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Guilty Pleasure Movies Part 2

July 9th, 2014 by Andrew McCarroll Comments

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

The Notebook/Mean Girls/10 things I hate about you/ Pretty in Pink

Wait, come back!!!

I imagine that,  like most men who have seen one or all of these movies, I was made to watch it because of a girl. Well four girls to be precise, four different girls and all under very different circumstances. A guilty pleasure movie can be one that, although the film itself is good, this is not why you revisit it. These four films are ones that I believe to be good films of their own right, but are ones I always watch tinged with nostalgia for the circumstances and people that they remind me of. I am only focusing on one of these movies, otherwise with four “chick flicks” this article would take on a very different tone.

The Notebook, based on the Nicolas Sparks novel, began life as a very different film with Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake initially tapped to play the leads. Thankfully, that never came to fruition and instead it became the film that launched Ryan Gosling into the public eye and turned Rachel McAdams into America’s sweetheart.

My first exposure to this movie was when a girl I was quite enamoured with, launched a passionate review of the film during a night out -she had also mistakenly mentioned the film contains a McAdams topless scene which piqued my interest. She was particularly vocal about how there are no guys like “Noah” and most guys are “sly and untrustworthy”.

Slyly spotting my opportunity to pretend to be someone I wasn’t, I sought out the film with a view to having something to talk to this girl about and show my sensitive side. This plan will be familiar to anyone who grew up watching Saved By The Bell, it seemed I had modelled more than my awful fashion sense and “step” haircut after my boy Zach Morris. The dvd case shows a couple embracing and kissing in the rain, ticking every romantic movie cliché off the list before I had even put the disc in.

With the remote in hand the plan was to watch a few minutes to get the gist of the film, remember a few scenes and lines, fast forward to the end and then set off to woo (yeah I said woo) my soon to be girlfriend with my hidden depth.

The plan did not go as smoothly as my other TV hero Hannibal Smith from The A-Team would have liked. Instead, 20 minutes in, the remote was now in the seat beside me and I was completely invested in the time jumping story of Noah and Allie as their story is recounted by the original Maverick James Garner to a fellow patient at a nursing home. The story of the couple stretched over several years and obstacles, including social status, World Wars and interfering parents (why didn’t you give her the letters, you bitch?).

The cast are excellent across the board and despite Gosling’s best efforts, you would imagine that his star making turn in this movie will be what he is ultimately remembered for. The scene towards the end when an elderly Allie, who suffers from Alzheimer’s, briefly remembers that the story she is being read (“read this to me, and I’ll come back to you”) is the one of how they met before cruelly regressing and attacking Noah is heart-breaking.

As for my “Allie” I made a grand romantic gesture on Valentine’s day that would have made Nicolas Sparks himself proud and… nothing ever happened… ever.

The Rocketeer

Created in 1982 by comic writer and artist Dave Stevens, The Rocketeer is the secret identity of Cliff Secord, a stunt pilot who discovers a mysterious jetpack that allows him to fly. The film version was released in 1991 to mostly favourable reviews which unfortunately didn’t translate to big money at the box office – the film did turn a profit however.

The plot focuses on Secord as he finds a jet pack that has been stolen from legendary aerospace engineer/lunatic Howard Hughes. He then sets about battling gangsters and Nazi spies set against the beautiful art deco stylings of 1930s Hollywood.

Directed by Joe Johnson, who would go on to direct Captain America: The First Avenger, the film was envisioned as a rival franchise to Indiana Jones with this being the first part of a trilogy, however its poor box office returns soon put paid to that idea. With a wide variety of stars such as Kevin Costner, Matthew Modine, Dennis Quaid, Kurt Russell, Bill Paxton, Emilio Estevez and Johnny Depp being offered or linked with the part at one stage or another. The choice was made to go with an unknown, with “next big thing” Billy Campbell being selected due to studying Dave Stevens artwork and showing up to the audition looking almost identical to the character in the graphic novel.

Campbell, whose carrier never really took off, no pun intended, and has popped up in everything from The OC to Melrose Place also had another obstacle to overcome, his crippling fear of flying. As a result, almost all of his flying scenes used a stunt double with the film employing a scale model for the rocket pack scenes.

Despite all that, the film is pure pulp brilliance. With Timothy Dalton in particular having a blast as the movie’s Errol Flynn-like bad guy, even allowing for a particularly creepy scene where he drugs Jennifer Connelly and dresses her in an – admittedly stunning – ball gown, before trying to seduce her. Despite its budget constraints and admittedly many flaws, the film retains a wonderful sense of charm and lightness that is all too rare in today’s era of none more dark superhero films.

A remake was in pre-production in 2012, bizarrely with Saw director James Wan at the helm and Jake Gyllenhaal rumoured to be strapping on the pack, but it never went into development.So for now, if it is your first or your fiftieth time, The Rocketeer is well worth a watch.

Under Siege

To be honest it could pretty much be any Seagal film.

This gets the nod purely for being the first Seagal film I was able to see in the cinema. I had watched every one of the ponytailed action man’s movies on a near continuous loop for most of my pre-teens. As a result, myself and my friends spent many an afternoon in the school principal’s office trying to explain that roundhouse kicking each other in the face was a perfectly normal form of playground activity.

The film itself is essentially Die Hard on a boat, a guy caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. Tommy Lee Jones and Gary Busey take turns trying to outdo each other in the OTT stakes. Busey, dancing around dressed as a woman before commenting that “do I look like a I need a psychological evaluation?” gives him the edge on that one.

It has great action scenes, a wonderful sense of humour and men of a certain age will remember it for one reason. Seagal enters an empty ballroom and kicks a giant cake out of the way, the cake then lights up and… you know the rest.

Nicolas Cage

Like Garth Brooks trying to select what concerts to play, it is impossible to choose just one of this man’s movies as a guilty pleasure.

Gone in Sixty Seconds, Ghost Rider, National Treasure, channeling Adam West in Kick Ass, this entire list could be made up of Nicolas Cage movies. Having jumped between serious indie darlings like Raising Arizona and comedy like the underrated Trapped in Paradise, Cage looked to have finally hit his defined career path when he won, what was predicted to be the first of many, Oscars for his role in Leaving Las Vegas.

However, the only thing predictable about Cage is his unpredictability. He instead followed his award-winning role by reinventing himself as an action hero. He would first dip his toes in the action pool as he chased Sean Connery around San Francisco and Alcatraz in The Rock, before buffing up his body and wig collection with Con Air. As convicted felon Cameron Poe, Cage would take on some of the most brilliantly named villains in action movie history, from Cyrus ‘The Virus’ Grissom to Steve Buscemi’s Hannibal Lector rip-off The Marietta Mangler.

Face/Off would come the following year, with a concept so high it’s a wonder cinemas didn’t distribute oxygen. Cage as a terrorist, dressed as a priest dancing through the halls stopping only to fondle a choir girl and pulling a face that spawned a million gifs, is pure unbridled entertainment. The pinnacle of Cage-related madness has to be the horrendous/hilarious remake of The Wicker Man. A movie in which he, among other things, dresses as a giant teddy bear, commodores a bike, punches and kicks an endless line of women before finally succumbing to both fire and “the bees, the bees!”.

Unfortunately, due to a whopper tax bill, Cage is mostly relegated to straight to dvd dross. Not bad enough to be good and not good enough to be good, but with a third National Treasure movie in the works, there is hope that Cage can return to, as a recent episode of Community put it, “The good kind of bad” and not “The bad kind of good”.

The Dream Team

No not that one, but to be fair if this list was to include TV then there would be a special place reserved for Karl Fletcher and his Harchester United teammates.

The Dream Team of 1989 boasted comedy greats like Michael Keaton, Christopher Lloyd and Peter Boyle as patients from a mental hospital who are taken on a day trip to Yankee Stadium. However, they soon find themselves without a chaperone when their doctor is attacked and hospitalised. Keaton channels Jack Nicholson from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, but dials the lunacy up to 11 as a pathological liar prone to bursts of violence.

Lloyd shines as an OCD sufferer who has convinced himself he is the group’s doctor, Boyle plays a former advertising executive who has ditched money (and clothes) for the Lord.  Completing the unlikely quartet is Albert, who is only able to communicate using lines from baseball commentary.

The film is peppered with brilliant moments like the group trying to get Boyle clothes at an army surplus store or watching Keaton’s delusions get more and more ridiculous: “I finished second at Daytona”. There is also moments of genuine heart as Lloyd tries to reconnect with his family and Keaton attempts to reconcile with his ex-girlfriend-played by Lorraine Bracco.

But to be fair, any film that features Batman and Doc Brown crossing the street wearing a cardboard box as shelter from the rain is always going to be a winner.

Let us know your thoughts below, @NerdFollowing on Twitter or on Facebook

Andrew McCarroll never quite built on the dizzying career heights that he hit at 6 years old, when as a member of the “Ghostbusters” he would charge his neighbours to remove any unwanted spectres. Now retired from slaying spooks, he spends his time obsessing over superheroes (especially Batman) and devouring shows like Dexter, Game of Thrones and Archer in a manner that would make Galactus proud. You can follow his rants on twitter @andymc1983

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