We all have favorite movies that we have no shame in telling people about. Blah blah, Citizen Kane, you say, blah blah The Godfather. And other people will hopefully be impressed by how good your taste is. But there’s that other list, too–the list of movies that you love even though you know, down in your heart, that they truly suck. The list of movies you don’t mention when people ask you what your favorite movies are, because it would take far too long to justify them and explain yourself. This, my friends, is my list of sucky movies that I love even though (or possibly because) they are horrible.
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 52%
Why it sucks: I’ve seen both the theatrical version of this movie and the director’s cut, and I will say that the director’s cut is much better. I will also say that that’s not saying much. The plot is ridiculous (it involves unicorns!!!), the good guys are incredibly lame (except for Oona, the fairy–she’s awesome), and Tom Cruise is not wearing pants for God knows what reason. He also appears to be covered in glitter and to have forgotten how to act.
Why I still love it: Short answer: Tim Curry. Long answer: Tim Curry is awesome. He’s the main villain–the red, horned, and hooved Lord of Darkness, and he steals the show. And he wears pants, thank goodness. All the goblins and demons in this movie are creepy and kinda neat, which makes them far more interesting than the good guys. The thing is, this movie takes itself a little too seriously, but there are some beautiful scenes as a result. The scene where our heroine, Princess Lily (or Lili?), dances with an enchanted black dress is one of my favorite scenes from any movie ever. No, really. It’s all about the atmosphere, and there’s a wonderful mixture of the beautiful and the grotesque in this movie. Just fast forward through the parts with Tom Cruise (except for the parts with the fairy, mind you), and you’ll be fine.
RT rating: 39%
Why it sucks: Oh, where do I start? There’s the unnecessarily copious amount of gore, the weak storylines, the general ickiness of some of the plot points (man-eating pigs, really?), the Jodie Foster-Julianne Moore switcheroo, and the fact that The Silence of the Lambs is a really amazing movie that didn’t need a sequel. I’ve read the novel, too, and the thing is…this is a boring story. Hannibal’s in Florence, Clarice is in the US, and they don’t interact for like 3/4’s of the movie. I feel like half of this movie wants to be a gritty thriller like its predecessor and the other half wants to be an overblown Gothic romantic melodrama.
Why I still love it: Oh, but I love overblown Gothic romantic melodramas! I seem to only like Ridley Scott movies when they’re terrible. Even though most of the movie is just…bad and kind of uninteresting, there are moments and scenes that still get me to watch the movie every time it’s on TV. For one thing, the soundtrack is gorgeous, and for another, Anthony Hopkins and Julianne Moore are talented actors during those wonderful moments when their lines aren’t stupid. I love the opera scene, as well as the completely indulgent shot of Hannibal carrying Clarice, and I even mostly enjoy the ending. I wish they had just gone for it and made the whole movie a total overblown Gothic romantic melodrama–it might still not have been a good movie, but I would have loved it a lot more.
RT rating: 22%
Why it sucks: …I don’t even know why this movie is so maligned by critics. I am blind to its faults, apparently, because I think this movie is wonderful, and I defy any critic who says otherwise. (Okay, maybe Julia Roberts as Tinker Bell was kind of a weird casting decision.)
Why I still love it: Um, because it’s awesome. Seriously, I really, really love this movie. Dustin Hoffman and Robin Williams both do a great job, and it manages to capture the spirit of Peter Pan (parental abandonment issues and all!) while doing something completely different with the story. I didn’t realize how many shout-outs there were to the book until I actually read Peter Pan and was like, “hey! They say that in Hook!” It has humor! It has pathos! I still get teary when Rufio dies and tells Peter that his happy thought is having a dad like him. Say it with me now: RU-FI-OOOOOO.
RT rating: 56%
Why it sucks: This one’s tricky. It’s not that I’m against modernizations of Shakespeare–far from it. But if you’re going to do it, it has to be, you know, good. This movie just feels pretentious and ridiculous. (I mean, how am I supposed to take Hamlet seriously when he’s wearing this hat?) There are just so many bad choices in this movie–Ophelia drowns in, like, three inches of water, Hamlet wanders through the action section of Blockbuster during his “To be or not to be” soliloquy, not to mention the grainy, black-and-white home videos that Hamlet is constantly editing while looking tormented. It’s just silly.
Why I still love it: This is one of the most unintentionally hilarious movies I’ve ever seen. Unlike the previous movies, which I love despite their faults, this one I love because of its badness. I mean, did you see that hat? Tell me you wouldn’t enjoy watching a movie with Ethan Hawke sulking around wearing that hat. Also, Bill Murray is Polonius, and that’s actually pretty awesome. Also, random Steve Zahn.
Grease 2 (1982)
RT rating: 19%
Why it sucks: Like I even need to tell you. They seriously made this movie up as they went along, and oh, you can tell. The music is bad, the acting is bad, the script is bad…it’s just a terrible, terrible movie. “Do It For Our Country” is one of the worst songs/scenes I have ever heard/seen in my life. There’s a song about bowling called “Let’s Score Tonight.” And another one about the reproduction cycle.
Why I still love it: Again, this falls in the “so bad it’s hilarious” category. It’s so bad, it goes back to good, and then back to bad again. Actually, though, there is something I really do like about this movie. I’ve never cared for the original Grease because it always bothered me that Sandy had to dress like a tramp and change her entire personality in order to get the guy. In this one, though, the guy has to do all the work to impress the girl, but he never really loses his personality, either. This is why you’ll often catch me watching Grease 2, but never Grease, on VH1.
Van Helsing (2004)
RT rating: 23%
Why it sucks: Ohhh, boy. I know all the cool kids use CGI, but there’s such a thing as too much CGI. And that thing is called Van Helsing. And then there’s the plot, which makes little to no sense. I think there’s some kind of surprising twist at the end, but I have no idea what it is. The plot holes are numerous, the accents are bad, and the vampire baby eggs are just…weird.
Why I still love it: The camp value! Richard Roxburgh as Dracula especially brings the campiness, maybe because he realized that this movie is ridiculous and he decided to have fun with it. You can’t deny that yelling, “VAN HELSING!!!!!” in your most overdramatic voice is super fun. This movie is basically the embodiment of that. Also, there’s a really pretty ballroom scene, and if, like me, you’re a sucker for pretty ballroom scenes, you’ll appreciate this movie for that one scene alone.
Center Stage (2000)
RT rating: 42%
Why it sucks: It’s the acting. The cast is made up of actual actors (like Zoe Saldana and Donna Murphy, who is awesome) and actual dancers, so the acting is incredibly uneven. The story, too, is basically the lamest of soap operas…but with dance! There is also too much Mandy Moore music, which is to say, there is Mandy Moore music.
Why I still love it: Pfft, I don’t watch this for the plot, I watch it for the pretty dancing. The ballet scenes are gorgeous, and towards the end, there’s this modern, “edgy” ballet number that is as epic as it is ridiculous. Any movie that makes use of the song “Candy” by Mandy Moore and then later features a gorgeous piano concerto by Rachmaninoff is certainly worth watching whenever it’s on Oxygen. This is the perfect background movie, because you can go about your business during the serious scenes and then watch the dancing and chuckle over the bad acting.
Teen Witch (1989)
RT rating: 40%
Why it sucks: I think there’s a plot? And the message of this movie seems to be that being popular is awesome and that using your witchy powers to make people like you is totally okay. Whatever, here’s a random music montage!
Why it’s awesome: Um, have you seen “Top That”? Tell me that is not the stuff of greatness. This is such a weirdly entertaining movie. It’s like you know it’s awful, but you can’t look away, because more weird stuff keeps happening. Is it a musical? Is it a coming-of-age story? Is it a fantasy? What are the ethics of Zelda Rubinstein teaching a teen girl how to make a boy like her through magic? Why does that one kid keep rapping? Is Robin Lively related to Blake Lively? (Yes, she is.) Did the movie just end without any resolution? (Yes, it did.) Whatever, here’s a random music montage!
Repo! The Genetic Opera (2008)
RT rating: 34%
Why it sucks: I feel like this movie gets distracted by itself. There’s a recognizable plot, and not a bad one, but there’s so much stuff going on. There’s all this viscera and latex, and I kind of want to tell the movie to just focus, please. I think it’s trying to tell me something, but I don’t really understand what, because I’m too grossed out by Paris Hilton’s face falling off. As for the music, it’s…a matter of taste, I guess, and for me, it’s hit or miss. And I may be the only person who wanted this movie to be longer, but I felt like the story was very rushed. Maybe because there’s just too much going on.
Why I still love it: First off, anything with Anthony Stewart Head (Giles!!!) singing gets an instant pass in my book. Also, I actually like the plot. Underneath all that viscera and latex, there’s a simple, but effective, story about a sheltered girl who has to deal with the big bad world and figure out her place in it. I dig that. The other thing is that this movie seems like a labor of love. It’s not the kind of movie that would ever be expected to make money or win awards–it’s just there for its own sake, for the small group of people to whom it’ll appeal.
Alien Resurrection (1997)
RT rating: 55%
Why it sucks: I imagine the reason most people hate it is because it really doesn’t feel like an Alien movie. The tone is different, the aliens are a little different, even Ripley is different (but still a total badass). On its own, this movie is still a mess. The plot holes, they are many. I didn’t really understand what was going on for most of the movie. I had to read a plot summary afterwards to figure it out. The big problem is that the script wants to be one thing, and the movie wants to be something else. I mean, Joss Whedon hates this movie, and he wrote the screenplay.
Why I still love it: Here’s the thing. I just watched all four Alien movies in two days, and I was getting really tired of the whole premise. What I like about this movie is that it’s so different, sometimes in a bad way, but still. I liked a lot of the ideas in the movie, even though the execution of them kind of sucked. Like, I love it when the hero and the villain have a connection of some kind, something that makes me interested in their interaction beyond just good vs. evil, so I loved the whole Ripley/Alien DNA swappage that made Ripley weirdly connected to the aliens. This probably goes against the previous three movies in the franchise, but after three movies of Ripley vs. soulless-heartless-killing-machines, I needed that change. Also, and maybe I shouldn’t admit this, the ending made me teary. You always make me cry, Joss Whedon.