Thursday, February 26, 2009

Cinematic Kryptonite

It’s happened to all of us: you’re randomly flipping through the channels for some background noise, you find a movie, and you end up watching it to the end, even if you’ve got better things to do. If this is a good movie—Sin City, Pulp Fiction, whatever—this kind of reaction makes perfect sense. But then there are the movies that aren’t really what you’d call “great cinema,” but you end up watching over and over again just the same. Here are my top five movies that aren’t really that great, but consistently eat away at my valuable time:

5. The New Guy
Yeah, I’ll watch just about anything with Zooey Deschannel or Eliza Dushku, so a movie with both is going to get my attention. The New Guy is a funny movie, but there’s nothing to separate it from every other “geek gets the girl” movie in existence. When you first find this one, you think you’re just going to watch it for the two really great scenes (Lyle Lovett getting a flaming marshmallow to the eye and Eliza Dushku trying on swimsuits), but then you get sucked in by the funny gags and cameos (Henry Rollins, Tony Hawk, The Fat Kid From Stand By Me, The Fat Kid From Stand By Me’s Brother--even Vanilla Ice shows up in this movie). By the time Hasselhoff shows up, you realize that you’ve just spent a good chunk of your evening watching The New Guy.

4. Jason X
If anybody tries to tell you that Jason X is a good movie, back away slowly and call the authorities. I doubt that even the people responsible for this unholy union of slasher flick and bad sci-fi could keep a straight face while telling you it’s anything but crap. Still, it’s fun to watch Jason kill people, and space provides new and exciting opportunities for carnage candy. You think you’ll just watch it until the funny scene on the holo-deck, but by the time it comes up the movie’s almost over, so you might as well keep watching.

3. Gone In 60 Seconds
A case could be made that this is actually a pretty good action movie, but it would require a team of very expensive lawyers. With the incredible cast, you’d expect some really good acting, but everyone involved seems to have decided that it’s a dumb action movie that’ll pay a few bills. Delroy Lindo and maybe Tim Olyphant are the only ones who aren’t completely phoning it in. Sure, the movie has some great car chases and a few of good lines (“Are you ok?...Are you sure? Because you just went through a wall,” Mos Def described as a “ghetto smurf”), but it also has the dumbest bad guy in movie history (“Hey, I’ve got it! He’s a faggy Brit obsessed with wood! This is gold!”), which really makes you question why the hell you’re still watching this movie.

2. Bring It On
Eliza Dushku. Kristin Dunst. Cheerleaders. Yeah, the appeal to any straight male is pretty obvious. But when you actually watch this movie with the sound on, you discover that it’s also funny, and on some weird level actually works as a sports move. Still, I think there’s a way to make it better. You’ve already got Eliza (Faith), Clare Kramer (Glory), and a guy who’s doing a pretty good Xander impersonation. Swap Sarah Michelle Gellar for Dunst, Nicholas Brendan for the fake Xander, and replace the Nazi choreographer guy with Anthony Stewart Head. Now all we’ve got to do is find a spot for Willow and we’ve got a Buffy cheerleader move. These are the kinds of ideas that keep me from getting the really good jobs. That, and the fact that I’ve wasted valuable hours of my life watching movies like Bring It On.

1. Point Break
Busey! Swayze! Reeves! Any movie with acting powerhouses like this is going to be special, in a very short bus kind of way. Point Break is a terrible, terrible, movie, so you’d expect to keep watching it in that “so bad it’s good” train wreck sort of way. But somehow, while the movie’s playing, you manage to convince yourself that it’s pretty good. I mean, The Red Hot Chili Peppers wouldn't be in a bad movie, would they? When the movie ends, you regain full use of your brain and realize that Point Break is absolutely awful. Of course, this realization won’t save you from watching it again the next time you find it.
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