Hatin’ on Film

Queenan via Massie via Drezer via McCardle has this to say on bad movies.

To qualify as one of the worst films of all time, several strict requirements must be met. For starters, a truly awful movie must have started out with some expectation of not being awful. That is why making a horrific, cheapo motion picture that stars Hilton or Jessica Simpson is not really much of an accomplishment. Did anyone seriously expect a film called The Hottie and The Nottie not to suck? Two, an authentically bad movie has to be famous; it can’t simply be an obscure student film about a boy who eats live rodents to impress dead girls. Three, the film cannot be a deliberate attempt to make the worst movie ever, as this is cheating. Four, the film must feature real movie stars, not jocks, bozos, has-beens or fleetingly famous media fabrications like Hilton. Five, the film must generate a negative buzz long before it reaches cinemas; like the Black Plague or the Mongol invasions, it must be an impending disaster of which there has been abundant advance warning; it cannot simply appear out of nowhere. And it must, upon release, answer the question: could it possibly be as bad as everyone says it is? This is what separates Waterworld, a financial disaster but not an uncompromisingly dreadful film, and Ishtar, which has one or two amusing moments, from The Postman, Gigli and Heaven’s Gate, all of which are bona fide nightmares.

Six, to qualify as one of the worst movies ever made, a motion picture must induce a sense of dread in those who have seen it, a fear that they may one day be forced to watch the film again – and again – and again. To pass muster as one of the all-time celluloid disasters, a film must be so bad that when a person is asked, “Which will it be? Waterboarding, invasive cattle prods or Jersey Girl?”, the answer needs no further reflection. This phenomenon resembles Stockholm Syndrome, where a victim ends up befriending his tormentors, so long as they promise not to make him watch any more Kevin Smith movies. The condition is sometimes referred to as Blunted Affleck.

I actually like Kevin Smith movies, but I see his point.

I would add point 7 — a movie must have its defenders. Nothing can make you hate a movie more than someone insisting that some piece of shit is actually a good flick. That’s why the movie I hate most is Jerry Maguire. It meets all seven requirements.

  • I had no expectation that this movie would be awful. It was an oscar nominee and made many critics’ top ten lists.
  • Definitely famous.
  • It thinks it’s a good movie.
  • Not only does it have one of biggest stars in America, it had the misfortune to make two more. The movie’s defenders point to Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Renee Zellwegger as reasons the movie is good. But: (a) Jerry Maguire turned Gooding, a talented actor, into a perpetual joke with the most over-rated performance in movie history; (b) I tired of Zellwegger’s “acting”, which consists of a pout, by about reel three of Maguire. She was great in Bridget Jones, but I have yet to think she was good in anything else.
  • The movie fails on the negative buzz scale, unfortunately. But this requirement doesn’t carry much with me. As one of McCardle’s comments says, a bad movie should be more like a kick in the balls — sudden and unexpected. But eve failing the buzz test, it more makes up for it with-
  • Having its defenders. Maguire rates a 7.2 at IMDB. It was nominated for five oscars, including Best Picture and made a large number of top ten lists. And any time I mention it, people look at me goggle-eyed, as if they can’t believe that someone would hate such a wonderful movie. And their arguments only make me hate the movie more. A primary one is, “It’s got everything! It’s got sports for the guys and romance for the girls!” As if all guys need to watch a romantic movie is sports and all women need to watch a sports movie is kissy-faces.
  • So why do I hate the movie? First, there’s the acting, from Cruise’s somnambulant attempts at enunciation to Gooding’s scenery chewing. There’s the clumsy directing. There’s the soundtrack.

    But mostly it’s the horrid script. Rarely do you see a script that is: (a) completely ignorant of its subject matter — most sports agents have lots of clients because very few of them will make money; (b) riddled with cliched dialogue stolen from other better movies; (c) lacking in any kind of subtlety — no message in the movie can be conveyed without being spoken in short sentences by a character; (d) responsible for the most over-rated and over-used movie quotes in history — which I will not repeat here for the sake of decency.

    It’s Jerry Maguire that makes me sympathize with people who hate Lord of the Rings, a movie I obviously love. No film is worse than the one everyone else loves. And the more they try to argue with you and persuade you that “no really, it’s a great movie! How can you not like it! Don’t you love this line!”, the more you hate it.