Wednesday, March 28, 2007


Swear to tell the truth

By Edward Copeland
Everyone has them. Call them guilty pleasures or whatever else you want, but everyone has them: Movies you really like but that you feel you'd be ostracized or ridiculed for if your affection became common knowledge. Not today. We are all under oath, myself included, and it's time to give these films our due. It's not a time for mocking others. This is a time to come clean. Besides, if you are like me and insist on broadcasting your opinions to the entire world, you shouldn't hold some back for fear that you stand alone. That also goes for you, politicians. Opinions are subjective, so no opinion of something like a movie can be wrong. (Opinions on political issues can be wrong, but you should still stand by your opinions if you enter the political arena.) Still, I'm withholding the names of the handful of movies I've selected to mention until after the jump, just to be safe.

What prompted this little column was the habit of TNT of showing the same movie multiple times in a short period of time. Catching pieces frequently and remembering how much I love My Best Friend's Wedding. Then I anticipated what would happen if I wrote of my affection for the film and the fusillade of anti-Julia Roberts missiles that would start flying in my direction. I'm not ashamed to admit it: I'm a sucker for My Best Friend's Wedding. It gets me every time. Put aside your Julia prejudices out there for a moment: Can't just about all of you identify with a friendship that you wished could be more and been saddened when you realize that opportunity is about to be lost forever? Granted, most of us don't engage in some of the downright despicable things the unstable Julianne Potter (Roberts) does to try to sever Michael and Kimberly (Dermot Mulroney, Cameron Diaz) ahead of their wedding, but still you can identify with her.

On top of that, the film also is damn entertaining, thanks in no small part to Rupert Everett as Julianne's best gay friend George. He's not only there to provide plenty of laughs but to act as the voice of reason. In the film's climax as Michael chases an upset Kimberly and Julianne chases Michael, it's George who asks Julianne the crucial question, "Who's chasing you? Nobody. There's your answer." Then he's still there in time to shore up her lagging spirits post-wedding. As he tells her, "Maybe there won't be marriage, maybe there won't be sex, but by God there'll be dancing" and My Best Friend's Wedding is a film I never tire of taking a turn on the dance floor with.
Myra: Is it really that good?
Sidney: I'll tell you how good it is. Even a gifted director couldn't hurt it.

When I decided to expand this post beyond My Best Friend's Wedding, I thought I'd try to limit myself to one film per decade, but I'm skipping the aughts, the 1930s and the 1940s. My pick for the 1980s couldn't be more different from My Best Friend's Wedding. There isn't an ounce of sentiment in Deathtrap, but damn if it isn't fun.

I'll admit it, though it's probably not nice to say so, Christopher Reeve isn't very good in this movie, but Michael Caine, Dyan Cannon and Irene Worth more than make up for it. I can see how the twists upon twists upon twists might grow tiresome after awhile, but I think Sidney Lumet's version of Ira Levin's play proves infinitely more fun than Sleuth.

As we turn the clock back to the 1970s, my hidden joy returns to the land of schmaltz in the form of Same Time, Next Year. Even from my grade school years, this adaptation of the stage comedy was nearly a yearly ritual. Ellen Burstyn is great, even if the sudden shifts her character takes defy reason and she pretty much wipes the screen with Alan Alda. Still, the romance, the passage of time and the low-rent Neil Simon-esque comedy get me every time. Though, what I think really is the key to the spell this film casts on me is that damn sappy song: Johnny Mathis and Jane Olivor singing "The Last Time I Felt Like This" over montages of crucial events in each time period always gets to me. Plus, it was easy to win an elementary age kid over in the late 1970s when the last pivotal historical photo is one of C-3PO and R2-D2.
"And then they decide I'm supposed to get a smaller share, like I'm someone extra special stupid. Even if it is a democracy, in a democracy it don't matter how stupid you are, you still get an equal share."

Contributor Jeffrey has written at his blog Liverputty about The 90-Minute Rule, which essentially says that no comedy really should go past the hour-and-a-half mark, or it's pressing its luck. By and large, I agree, though there certainly are exceptions. The 40-Year-Old Virgin neared two hours and still managed to maintain itself. Still, though I know the length of It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World is comedic overkill, I'm still a softie when it comes to this movie. It's another film that I formed a bond with at an impressionable age that is difficult to break. That cast! It's absurd, it's too long and I still love it, especially for the priceless Ethel Merman, Jonathan Winters and Dick Shawn and for that insane ending with the fire engine's ladder. I used to recreate that in my younger days with Tonka trucks and Fisher-Price Adventure People, flinging them to various spots around my room. Just about any criticism that can be made about this film I know is right, but I still can't help it.

My final confession concerns another film that hooked me at an impressionable age and that's White Christmas. For years, I always heard people say that it wasn't as good as Holiday Inn, which introduced the classic yuletide tune first. Once I finally saw Holiday Inn, I couldn't believe anyone could ever say such a ludicrous thing. For one thing, the earlier film didn't have the tag-team comedy/matchmaking pairing of Danny Kaye and Vera-Ellen or the sardonic touch of Mary Wickes. Even more importantly, White Christmas doesn't contain a salute to Lincoln's birthday with Bing Crosby in blackface which would be appalling if you weren't so shocked by what you're seeing in the first place. White Christmas is just plain fun. I still laugh when Bing and Danny lip-sync to "Sisters."

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Please...Same Time, Next Year? Someone got an Oscar nomination for that. White Christmas and Mad Mad World? Those are classics! Hell, even My Best Friend's Wedding wasn't exactly raked over the coals when it came out, or in the years since - a lot of critics liked it, and audiences certainly did.

You want to talk guilt? I don't mean a slight pang of embarrasment...I mean the kind of guilt that makes you feel like there's something genuinely wrong with you...the kind that makes you feel on some level as less of a human being. I mean, I love Sixteen Candles, but I'm not ashamed to admit it. However, when certain films come up in conversation - say, Moonraker, Soapdish, Up in Smoke (or anything else with Cheech & Chong), Big Business, The Money Pit, The Great Muppet Caper, The Road to Wellville, The Brady Bunch Movie and A Very Brady Sequel - depending on the company I'm in, I generally lie.

My taste is worse than yours!! I WIN!!!
I don't think Sixteen Candles should provoke embarassment -- it's the only John Hughes film that really holds up. As for Moonraker -- I say keep lying.
Couldn't agree more. There is a deep seeded drug in My Best Friend's Wedding that slowly releases throughout the movie. It peaks when Rupert Everett begins to sing. I should have been diving for the remote, but I found myself googling for the soundtrack.

I wrote about the same effect with TNT running the shit out of An American President and A Few Good Men. Can't turn either of them off.

A White Christmas makes me cry every time.

Sixteen Candles is a good movie.

As is The Road To Wellville. I'm not sure when and where that movie got such a bad rap but I enjoy it every time I see it.

The Great Muppet Caper...................................

A lot of Kevin Costner films--Upside of Anger, JFK, The Untouchables, Robin Hood, though NOT Dances with Wolves.

Terms of Endearment, The Way We Were, Splendor in the Grass, Reds--the latter, not because of the history and great character bits and lefty politics, but for the love story.

Errol Flynn movies--Robin Hood, Captain Blood.

And John Garfield movies--Body and Soul. Of course, The Postman Alway Rings Twice, though I assume that one wouldn't embarass me.

And a few musicals--Oklahoma, Evita, and (again, probably not embarassing) West Side Story.

And one of my favorite Meryl Streep movies is The Bridges of Madison County.
Sixteen Candles is his best, no question, but I think Ferris Bueller holds up too. The rest of it ranges from bad to worse.
i love it's a mad, mad, mad, mad world...

i think it's excellent!!!!

man...a totally embarassing movie i like is meteor man. it's ridiculous, and horribly acted in...but i absolutly love it.
I like "Anaconda" -- if only for Jon Voight's "wink" during the climax.

I can watch "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" any day of the week.

I have the answer for "Who's Harry Crumb?" -- he's a comic genius.
Once upon a time, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back was my ultimate Guilty Pleasure. However upon repeated viewings, it has actually made its way to All Time Top 10.

In my current state of mind, my Guilty Pleasure is now Mystery Men. What a cast! Stiller, Pee Wee, Macy, Azaria, Rush, Garofalo, Kinnear, Izzard. Tom Waits. RICKY JAY. The humor is so bad, and yet I am unable to contain my laughter. The superhero monikers: Mr Furious, The Shoveller, The Bowler, Captain Amazing, and, the best of all, The Spleen!!

In this arena, I am proud to stand up and say, "I love Mystery Men!"

Thank you.
I wouldn't put Jay and Silent Bob in my all-time Top 10, but I do agree that it's damn entertaining. It's one long inside joke, but it's a valentine to Kevin Smith's fans and I think it really works on that level. I've always wanted to see Mystery Men, but never got around to it.
My second post on this thread, but I just thought of the ultimate embarassing, but really good, but really, really embarassing, movie--Brian's Song.
I don't think there's anything embarassing about Brian's Song, as long as you mean the James Caan/Billy Dee Williams original and not the lame remake.
I think Breakfast Club is Hughes' best film.

One thing that struck me is that is that the social dynamics of the wedding in 16 Candles is the opposite of that in Neal Isreal's Bachelor Party (my favorite film with Mr. Tom Hanks). What I mean by that is both filmmakes posit a WASP family with a more ethnic family. The wedding scene alone gives a big clue to Hughes' conservative viewpoint.

Another favorite film is Hollywood Knights, the half of the film with Robert Wuhl and, yes, Fran Drescher. Hilarious, especially the scene when Wuhl sings "Volare".
I feel that my guilty pleasure movies are far more guilty then most of those listed. They are like the junk food of movies, but when I am feeling blue, they pink me up, and when they are on TV I must watch.

The first caught me at an impressionable age when I had Olympic fever, so that kind of explains that (although it doesn't explain why I bought it last winter when it was only $10 at the ghetto Sears by my old apartment). "The Cutting Edge" just makes me happy. I like the ridiculous romance and the rivalry, and the gold medal winning.

I also love "Ever After: A Cinderella Story" (with a smart, fierce Cinderella in Drew Barrymore) and "Ten Things I Hate About You" which I went to see in order to pass an afternoon mocking a horrible movie, but ended up loving instead. Maybe I love it because I use big words when I am trashed or maybe because I love my Prada backpack--alright, I confess, I don't have a Prada backpack, but I do love my skechers.
You are correct about Mathis and Olivor. I couldn't remember the woman for sure and when I looked it up on All Music Guide, it mentioned his duets with Deniece Williams and I misread it to think she was her singing partner on this. Thanks for the catch. I'll fix it.
I'm a Julia hater from way back, but I too love My Best Friend's Wedding. I think it's because Roberts basically cuts the cutesy, loosey-goosey act and finally plays the bitch we all suspected she really is. And I've always had a soft spot for Dermot Mulroney.

Guilty pleasure Dermot Mulroney movie: Samantha (Stephen La Rocque, 1992)

I can't believe I'm admitting this, but I feel like I just gotta be honest... my guilty, guilty pleasure; a movie so bad that even six-year-old girls love to rip on it; a movie so reviled by critics and audiences that people seriously thought Ebert had lost his mind when he gave it a thumbs up; a movie with special effects so amateurish that it made The Mummy 2 look like Lord of the Rings; a movie with special effects so over-the-top that it made Phantom Menace seem like neo-realism; but the one movie I always end up watching whenever it's on tv:

Van Helsing

I can't help it, I really like it. I know I should think it's bad, but, well, I just can't. So, yeah, no one will ever listen to my opinion about movies again.
I have always applied the Blind Squirrel Theory of Film to My Best Friend's Wedding. Despite the fact that Julia Roberts fills me with loathing and revulsion, it is undeniably her best movie.
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Another Julia movie for me: I LOVE TROUBLE! I love it, I love it! So help me God.
And, the greatest sequel of all time: GREASE 2. That is not a misprint.
Since everyone else is feeling free to mention it, I have to admit a soft spot for Grease 2 as well. I can't really watch the movie anymore, but I do confess that I have the soundtrack on CD.
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Raenelle - most of those titles you mentioned were 3 & 4 star movies, especially the Errol Flynn stuff. You're on your own with much of the Kevin Costner, though.

Also, Moonraker and Temple of Doom deserve to be liked without any tinge of guilt or embarassment.
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