Let’s face it. We can’t hide it. We all have those movies that we like that others would shun. These are guilty pleasures: the ones that aren’t that great but we love for some reason or another. Here are mine. Be sure to list yours in the comments, if you’d like.
Last Action Hero (1993)
Rotten Tomatoes: 38%
Actors: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Austin O’Brien, F. Murray Abraham, Art Carney, Charles Dance
Director: John McTiernan/Writers: Shane Black and David Arnott
Here’s the thing: I will defend this movie’s concept till Doomsday. A movie about a kid with a magic ticket that gets pulled into an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie? Genius concept. Yes, the kid is annoying. Yes, the movie doesn’t reach the heights of a McTiernan/Black team-up as well as one might think. It’s interesting to note that McTiernan isn’t working as much as he used to and Shane Black is about to start work on Iron Man 3. Still, I think it’s a one-of-a-kind movie that deserves to be seen once.
Mr. Magoo (1997)
Rotten Tomatoes: 4%
Actors: Leslie Nielsen, Kelly Lynch, Matt Kessler, Nick Chinlund, Stephen Tobolowsky, Ernie Hudson, Jennifer Garner, Malcolm McDowell, Miguel Ferrer
Director: Stanley Tong/Writers: Pat Proft and Tom Sherohman
I’m not sure why blind people got upset over this movie. It’s not like they saw it! Seriously, everybody got so upset and they forgot Mr. Magoo isn’t blind. He is nearsighted. You don’t let a blind man drive a car, for crying out loud! I think was just Leslie Nielsen wanting to do a kids’ version of his famed Naked Gun movies. And really, who else but Leslie Nielsen could play Mr. Magoo?
Rotten Tomatoes: 39%
Actors: Matthew McConaughey, Steve Zahn, Penélope Cruz, William H. Macy, Rainn Wilson
Director: Breck Eisner/Writers: Thomas Dean Donnelly, Joshua Oppenheimer, John C. Richards, and James V. Hart
In the years between Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, there were many movies made to find the next great adventure series. Most notably were the Nicholas Cage National Treasure movies. But there was this adaptation of one of Clive Cussler’s novels, “Sahara”, starring his fictional hero Dirk Pitt played by Matthew McConaughey (there was an earlier film titled Raise the Titanic with Richard London in the role). It’s really light-hearted mostly due to the great straight man-comedy relief team of Matthew McConaughey and Steve Zahn, the great oldies rock soundtrack and America’s introduction to the future Dwight Schrute, Rainn Wilson (he previously appeared as an alien in Galaxy Quest).
Rotten Tomatoes: 51%
Actors: Al Pacino, Rachel Roberts, Catherine Keener, Evan Rachel Wood, Winona Ryder, Jason Schwartzman
Director/Writer: Andrew Niccol
I think what really hurt this movie was that it was really ahead of its time. Back then, photorealistic CGI was an alien concept and a movie trying to move that along was swiftly forgotten. That and the Screen Actors Guild was angry that the movie was suggesting that any actor could be simply replaced by a computer program. I give a lot of credit to Al Pacino for doing a rare comedy (yes, I’m fully aware he’s in Jack & Jill). And yes, this is a comedy unlike Andrew Niccol’s previous screenplay The Truman Show (his latest film was In Time), and he even got to walk away with the leading lady as his wife! Disney Channel even ripped off this film with their TV movie Pixel Perfect in a more family friendly way. I questioned whether or not I should put this in my guilty pleasures list because I really don’t see a lot of hate for this film and it’s really not annoying. One of those “smart man’s comedies”.
George of the Jungle (1997)
Rotten Tomatoes: 56%
Actors: Brendan Fraser, Leslie Mann, Thomas Hayden Church, John Cleese, Abraham Benrubi, Holland Taylor
Director: Sam Weisman/Writer: Dana Olsen and Audrey Wells
Would you believe it’s the highest-rated film on this list? I wouldn’t have earlier. I did see this film in theaters when I was 6 years old. It was preceded by the first and only Mickey Mouse short film I’ve seen in theaters, “Runaway Brain” (a very, very underrated film mostly because of its semi-dark nature). Interestingly, Joel Hodgson (creator of “Mystery Science Theater 3000”) wrote of a draft of the script that went largely unused. This movie actually led to the producers of The Mummy to casting Brendan Fraser. Not to mention Mrs. Judd Apatow, Leslie Mann, stars as Ursula and Oscar-nominee Thomas Hayden Church is the villain Lyle. As a kids’ movie, it’s largely silly and harmless, but I’m not sure how much parents will get out of it outside of nostalgia for the original cartoon.
Good Burger (1997)
Rotten Tomatoes: 31%
Actors: Kel Mitchell, Kenan Thompson, Sinbad, Abe Vigoda, Dan Schneider, Linda Cardellini, Shaquille O’Neal, George Clinton, Carmen Electra
Director: Brian Robbins/Writers: Dan Schneider, Kevin Kopelow and Heath Seifert
It’s hard to believe that the career of Dan Schneider, the creator of such hit tween shows such as “Victorious” and “iCarly”, started out with such a hated film as Good Burger. It’s a 103 minute version of a 3-minute sketch from his first show “All That” that basically starts with the phrase “Welcome to Good Burger, home of the Good Burger, can I take your order?” Does this sound like a good premise for a little over an hour and a half? Not really, but this is when nostalgia basically takes over. It’s not exactly a value meal, but it’s a good snack from the ‘90s.
Kangaroo Jack (2003)
Rotten Tomatoes: 8%
Actors: Jerry O’Connell, Anthony Anderson, Estella Warren, Christopher Walken, Michael Shannon, Adam Garcia
Director: David McNally/Writers: Steve Bing and Scott Rosenberg
When you show a talking kangaroo in your commercials, kids expect to have him in the movie longer than 2 minutes. But that’s what happens when Jerry Bruckheimer gets inspired by Snow Dogs. Not sure how this film really applies to kids outside of the CG kangaroo and the opening sequence featuring the main characters as kids (and the “Superman” theme which comes courtesy of their home studio of Warner Bros.; oddly enough, Michael Shannon was later cast in Man of Steel). Is it dumb? Absolutely. Is it as bad a stereotypical film of Australia as Crocodile Dundee? Possibly. But as guilty pleasures go, it’s somewhat watchable.
The Master of Disguise (2002)
Rotten Tomatoes: 2%
Actors: Dana Carvey, Brent Spiner, Jennifer Esposito, Harold Gould, James Brolin, Edie McClurg, Jessica Simpson, Bo Derek, Jesse Ventura
Director: Perry Andelin Blake/Writers: Dana Carvey and Harris Goldberg
Up until Bucky Larson: Born to be a Star, this was the worst reviewed film that Adam Sandler ever produced. Starring fellow SNL alumni Dana Carvey and his many, many impressions, this film came off to most as incredibly annoying. I can certainly see why, but again this is one of those films that I grew up watching and I have certain nostalgia for. People that I grew up with remember most fondly the Turtle Guy as the most popular of the characters that Carvey portrayed. He was ridiculous but simple. Not to mention, “This is what you’re doing. This is what I want you to do,” is still pretty funny. I assume the “Star Trek: The Next Generation” checks stopped coming for Brent Spiner, as he’s forced to play a habitually farting villain, which gets old extremely fast. It’s clearly not for everyone, but if you want/need something to entertain kids, it will do the job.
The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle (2000)
Rotten Tomatoes: 43%
Actors: Robert De Niro, Jason Alexander, Rene Russo, Piper Perabo, Randy Quaid, June Foray, Keith Scott, Janeane Garofalo, Carl Reiner, Jonathan Winters, John Goodman, Kenan Thompson, Kel Mitchell, James Rebhorn, David Alan Grier, Whoopi Goldberg, Billy Crystal, Taraji P. Henson
Director: Des McAnuff/Writer: Kenneth Lonergan
You might notice that in the original “Rocky & Bullwinkle” cartoon series, Rocky & Bullwinkle only have like 10 minutes of screen time. The rest of the show was divided up into other segments like “Peabody’s Improbable History," “Dudley Do-Right,” and “Fractured Fairy Tales”. However, these episodes were treated like old-time serials. One episode would start where the other one ended; which meant anyone watching a random episode for the first time would most likely be lost, as were the audiences of Rocky & Bullwinkle. It’s clear the filmmakers wanted this film to be as successful as Who Framed Roger Rabbit, even going so far as to reference it in dialogue. I gotta give them credit for casting June Foray to reprise her role as the voice of Rocky and giving famous impersonator Keith Scott the double role of Bullwinkle/the Narrator, but not so much for getting De Niro, Alexander, and Russo who don’t do much service to their animated counterparts. The oddest thing I can mention about this movie is that is the feature film debut of Oscar-winner Taraji P. Henson (Hustle & Flow, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Karate Kid) Still, it’s pretty harmless and there are enough jokes for kids as well as adults to warrant a watch.
King Ralph (1991)
Rotten Tomatoes: 20%
Actors: John Goodman, Peter O’Toole, John Hurt
Director/Writer: David S. Ward
This was another film I questioned putting on the list. Sure, not a lot of the critics liked it, but it doesn’t get much hate. As many English scholars will tell you, it’s quite impossible that in the event of the royal family being wiped out that a man, regardless of whether or not he’s an American, could rise to the ranks of King of England. Still, for the first twenty-five minutes, it’s a great wish-fulfillment story. Then it has to get ruined by a half-baked romance that ends up being boring. Still, Peter O’Toole and John Hurt do well in their respective roles. But it’s safe to say that John Goodman has certainly gotten better roles (mostly thanks to the Coens). Other than that, it’s still a mostly inoffensive movie (outside of a terrible Burger King gag midway through).
My Favorite Martian (1999)
Rotten Tomatoes: 12%
Actors: Jeff Daniels, Christopher Lloyd, Daryl Hannah, Elizabeth Hurley, Wallace Shawn, Ray Walston
Director: Donald Petrie/Writer: John L. Greene, Sherri Stoner and Deanna Oliver
I’d like to know who at Disney thought an old show like “My Favorite Martian” would make it in the ‘90s, but looking at today’s film marketplace, one could easily say they were ahead of their time. Christopher Lloyd outweirds himself in this film (think Doc Brown mixed with Judge Doom times twenty) as the alien dubbed “Uncle Martin” who literally crashes with Jeff Daniels’ reporter character Tim O’Hara. O’Hara thinks he’s stumbled upon the story of a lifetime until he learns that Martin’s spacecraft has to be re-launched into space or else it could self-destruct and destroy the Earth. Like in Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle, I gotta give credit to Disney for hiring Ray Walston (the original “Uncle Martin”) in a cameo role. How weird does this movie get? There’s a scene in the movie where Martin and Tim are being chased by the government so Martin shrinks the car they’re in to escape into the sewers. They wind up in this big, fat redneck’s toilet. As they cower in fear, Tim demands that Martin enlarges them immediately. The car drives straight through the toilet into the next wall with the fat redneck on the hood. There are no words; you just have to see it to believe it.
Rotten Tomatoes: 24%
Actors: Harland Williams, Jessica Lundy, William Sadler, Jeffrey DeMunn, James Pickens Jr. and Beau Bridges
Director: Stuart Gillard/Writers: Oren Aviv, Craig Mazin and Greg Erb
This is the movie on the list that I am probably most ashamed of. I hate to use this word, but the only real way to describe this movie is retarded. I’m sorry, I really am, but once you see this movie you’ll see what I mean. The movie starts with a little boy pretending to be an astronaut, which is completely normal. What isn’t normal is that he’s inside a dryer. The dryer suddenly comes on and the little boy starts spinning around inside it. However, it stops and the little boy pops out without any injuries and a big toothy smile. If that sounds completely implausible to you, stop watching. The movie fast-forwards a few decades later to NASA planning their first manned mission to Mars. However, the crew starts complaining about their supposedly faulty software, which was created by -- you guessed it -- that grown-up version of the little boy named Fred Randall. However, “grown-up” would be a huge compliment to the guy; he truly never grew up and still behaves like a 7-year-old and somehow got a job designing software for NASA. When the team confronts him, Fred demonstrates that the software isn’t faulty, it’s just that the computer engineer, Gary, operating it was mistaken. In trying to prove that Fred is full of crap, Gary tries to replicate Fred’s demonstration and ends up getting himself vastly injured. This leaves the Mars team without a computer programmer for their mission. Well, we all know where this is headed don’t we? Fred is instituted into the NASA training program. He manages to bungle up all the training exercises but somehow miraculously passes. I’d like to mention one in particular: Fred is being tested to see how many G’s he can pull. They put him in a pod and start spinning him around at a very quick rate. Fred does get to the minimum point of G’s but starts playfully screaming that he wants the pod to go faster. The commander of the Mars mission, a guy who really doesn’t like Fred, gets the pod to go as fast as it can possibly go. What eventually happens is that Fred flies off in his chair out of the room. He crashes into a hallway filled with nuns and their students and continues out the door. Gary is shown in a wheelchair (which is odd enough because the movie just showed him getting smacked in the head and he’s in a wheelchair) and suddenly Fred busts through the wall and runs straight into Gary sending him and his wheelchair into triple backflips (I wish I was making this up). Why do I like this movie? It’s just a simple movie I watched when I was a kid and I got hooked on it. For all it’s dumb, childish antics, it’s still somewhat lovable. To me, this is the definitive guilty pleasure. Lock me up and throw away the key.