I have an issue with year-end best-of lists. Or, I should say I have an issue with making them, myself. Every year I think about giving in to the tradition, but then I stop myself when I realize that I haven't seen enough movies. There are the last-minute releases of late December to wait for. There are films I missed earlier in the year that haven't yet arrived on DVD. And ever since I took a hiatus from reviewing films, it has gotten worse, because I see fewer movies than I normally do. Typically I don't discover my favorite pic of a given year until the following year or later.
So, rather than write up a list that may change tomorrow or the next day or 10 years from now, I've decided to reflect on the bad movies I saw. I've definitely seen more bad movies than good movies, anyway. But rather than make a list of the worst of '06 -- I probably haven't seen the real worst any more than I've seen the best -- I fondly recalled the movies that were crap, but were enjoyable, nonetheless.
Some of the movies on my list are wholly guilty pleasures, while others have one or two specific aspects that I found more guiltily pleasurable than the movie itself.
- 10.) Cobra Starship's 'Snakes on a Plane (Bring It)' video from Snakes on a Plane - Sure, Snakes on a Plane is a guilty pleasure -- it was made to be. But it is just too obvious to mention it as a whole, and anyway it really wasn't as enjoyable as it should have been or was meant to be. The music video during the movie's credits, though, is another story. In my opinion it overshadows the actual movie by a long shot. It may be as self-consciously intent on producing irony and camp, but it succeeds where SOAP doesn't. Maybe because it is catchy, maybe because the band looks like a parody of contemporary hipster bands, or maybe because it is shorter -- I am far more likely to return to the video for a good laugh than to the movie (not that I'll turn off the movie on a lazy Sunday with nothing better to do; it is still a guilty pleasure, itself).
- 9.) A Prairie Home Companion - Robert Altman's final film has made some critics' real best of lists, but I don't agree that the film is all that great. It isn't a good Altman film compared to the rest of his work (I even like Popeye better), and it isn't a good film, in general, either. It is corny and dull and artificial. But it has its moments. The only reason that I was able to enjoy the film is that I saw it just after Altman died. I doubt that I would have been able to appreciate its morbid and mournful atmosphere had I seen it earlier. It fits as Altman's swan song, even if it isn't his greatest hit.
- 8.) Final Destination 3 - Up until this third installment arrived, I held the Final Destination movies in high regard. I'm not a fan of horror movies, but the first two FD pics held my interest because of their dark humor and their clever Rube Goldberg-esque kills. Plus they deal with accidental death, which to me is much more frightening than improbable, supernatural slashers and mastermind torturers. Unfortunately, Final Destination 3 doesn't live up to the first two, but it has just enough residue from them to be a little entertaining -- at least enough to consider it a guilty pleasure.
- 7.) The zeppelin scene in Flyboys - Thanks to the show Freaks and Geeks, there will always be a soft spot in my heart for James Franco. He isn't even that bad an actor; he just doesn't get good roles (he should be doing more comedy). He was in two bad films this year, Annapolis and Flyboys. The latter at least had one other redeeming quality besides the appearance of Franco. It may look a little like a computer-animated cartoon, but the scene in which the Lafayette Escadrille planes take down the German zeppelin is a great spectacle. If anything it made me feel like I was watching some high-end version of the video game Time Pilot. And, what can I say? I really love Time Pilot.
- 6.) X-Men: The Last Stand - Man, was this sequel disappointing or what? Regardless of how bad it is, though, I have to side with Mark Beall on the idea of being able to enjoy any movie, no matter the quality, based on a comic book that I used to read religiously. Besides, I am able to find a lot of humor with the movie, particularly its exploitative attention to mutant powers. For example, there's the gratuitous shot of Colossus walking through the hall of the mansion carrying a large television. Then there are the random displays of powers for no real good reason other than for use as a gag, such as the fat mutant who can make himself thin. The movie doesn't make any sense, but it is ridiculously fun.
- 5.) John Ottman's score for Superman Returns - I consider John Ottman to be one of the lesser score composers out there. It isn't that he's terrible; his music just isn't that interesting, especially considering he writes for movies that should have catchier, more memorable main themes. With Superman Returns, though, he gets to work off John Williams' score for the earlier Superman movies. I have pros and cons about Superman Returns as a whole, but I have to admit that when it opened with Williams' theme and those 3D-lettered titles, the movie had me for the long haul. Ottman's own music for the film isn't too great, but here and there it does hark back enough to Williams' sound to make it better than he's usually capable of.
- 4.) Lucky Number Slevin - The convoluted cleverness of the script and the stylish tone seem so 10 years ago, but I just couldn't help but be intrigued to the end. I think my main enjoyment is with the look of the film, which is completely gratuitous in both its design and its shots but which is perfectly at place within the whole of the pointless, full-of-itself production. I know some critics think this is a good movie, but I don't, and yet still I like it anyway.
- 3.) She's the Man - Does the Shakespearean inspiration elevate the quality of this teen comedy or does the teen comedy pull down the quality of Shakespeare's plotting? Considering that Twelfth Night's brilliance is less in its story -- stories were never too original in the Bard's work -- than in its language, using it as a basis for a high school movie about soccer and simple gender politics is barely of significance. But that doesn't stop me, as a fan of the play, from appreciating the connection. As far as Shakespeare updates go, it isn't nearly as good as 10 Things I Hate About You (based on The Taming of the Shrew), but at least it isn't as bad as Big Business (based on The Comedy of Errors). Add in my guilty enjoyment of Amanda Bynes, who I do think is an underrated comic talent, and of Just One of the Guys, of which this almost comes off as a remake, and I couldn't ask for a more useless yet likable movie.
- 2.) Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible III - Critics raved and the public didn't bother. Why? Because Tom Cruise has ruined himself for audiences for possibly all time. But he somehow had the opposite effect on me, and I enjoyed his appearance in M:I:III more than I've enjoyed him in years. I think that his real life craziness just carried over well for his movie craziness -- not that it is that crazy to exhibit an extreme state when trying to save your wife. I especially like the parts in which he's running super fast. But then, I also really like him in Far and Away, so maybe I'm just as crazy as him.
- 1.) The Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest - This time critics panned, and the public did bother. Why? Because a movie like Dead Man's Chest doesn't need to be a good movie. Nobody should be thinking too much about it; they should just find the thrills in it. And they should enjoy Depp's performance. And they should marvel at the incredible effects. I can understand if somebody doesn't like the series at all, but anyone who praises the first Pirates movie and then pans the second is missing the point. I can't wait for part 3. It will likely be on my list of best guilty pleasures of 2007. ...