A guilty pleasure movie is a term/excuse we use for liking a film, that deep down we know is “bad” or unpopular. Just because a film isn’t trying to bore or depress you to death in an attempt to win Oscars, doesn’t mean that it is necessarily a bad film. After all, we watch films for escapism, for entertainment and sometimes just to turn on, tune in and cop out (Cop Out isn’t on the list, don’t worry; I haven’t totally lost the run of myself). Some missed the cut due to arguments over being guilty pleasures or just genuinely good films (Rocky 4, Ghostbusters, Robocop)
This is not a list of “so bad it’s good” (coming soon) like Tank Girl or Street Fighter, these are films that, for better or worse, I think are genuinely good films that I have never found less than entertaining. Agree or disagree, let us know your Guilty Pleasure movies. Enjoy
A cast that includes Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman and Sam Rockwell sounds like it would be more suited to dramatic awards fare as opposed to a Star Trek-inspired comedy. What could have easily taken pot-shots at Trekkies, instead acts as more of a celebration of the genre and its devotees. The film works not only as a parody of the old Star Trek show; it is a wonderful Sci-Fi film on its own merits. The plot, which sees the cast of a Star Trek-like show mistaken by aliens to be the actual characters they play, has been done before with The Three Amigos. Here however, the cast explore the genre’s comic potential far more. Tim Allen does his best Shatner impression but he is upstaged by a wonderfully game cast that includes a stupidly hot Weaver, Rickman as a “proper” actor unable to distance himself from his more popular role due to his professionalism: “the show must go on”. The film however, is completely stolen by Tony Shalhoub’s nonplussed doctor who immediately takes to all aspects of alien life without fuss and Sam Rockwell who plays the red shirt character, who does not even have a name and is simply referred to as “Guy” and has the film’s best lines – “Look around, can you form some sort of rudimentary lathe?”. It is not short on heart either, with one characters’ demise being particularly heart-wrenching. Even if you are not a Star Trek fan there is more than enough here to keep you entertained and by Grabthar’s hammer, you can’t ask more than that.
Masters of the Universe
When discussing the merits of Masters of the Universe as a guilty pleasure movie with a friend of mine, his argument was “you call it He-Man, it’s trash, but you make the exact same film 20 years later and call it Thor and everyone thinks it’s high art”. Blonde muscle man? Check. Sent to earth from another dimension? Check. Mystical weapon? Check. Warrior sidekicks? Check. Hero falls for a human woman? Check… ok maybe he has a point. The film itself is pure B-movie brilliance, with Frank Langella in particular having the time of his life as he mixes in lines from Shakespeare along with gems like “I am a part of the cosmos!” The supporting cast of rubber-suited creatures, vicious Chewbacca lookalikes and eye patch adorned swordsmen hold up surprisingly well, considering the budget was slashed before and during shooting had started, leaving the director begging for more money as he literally had not shot an ending. The film also has one of the first and best post credit scenes as Skeletor emerges from the depths to warn us “I’ll be back” to terrify a number of cinema-goers who had been making their way towards the exit. With a reboot currently in production, the ruler of Snake Mountain looks to be finally making good on his promise.
Big Trouble in Little China
You know what ol’ Jack Burton always says at a time like this? The camera pans across a dusty western town, before stopping to focus on a tall cowboy, he lifts his hat and continues “Jack Burton. *Me*” the words spoken through the familiar husk……of Clint Eastwood. Hard to imagine now when you watch the most unmistakably 80s of movies, that this was how the original plan for the film was supposed to (Lo) pan out. Frightened by the rival production of the similarly themed Eddie Murphy-then at his box office peak, The Golden Child. The film-makers had tried to get an A-list star of their own, Clint Eastwood and Jack Nicholson were considered but both passed. The decision was then made to instead cast an up and comer as opposed to an established star and so Kurt Russell was cast as the truck driving anti-hero, who is destined to make the pillars of Heaven shake. The plot is B Movie heaven, featuring a fast quipping hero, sorcerers and some crazy martial arts. The two things that set this apart from a million straight to video movies is Kurt Russell and Director John Carpenter. Russell has never been better as the charismatic but frequently ineffective tough-guy, rattling off equally brilliant and bizarre dialogue “Have ya paid your dues, Jack?” “Yessir, the check is in the mail.” Carpenter, who’s films have mostly been played totally straight, here is as imaginative and fun as anything he had done before and almost certainly since. It is impossible for me to talk about Kurt Russell without mentioning the story that Walt Disney’s final act before he died was to write “Kurt Russell” –who had been a Disney child star at the time. With Russell himself commenting that “It’s true. I don’t know what to make of that. I was taken into his office one time after he died and I was shown that.”
Yeah I know what you are thinking, I don’t care. I absolutely adore this film. Every year without fail since its release in 1993, I have watched this film over Halloween and I have never failed to enjoy it. It even has Sarah Jessica Parker in it and I still love it. She also somehow manages to look vaguely attractive such is the power of this film. And just to add to its seemingly bewitching sense of fun, this is the most played film in Irish television history!!! Yes, a film with Bette Midler as a buck-toothed Witch is the record holder. Not The Godfather, not Die Hard, not Jaws. Instead, a film that features a plot to have all the adults in the town dance until they die holds that distinction. Absolutely slated upon its release, the film has found a new lease of life as a Halloween mainstay on TV. The plot revolves around three sisters who were executed for practicing witchcraft, they are accidentally returned to life and have one night to try and make their revival permanent. The lead trio show excellent physical comedy skills and there are enough moments of whimsy, such as the witches confusing a halloweener dressed as the Devil for the real thing, to keep you entertained. It is an under-rated gem of a movie that has lost none of its lustre in the intermittent 21 years (21? Dear god!) and besides, anything with a talking cat is almost guaranteed to get a pass from me.
Young Guns 2
Playing it fast and loose with the Billy the Kid legend, Young Guns 2 forgoes the normally straight-faced western genre for a brat pack in cowboy hats feel. The stellar ensemble cast (Christian Slater, Kiefer Sutherland, Viggo Mortensen and William Peterson) are all on fine form. Starting with an aged-up Emilio Estevez (Emillliiiiioooo!!) telling his story to sceptical lawyer played by The West Wing’s Bradley Whitford, before flashing back to The Kid’s heyday. Estevez’s take on the legendary outlaw is a nice mix of childishness offset with moments of cold violence. While Petersen beautifully shifts from friend to treacherous foe, as the lawman who would eventually take down the man also known as William H. Bonney -or did he? The film is pure unfiltered fun, with some sharp moments of humour such as when Chavez is questioned as to what he was screaming to get his horse to perform a daring escape and responds with, “It’s an ancient Navajo word. It means stop.” The film also features, for my money, one of the best screen deaths in history as the gang is cornered following an ambush only for a wounded Kiefer Sutherland to stand and proclaim “Let’s finish the game”. And it would be amiss of me to go without mentioning the awesome Bon Jovi soundtrack, the feather haired rocker should be woefully out of place in the western genre. But like pretty much everything else in this film, it somehow works.