I’ve talked about how there is plenty of good to be found in B-movie before, but what about those A-list movies that everyone writes off? Aren’t there movies on your personal favorites list that elicit groans and eye rolls from everyone else? My sister, for instance, has sung the praises of Howard the Duck (1986) from the moment she first saw it. Heck, I’m sure there’s someone out there who thinks Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and also other stuff: The Movie (2016) is the best cinematic adaptation of both its main characters. I’m not sure how that might have happened, but I’m sure that person is out there.
Anyway, here are just a few of my own favorite, little-loved movies.
The Cable Guy (1996)
Remembered mainly for Jim Carrey’s then-record twenty-million dollar paycheck, Ben Stiller’s second venture in the director’s chair was almost immediately dismissed upon release as “too dark,” “bleak,” and “not containing nearly enough scenes of an adult male attempting ventriloquism via his buttocks.” For my money, though it is not only a great film, it is the best film that writer Judd Apatow, director Stiller and star Carrey has yet to make.
Yes, it is the pitch-black tale of a cable installer gone rogue who injects himself into a hapless customer’s life, a la The Hand that Rocks the Cradle (1992). It’s more thriller-esque elements are tempered by an all-consuming sympathy for both of its main characters. Both Steven (Matthew Broderick) and the alias-laden titular Cable Guy (Carrey) are woefully unable to relate to people outside of television*. Broderick’s character has the capacity to change and be better by the end of the movie, whereas Carrey is a far more broken, far more tragic character. We, the pop culture obsessed inevitably fall on a spectrum somewhere between the two leads, and we can only hope that our lives are a little more Broderick and a little less Carrey.
Also, it has one of the greater homages to “Amok Time” ever produced—what’s not to love? Seriously, go give the film another look, and if you still hold as low an opinion of the movie as you did twenty years ago… Well, then, just keep it to yourself. I really like it.
But we can all agree it’s better than Zoolander 2 (2016), right?
A View to a Kill (1985)
Roger Moore is my least favorite Bond. Yes, that includes the dour Timothy Dalton, the dim-eyed Australian George Lazenby, Peter Sellers, and… ahem… Woody Allen. That being said, not all of his movies are that bad. In fact, I’d be willing to say of his seven times at the end of the gun-barrel sequence, I actually like as many as two of them.
This—Moore’s final outing in the role—ranks dead last of the series on Rotten Tomatoes**, and for the life of me, I can’t figure out why. Everyone knows that Roger Moore actually went into outer space in one of his movies, right?
Beyond obvious better candidates for worse Bond movies, A View to a Kill has a lot going for it. The theme song, from film composer John Barry and British group Duran Duran is a pure New Wave confection. The action sequences, culminating in a shoot-out at the Golden Gate Bridge is fantastic, and lest we forget: CHRISTOPHER WALKEN IS A BOND VILLAIN. Has there ever been an archetype that an actor was more destined to play than Walken playing one of the heavies in this film?
Critics point to Moore’s advancing age (57 at the time of filming) as contributing to the film’s underlying incredulity. For me, though, Roger Moore always brought a certain older quality to the role. Even in Live and Let Die (1973), he seemed stiffer, more mature than any of his brethren did in their initial movies. Besides, I think an increasingly geriatric Bond is an interesting idea, although I will admit both that I may be alone in this thinking, and that the movie—and the series, for that matter—never bothers to acknowledge that Bond might age.
But, come on! The man went into space in one of his movies! Why? Reasons, that’s why. As long as Moonraker (1979) exists, I can’t accept that this movie is the franchise’s nadir.
Any Terminator sequel minus James Cameron: Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003), Terminator: Salvation (2009), and Terminator: Genisys (2015)
Now, I can already hear the inevitable question. Terminator Salvation, really? Yes, it’s sort of an over-cooked hodgepodge of several different rough drafts, but there are a few interesting ideas in the movie. If Christian Bale hadn’t insisted on playing John Connor in the film***, the film might have ended up very good indeed.
I guess I more mean to defend the films in the series that Cameron didn’t write, but that Schwarzenegger actually starred in. Rise of the Machines is a perfectly serviceable action yarn with one added feature. Earl Boen is in it. No, although that is great, the movie becomes truly memorable with it’s supremely bleak ending. While the series up until that point had made hay out of telling us that “there is no fate, but what we make,” this entry in the series is a summer popcorn movie that is content to let you out of the movie theater with the knowledge that it doesn’t matter what you do, the same fate awaits us all. Brave. Creatively correct? Not for me to decide, but brave, nonetheless.
Once Schwarzenegger moved on from the State House in Sacramento, he returned to the series in Genisys****. Poo-poo’d upon its release—and for that matter, once again putting the future of the series in doubt—the film is a hot mess of convoluted time travel*****, but if there is one thing I love, it’s a hot mess of convoluted time travel. I’ll admit that the movie might not be for everyone, but for me it’s the cinematic equivalent of a Fritos Chili Pie. It shouldn’t exist. It’s difficult to fathom why it ever existed in the first place. It might be detrimental for your health to consume it. But, damn, if it isn’t tasty as hell. This entry may have taken a sudden left turn into a valentine for the Fritos Chili Pie… Where was I? Oh, yes! Terminator JEN-ISIS is pretty watchable. Give it a shot!
There are so many more movies I could list…and I might just do so in a part two of this entry. In the mean time, do you have any favorite movies that no one else seemed to get? Let me know in the comments.
*Remind us of anyone?
**Not including the strange-but-watchable off-brand Never Say Never Again (1983), or the afore-alluded-to comedy version of a multi-car pile up that was Casino Royale (1967).
***Despite the initial concept of the film only featuring the savior of humanity in a minor supporting role
****Which is a dumb title, if for no other reason than I have to check how it is spelled each and every time I refer to it.
*****And, not for nothing, the studio spoiled the one big plot twist of the movie months ahead of time in its trailers.