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Monday, April 8, 2013

MAKIN' LISTS MONDAY: Top 10 Guilty Pleasure Movies

A few weeks ago, my first Top 10 list revealed my favorite non-animated movies of all time. Those were the obvious ones--the films I'd readily admit to loving.  This week, however, we are going in a slightly different direction--the movies I'm not so quick to reveal my love for.  Today, we look at my Top 10 Guilty Pleasure Movies.  These are the movies I don't mind spending a lazy afternoon watching, even if I tell people that I'm watching sports instead.  These are the movies that I know are stupid, but love anyway.  Heck, some of these movies will probably cause you to lose respect for me.

I was reluctant to put this movie on the list because it is the ultimate "no brainer" movie for males that grew up in the 80s and 90s.  We watched a healthy dose of ultraviolent films completely devoid of plot and characterization without complaint.  Giants like Stallone, Lundgren, Van Damme, and Norris were our heroes.  We'd watch them blow stuff up all day if we had a chance.  Even as these actors pass their prime, we still love them and that is the zeitgeist that made The Expendables franchise possible.  We could care less how stupid these movies may be--we just love tough guys and explosions.

This pick is likely to confuse people.  Don't get me wrong, Gone with the Wind is a masterpiece of filmmaking.  In many regards, it is one of the most epic and greatest films of all time.  But it also has perhaps the single worst ending in history.  For hours you watch the rise and fall of Scarlett O'Hara, a manipulative, spoiled, and downright nasty young woman who manages to rise from the ashes time and time again.  She is beyond unlikeable, despite winning the hearts of those who are.  And when someone finally stands up to her, she still manages to get a happy ending?  She is left with nothing, but is still optimistic of the future?  She should have been left destitute and alone.  It's what she deserved.  Shave off the last 3 minutes of this movie and its damn near perfect.  And yet, even with an ending that makes me so mad, I still love it.

08. GREASE 2
I really don't like the movie Grease very much, but having a wife and an older sister, I have seen it dozens of times and know the words to all of the songs.  That much I couldn't avoid.  I have no real reason for disliking Grease, it just isn't my bag.  That being said, I also have no real reason to like Grease 2 and yet I'm shamefully drawn to it.  The music is awful.  Michelle Pfeiffer's acting is pretty terrible.  The dude who plays Rex Manning in Empire Records's accent isn't believable, despite the fact that he is actually British.  And yet, if this movie is on, I'm not turning it off.  At least not until I've heard the painful innuendo of "Let's Do it For Our Country" or the seemingly made-up-on-the-spot "Cool Rider." 

So called "chick flicks" are often pretty terrible, schmaltzy, saccharine wastes of time.  Yet once in a while, your wife or girlfriend will leech onto one of these films and cry her way through it.  It's embarrassing not only for you, but for humanity at large.  Where the Heart Is just so happens to be that movie for me.  I can pretend it's just me being upset about the idea of someone else knocking-up Natalie Portman, but the simple fact is that I'm a giant softie.  This movie makes me bawl like an idiot.  I'm not afraid to admit it.  Shut up.

I was actually pretty hesitant to put this movie on this list.  It's a pretty hilarious film and might actually be my favorite movie on the list, but it is also a total chick flick and the most estrogen fueled film of the John Hughes library.  Plus I enjoy it not only for the hilarious hijinks of Anthony Michael Hall's Farmer Ted, but also for the love story between Molly Ringwald's Sam and her one true love Jake Ryan.  Every time someone forgets Sam and she feels worse about herself, I just want to scream at the television about how special and beautiful she is.  She deserves a great birthday and my heart grows three sizes every time Jake pulls up to the church in that absolutely choice red Porsche.

There is no shame in loving Meryl Streep (perhaps the greatest actress of all time) and there is no shame in enjoying movies where Anne Hathaway gets all sexy despite seeming to be a girl next door (we are just men after all), but I do feel like there is a lot of shame to be had in loving The Devil Wears Prada.  The majority of the characters in this movie are just awful and I spend most of the movie just wanting bad things to happen.  The film is surrounded by the most extreme materialistic culture that makes me want to vomit just thinking about it.  Yet I still get sucked into this.  At first I pretended to hate it whenever my wife would watch it, but then I started to suffer in silence, and eventually I managed to snag it on DVD "for her."

Back in the late 1980s/early 1990s, I spent many a summer sitting at home reading books when other kids were off playing baseball or hopscotch or whatever it is that kids do.  Once in a while, though, I'd turn on some cheesy action film on cable.  Sometimes it was The Beastmaster (remember when TBS showed that so much that we called it The Beastmaster Station?) or Clash of the Titans, but once in a while, HBO would offer up the absolute polished turd that is 1989's Arena.  The movie is about a human that bumbles his way into the world of alien boxing aboard a starship filled with aliens that would make even the cheesiest episodes of Babylon 5 look like Avatar.  The film had no plot, horrible acting, and cheesy special effects, but I probably watched it 50 times before the age of 12.

As I mentioned above, I spent many days watching shitty movies on cable.  No cable station showed worse films that USA Network though.  Yes, you may love their witty original series now, but back in the day, the channel only offered three things: 1) Cartoon Express, 2) UP ALL NIGHT with Rhonda Sheer, and 3) afternoon B-movie marathons.  My favorite of which was Hell Comes to Frogtown starring the Hot Rod himself, Rowdy Roddy Piper as one of the last remaining fertile males on a post-apocalyptic world comprised mostly of mutant frog dudes.  Flash forward to 2003 when some college friends find a $1 copy of the unedited Hell Comes to Frogtown on DVD.  Guess what? I love it even more now, even if it is a truly truly, truly awful film.

I'm letting this stand-in for all of the Star Wars prequels.  I know that you hate them and I fully acknowledge all of the reasons why they are pretty terrible (though Episode III does have a lot going for it).  And yet, I still love them.  Yep, I said it. I love the Star Wars prequels.  Episode I may be pretty damn racist, but the film was also the movie that made my young nephews fall in love with the franchise just as my brother and I did with A New Hope.  If you can see the magic of the prequels through the eyes of children, you'll gain a new respect for it.  Yes, you cannot deny how awful Hayden Christiansen and Jake Lloyd are as the future Darth Vader, but Jango Fett was a badass, right?  And the soundtrack was amazing? And I'm totally grasping at straws, aren't I?

Fun fact: before she was constantly being arrested, Lindsay Lohan was once a promising young actress with a bright future.  One of her biggest films was Mean Girls, a feel good comedy about how absolutely fucking awful teenage girls are towards one another.  It's pretty much the perfect film for 16 year old girls in your life…and maybe a few other people you once respected.  The movie is constantly on TV and I find myself watching it pretty much every time it is on.  I've watched it on back-to-back nights on TNT.  I'll admit it.  But you know what? I'm not alone!  Seriously, comic nerds, next time you see that this movie is on cable, look at your twitter feed.  Many of your favorite comic book writers and artists will shamefully admit they are watching it too.

What are your favorites?

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