This is for the movies I’ve loved that juuuust don’t seem to fit into the regular categories, and with good reason. They’re not right. They’re a little – off. They got issues. And they rock. Feel free to list YOUR guilty pleasures in the comments.
Bad Santa - 2003
Directed by Terry Zwigoff
Written by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa
Insults by BBT Inc.
A miserable conman and his partner pose as Santa and his Little Helper to rob department stores on Christmas Eve. But they run into problems when the conman befriends a troubled kid, and the security boss discovers the plot.
Bad Santa proves one of two things, or may be both: either Billy Bob Thornton is the greatest actor ever or he is the biggest asshole ever. Reason being the way he talks to The Kid (Brett Kelly) throughout the movie. Thornton says the most horrible things to the pudgy wimp who is rejected by everyone in his life. Even the kids who bully him get tired of how easy it is.
Willie (Thornton) is a small-time crook who specializes in burglary with the help of Marcus (Tony Cox) a midget (yeah, I like the word midget, sorry) who plays a grumpy sidekick to Thornton’s Santa. At holiday time, the get hired as department store Santa & Co. in order to case the joint in preparation for unloading the safe. It’s a long-term process that takes patience and drinking, and meeting Sue (Lauren Graham), a slut of a bartender with a fantasy to bang Santa. If there were ever a woman from a movie with whom I could spend a night, it’d be Sue. No, I don’t look like Santa, but she makes you wish you did.
The problem starts when the store detective Gin (Bernie Mac) gets suspicious and learns about Bob’s rap sheet. The problem gets worse with Bob’s drinking problem and when he meets the kid getting bullied in the mall parking lot. After driving the kid home, Bob learns that not only is the kid’s parents rich, but they’re gone for a while, leaving easy pickings for Bob who has to do little more than charm the incoherent grandmother played by Cloris Leachman. Bob gets slightly, very slightly attached to the kid as he learns more about his sad existence while getting ready for safe-cracking night at the department store.
Get the unrated version with nastier, dirtier language, especially when Bob is overheard with a female friend in the dressing room by the shocked and confused store manager John Ritter.
Favorite scene – when Santa shows up drunk as kids are waiting to sit on his gross lap.
Wild Things – 1998
Directed byJohn McNaughton
Written by Stephen Peters
Champagne by Les Bians
A high school guidance counselor is framed for raping two of his students…or is he?
It’s a thriller, but a goofy, campy one. It’s an erotic thriller, but it’s just cheap skin flashes and gratuitous girl-on-girl moments. It’s a web of twists, but – it really is. And if you take away Denise Richards in a wet, white t-shirt and white shorts, if you take away the sleazy guidance counselor who ends up in a threesome with two female students, and if you take away the comic relief of Bill Murray, you really have a tight plot and a who-dun-it that isn’t over until the last of the credits has rolled.
Kelly is the rich, snobby high school girl. Suzie is the trashy slut. They hate each other, but only when you’re looking. When you’re not, they’re involved in an elaborate scheme to get millions of dollars, fake a death, and disappear. One or both of them was raped, allegedly, by Sam Lombardo (Matt Dillon), the guidance counselor at school who is being investigated by his friend, Detective Ray Duquette (Kevin Bacon).
Yeah, there are lots of things that wouldn’t really happen, but just go with it. There are crosses and double crosses galore, and even when you think you know what really happened and the credits are rolling, pay attention because there are a few extra scenes interspersed right to the very end that bring curveballs enough to totally change what you thought you knew.
Favorite scene: when Denise Richards washes the car.
1941 – 1979
Directed by Stephen Spielberg
Written by Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale
Compass by Cracker Jacks
Hysterical Californians prepare for a Japanese invasion in the days after Pearl Harbor.
First, let’s list the actors starring, supporting, or just appearing in brief scenes in order as presented by IMDB: Dan Akroyd, Warren Beatty, Lorraine Gray, Murray Hamilton, Christopher Lee, Tim Matheson, Robert Stack, Treat Williams, Nancy Allen, John Candy, Eddie Deenzen, Patti LuPone, Slim Pickens, Joe Flaherty, Michael McKean, Mickey Rourke, James Caan, Penny Marshall, and more. You won’t know all their names, but you will know their faces and/or voices, especially Deenzen, mostly remembered as “Eugene” from Grease.
In the understandable paranoia that set in after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, citizens and second-rate military outfits along the west coast are watching the skies and seas in fear of another attack. It’s a slapstick party of zoot suiters versus tough soldiers as everyone wants to meet a girl before being sent off to war. And then there’s Wild Bill Kelso (John Belushi) and a rogue pilot in a P40 Mustang strafing Hollywood looking for the Japanese. To describe it would only lessen any excitement you already don’t have, but give it a try. Slim Pickens plays, well, most any other Slim Pickens character ever as he’s captured by the Japanese who can’t find Hollywood.
The film was an early warning to Spielberg fans that he had two obsessions: airplanes and American at war. His aerial obsession returns in later films like Always and Empire of the Sun.
Favorite scene: getting the compass.
Used Cars 1980
Directed by Robert Zemeckis
Written by Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale
Paint by Yellow Cab Co.
When the owner of a struggling used car lot is killed, it’s up to the lot’s hot-shot salesman to save the property from falling into the hands of the owner’s ruthless brother and used-car rival.
After marginal success with 1941, the team of Zemeckis and Gale said, “We got this,” and too their zaniness to the used car lot. As much as you already hate car salesmen, these are worse. Rudy Russo (Kurt Russell) is a shyster with political ambitions, which makes total sense. If he can sell enough cars, he’ll have enough for his campaign for state senate. Problem: Luke and Roy Fuchs (both by Jack Warden) have competing used car lots. Rudy works for nice guy Luke, who lends Roy money for the campaign. When Luke dies of a stroke, conniving brother Roy wants to take ownership of his brother’s lot, but he can’t until he can prove that Luke is dead.
Yeah, it sounds stupid, and it is, but it’s a full-farce laugh riot with inappropriate jokes, black humor, and some fabulous schemes by a team of hi-tech guerillas (Michael McKean and David Lander – aka Lenny and Squiggy) who help steal business from Roy’s car lot, right across the street. Things get sticky when Luke’s daughter Barbara (Deborah Harmon) shows up looking for her father. Just buckle up and go along for the ride (did I really write that?), especially when Jeff the salesman (Garrit Graham) and Jim the mechanic (Frank MacRae) are on screen.
Favorite scene – interrupting President Carter’s state of the union address.
The Kentucky Fried Movie – 1977
Directed by John Landis
Written by David and Jerry Zucker, Jim Abrahams
Boobs by various artists
Imagine you had a chance to make a bunch of raunchy, politically incorrect, borderline racist, definitely sexist, funny as hell skits and assemble them into a feature film and have John Landis (Animal House, American Werewolf in London) direct. These were the minds that would eventually create a string of hits like Airplane! Police Squad and Animal House. Skits with titles like “United Appear for the Dead,” “Danger Seekers,” “Cleopatra Schwart,” “Big Jim Slade,” “A Fist Full of Yen,” “The Wonderful World of Sex,” “That’s Armageddon,” and my favorite “Catholic High School Girls in Trouble.”
Don’t try to make sense of it. Just lock up the kids, get a case of beer, and enjoy.
Favorite scene – the glass shower door.
Horse Feathers – 1932
Directed by Norman Z. McLeod
Written by Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby
Passwords by Swordfish
Quincy Adams Wagstaff, the new president of Huxley U, hires bumblers Baravelli and Pinky to help his school win the big football game against rival Darwin U.
Vaudeville, football, and gambling collide when the Marx Brothers hit a college campus where Groucho has been named the new president of Huxley College. The first problem is beating rival Darwin College in their traditional football matchup. Groucho attempts to hire two burley ringers to suit up for Huxley, but Darwin has already paid for their services, leaving Huxley to accidentally pay for two idiots (Chico and Harpo) thinking they are the actual ringers.
There’s a sexy college widow and good times in a speakeasy with secret passwords and card games. There’s the usual piano playing with Chico, crooning with Zeppo, and silent slapstick with Harpo, and suggestive innuendo with Groucho. I was raised on this stuff every Sunday up in the New York area right after Abbott and Costello, which was right after The Bowery Boys. Those were good times, and I’ll never let them go. Please give it a peek.
Favorite scene – when Groucho teaches about white corpuscles.
“And don’t think it hasn’t been a little slice of heaven – because it hasn’t.”
- B. Bonny