I am well aware that those who produce, direct, and star in bad movies are arguably less reprehensible than the people who gather in living rooms on countless Friday nights with their friends to watch them over and over. I don’t remember exactly when I first began to cultivate an appreciation for the kinds of movies whose boxes display succinct, extremely selective quotes from nameless critics saying, “…Good…movie!” I wasn’t always a connoisseur of incompetence, a lover of the badly acted and worst written. By now though, my habits are well known, and not only by those closest to me, for I’ve accumulated miles of damaging records at the local video store. None of the clerks look me in the eye anymore. It still hurts, sometimes.
Lately, however, my love of films where the font in the opening credits announces the producer in Times New Regret has led me to ask some difficult questions. “Why not try watching a quality picture, perhaps a classic, once in awhile?” I ask myself. “A movie which, when you can’t get it to play, won’t make you suspect that your VCR is malfunctioning on purpose to save you from yourself?” I also wonder whether perhaps having a decent movie or two under my belt might finally grant me the social credibility I crave. Anyone who has ever experienced a delayed and confused response from an acquaintance at a party who is waiting for you to add, “Just kidding, who could possibly think that ‘Grease 2’ is as good as the original, ha ha,” knows my pain.
I really do feel that for sheer entertainment value, you can’t beat the ill-begotten sequel to a campy 80’s classic, a sequel that can’t decide whether it’s striving to be campy, meaningful, or watchable, but which is ultimately none of the three. “Grease 2,” where high-school students are played by thirty-year-olds with tired eyes, receding hairlines and recently fired agents. Where the leading lady, played by Michelle Pfeiffer, is unaware that the lovable geek who pines for her in English class and the leather-jacketed, motorcycling bad ass who has been courting her with his cool riding, are one and the same man, because the bad ass always wears motorcycle goggles. A movie in which one of the liveliest musical numbers takes place in a bowling alley with dancing nuns as extras. You have to wonder how many of those involved mention this movie on their resumes. I wouldn’t be surprised if even the Key Grip let this one slide.
Perhaps my taste in movies is an indication of a more serious personality disorder. Rather than spending my time on intelligent, well-made movies that allow me to sit back and appreciate the art of filmmaking, I prefer to watch movies that, although I have no experience in the field of lighting, costumes, or set design, invariably have scenes that make me roll my eyes and sniff, “Look at that back-lighting. You can barely see his face. And the bathrobe Shelley Long is wearing is completely inappropriate considering her character’s insecurity with her own wealth and status. Shameful.” The feelings of superiority one experiences upon watching a Bad movie remain heady and potent; even when the movie is one in which Steve Guttenberg woos and finally wins a feisty journalist with a heart of gold by pretending to be a sexy, mysterious motorcycling stranger from New Zealand. Note how the theme of motorcycling appears to be particularly prevalent in Bad movies. The social implications are staggering.