A guilty pleasure is defined as something that is poorly made that is still held somewhat in high regard by an individual. This is not like a “camp film” where the audience sadistically enjoys a film’s poor quality to the point that they take pleasure in ridiculing it. A guilty pleasure is a film that wasn’t necessarily impactful in the cinema world, but there is something about it that you personally like, which makes it worth something to you. However, the film is called a GUILTY pleasure for a reason…you know, deep down, the film isn’t really that good. Most of the time you’re somewhat embarrassed to admit that you even like the film.
For the sake of this feature, I’m going to divulge to you, fellow reader, my personal top 10 guilty pleasures. I will admit that these movies are mostly terrible, but I will counter that statement by claiming that I will willfully watch these films again and again.
Nurse Betty (2000)
Nurse Betty stars Renee Zellweger as a mid-west waitress who is obsessed with her daily soap opera, specifically with the show’s character, Dr. David Ravell (Greg Kinnear). When she witnesses the murder of her husband, Betty has a mental collapse and reawakens to believing her soap opera is real, Dr. David Ravell is her true-love, and embarks on a road trip to claim her love. Unbeknownst to her while she is doing this, are two hit men (Morgan Freeman and Chris Rock) seeking to execute her. Does this movie sound ridiculous? Trust me, it is. The movie is so absurd that it actually becomes surprisingly memorable. Also, ANY scene with Allison Janney in this film is gold.
Wrongfully Accused (1998)
Words cannot begin to describe how AWFUL this movie is. If you are expecting any ounce of true respectability in a film, by all means, avoid this film. I’ve actually met people who were angry by how bad this movie was by the time it concluded. As you can guess, the film is a complete mocking of 1993’s The Fugitive with Leslie Neilsen starring as a renowned violinist who is framed for murder by a one-armed, one-legged, one-eyed man….yes, you read that right. The remainder of the film is ridiculous slapstick as Neilsen’s character seeks to prove his innocence. I *highly* suggest you are slightly intoxicated before watching this film. This isn’t a movie anyone should watch sober.
Galaxy Quest (1998)
Galaxy Quest is rapidly becoming a cult classic with its recent popularity (thanks Netflix!). Again, don’t expect much from this film, which is about a washed-up TV cast becoming their real counterparts when they are enlisted by an alien race to save their planet. It’s a movie that doesn’t really take itself seriously, which is precisely why it’s hilarious to watch.
200 Cigarettes (1999)
This MTV movie is one of the most inconsistent, unfunny, borderline disastrous films I have ever seen and I love it precisely for that reason. The movie tries so hard to be funny that it becomes funny for the wrong reasons. Even the costuming, music, and setting is ENTIRELY WRONG for this movie, which takes place on New Year’s Eve in 1981. Besides, who doesn’t love a movie that has Paul Rudd and Courtney Love singing “Ladies Night” together in the back of a cab, Ben Affleck as a wannabe cool bartender who is continually rejected, Christina Ricci and Gaby Hoffman lost in NYC, and even has a cameo from Elvis Costello. The film is random and makes close to no sense, yet somehow the utter stupidity of this movie is what makes it watchable.
Cruel Intentions (1999)
Cruel Intentions, too, is gliding into cult movie status in recent years. Technically this film is a MTV version of 1988’s Dangerous Liaisons, which was a stunning achievement in film. Make no mistake, MTV made sure to eliminate all necessary substance from its source material and replaced it with an overabundance of sexuality. The film is a mixture of bad acting, soap opera situations, and horrendous writing. Nonetheless, one cannot fail to notice how desperate the film wanted to be taken seriously. Cruel Intentions reeks of mediocre film making, which partially redeems itself with a surprisingly effective ending that I would daresay was perfectly executed. I might be biased though, “Bitter Sweet Symphony” by The Verve is one of my favorite songs.
Can’t Hardly Wait (1998)
Can’t Hardly Wait is both a guilty pleasure and a sentimental movie for me. ‘Guilty pleasure’ because, yes, this movie is bad. ‘Sentimental’ because this movie sums up my high school life more perfectly than ANY other movie I have ever encountered in my life. High school, for me, was intensely compartmentalized. Everyone fit within a circle and NOBODY co-existed between two circles. Therefore, while Can’t Hardly Wait is entirely composed of cliche high-school character-types, it fits perfectly into the high-school life I had. I will claim that the high-school existence of the 1990s extended into the early 2000’s. I was one of the last graduating years, 2004, who can arguably say I had a 1990s style high-school existence. That aside, this movie has so many memorable characters and moments, such as the geek who gets drunk and inadvertently becomes popular, the foreign exchange student who shouts sexually explicit comments not knowing what he is saying, Melissa Joan Hart as a geek who is obsessed with getting everyone to sign her yearbook, Seth Green as a pathetic wigger who is trying to get laid, and of course, the stunning Jennifer Love Hewitt as the most popular girl in school.
Dick Tracy (1990)
I have tried to argue that this isn’t, but for years I have been repeatedly told that my love for Disney’s live-action 1990 film, Dick Tracy, is a guilty pleasure. I won’t deny it, I *LOVE* THIS MOVIE. I grew up watching it and it’s one of those movies in my life that never gets old. That being said, any person I have suggested this to or have shown this movie to hasn’t exactly loved it like I have. But I mean, what more could you want!? It’s based off the 1950’s comic strip with Warren Beatty as detective Dick Tracy, who takes on the mob controlled by Big Boy Caprice (Al Pacino) while warding off the affections of Breathless Mahoney (Madonna). Not to mention the movie has cameos from Charles Durning, Mandy Patinkin, Paul Sorvino, and Dustin Hoffman, to name a few. Watch it for yourself and see if you think this is a guilty pleasure.
Rat Race (2001)
Movies do not get any more ridiculous than Rat Race and that is EXACTLY why you should watch it. The movie is an indirect remake of the 1963 classic It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World that borrows its concept of a bunch of colorful characters racing against each other to get one million dollars at a designated location. The movie is insanely stupid and somehow this film’s inane moments will be almost impossible to shake from your mind, such as Kathy Bates as “The squirrel woman,” Cuba Gooding Jr. being chased by a legion of ‘I Love Lucy’s,’ Jon Lovitz and Kathy Najimy stealing Hitler’s car, and many more ludicrous moments.
Jingle All the Way (1996)
You don’t need to wait for Christmas to watch Jingle All the Way. This movie is SO bad that it’s enjoyable any time of the year. Refer to my Handful of Reasons Why You Should Watch Jingle All the Way feature for amusing reasons as to why you should watch this movie.
Mars Attacks (1996)
Mars Attacks is my all-time favorite guilty pleasure. Ever want to see a movie where aliens attack and all of humanity is too stupid to realize they are even being attacked, then watch Mars Attacks. The movie was deliberately overdone in its style, direction, and writing. The film’s acting is even deliberately bad from all of its stellar all-star cast. What Mars Attacks aimed to emulate was the 1950s cult trading cards of the same name, which meant the film was deliberately filmed as “camp.” Therefore, what you get from Mars Attacks is a representation of how insanely pathetic, cowardly, and stupid the human race is. From a President (Jack Nicholson) who chalks up the incineration of hundreds of Americans by the martians as a “misunderstanding” to a Texan real-estate mongrel in Las Vegas (Jack Nicholson, again) who is trying to get a hotel built and says to his worried wife (Annette Bening), “You’re focusing about yesterday when I’m focusing on today. The martians are gonna need a place to stay, just like everybody else.” But let’s not forget the other zany moments of this film that are worth mentioning, like Pierce Brosnan deliberately miscast as the martian scientist expert, Sarah Jessica Parker with her head reattached onto her dog’s body, Jim Brown as ‘the heavyweight champion of the world’ who takes on the martian ambassador in a fistfight, and of course let’s not forget Tom Jones, who stars as himself and gives us a rendition of his song “It’s Not Unusual.” So if you’re in the mood to see Earth sort of deserve to be demolished by martians, Mars Attacks is a perfect fit for you!