guilty pleasure movies”? Most people seem to think that they’re movies that you like but no one else does, hence the guilt. I agree with that, a guilty pleasure movie needs to be a largely despised one in order to qualify. However, it’s often more than that. The guiltiest of the guilty pleasures are the ones that you also know are terrible, yet you still like them. Every time someone lists the negatives you wholeheartedly agree and then add…”but I kinda enjoyed it.”

These movies just have that X factor, that special ingredient that, seemingly, you alone respond to. It’s usually something that’s impossible to explain, which makes my next self-imposed task quite a challenge. Nevertheless I shall embark…

The Master of Disguise is a truly empty movie, I totally admit it. It exists only as a vehicle for Dana Carvey to show off his impressions. Plot:

“An Italian waiter fights off a criminal mastermind with his inherited powers of disguise.”

– Imdb

The thing is, I’ve never even thought Dana Carvey’s impressions were particularly funny or accurate. Yet, somehow when he wrote a flimsy plot around them they suddenly became exactly that. I don’t know why, but I laughed. I laughed a lot! It had me cracking up all over the place. By the end I had realised that it was a funny movie and that i really liked it. Unfortunately, most others do not agree.

Meh, screw all of you. It was a comedy, I laughed…result.

“The coast is toast”? “The coast is toast”? Ay ay ay. And to make matters worse, the movie’s called Volcano. For those who need to be spoon fed, there’s even a picture  to help you understand. Can you guess what it’s about?

“A volcano erupts in downtown L.A., threatening to destroy the city.”

– Imdb

Oh really? Well that could be alright, what are the special effects like?

Oh god.

So, This movie competed with Dante’s Peak for the “lava” ticket. Now, I like Dante’s Peak but Volcano is better. For one thing it has Tommy Lee Jones, who I’m quite fond of. Jones has a way of reading dialogue that just sucks you in. I believe that he is who he says he is and therefore from the second the film starts – I’m onboard. Volcano in Los Angeles? Sure, Tommy’s there, I buy it. Terrible CGI? Tommy’s there. One man can stop a Volcano all by himself? It’s Tommy, dude, of course.

But apparently Tommy isn’t enough for most people.

I love how after 15 years there’s still no consensus. People don’t even care enough about this movie to hate it.

You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover…but in this case, wow. It’s a three-way of failure; The straight-to-DVD martial arts of Jean-Claude Van Damme, the irrelevant basketball fame of Dennis Rodman, and the emotional absence of Mickey Rourke trying to pay off his rent.

The movie really is as cheesy as the picture above suggests, but the initial premise has potential:

“Counter-terrorist Jack Quinn misses his target, Stavros, on the eve of his final mission. From there, he is sent to ‘The Colony’, a rebirth for presumed-dead assassins. He breaks free and seeks the aid of Yaz, a weapons dealer, for his final battle with Stavros.”

– Imdb

Jack Quinn, how cliche’ is that name? Other suggestions must have included Maverick Stone, Hal Walker, and Kit North.

So Van-Damme plays a perfect person who kills deserving bad-guys and loves his wife endlessly. He has nothing to learn and he never does, other than how to get his wife back after she’s been kidnapped. Great character development there. Dennis Rodman helps him out with a few extra guns and lot of comic relief.

Ouch, but for me the action works. It’s inventive, stylish, and often shot in an interesting way. There is a quasi-art film in here somewhere, with a definite attempt by the filmmakers to put their stamp on it. Did it end up any good? No. It’s as rubbish as you’ think, but it held my attention. It’s a fun watch, and the only bit that had my shaking my head was when Van-Damme and Rodman jump out of an airplane and land safely by enveloping themselves in a giant basketball.

Yeah, you read that right.

I could have picked another poster, but I decide to show you this one. That’s because it exemplifies just how ridiculous this movie is. Yes, that’s Arnold Schwarzenegger with two giant laser guns. Wanna see that? Then you’re in luck.

“A Witness Protection specialist becomes suspicious of his co-workers when dealing with a case involving high-tech weapons.”

– Imdb

Actually this movie’s far more serious and believable than something like Commando, which I’m sure the poster reminds you of. James Caan plays the villain, and proves to be a particularly seedy one. The action scenes are unashamedly over-the-top, but that’s what I love about it. This movie brings in any and all foreign elements it can to spice up the plot. There are airplanes, crocodiles, parachutes, suicides, energy weapons, x-rays, nail bombs, car chases, heart attacks, mobsters, hostage takers, raids, trains, moles, and the…

Was that enough to satisfy audiences and critics alike? No.

Everyone I’ve met either hasn’t heard of this film or laughs when I mention it. It gets lumped in with all the other Arnold tat, just like Predator, Total Recall, and The 6th Day. It’s not fair, Arnie did make some classic films with interesting ideas…but I admit this one’s just a roller coaster ride.

Now this one I’m going to vehemently defend. The Ladykillers is a funny movie! If you don’t agree…

It has a fun premise…

“An eccentric, if not charming Southern professor and his crew pose as a band in order to rob a casino, all under the nose of his unsuspecting landlord: a sharp old woman.”

– Imdb

…a funny main character, a good cast, a great atmosphere, and of course it’s made by the Cohen brothers. The bad part is that it’s a remake of a british comedy from 1955 and everyone looooooves the original.

But I like this one. I know I shouldn’t, but I do. For all the complaining I do about crap American remakes of foreign films, here is a shining exception to the rule. It takes the premise in a fun direction and does something outlandish with it, and for that I give it props. The humour is more absurd than directly laugh-out-loud, but it still works.

Ok, this probably seems like an odd choice to you. You’re saying to yourself “The Passion of the Christ is a guilty pleasure?” Well, yes. There isn’t necessarily a lot of pleasure, but there sure as hell is a lot of guilt. I’m sure you all know the story, but:

“A film detailing the final hours and crucifixion of Jesus Christ.”

– Imdb

Firstly, I’m an atheist. In fact it’s worse than that, I’m an anti-theist.  I despise religion. Religious people may in and of themselves be perfectly wonderful human beings, but the religion itself is a poison on society. Yes, it is, it just is.

So I hear about this new Jesus movie coming out, made by Mel “son-of-a-holocaust-denier” Gibson. The buzz around it makes me curious, but I retain my scepticism about it actually being able to move me in any sort of emotional way. I watch it, and I’m floored. It’s actually good! Now, I didn’t walk out of the cinema as a “born-again” or anything, but I liked it. Tonally, atmospherically, visually, and musically it’s put together rather well.

A lot of people might say that when you beat, whip, and nail a guy to  a cross for over two hours, it’s not hard to create some sympathy for him. I hear the argument, but you have to understand one thing; I’ve seen this kinda stuff before. Saw, Hostel, Grotesque, Martyrs, The Human Centipede, Guinea Pig Films, Men Behind the Sun, 120 Days of Sodom, you name it, I’ve seen a lot of torture porn movies. The Passion of the Christ is a really good torture porn movie.

Never-the-less, because of my own spiritual convictions and all the anti-semitic accusations surrounding the film, I find myself in a sense of guilt. Nothing about the message of this movie should be to my liking. It’s clearly aimed to please hardcore christians, which I am not. Still…it’s on my DVD shelf.

Naturally audiences and critics were a little divided on this one.

“A private investigator is hired to discover if a “snuff film” is authentic or not.”

– Imdb

My goodness, there’s so much to hate about this one. It stars Nicolas Cage, who we all know cannot turn down a screenplay. It’s directed by Joel Schumacher, who gave us Batman & Robin, also known as “BDSM-man and the gimp”. And to top it all off, the writer has disowned the film and refuses to watch it.

…so then why did I enjoy it so much?

8mm is pretty intense, featuring shady characters and never-ending mysteries. Aside from Nicolas Cage the cast is actually pretty solid. James Gandolfini, Peter Stormare, Joaquin Phoenix, and Anthony Heald all make appearances. Alright, Nicolas Cage isn’t that bad either. In fact this may just be one of his best performances ever.

So how does it translate to the “tomatometer”?

Yeah, seems about right.

Urgh, this is somewhat of an embarrassment for me. See, I hate laddie boys movies; films where misogynistic man-children whistle at girls and expect me to find it funny. Sorry Superbad and 40 Year Old Virgin, I don’t bite. No it’s not that I’m gay or a feminist. I like naked attractive women as much as the next man, but I don’t consider pointing and shouting about their “hotness” to be the pinnacle of hilarity.

So a movie like Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo would be far too tasteless for a snob like me, no? Hmmm.

“A man becomes a male gigolo after being mistaken for one while housesitting a male gigolo’s house.”

– Imdb

Now listen, I am not shitting you about this. Here are a few of the movies I consider to be vile masturbatory womens-objectification projects:

..and yet, I liked Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo. Actually, scratch that, I loved it. This is a film that was born out of the same primordial ooze that all the rest of those wank-flicks were, but it’s so much better than the rest.

Why? It’s simple, it’s funny, it’s effective. Rob Schneider is a perfect fit for the role and there is creative humour at the film’s core. Each of the women that Deuce has to seduce (no rhyme intended) are unique and hilarious in their own right. I genuinely recommend it as a comedy. I hope you laugh as much as I did, not as little as these guys did:

I have a plea to filmmakers the world over: Make more good shark movies!

Jaws is a classic. It’s great, we love it, it’s wonderful. It’s all been said before, but where do we go from there?

I love sharks, who doesn’t? I don’t want to swim with them or anything, but they’re beautiful creatures. Not only that, they make perfect force-of-nature villains. Why aren’t there better shark movies? They made Jaws 2, 3, and 4 – all crap. Then there was Great White, Shark, Shark Attack (1, 2, 3, and 4), Shark Swarm, Sharks in Venice, Dinoshark, Sharktopus, and Shark Night 3D. None of them were any good. What was it about sharks that only Steven Spielberg could manage?

But then, in 1999, Renny Harlin directed a film that stemmed the tide. It was called Deep Blue Sea.

Now, as this is a post about guilty pleasures, I will agree that Deep Blue Sea is in fact a terrible film. In concept and execution it appears to everyone as a complete waste of time. What is the concept you ask?

“Searching for a cure to Alzheimer’s disease a group of scientists on an isolated research facility become the bait as a trio of intelligent sharks fight back.”

– Imdb

Absurd, right? I hear you. Now how is the execution?

Well, we’ll let that stand as a metaphor.

Ok, the CGI is terrible. Seriously, it’s teeeeerrible. Besides that, however, i like it a lot. The robotic sharks look great, and they’re used throughout most of the movie. It has a lot of action scenes that really push the limits of what you expect out of a killer-shark movie. The deaths are gory, the stakes are high, and the soundtrack is epic. In fact it’s so epic that Nightwish did a cover of it (called “Crimson Tide and the Deep Blue Sea”). I’m gonna show you the trailer now, just cause I feel like you should see it.

Deep Blue Sea (1999) trailer

And now I’m going to show you the rottentomatoes score, just cause I feel like you should know how much everyone else hated seeing it.

I know, right? “Seriously, Armageddon?”

But that’s exactly why it’s perfect for the top slot. Never has there been a movie that I’ve enjoyed so much, whilst being so aware that I shouldn’t. If I was one of the cowboys in Brokeback Mountain, this film would be my gay lover. I just can’t quit you, Armageddon. It’s forbidden, but it feels so good!

I love facts. I just need to state that. I love scientific facts. Truth is of paramount importance in my life, and there is no truth in Armageddon.

“When an asteroid the size of Texas is headed for Earth the world’s best deep core drilling team is sent to nuke the rock from the inside.”

– Imdb

There is no planet in any solarsystem, in any galaxy, or in any universe, on which the events of this film could ever take place. NASA sends Bruce Willis and a team of oil-rig drillers into space to save Earth? Wha-tha-fuuuck? How am I meant to believe this. Who would be foolish enough to put something like this together and think they could get away with it?

Oh. Well then, let’s give it a try.

Armageddon (1998) trailer

Hell…yeah!

I realise that I use the word “atmosphere” a lot, but this film is all atmosphere, and it’s off the fuckin’ chain. This is Micheal Bay before he became a pervy porno-director, when he was just a flagloving propaganda-pushing corporate-sellout entertainer. “America saves the world? I’ll take multiple servings, thank you. Anybody else want some?”

“Alright then, more for me.”

Rant Over!

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