Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Two Thumbs Shamefully Up: The Movies You Hate to Admit You Love

Just for a moment, back to something frivolous.

Everyone seemed to have good fun revealing the guilty pleasures that have found a welcome home on their iPods. In that same spirit of disclosure, speak thee now of those movies that are hidden behind the rows of respectable DVDs in your collection? No, not those movies. I mean the ones that were universally panned by critics, but that you simply adore. Or the ones that are of a genre that a person of your particular gender, age, or persuasion shouldn’t be caught dabbling in, yet dabble you do. Surely you all have among your favorite movies, at least one that you don’t like to talk about. So start talking.

I’m prepared to reveal, for the first time in a public forum, that I like the movie Four Weddings and a Funeral. Yes, a chick flick of the highest order. A Hugh Grant vehicle in which his school-boyish stammering and true-hearted roguishness is introduced to an international audience, making him an instant star and affording him the opportunity to dump Elizabeth Hurley for Divine Brown.

For the record, I find Hugh Grant’s act as thin as most of you do, but it works in this film, perhaps because I was seeing it for the first time and did not yet know it comprises the entire output of his instrument, to borrow a term from famed acting instructor, Lee Strasburg. Grant plays the role of the yearning, yet commitment phobic “guy” as well as anyone could. Well, maybe Jack Black could have done it as well, but from what I understand, he doesn’t preview well as the dreamy lead.

Better than Grant are the supporting characters who were all very good and also good for a laugh or two. I’ve always liked the British sense of humour and it could be that this has skewed my perception to the point that a line spoken with a British accent sounds funny to me, while the same line spoken by Pauly Shore would sound stupid. Still, there is some genuine humour here. The comedy most often involves one of the merry band of wedding goers saying something inappropriate, not in a crazy morning DJ kind of way, but delivered more subtly by someone who is socially awkward or indifferent.

One of my favorite scenes in the movie doesn’t involve comedy or any of the four weddings, but the lone funeral. In it, Matthew recites W.H. Auden’s “Funeral Blues” after his companion, the drunken and jolly Gareth, drops dead from a heart attack. Maybe it’s Matthew’s Scottish accent, which for some reason makes people weep instantly, or more likely the way the character delivers the lines, but it is truly touching.

Speaking of accents, Andie MacDowell’s is clearly one of the most fetching in Hollywood. It’s not really Southern Belle, more Southern Siren. Some may find Ms. MacDowell’s voice whiney, and in St. Elmo’s Fire it was, but only because she had to play opposite Emilio Estevez’s uber-annoying character, Kirby. If I recall, I whined a lot during that movie as well.

Four Weddings and a Funeral is a good movie, not a great one. I would never lay out cash to own it, or even rent it again. But if I’m ever couch-ridden and come across it on Lifetime, I’d much rather watch that than Trick My Truck or the NBA finals.

Before leaving you to reveal your celluloid shame, I want to differentiate between a guilty pleasure and a movie that is so bad that you find it irresistible. You know the type, the serious drama that plays as a perfect satire. Road House is a great example of such a movie. I can’t help watch it when it’s on, not so much for the ridiculousness of sissy-dancing-boy Patrick Swayze being passed off as a Zen-guided, backwoods brawler, but for the dialogue that was obviously screen tested for coolness by an arcade-full of mulleted adolescent boys. It’s unintentionally brilliant, but it’s not what we’re looking for here.

We don’t want to know movies that you love for their awfulness, but movies that you honestly think are good and worthwhile, even though it pains you greatly to admit it.*

*Since James Blunt hasn’t yet made his cinematic debut, I’m going to guess that Russ goes with From Justin to Kelly as his favorite guilty pleasure. And I have a feeling that Monkey Boy simply adores anything with Streisand in it, as long as the other monkeys aren't around.


Will said...

People tell me I should feel ashamed for loving the Dukes of Hazzard movie. I liked the show growing up and I like the movie.

I think Johnny Knoxville is a good actor. The movie was fun, Southern, and I'm partial to the fact that it had a pro-environmental plot. The Duke boys were trying to stop Boss Hogg's plot to wreck Hazzard County with a coal mine. The fact that Hogg tried to do it quietly by hoping no one would notice the public hearing held during a big festival is oddly familiar.

Willie Nelson was hilarious in it too. The only disappointment is that they made Daisy Duke a ditzy blond. Wrong. Just wrong.

M.B. said...

I'm going wayyyy back here, to the 80's. High school days.

On a hot summer day my neighborhood friends wanted to go to a movie. Much to my chagrin they chose John Carpenter's "The Thing." I had recently watch "At The Movies" with Siskel (pompous ass) & Ebert and they gave the movie one star so I was expecting to hate it. I learned a valuable lesson about not listening to other's opinions on such subjective topics.

The movie was awesome! It had a good story line in that it basically picked up where the original "The Thing" had left off. It had great special effects for an 80's era movie. It was scary, and most importantly had gruff but lovable character actor Wilford Brimley in it. What more do you want in a movie?

I am not ashamed to say I loved this movie. I bring it up because I think it was very underrated.

Anyone agree or disagree?

Anonymous said...

I don't get it.

Four Weddings and a Funeral got 3 1/2 stars out of 4 from Ebert. It got 97% on Rotten Tomatoes, which is a score reserved for movies that are almost universally admired.

Does it pain you to admit that you ilke a chick flick, no matter how good it is? Does it pain you to admit that you ilke a Hugh Grant movie, no matter how good it is?

BlogFreeSpringfield said...


After watching Nine Months, it does pain me to speak favorably of Hugh Grant. But I did it anyway and I'm a better person for it.


I've never seen The Thing, but anything with Wilford in it just makes good sense.


Dukes of Hazzard? You really should be ashamed. Although I haven't seen it so I guess I shouldn't judge.

Thanks for commenting,

russ said...

Oh, there are far too many to list. Even though I'm a movie geek, I'm definitely not a movie snob. I'd just as soon sit down for a showing of Anchorman as I would for Citizen Kane. I'll narrow it down by excluding comedies, which almost never get good reviews but are usually the only genre films that hold up over multiple viewings. That takes Better Off Dead and Caddyshack off the table.

I'll go with Empire Records, which tallied a whopping 7% score at Rotten Tomatoes. Anything with Robin Tunney in the cast is worth watching, but the real reason I can watch this not-so-good flick over and over is the soundtrack - easily one of the top 3 of the 90's.

For the record, I also feel a little ashamed to like Hugh Grant movies. I think it might be because he just plays Hugh Grant in every single role he's in. Still, Notting Hill and Love Actually were pretty good. I'm straight.

Is Point Break disqualified under the same rules as Road House? Maybe we need a Swayze Rule for this question.


Rock-Robster said...


I was literally preparing to write Roadhouse before I finished reading your assignment and learned I can’t use that one. But, for the record, my favorite things about that film are the supporting characters – Sam Elliott as the ass-kickin’ buddy Wade Garrett, the bad guy’s name is Brad Wesley (what a great weasely name for a great weasly on-screen villain!), and – OF COURSE – Jeff Healey!!!!!.

But I digress . . .

I guess, if compelled by your BFS order, I’d have to choose as my film sentiments de culpabilité the 1972 classic “The Poseidon Adventure” – it’s got a great ensemble cast (in the true ‘70’s disaster film fashion) and we get to see an de-aped Roddy McDowall!!

It was either that, or Point Break – but I wasn’t sure if all P. Swayze films were off limits or not . . . !

Anonymous Communist said...

Great topic, Dan. Unfortunately, I'm about as knowledgeable about movies as I am the intricacies of the state budgetary process. Which is to say, not very.

I just haven't seen enough movies to be able to know whether I movie I really like I'm actually supposed to think is terrible.

Taking a cue from Russ, I'm going to go with "Judgment Night." I haven't seen it, but I heard it sucked and its soundtrack also is in the top 3 of the 1990s.

Unpainted Huffhines said...

One movie this decade I like the most, but feel a bit ashamed of, is "Just Friends" with Ryan Reynolds, Amy Smart, Anna Faris and Chris Klein. I watch it every time it's on TV and think Klein and Faris are flat-out brilliant.

Here are other three-star movies from the decade, most of which people would give me the crazy eyes for recommending: Miss Congeniality, Charlie's Angels, Bounce, Cats and Dogs, The Santa Clause 2, The Core, Radio, The Punisher, Resident Evil: Apocalypse, Walking Tall (the remake with The Rock), Without a Paddle, Monster-in-Law, Guess Who, The Wedding Date, Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo, Click, Flyboys, Gridiron Gang, Stick It and, probably the big daddy of them all, Jersey Girl.

BlogFreeSpringfield said...

There is no Swayze rule, per se. If you really think that Dirty Dancing is a good movie, then you really should be ashamed. But if you only like it because "Nobody puts Baby in a corner" is so pretentiously bad that it's funny, then it doesn't fit in the category of guilty pleasures.

I hope this cleared things up.

Russ and Jeff's comments lead me to believe that a best movie soundtrack poll will be appearing soon on a Springfield blog near you.

brunettechicagogal said...

I dunno. I'm a huge movie snob. I don't see many of them because I don't think very many are worthy of an audience. Someone mentioned "Love, Actually," which I'm not sure is a solid movie, but I LOVED it. However, I'm not embarrassed to admit that, so I'm already not adhering to your criteria. OK, maybe this counts: A 60s sleeper called "With Six You Get Eggroll." Brian Keith, Doris Day, both widowed with kids, they get married a la Brady Bunch, and the rest is a crazy mix of hippies, bell bottoms, station wagons and the like. I probably should be embarrassed that it's among my top 5 favorites, but I'm not.

m.b. said...

I thought we were only doing one movie!

Here is one more:

"To Live and Die In L.A."

Actually made being a Secret Service Agent seem cool. Perfect example of how movies distort reality.

Gotta comment on the original "Poseidon Adventure" appearing in this blog. That was as good as movies get in it's day. Now if you were to say that you liked the remake then it fits nicely into this blog as it was truly awful.

Chazz said...

All right, I'll admit it right here, I liked Beautiful Girls. You'll probably tar-and-feather me for it. Came out about '96 and had a great cast. Tim Hutton, Matt Dillon, Michael Rapaport (who I thought stole the show in this film) and who can forget the gals....Mira Sorvino, Lauren Holly, Uma Thurman, a 13 year old Natalie Portman and Rosie before she was a real b*&%c.

It's a buddy film as much as it is a girl/love/lust film, in my humble opinion. Tim Hutton plays a guy at a crossroads in his life, going back to his hometown for a high school reunion and to find out what he really wants to do with his life and his fiance. I thought it was an excellent movie. The "forbidden" crush that Natalie Portman develops for him while he's home is funny. That's the main story line, but it is filled with so many smaller sub-plots, it's just a fun movie.

And......who can argue with Uma Thurman AND Mira Sorvino...a couple of hotties!!

Yes, I'll admit it, I really liked this one.

BlogFreeSpringfield said...


You really have nothing to be ashamed of, unless you, like Tim Hutton's character, found yourself with a mild crush on the then-illegal Natalie Portman. If your ogling was focused more on Uma, then this is a perfectly respectable choice.


Anonymous said...

ahh OK here goes and Im about to type it. Nope cant do it. OK what the hell.....Steel Magnolias makes me laugh and weep a bit.....I actually find it a funny movie despite being such a chick flick. I do have an issue with her dying on a vent after reciveing a kidney. How gosh not to re-donate....

Anonymous Communist said...

I saw "Beautiful Girls." Don't remember much about the movie except that Ween was on the soundtrack.

Anonymous said...

U.H.F., with Weird Al!!

Henny Penny said...

Mona Lisa Smile is chock full of bad cliches but I watch when I catch it on - but NEVER when my husband's around.

But in the last two weeks we have watched both "The Fountain" and "The Number 23" which were his choice and HUGE duds.

Anonymous said...

I am as manly as it gets, I drive a Ford F150 to work where I drive a Mack truck, I am 6'2" and 210lbs, I have more scars than I can count, I fish, I hunt,I played football in high school and college, I scuba dive, and I can rebuild the engine on just about anything. yes I am manly, and I love the movie "Clueless"