Tuesday, March 19, 2013

League of Extraordinary Bloggers: Guilty, Guilty Pleasures

Okay... it's League of Extraordinary Bloggers time once again! This week we're talking about something near and dear to my heart... but I'm ashamed to admit it.

league guilty pleasures

So... as Brian mentions over at Cool & Collected, I suggested this topic. 

Problem is, once I really got thinking about it there are few things that I am really ashamed to admit I like. I collect old Happy Meal toys and Little Golden books for crying out loud. I listen to Prince in a non-ironic way, keep They Might Be Giants CDs in my car proudly, and squeal with excitement when I see movies like Legend or Ladyhawk are on. For most people outside the Geek-o-sphere, I can't really get any lower. Within the Geek-o-sphere this is pretty tame, run-of-the-mill, someone's-top-10-favorites kind of stuff honestly. 

So I really had to dig. And man, once you unearth some things... you just can't rebury them. I decided to focus on 10 movies that I am the nearest thing to ashamed (even in geek circles... and in a couple of cases, especially in geek circles...) to admit I like. We're not even going to get into my undying love for Paula Abdul, my penchant for watching Celebrity Apprentice, or the fact that I can sing the theme-song to iCarly without even really having to think about it all that hard (I do have a 12 year old daughter, so I can at least explain that one if hard pressed)... 

So here they are in no particular order:

1. The Garbage Pail Kids Movie. 

I think we can all agree that this movie is complete $#!+. Pretty much universally panned across the board, even (I imagine) by those involved in its creation, the Garbage Pail Kids movie is terrible to look at, terrible to try to follow as a story with any kind of internal logic... and terrible for your soul. 

But when I was 9 years old, I was addicted to GPK, and I owned the movie magazine that went to this movie, and I wore it out looking at it. I drove my family insane with the obsession that was the Garbage Pail Kids. And it is the sense of nostalgia I have for this film, seen through the eyes of a lovesick 9 year old that will forever carve out a foul-smelling home in my heart for this $#!+ sandwich of a film. 

2. Joe Vs. The Volcano

This one I make absolutely no apologies for. I love this movie. Is it cool to like this movie now? Is it some sort of underground cult hit that I am not aware of yet? I honestly wish it was but I just don't think it is. From the infernal hell of Joe's workplace at the beginning of the film, to the myriad of bizarre roles that Meg Ryan plays in this film, the the soda-worshiping natives of the volcanic island at the end, everything just sings to me.

Every part of the movie that takes place on the Luggage raft (pictured above) is cinematic gold. 

I love this movie genuinely and unashamedly (well, a little ashamedly, to be honest, because it made this list) and at it's best it's a bizarre post-modern fairy tale about the hero's journey. At it's worst it it has Meg Ryan reciting a 14 word poem in a weird voice... twice. 

3. Hudson Hawk

Hudson Hawk is another one of those movies that I just don't think it will ever be "cool" to be a fan of. But I don't care. This movie is insane. It is balls to the walls full of ridiculous sequences, more villains than you can even attempt to count, and action sequences that even the characters participating in the story can't believe. 

Bruce Willis and Danny Aiello are a joy (for me and me alone apparently) to watch as they come up with insane solutions to death traps, murderous gangs named after candy-bars, and heist scenes they literally sing their way through. Andie Macdowell has to talk to the dolphins now. Richard E. Grant and Sandra Bernhard as the scene-chewing villains make me laugh every time... and Bruce Willis Moonlights his way through the whole thing with his playboy smirk firmly in place and So. Many. Earrings. 

4. Fright Night 2

The collective gasp of the internet is palpable... even here in the past, when I wrote this. Yes. I love the sequel to Fright Night. I find it colorful, funny, and full of the same kind of charm that the first movie had. I do NOT feel that the second movie is a form of sacrilege. I love the gang of vampires and ghouls that accompanies the leading lady vamp in this one. There's the roller-skating vamp, the wolf-vamp whose weakness is roses, and the manservant who spends the film identifying the Latin terms for various insects... and then eating them. I love that Charlie's at risk this time around, Peter Vincent's world is taken away from him, and Charlie's new girlfriend is a kick-ass chick. I love that there is a direct connection between the vampires in this film, and the last film. I love the atmosphere, the story, and the return to a world I love to watch on screen. 

5. Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas 

Most people don't really care about this movie one way or the other... but when you express strong positive feelings towards it, it's like a psychic venom you've just sprayed into their eyes. But I really enjoy this movie. The cast of interesting pirates, the monsters, the action sequences, the excellent villain played by Michelle Pfeiffer, all of this make for an entertaining adventure film I can pop in to keep my kids (and myself) entertained. WHY other people seem to hate this movie is beyond me. Is it Brad Pitt's voice acting? It's not great... but it passes. 

6. The Shadow

I love the visuals and the tone of this film. I think it's mostly reviled and hated for all the wrong reasons. It was just sort of... put out at the wrong time to be honest. I liked the off-kilter performances, and the crazy neo-pulp style they came up with that felt like the Shadow was a creature of both the time he was originally created, and the mad action of the post-Demolition Man era. Baldwin's Shadow comes off a s a bit crazy, a little out of control what with his weird rubber-ized face and insane cackling. But for me the whole thing is a crazy love-in of pulp/pop mash-ups with villains like the psychic last descendent of Ghengis Khan, and an invisible Hotel in the midst of a metropolis. Ian McKellan, Tim Curry, Alec Baldwin... I love the cast, and the (yes sometimes) goofy and/or over the top performances and dialogue they toss around in this movie. For some reason I always want to watch Billy Zane's Phantom movie right along with this one (they came out a couple of years apart). But I never do. 

7. Mario Brothers

I know you all just clicked over to Pinterest or something... but for those of you left, hear me out. I like the movie. I like how batchit insane it is. I love that it tries to be a post-modern Bladerunner version of an 80's video game. I love that Luigi's ethnicity doesn't even make sense. I love how every effort this movie makes to be cool or funny or intentionally weird fails in spectacular fashion. It completely drains all sense of the natural world from the Mario Brothers world and focuses on the pipes, the fungus, and the reptiles. It's a movie that spends so much of it's time trying to explain a game that is by its very nature completely inexplicable... by creating more questions than answers. And for all these reasons and more I am in love with this movie. I don't care how much you hate it. 

8. Sky High

I am fully aware of the fact that this is a schmaltzy, tween-pandering, Disney executive version of teen angst and superheroes. There are no songs, but it might as well by "Sky Highschool Musical (Without Music)". But honestly, I find that this is one of those movies that I will stop and watch when I see it's on Cable (usually on the Disney Channel when I'm searching for Gravity Falls). The characters are all one-note and pastiche, cliched archetypes thrown together around superheroes from all the usual sources. But it's set in a highschool full of superheroes, some of whom have some semi-imaginative takes and visuals on classic powers we all know and love... and Bruce Campbell's in it. So yeah. 

9. Love Actually

I can't take full responsibility for this one, actually. My wife makes me watch it every year while we wrap Christmas gifts. BUT I do like it. It is not the pile of crap that everyone seems to think it is. It is NOT a movie in the same vein as "Valentine's Day" or "New Years Eve" or even "He's Just Not That Into You". I think those movies tend to drag this one down in the mud with them and everyone forgets that this one is worth watching. This film has some great comedic performances, a stellar cast, and some moments that genuinely hit the heart in various different ways. It is a genuine exploration of love in all its many, sometimes (more often than not) self-destructive forms. There are no less than 9 different stories to follow over the course of the movie, some heart-breaking, some funny, and some get you in that classic, can't-help-but-love-it kind of romantic comedy way. Plus the performances by Bill Nighy, Martin Freeman, Rowan Atkinson, Liam Neeson, Emma Thompson, and Alan Rickman will ensure your genre-film cred will remain untarnished. 

10. This is where the crap hits the fan... Joel Schumaker's 2 Batman Films
I sort of just want to hand my Geek membership card over to be incinerated... 

But there's something about these two movies that makes me want to watch them. I know they're not good for me... more importantly, I know they're not good for Batman. But when I see them on TV I stop and watch them for awhile. I get a good laugh for the most part. But there's this undeniable appeal for me in these two movies... something that makes them a part of the pop-culture landscape for good or bad. I remember going to see Batman Forever in the theater... and when the bank guard that Batman is trying to save screams "Oh no! It's boiling acid!!!" I knew the movie was completely screwed. But... looking back on it now, I find that line hilarious, as I find the rest of the movie hilarious. 

There are even parts of Jim Carrey's performance that I find... entertaining. And when I see the street-bike race in Batman and Robin, I can't help but shout out loud: "Those bad-ass bikers put some bad-ass balloons in the street!" 

And Schwarzenegger's Mr. Freeze is almost beautiful to behold in his silvery sparkly glory. Yes, my love is an ironic love... NOT a genuine love based on craft or acting or plot... but even enjoying these movies for how bad they are is unwelcome when it comes to the Shumacher Batman films. They are to be hated without question, and never brought up in conversation. There is no serious conversation to be had in a movie where the Batmobile climbs up the side of a building... but I'm okay with that. It's a turn-you-brain-off and enjoy the stupid one-liners kind of movie. 

So that's it folks. Those are the skeletons in the closet... cinema-wise. I have plenty of other guilty pleasures in literary form (More than a handful of Dean Koontz Books... all of the Sookie Stackhouse novels... oh my God why can't I stop?) and even toy collecting: 

I own more of these than I am proud of admitting.
But I'll get to all of those in good time, some day... if anyone is even willing to continue reading this blog. 

Let's see what the other members of the League are feeling Guilty about: 

- Jaime Hood of Shezcrafti wants more than just another baby. She wants Ace of Base around fooooooreveeeer

- Calvin from the Canadian Cave of Cool will fight any young girl for the contents of his Guilty Pleasure. And I'm totally cool with that. 

- Underscoopfire's Roundtable Voltron shares a massive list of guilty pleasures... some of which make Joel Schumacher's Batman movies look like Nolan's The Dark Knight. 

I'll be back soon with more Geeky Goodwill Goodness! (I'm also posting part 2 of the Don Thacker/Motivational Growth Q&A sometime this week, so stay tuned for that) Until then, Happy Hunting! 


  1. I'm right there with you for about half of this list. GPK? Love it. I know it's considered bad, but eh, who cares. Tangerine was hot (and a bitch.) Joe Versus the Volcano is pure fried gold. Love it. Hudson Hawk? If I ever break into a place you know damn well it'll be while humming and singing a jazzy tune to time myself. Yeah, this is why I have to beg off doing this assignment. I have no shame. None.

    1. Thank you Mr. Robare. You are a shameless gentleman and a scholar. Thank you for your support. But I'd still love to see you dig down deep and share some real beloved trash.

    2. Dude, on the most recent Cult Film Club I admit that I'd probably bed Maude from Harold & Maude. Seriously. I. Have. No. Shame. None. ;)

    3. I heard that actually. She's a handsome woman. You... might... you would have... Jesus man.

      You're right. You're the most shameless individual I have ever interacted with.

    4. Alright, I guess I'm feeling a little guilty that I'm not a mom from the 80s: http://brandedinthe80s.com/feeling-a-little-guilty-that-i-m-not-a-mom-from-the-80s #TheLeague

    5. Just a little? I officially dub you the "The Most Shameless Man on the Internet". You have foibles of steel.

  2. Sky High is weirdly appealing to me. it doesn't offer anything fresh, but it's inoffensive and fun. plus, anytime you throw in a couple former Kids in the Hall-ers, i'm sold.

    Super Mario Brothers-- i saw it in theaters and owned it on VHS [only a few years ago. long past the formats prime], so there's something there inside of me that might actually be love.

    1. Come Brian... come over to the dark side. The Mario Live Action Film Side...

  3. Oh my gosh Hudson Hawk! I haven't seen it in years, but I loved it. Fun fact, Conan O'Brien named his dog Hudson after that movie. So, it has to be cool... right?

  4. Awesome list. I must admit, I too enjoy Love Actuslly. I first watched it with my grandmom which gives it sentimental value and honesty it's a good movie. Plus It has Rick Grimes before he was a zombie killer!

    1. YES! I remember seeing some image someone had done about that:

      Thank you for your support my good man.

    2. LOL! I just looked at that picture. Awesome!

  5. I remember Little Golden books. I was just having a flashback to one that I had.

    1. I have more right now than most people believe a 34 year old man should.

  6. I do a wishlist wednesday on movies I am dying to have....I have to say that none of yours are on my list! HAHA

    1. You don't know what you're missing! Or... maybe you do.

  7. Hey I rather like Hudson Hawk and The Shadow too. : )

  8. I had no idea there was a GPK movie! THAT is insane!
    GPK was known as "La Pandilla Basura" in Latin América :D

  9. How can anyone resist Bruce Willis singing Bing Crosby in Hudson Hawk? Certainly not this girl.

    1. I just don't know why his singing career didn't go further than it did.


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