Monday, June 18, 2012

"Bad" Movies I Love

All my life I continue to consume as many movies as I can. Movies of all variety from the schlock on late night cable to highly rated films that are touted as the cream of the crop each year. Movies are my escape, they are my window into new things and perspectives, they give me an outlet from everything else going on in the world. Watching a wide swath of films over the course of my life I have seen countless movies that others may deem as "bad" but for whatever reason I connected with them. These titles gave me some form of joy that may be deemed strange or foreign to others. These are ten "bad" movies I love in no particular order inspired by @bobfreelander of Rupert Pupkin Speaks...

Boxing Helena
In all honesty seeing this movie started off as simple teenage sexual desire. Think back to a time before every single person on the planet had internet access, back when VHS tapes, magazines, late night cable were a teenage boy's best possible ways of seeing some nudity. I saw a preview for "Boxing Helena" on Showtime and immediately set my VCR to record. What I expected was a awesome nudity-filled movie with the beautiful Sherilyn Fenn (Fenn was a girl my teenage self continuously lusted after following seeing her in the 1985 romp "Just One of the Guys" and later on the television series Twin Peaks). "Boxing Helena" certainly delivered on the nudity factor but it also opened a different door I didn't expect, a door into the world of taboo. Amputee sex and other strange on-screen desires I had never fathomed were injected into my thought process. This film illustrated that a movie could be both sexual and have some ripe ideas for discussion and debate. It opened my mind in ways that perhaps a teenage shouldn't be thinking but regardless I fell love with the film.

Leonard Part 6
I grew up with Bill Cosby. Whether it was Fat Albert, his comedy albums, Jell-O Pudding pops, or The Cosby Show I have nothing but fond memories of the sweater-wearing comedian. With that background, first time I saw "Leonard Part 6" was on cable about halfway through the 85 minute movie and I was immediately sucked into the campy CIA spy story. It finished and I instantly looked in our TV Guide to see when it would be on again so I could watch it all the way through. After a complete pass through I knew this was a movie I would continually watch. One it made me laugh endlessly. Two it loosely reminded me of the 007 and other spy movies that were so prevalent from the Cold War era on. Three, it is the kind of ridiculous I like. From the ballerina shoes that Leonard Parker wears to fighting off evil vegetarians with magic meat, "Leonard Part 6" is a couple eggs short of a dozen but it works for me. On a basic level it is a simple comedy adventure spoofing spy movies much like "The Naked Gun" spoofed procedural police work. It is quirky and it has moments where you wonder just what the hell they were thinking but again it all strangely works for me. Lastly, when the star of the film Bill Cosby told people to stay away from the movie, that screams to me means you gotta see it.

Hello, my name is Trevor Schoenfeld and I am a Ben Affleck-holic. It started with Richard Linklator's "Dazed and Confused" and the character of Fred O'Bannion. From that point on anything that Ben Affleck was involved in I had to see. As his career pushed forward while most people were laughing at his acting I was reveling with each new performance. My level of addiction to Affleck aka Afflecktion became clear as his movies were becoming more and more easier to pick apart. I was wondering what was wrong with everyone else. Why didn't people thoroughly enjoy "Phantoms," "Daredevil," "Surviving Christmas," "Jersey Girl" and "Gigli" as I did? Was my level of Afflecktion blinding me? Probably, but I don't care, I think Ben Affleck is national treasure and I am thankful that he has and continues to make movies for all to see. Now specifically about "Gigli," a movie that most people's jaws drop to the floor when I tell them I love it. They always think I am joking, but there is no joking here, I unabashedly love Gigli. If I see it on cable I will immediately stop what I am doing and watch. So why do I love Gigli, there are a couple factors. There first is how corny the romantic comedy is and not just Ben Affleck. Justin Bartha is hysterical as Brian an individual with special needs that Larry Gigli (Affleck) kidnaps. Second the off-screen romance between Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez that made producers revise a script to work in romance into Gigli fascinates me endlessly. It is a bad re-write too but J.Lo and Affleck's chemistry makes in awkwardly work. Affleck does do much of the ham-boned heavy lifting as the obtuse Larry Gigli that really makes me laugh. Plus Bartha and Affleck really do make a terrible odd-couple that is fun to watch on screen. Third factor is how much fun the cast looks to be having making the movie, well at least Ben and J.Lo. The off-screen couple have an electric energy that is undeniable and this movie is a time capsule of their fling I will forever cherish.

Howard the Duck
Never read the comic books but when this movie released in 1986 I remember begging for one of my parents to take me to see it. My mom earned that role something I know she wishes she could undo. "Howard the Duck" represents one of the first times I remember walking out on cloud 9 from an epic adventure only to be knocked off that cloud when my mother responded that was the stupidest movie she had ever seen. What was so stupid I wondered? Was it the duck? Was it the human-duck romance that buds between Howard and Beverly? It couldn't have been the action or all the funny? Was my mom crazy? No, it seems everyone else in the world hated "Howard the Duck" too but I loved it. A few reason I love Howard. I love the work that went into the puppeteering, even as a kid I was fascinated by how it was done. I loved that it was crass. I mean within the first 10 minutes we see a naked duck (with nipples) taking a bath, as a nine year-old boy, duck nipples made me do a double-take real fast and as the movie presses on the raunch continues to come in not so subtle doses. Part of that crass is Howard's humor that I get an ultimate kick out of. He's an asshole but he's a funny asshole so you partially forgive his brash nature. Or maybe that was just me because, most have major contempt for this flick; even my wife will roll her eyes when she sees me put it on.

The Happening
I have a theory that M. Night Shyamalan is a big fan of b-scifi movies and "The Happening" is his ode to low-budget science fiction movies similar to what Mystery Science Theater 3000 made fun of for so many years. Most have dismissed Shyamalan's film as junk, although using my theory I find this flick to be pretty damn enjoyable. For one you have utterly rigid performances by the entire cast with dialogue that is laugh-out-loud ridiculous. The cardboard performances and laughable dialogue generates amusement that ages like a fine wine. Two there is a intriguing hysteria versus disaster debate that carries on throughout a great deal of the film. While one side certainly wins out over the course of the story watching the process unfold builds a eerie tension. Three, the airborne neurotoxin allowed for some terrifying sequences throughout the film. I love that Shyamalan uses wind as the killer. It is a faceless and invisible threat that he wields a multiple good scares from. Lastly the odd blend this film has kept me hooked and a constant defender of it. How can a film be so corny and so eerie at the same time? The master craft of M. Night Shyamalan's ode to b-scifi that's how!

"Mandroid. Mercenary. Scientist. Ninja. Each one a specialist. Together they are... Eliminators." A tagline that calls out to people who love action, ninjas, mandroids! "Eliminators" is a rare men-on-a-mission movie that invaded my childhood and never let go. As far as storyline goes it is paint by the numbers what makes this flick so memorable is the half man-half tank created by wait for it, an evil scientist. River rats are sure to appreciate the amount of time spent on the water in Eliminators, there is a few choice action sequences and plenty of explosions to keep the blood pumping. Eliminators is filled with so many things that I loved as a kid that no matter how goofy it may be, I appreciate what it accomplished (even if it was on the cheap). When I say rare I mean it too, Eliminators never made the transition from VHS to DVD but can be seen chopped into segments on youtube (which I don't recommend).

The Adventures of Ford Fairlane
I'll admit that Andrew Dice Clay's schtick is tiresome but for this one movie it shines in loud neon colors for all to see. I love "The Adventures of Ford Fairlane" and all of its crass humor endlessly. It is one of many movies I remember my father taking me to on my request. I also remember him insisting that I stop constantly quoting the movie and doing the Andrew Dice Clay "Ohh!" after everything I said. Outside of fond memories with my pops, 'Ford Fairlane' is an honest to god fun detective comedy in the likes of "Beverly Hills Cop," "Fletch," or "48 Hrs." Sure it is brash and it houses a plethora of crude jokes but it works incredibly well despite the basic plot points (granted you can get past Andrew Dice Clay's schtick). Someone must have thought Renny Harlin did a good job with 'Fairlane' because he went to direct Stallone's "Cliffhanger." Plus Harlin's previous directorial effort with Nightmare on Elm Street 4, gave Harlin an excuse to bring one of my favorite horror icons into a wise cracking detective pulp. 'Ford Fairlane' houses a number of musical tie-ins that easily won me over. I am a huge Prince/Morris Day and the Time fan and having Morris Day along with a Shelia E. added to my continued enthusiasm. Lastly it has one of my favorite lines to quote when I see a super slutty girl in a tiny dress; "You have to shave to go out in a dress like that and I don't mean your legs. Ohhhee!"

Gentlemen Broncos
Have you ever told someone how funny something is, show them and they don't find it as funny? Welcome to my world with "Gentlemen Broncos." I have laughed nearly to the point of peeing myself watching this movie meanwhile I watch my friends sit deadpan watching the same scene. Being Jared Hess's follow-up to "Nacho Libre" I expected quirky humor that some would not find amusing but I never expected the response 'Broncos' received. Michael Angarano, Sam Rockwell, and Jemaine Clement are so good in their performances as the oddball characters Hess wrote for them. Not anyone can handle Hess's characters and I think this cast was ridiculously under appreciated for their work. Rockwell's performance alone as Bronco/Brutus is a riot as he plays the same character twice but under different constraints of the opposing writers. This is one of those movies that I think as time moves on more and more will come to appreciate its charm and quark.

The Postman/Waterworld
There is a overlapping tone between both of these films and it is optimism. Kevin Costner with these two films was facing a rough patch of his personal life and that may or may not come across on screen. Regardless what we are left with is two post-apocalyptic adventures that have stirred mixed reactions. I have always been a Costner fan (not to mention a apocalypse die hard) so these two movies appeal to me almost automatically. They have flaws that are not deniable but they both also have real heart and conviction that Costner poured into them and I can feel it bleed through each time I watch. I love Waterworld for all of its stunts, action sequences, and its epic vision. Its like a copycat Mad Max on water and it just speaks to me. Postman on the other hand gives me a reminder why I am proud of my country. It is on the nose and it is as some have said a failed parable but it still embodies a strong enough message to remind me how important aspects of our country are and why we should fight to maintain them.


The Happening is one of my favorite bad movies as well. An instant classic!