Friday, November 25, 2005

Ten Movies To Avoid

I originally posted this as a comment here on Life, Liberty, and The Pursuit of Nachos, but after ruminating on it during my walk home, I present it here on the Mayhem, moderately edited and updated!

Otto Man posted his list of 10 Worst Movies EVAR, as it's apparently been meme-ing its way across the Hinternet, so I thought I'd do my best to spread the virus my way. I've seen a lot of movies over the past 23 years (my first movie memory is Empire when I was three), and thanks to a ridiculous conversation with the Peach, I just happen to have a nearly-exhaustive list of every movie I've ever seen. The movies on that list generally fall into three categories: movies I liked, movies I'm indifferent to, and movies I hated. They don't necessarily correspond to film quality, though: for instance, even though The Transporter is, upon critical examination, a poorer film than Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory, the first falls in the "indifferent" category, and the second into the "hated" category. And yes, I hated Willy Wonka. It's just a bad movie, people; the sooner you realize that, the closer we'll be to living in moon houses. You have something against living on the moon?

So my list of Ten Detested Movies is going to seem a little odd to some people; a number of these movies are well-loved, critical and commercial darlings. To me, though, they induce a wellspring of negative emotions, and an urge to debate that I can barely bring to bear when discussing religion or politics. They run the gamut of movie genres: musicals, animation, horror, comedy, drama, family, and two are from the beloved "Prostitute Romance" genre. In chronological order:

1. My Fair Lady (1964): Okay, I know this has some good stuff in it: "On The Street Where You Live" is one of my favourite songs, and "Pygmalion" is a fantastic play. When you cram it with a bunch of horrible songs and tack a "happy ending" on to the end, you pretty much destroy Shaw's whole point. Furthermore, the leads are lackluster. Rex Harrison shows as much depth of emotion as shoe leather, and though I don't normally hate Audrey Hepburn, I want to kill her here. I know it's extremely well-loved, but I simply cannot abide this movie.

2. Pretty Woman (1990): There is so much wrong with this movie, I don't know where to begin. First of all, I think that any movie that launched the career of Julia Roberts should be universally reviled just on general principle. This movie is also guilty of reinforcing unreasonable and unhealthy expectations of love, not to mention giving an unrealistic view of prostitution. If the most romantic part of a romantic comedy is when the prostitute finally lets her sugar daddy kiss her on the lips, then you have lost me.

3. Cool World (1992): This was hyped to me as Roger Rabbit on crack, but it's more like Roger Rabbit nearly incoherent with the shakes, lying in the gutter begging you for five bucks. Could have been so much better if the studio had left it alone, but unfortunately, much better would have only made it mediocre.

4. Son Of The Pink Panther (1993): I like the early Inspector Clouseau films, when Peter Sellers had a good grasp on his character, but this franchise was slipping even before he died. Casting Begnini as Clouseau Jr. seemed like a good idea at the time: he was one of Italy's most famous comedians, and had huge international appeal. Unfortunately, if you have a script as shoddy as this, not even the great man himself could have salvaged it.

5. Embrace of the Vampire (1994): This was the movie that made me stop taking movie recommendations from my best friend at the time. "It's the greatest vampire movie ever!" Of course, to a fifteen-year-old boy, "greatest vampire movie ever" roughly translates to "dude, you totally get to see Samantha Micelli naked and making out with another girl!!!!!" To quote myself: "The only reason to see this movie is if you want to see breasts. If you want to see breasts, then my friend, this is the movie for you . . . If you like vampire movies, I have three words for you: AVOID AVOID AVOID."

6. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1994): I think this movie was pitched thusly by some formless studio exec: "Hey, Dracula made us boatloads of cash, so let's make a movie with even MORE style and even LESS substance!" I do like parts of it, such as 5% of DeNiro's performance, and the fact that they kept it true(er) to the book than previous efforts. But the last thing I need to see is Kenneth Branagh chewing the scenery while shirtless and wrestling Robert DeNiro in KY jelly.

7. The Doom Generation (1995): This movie is generally considered by much bigger movie buffs than I the worst movie ever. If you haven't seen it, for the love of god, don't. I cannot de-recommend this movie enough.

8. Striptease (1996): My brother and I watched this because we felt we needed to watch bad movies in order to better appreciate good movies. We were wrong. You know something is desperately wrong when a movie is initially billed as a drama but re-edited into a comedy based on the fact that test audiences couldn't stop laughing at it. This movie is about as enjoyable as watching squirrels eat paint chips and die of lead poisioning.

9. Buddy (1997): This movie stars Rene Russo as a kindly old lady who loves animals so much that she dresses them up in human clothes and tries to teach them table manners. This would be a mediocre drama as depressing portrait of an insane woman. As a comedy, it's even worse.

Moulin Rouge! (2001): Sweet jebus, but I hate this movie. Bad singing, cartoonish acting, and what the hell is up with the pop songs, Baz? "Oh, I used pop music because I wanted the songs to resonate in the heart of every moviegoer, because I'm not a good enough writer to write genuinely moving lyrics." What a load of crap. You can't use Paul McCartney's "Silly Love Songs" to express the pure emotion that resides in every human being, okay? You just can't. This movie is too loud, too bright, and too obnoxious, all to make up for the fact that it's got no redeeming story qualities. I really wanted the movie to end with Satine being alive and content with the Duke while Christian sits alone in his apartment, being slowly driven insane by his inability to accept reality and his uncontrollable absynthe habit. At least it would have made the story tolerable.

So, now that I've ranted and raved, my friends, what would make your list? Or would you rather take me to task for my selections? I'm good either way.


Silly Dan said...

Definitely agree with you on Cool World, neutral on the other ones you listed that I've seen (except for Moulin Rouge, which I thought at least looked really impressive), and disagree strongly about living on the moon. The gravity's too low, you'll get silicosis from all the moon dust, and there'd be an annoying 1.3 second delay during every videoconference with people back on Earth. Plus there are no good pubs, rep cinemas, or bookstores.

I may gank this meme, when I can think of ten movies I really hated. Unfortunately, I either have low standards, a selective memory, or an uncanny ability to tell when a movie will be completely useless based on a vague plot description.

Sylvana said...

I hated "Pretty Woman", but I loved "Moulin Rouge!" And I loved "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory".

I hated "The Master of Diguise". Pretty much any Rob Schneider movie is absolutely horrid. "Be Cool" and "The Italian Job" were fairly painful to watch.

Otto Man said...

Glad to see you're keeping the meme alive, Doc. Thanks for the shout out.

And just between you and me, I originally had "Pretty Woman" on my ten worst list, too, but my wife threatened to divorce me. What a horrid film. Not only is it full of cliches -- including the mother of all cliches, the hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold one -- it launched Julia Roberts and revived Richard Gere. Ugh.

The Doc said...

Dan, when I said living on the moon, I meant in artificial gravity domes with air filtration. As for the entertainment facilities, I just assumed we'd provide them ourselves. Everyone likes Monty Python and film noir, right?

Sylvana, we'll have to agree to disagree about those musicals. Watching them causes me psychosomatic pain. But thanks for the heads-up on "Be Cool"; I loved "Get Shorty", but maybe I need to just leave it at that.

Otto, don't sweat it: by posting here that you hate "Pretty Woman", you have pretty much guaranteed that no-one else will find out.

Otto Man said...

But thanks for the heads-up on "Be Cool"; I loved "Get Shorty", but maybe I need to just leave it at that.

Yeah, I learned the difference between those films the hard way. Don't make the same mistake.