List 16: Guilty Pleasure Movies

My posts about great documentaries and how to enjoy theatre may have given people the idea that I have highfalutin tastes in entertainment. That’s far from the truth. My taste in entertainment is as eclectic as my blog topics. That is, I like some trashy, fluffy and silly stuff too.

Here are some of my favorite movies for when I’m seeking comfort over quality. Some of these I haven’t seen for years because I don’t watch nearly as much TV as I used to, but even if I haven’t seen a certain title for a while my fond memories of repeated viewings is what made each of these movies qualify for the list.

I tried to put my most cherished guilty pleasures near the top, but the numbers should not be interpreted as strict rankings. Preferences among guilty pleasures vary dramatically by mood and whatever happens to be showing on cable at the time.

  1. Final Destination (and all the sequels). I love the preposterous Rube Goldberg-esque chains of events that they come up with to kill people who earlier escaped Death’s plan.
  2. Flashdance. It feeds my Pittsburgh nostalgia and need for 80s music. It fascinates me with its bizarre, avant garde strip club. It makes me want to file a sexual harassment complaint on her boss. It makes me want to take my passion and make it happen.
  3. Swing Kids. What was the worst thing about Nazi Germany? No swing music! Luckily, a few brave kids were willing to rebel against the Nazis in order to preserve the basic human right of doing the Lindy. Swing Heil, Robert Sean Leonard! Swing Heil, Christian Bale!
  4. Tank Girl. Years before Mulholland Drive, The Ring, 21 Grams and King Kong Naomi Watts was Jet Girl. Also, Ice-T plays a mutant kangaroo.
  5. Grease 2. “I want a cool rider…I want a rider that’s cool.” Michelle Pfeiffer in a role that somehow didn’t destroy her career like it did Maxwell Caulfield’s.
  6. Xanadu. Olivia Newton-John, Gene Kelly, ELO, rollerskating, cartoon birds wearing legwarmers, and some guy.
  7. The Legend of Billie Jean. Joan of Arc of the 1980s with a young Christian Slater by her side. The voice of Lisa Simpson gets her period.
  8. April Fool’s Day. Rich college kids getting killed. Good times. The song at the end “Too Bad You’re Crazy” is a nice button.
  9. Camp. This is a movie set at a musical theatre camp. This movie is from 2003, which means I willingly saw this for the first time as an adult. Then I bought the DVD. Shut up, particularly if you like GleeSmash, or High School Musical.
  10. Animalympics. Am I the only one who loved this movie yet didn’t become a furry? I will admit the lioness and the goat are pretty sexy together.
  11. Crank. It’s like Speed except instead of being ON a bus Jason Statham IS the bus. The premise is so absurb, but Chev Chelios isn’t the only one who gets an adrenalin rush. Crank: High Voltage, however, is an abomination.
  12. Johnny Dangerously. Between this an Mr. Mom I had a huge crush Michael Keaton well before Batman.
  13. Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. Everything about this movie is delightfully bad, particularly the song “Puberty Love.”
  14. Project A-Ko (dubbed for English). There is some really good anime in the world. This is not it. The English dub has a number of gem lines including, “Couldn’t she have invented something warmer” to describe a bikini-like superpower suit.
  15. Con Air. All star cast. Ridiculous plot. Stuff blowing up. Perfection.
  16. Boys on the Side. It’s sort of like Thelma & Louise with a lesbian, a pregnant chick, and a woman dying of AIDS. I laughed. I cried. I cried some more.
  17. Six Weeks. Another guilty pleasure of the tearjerker variety. A 12 year old ballerina has leukemia but wants to dance the Nutcracker before she dies! Her mom is Mary Tyler Moore! Dudley Moore is a politician who doesn’t hate cancer kids! Tissues! Give me tissues!
  18. Blow Dry. The world of hair shows is bizarre enough even before you cast Alan Rickman and Josh Hartnett as a father-son hairdressing team. Heidi Klum is hilarious.
  19. Basic Instinct. A few of my friends choose Showgirls as their favorite borderline-porn flick, but I always preferred Basic Instinct. After all, it also has ice pick murders, and Sharon Stone was never on Saved by the Bell.
  20. The Witches of Eastwick. A really great cast does some really weird stuff. It’s hard for me to eat cherries without thinking of this film.
  21. Shadows and Fog. Woody Allen is not meant to do film noir, but I can’t look away because of an incredible cast that includes John Malkovich, Madonna, Lily Tomlin, Jodie Foster, Kathy Bates, and John Cusack (looking super cute in glasses and suspenders).
  22. Less Than Zero. The embodiment of 80s excess. It makes suicide by freezing to death look rather glamorous.
  23. Barbarella. The most classic of cult classics. Also, sex!
  24. Clash of the Titans (the original one). Even for the time I knew the effects were horrible, but I liked the mythology and the mechanical owl.
  25. Dune. Several decades ago my friend Becca and I were watching this after being up way too late. Whenever Kyle MacLachlan was on screen we’d make the same joke about whoever he was having the scene with at the time: “I’m your mother, yet I find you strangely attractive.” “I’m Jean-Luc Picard, yet I find you strangely attractive.” “I’m Sting, yet I find you strangely attractive.” I guess you had to be there.
  26. Blaze. The “true” story of Louisiana Governor Earl Long and his love affair with a stripper is a political story for simpler times.
  27. Spy Kids. My kids have never seen this. It is a children’s movie that have only watched it as entertainment for my adult self. I like to think that the presence of Alan Cumming offsets my shame just a bit.
  28. The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T. The only live action Dr. Seuss film that Theodor Geisel made in his lifetime is too strange for some, but it’s a must watch for anyone who hated practicing the piano.
  29. Who’s That Girl. Before Madonna had a fake British accent she had whatever accent she had in this film. Listen to her say “Murray the tiger.” (Spoiler: Murray is not a tiger.)
  30. Bring It On. Anyone who has been on any sort of spirit squad will recognize the truth in this film.
  31. The Wiz. I am cautious around pillars in subway stations because of this Wizard of Oz adaptation.
  32. Lucas. I was a nerdy, awkward kid, so Lucas really spoke to me. I never got to play football though.
  33. Once Bitten. Lauren Hutton is a vampire, but instead of biting necks she bites men’s inner thighs. That’s a classy premise. And look! It’s Jim Carrey before he was a star. His mother must have been so proud.
  34. Mr. and Mrs. Smith. A romantic comedy with guns. I like to think this is how Angelina and Brad spend weekends at home.
  35. Eating Raoul. A delightfully trashy film about sex, murder and cannibalism. I credit USA Network’s “Up All Night” with introducing me this this particular masterpiece.
  36. My Girl. I love this crazy, complex little girl even if she is friends with Macaulay Culkin.
  37. Children of the Corn. Nebraska…only scarier.
  38. Nine to Five. Sadly, this has not held up as well as some of the other guilty pleasures of my youth, but it is still fun to see women working together to punish a jerky boss.
  39. Ladyhawke. There was a time in my life when I would watch anything that Matthew Broderick was in, even this.
  40. Michael. Yes, the movie with John Travolta as an angel.

What are your favorite guilty pleasures?

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