Friday, February 19, 2010

Where's the Remote?

There are films you instinctively want to dislike before even seeing them. In fact, you often actively avoid them - they have all the warning signs that tell you they will be a Bad Thing. Inevitably these films creep up on you when your guard is down and you end up watching them. And you know, some of them ain't so bad. In some cases, good even. So I've tried to name a few of them that surprised me. It's an extremely subjective and judgemental list but it's my time I'm wasting here so I don't expect a hard time if you don't agree with me. It's my party and I'll blah blah blah if I want to.

In my case, they tend to fit into a few key categories.

Romcoms. If you actually don't want to dislike them then your inner snob will certainly tell you that you're far too clever to enjoy this kind of lo-brow papp. The law of media osmosis means inevitably you end up seeing most of them and dammit, I suppose there are a few out there that are not so bad.

Disney. Bleahh.

Issue films. Films you know are just itching to lecture and patronise you about some worthy subject. They tend to be issue-driven rather plot-driven, and seem to exist solely to crassly misinform you about some mighty subject such as....I dunno...war, cancer, mental illness, political suppression etc. You get the idea. What happens is, instead of you learning something about the subject, a few facts (and quite a few complete falsehoods) are wrapped around a cheesy melodrama and clunking dialogue and the film solely exists to sledgehammer you with somebody's highly personalised view of events.

Star vehicles. That is, films that seem solely to exist because they've got a notoriously two-dimensional actor who for some reason always brings home the bacon at the box office. Adam Sandler. Eddie Murphy. Steve Martin's entire body of work for the last 20 years. Etc.

Add to the above all Christmas movies, all made for TV movies, and all movies that are spinoffs from TV shows.

I'm a bloke. I like making top ten lists and stuff like that. Just remember, these are NOT my favourite films so I'm not some dolt who has some sort of oatmeal based substitute for brains. These are films that have just appeared in front of me and I frankly couldn't be bothered to switch channels or read a book so I just let them float past and was surprised that I really rather enjoyed them. None of them are great films in any sense of the word but they're all films that caught me on the hop and I'd probably waste a few hours watching again. And they're all better than the bloody Shawshank Redemption.

In no particular order and not with a great deal of forethought, here goes.....

Starship Troopers
I saw this in Ecuador for the first time. Rotten acting, plot and dialogue but I don't think this film was pretending to have those in the first place so no point in attacking it it because it doesn't. Mindless and entertaining fun. There are a lot of politicians out there who I suspect would be happy to run the world along similar lines.

Tin Cup
A Kevin Costner, golf-themed movie. It's got Don Johnson as well. What more is there to hate? Entertaining stuff.

LA Story
Steve Martin. I really don't know where to put him. He has made some truly awful films, and then been allowed to make a sequel that was even worse. There are sufficient people out there who will go and see him just because he's Steve Martin. This means he can sustain not only his own career but an entire segment of the movie industry dedicated to turning out really, really bad films. LA Story doesn't fit that rule. Utterly ridicules the LA media/celebrity lifestyle and the people who inhabit it.

Nobody's Fool
I'm not sure this film fits my rules because it's got Paul Newman in it and I'll watch him in anything. But what's Paul Newman doing in a film with Bruce Willis and Melanie Wassername? He must be just padding out his retirement. I'll try and pretend it doesn't exist in his greater body of work cos I know I'm going to be disappointed. With any luck it'll sink without trace and be conveniently forgotten. No, I had to watch it in the end cos it's got Newman in it. Phew, so relieved to discover it's actually very good.

Mercy Mission: The Rescue of Flight 771

The title says it all doesn't it? "Mercy Mission" - no subtlety there at all. It's a made for TV movie as well. A bad start on two counts at least. Mawkishly sentimental in parts but it'll keep you on the edge of your seat right up to the end. And it'll make you get out your atlas and try and find Pago Pago.

Bridget Jones's Diary

How can an American do a plausible English accent? Damn - extremely well as it turns out. Not only was the accent good - it was exactly correct for the social circles in which she moved. And like most actual Londoners, she was portrayed living in a poky little flat and not the spaciously converted warehouse/ballroom that most films would have us believe is the average city dwelling.

And Renee Zellweger is sexy as hell. She apparently gained 25 pounds in preparation for the role - which as far as I'm concerned made her just about perfect. Without those 25 pounds she loses every ounce of that sexiness.

Bad Santa

A Christmas movie. The worst possible premise on which to base a film. Has there ever been a good one? It's a Wonderful Life is ok I suppose but you just know it's going to have a happy ending so what's the point?

What you really want to believe is that underneath every in-store Santa, there is an incontinent, foul-mouthed, degenerate, drunken thief. Who likes to beat up little people. This film delivers.

Cool Runnings

Not got a lot going for it has it.....a Disney feature (as oppposed to animation) so it's on shaky ground already and carries the dreaded warning "based on a true story". You know this usually means it'll bear little or no resemblance to the original events and the Americans will always emerge as the heroic rescuers. Because of the Disney connection, it'll probably be sentimental, riddled with cliches and clownish overacted performances.

Actually it wasn't. The Jamaican characters portrayed were not complete stereotypes. John Candy turns in a proper acting performance and it's a couple of hours of light entertainment with a reasonable nod to the original events.

Oh jeez, Oliver Stone having a go at the establishment....again. I'm tired of being told I'm being lied to but through the medium of feature films. If I want a documentary I'll watch a documentary. I don't want my factual events shot through the prism of someone with a massive chip on their shoulder. We're gonna be in for a real telling-off here aren't we.

Well actually, just watch the movie and forget real events have been fictionalised, dramatised and over-exaggerated. It's got some cracking performances from a bunch of people. Joe Pesci, Tommy Lee Jones, John Candy (again), Donald Sutherland, Gary Oldman and others.

There are probably more but I can't think of them right now.


sabrina said...

I can't believe you dont like disney stuff and shawshank redemption!!!!!!!!!!

King of Scurf said...

Saby - After a comment you left in a previous post I thought I'd be in trouble with you over this. I can sort of see the appeal of Disney's animations but they're not for me.

The Shawshank Redemption is by far the most outrageously, overrated film of all time. I may do a separate posting on this subject as the Comments Section cannot do it justice.

nursemyra said...

Shawshank Redemption is usually praised by people who don't go to the movies very often. Enjoyable enough, but it wouldn't make my Top 100 let alone my Top 10.

LA Story is great! I also liked Shopgirl but it's a shame Steve Martin's hubris prompted him to star in it instead of just writing the screenplay.

King of Scurf said...

nursemyra - I'll keep my powder dry regarding my problems with Shawshank Redemption - it is, as you say, enjoyable enough, but so deficient in other areas.

You're an LA Story fan - thankyou thankyou. On your recommendation, I will try and see Shopgirl. I kind of vaguely remember Bowfinger wasn't too bad either.

nursemyra said...

Shopgirl has an Indie feel to it. Steve's performance was the least convincing but I liked the simple story

King of Scurf said...

nursemyra: I just watched Shopgirl. Very much enjoyed it. Thank you for the recommendation.