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The Journeys in Classic Film Guilty Pleasures

Guilty Pleasures

No classic movie today but I wanted to post something anyway and figured, what better thing to write about than my love of making a complete ass out of myself!  As song says “Guilty pleasures, everybody’s got a few” and I’m no different so here’s my list of the movies I love that I know are utter crap.  Now, please do not send me messages saying “[insert film title] is crap” I know!  Trust me, I hear about it from my friends and family, and quite a few of these I own on DVD.  The whole purpose of a guilty pleasure is that the movie is bad.  I defy any of you to not list your guilty pleasures here.  So here they are, the movies I’m ashamed to say I can quote (I won’t do that for you though).  I’m going in order of embarrassment (saving the truly heinous stuff for last).  Read on to hear my shame:

Living Dolls: The Making of a Child Beauty Queen

This is a 2001 documentary about child beauty pageants, enough said.  I know child beauty shows are heinous, sexualizing young girls and all but there’s something compelling about watching them nonetheless (a study should really be done).  I do watch Toddlers and Tiaras but this documentary was the first time I’d seen pageant moms and the like.  I did beauty pageants as a child and no, they were totally not like this.  The mom in this film is insane and the poor little girls who are showcased do seem to be going through the ringer, and yet I fall into the world of flippers and big hair like it’s nobody’s business.  The whole documentary is on YouTube, I dare you to give up after watching part one:

Cover of "American Outlaws"
American Outlaws

There’s a lot of movies (and more than one will appear on this list) that I love/forgive its flaws/or saw in the first place due to a pretty face.  I’m a girl, sue me!  I saw American Outlaws for my 13th birthday (that should sufficiently date me) only because I was swayed by guns, cowboys, and Colin Farrell.  I’d never heard of this guy before (and it totally surprised me to find out later he was Irish) but I love this crappy revisionist take on Jesse James.  There’s corny one-liners that challenge masculinity, Timothy Dalton doing nothing but being menacing and trying to be James Bond, and senseless deaths of characters in order to make you care (although any movie that has that kid from Harriet the Spy/The Patriot…he’s dead meat).  It’s pure, unadulterated cheese about the Old West and has very little basis in historical fact (it’s pretty much Robin Hood…if Jesse James was Robin Hood).  Not to mention without it I would be able to tell people when I’m having a bad day, “They took my dog!”  God I’m never going to live this down.

Georgia Rule
Georgia Rule 

You knew there’d be a Lindsay Lohan movie on this list, it’s a guilty pleasures list (it’s not like I included a Miley Cyrus movie here, I have some credibility).  Georgia Rule is the last movie Lindsay Lohan made that anyone remembers (it was before that stripper film and the ABC Family movie).  It’s a soapy melodrama about a rebellious teen (Lohan) who goes to live with her grandmother played by Jane Fonda.  That’s the part I enjoy, the Lohan parts.  Lohan’s Rachel is sassy, kind of a slut, and it works!  Her scenes with Fonda are great and there’s a cute and clueless love story involving her character and another played by Garrett Hedlund.  There is a bigger plot involving motherly drunkenness and molestation that becomes ridiculous but I tend to fast forward over those parts (I mean it’s in the comedy section for a reason right?).

Cover of "The Last Song"
The Last Song

….Yeah, credibility went out the window didn’t it?  Okay, okay there’s a reason for this…I’m a sap for father/daughter films.  Maybe because my father isn’t exactly spectacular, these movies allow me to gain some type of catharsis or something.  Either way the plot involving a rebellious teen (I have a thing for those films obviously) reconnecting with her dad is good.  Liam Hemsworth’s easy on the eyes and it’s the one Nicholas Sparks movie I paid to see in theaters (I rented The Notebook LONG after it had been out).  I love you at Miley Cyrus didn’t I?

Nacho Libre
Nacho Libre

I really don’t understand the hate around this movie.  Sure Napoleon Dynamite was an acquired taste but who didn’t love Jack Black jumping around in “stretchy pants” asking a girl out to eat toast?  I quote this movie with my family all the time!  We talk about “eagle powers” and “the Lord’s chips” all the time.  Yes it’s in poor taste to have Jack Black play a Mexican with an atrocious accent but that’s always what I thought was hilarious about it, that no one believed it.  This scene has to be my favorite

Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Transformers: Dark of the Moon

I’ve seen all three Transformers and is it wrong that this is probably my favorite?  I enjoyed the first, abhorred the second but really enjoyed this.  This isn’t the first Michael Bay movie I’ve seen, I’ve seen them all, and I will admit that Bay’s bombastic, pro-America films really get to me.  Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) worked for me in this film more than he did in the first.  The action was intense and non-stop and Patrick Dempsey as a freaking villain…genius!

Mommie Dearest (film)
Mommie Dearest

During my TCM Twelve post I mentioned Mildred Pierce being shown on Mother’s Day this year.  Well my go-to Mother’s Day movie is the cheesy, schlocky, 1981 film Mommie Dearest.  Based on the “memoirs” of Joan Crawford‘s adopted daughter Christina, the movie follows Christina from her adoption to Crawford and the horrors her mother inflicted on her.  Now, I’m not going to go into who’s telling the truth but I love this movie!  Faye Dunaway makes camp a high art as Crawford, complete with big honking eyebrows.  The relationship between Crawford and Christina is tense throughout the entire film and devolves into a knock-down, drag-out, Dynasty like brawl between mother and daughter that has to be seen to be believed!  Crawford doesn’t come off as a bad mother in my opinion, just an incredibly strong-willed woman.  I mean watch the scene where she gives the board of Pepsi Cola a piece of her mind (I won’t quote the line because this is a PG-13 blog).  It makes a lot of camp lists and rightfully so.

Xanadu (film)
Xanadu

Okay so Xanadu has become a cult classic but I don’t know anybody who would say it’s a good movie…except me.  Xanadu is another example of 80s cheese run amok.  A film about a Greek muse played by Olivia Newton-John trying to inspire an old man, played by Gene Kelly, and falling in love is far more convoluted than it should be.  With a male lead like Michael Beck, whose acts like the 1980s version of Kristen Stewart, the romance is a bit one-sided but those songs!  Who doesn’t love a little Electric Light Orchestra, and the title song that’s nothing but the word Xanadu!  Good 80s fun!

The top 4…my top 4 guilty pleasures.  If you want to retain any good memories you have of me, turn back now!

Armageddon (1998 film)
Armageddon

I bawl like a baby every time I watch this movie.  Every.  Damn.  Time.  When Harry Stamper (Bruce Willis), oil driller turned astronaut, calls up his daughter Grace (Liv Tyler) to tell her goodbye.  Dammit the tears are already forming!  Gotta keep it together!  Michael Bay’s roughnecks who save the world story has a great script (it was written by J.J. Abrams for Pete’s sake) and a fine ensemble cast that includes Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck, and Ben Affleck’s freakishly white teeth.  Sure Bay’s version of space is about as accurate as Jesse James in American Outlaws, or that he continues to perpetuate the stereotype that all Russians are crazy, or that he believes people in middle America all wear coveralls and drink from glass Coke bottles but I DON’T CARE!  Armageddon keeps me sane in a world of chaos.  Let me have something!

Wild Things

God we’re getting to the deep, dark recesses of my film viewing habits.  I’d go so far as to say Wild Things has become a cult classic and it really is.  It comprises elements of film noir, soap opera, and late 80s/early 90s sexual thrillers that were popular and combines it all with a dose of Florida sunshine and a lot of nudity.  The plot is convoluted and I know most people (*cough*men*cough) don’t watch it for the plot.  Yes this the movie where Neve Campbell and Denise Richards make out, yes this is one of two movies I have on this list where Kevin Bacon feels the need to get naked.  The thing I love about Wild Things though is how soapy it gets.  It’s a full-fledged episode of Melrose Place meets Dynasty meets 90210 if it was kind of crappy.  I’ll watch it if it’s on, but I do admit to feeling dirty afterwards.

Hollow Man

You know how people like to get together and make fun of The Room?  Well my friends and I like to get together and make fun of the 1999 film Hollow Man.  I’ve mentioned Hollow Man before (I believe in my Stir of Echoes and Invisible Man review).  It’s a take on The Invisible Man where a mad scientist (Kevin Bacon) turns invisible and goes so mad with power he becomes a rapist.  Literally, he uses his invisibility to paw women.  Now, the movie is directed by Paul Verhoven, that fine master of sci-fi schlock who also made Total Recall (another favorite film of mine) and that’s half the fun of this movie.  The science doesn’t make any sense (why is the scientist’ vomit invisible, I’m pretty sure the food he’s eaten isn’t magically made invisible too) and every conversation Bacon’s character has is vaguely homo-erotic and I guess that’s become his character is intimidated by the beauty of Josh Brolin.  Yes, I watch this movie because I love Josh Brolin.  It’s a problem.  And his character is dumber than a box of rocks and unable to shoot something if his life depended on it.  Seriously, his character doesn’t hit a single object with a bullet throughout the entire runtime.  See, this is the reason I watch this movie.  It’s just fun to sit back and rip into it.

showgirls
Showgirls

Did I mention that Paul Verhoven directed a little film called Showgirls?  Well he did, and it’s my ultimate guilty pleasure.  There are some who argue that Showgirls is derogatory towards women and I’ve actually written a paper refuting that (my teacher was flabbergasted).  The film, a take on All About Eve (Google it if you don’t believe me…I’d love to see if my “Search Recommends” show that), tells of a young rising star (Elizabeth Berkley) trying to become a showgirl.  It’s filled with laughably bad sex, so much nudity you become numb to it, and so many off-color one-liners that only Joe Eszterhas could write that script (and he did).   This is another film that’s just laughably bad and you have to take it as camp.  I can’t convince you otherwise, all I know is that when I need to create an alias to get into hotels without the paparazzi finding me, I’ll be under the name Cristal Conners!

I feel oddly relieved to have unburdened myself to you readers.  Now it’s your turn, what are the movies you’re embarrassed to admit to loving?

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Kristen Lopez View All

A freelance film critic whose work fuels the Rotten Tomatoes meter. I've been published on The Hollywood Reporter, Remezcla, and The Daily Beast. I've been featured in the L.A. Times. I currently run two podcasts, Citizen Dame and Ticklish Business.

18 thoughts on “The Journeys in Classic Film Guilty Pleasures Leave a comment

      • Ah, but you’ve come clean. It’s only fair I do the same, then. No Lindsey Lohan’s for me, but I’ve watched the Lizzie McGuire movie about thirty times. A while ago, yes, but still. Friends With Benefits. I’m with you on Hollow Man and Armageddon. And that Sorcerer’s Apprentice thingy. I can’t stand Nicholas Cage, and I know that movie is rubbish, but if I turn on the t.v and it’s playing, I have to watch it.

  1. I did like Georgia Rule and I’d almost argue Wild Things is just a good film. It might be guilty because it is salacious and we aren’t supposed to like such things, but it isn’t a poorly made film.

  2. Not too bad of a list Kristen…Wild Things is one of my faves. Showgirls would make my guilty pleasure list along with Hudson Hawk and Supergirl. I have to think on this some more to name some more.

    • I definitely feel better about my love of Showgirls and Wild Things, they’ve taken on a cult status of their own. I haven’t seen Hudson Hawk and Supergirl but their notoriety precedes them!

  3. You have a pretty keen list and I enjoyed this post.
    As far as I know, Xanadu was the first movie I ever saw. It was on HBO quite a bit when I was a wee little lad. So when I got a pair of roller skates for a birthday present, I located the nearest brick wall and tried to go through it and into another dimension. Let me tell you it did not work for shit.
    I have not seen Hollow Man, but I love it when a movie goes sideways and will see this soon.
    I watched Drive Angry the other night and found it surprisingly palpable, but my favorite dumb movies are 1982’s Megaforce and 1984’s The Ice Pirates. Bad Boys 2 ranks up for there for it’s vile absurdity, I think that’s a Michael Bay jam too.

    • There’s definitely a list that can be made about the lies movies teach young children, magical walls being one of them. Hollow Man is definitely worth a watch to rip into it. I love Drive Angry, I own it! It’s definitely a film that knew it was a B-movie and did it well. Yes, Bad Boys 2 is Michael Bay at his most bombastic. I love it as much as the first Bad Boys but once they start trying to tunnel into Cuba it becomes so laughably absurd. Thanks for reading!

  4. Oh and Grease 2 for me…I saw that movie like 20 times the year in aired on HBO. Every time it came on me and my mom and three sisters would always watch it. I know all the songs and enjoy to this day!

  5. I’ve seen several of the films on your list. The one I’d argue for to not be guilty about liking is Wild Things. Yes, I like it for the obvious reason, but I also like the twists and turns it takes. I’ve seen enough whodunnits to usually see the twist coming a long way off, I had Wild Things figured out as far as the third or fourth twist (with Bacon’s character), but the stuff after that was a suprise to me.

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