The only things I wish I could get back in my life are the 91 minutes and $4 I spent in October 2008 to see “Beverly Hills Chihuahua” in theaters. In my defense, I had no control over choosing the movie, it was close to 11pm, it was freshman year of college, and I was still a little woozy from my first beignets. I try to live with no regrets, but seriously, that was a mistake. Sure, it was a bonding moment with friends, but there is nothing redeeming about that movie. (Jamie Lee Curtis, what were you thinking?) And here’s the truth—I love bad movies. They’re hilarious, and I can usually find something to enjoy in them, but not Beverly Hills Chihuahua. In fact, in the middle of the movie, I took a nap, woke up 30 minutes later, and could still follow the story. (Spoiler alert: Nothing had happened.) I’ve seen a lot of bad movies and I have to say, “Beverly Hills Chihuahua” was THE WORST. But why are bad movies so fun? What’s there to like if it’s so pathetically awful?
For me, at least, one of the reasons is talking. I confess, I am one of those dreadful, annoying people—the movie talker. I come by it naturally—my mother loves to ask questions during movies, such as “Who’s that?” when a brand new character walks through a door and has yet to be introduced, or “What just happened?”, causing the person nearest her to have to narrate the last two minutes of action in a hissed whisper. I’m honestly trying to get better, but sometimes I just can’t help myself. But in bad movies, it’s somehow a little more tolerable to talk. When Ophelia Fedora and I rented “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters”, we commentated on the entire event—how many volts it takes to revive a troll, the strange plot twists wherein Hansel was a diabetic, the badassery, the shirtlessness of Jeremy Renner—and enjoyed ourselves immensely. Sure, we were taken to task for this enjoyment by our friends on Facebook, but to this day, we regret nothing. Same when I saw “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” in theaters with Penelope Bell and Staniel Knickerbocker. That movie was campy, and grisly, and hilarious, so much so that I often brought it up as an example of how popular culture interprets history during my first semester of graduate school. I mean, COME ON. Who DOESN’T want to see our sixteenth president stomp through the midnight streets of Springfield hacking off the heads of the undead with an ax? I am not a fan of supernatural horror, but this was just too good to resist. My friends and I bonded over it, talked during it, threw popcorn at the screen, and generally had a grand old time. An instant bad movie classic, enjoyed to the fullest. #noregrets
Another wonderful facet of watching bad movies is that they are so fun to discuss. Recently, Thor Erickson shared with me the hilarrible (hilarious + terrible) splendor of “Simply Irresistible”, starring Sarah Michelle Gellar. This movie should have been good—Sarah Michelle Gellar is a chef! A magic crab! Patricia Clarkson jumps Dylan Baker in an elevator with dessert! Inspired by the movies of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodgers!—but it is so, so bad. Truly awful. I must insist that you go watch it immediately. Sure, my initial disappointment had something to do with the fact that the song “Simply Irresistible” was never played, but the movie has almost no plot, the dialogue is lousy, SMG’s wardrobe is straight out of the Pantalunacy collection of 1999, and even a magical crab can’t make this movie even the slightest bit fun to watch. Except—the worse it got, the more fun it was to watch. Afterward, Thor and I had a 45 minute conversation about this movie—half its runtime, mind you—detailing everything that went wrong and how terrible it was and how much we needed other people to watch it so we could talk about how bad it was. I implore you to watch it, because it deserves to be thrust into the limelight of bad movies and celebrated alongside The Room and House of Wax. Same goes with the 1980 camp classic, “Xanadu”, which I saw with two friends in high school along with its Broadway musical counterpart, and with which we quickly became obsessed. You guys, two words—ROLLER DISCO. Five more words—OLIVIE NEWTON-JOHN, ANCIENT MUSE. Oh yeah. You know you need that in your life.
In sum, bad movies are wonderful. They bring people together. They give us something to talk about, and compare other bad movies to—is it “Gigli” bad or just Lifetime movie bad? (Although Liz Fudge and I watched the premiere of the “William & Kate” Lifetime movie and it was excellent. As in, truly and wonderfully dreadful.) Bad movies let us feel superior to something—our lives may not always be awesome, but at least we didn’t star in the Twilight franchise. (So sorry, but it’s true. I laughed so hard at “Breaking Dawn” and I don’t think that was the point.) So, give the Razzies a national telecast a la the Oscars and let’s celebrate the bad along with the good. Because, I ask you: without Beverly Hills Chihuahua, how could we ever appreciate a truly good movie? I’m here for career advice at any time, Jamie Lee.