Good Things About Bad Movies
Few people set out to make a bad film but they inevitably happen. In fact many notably terrible movies have aspects that shine through their terribleness. Some of the most famous bad movies of all time have elements which stand out for being particularly good in a sea of awful. So here is the good things about bad movies.
Scenes between Bruce Wayne and Alfred (Batman & Robin): Throughout the wildly changing tones and cast members of the Burton/Schumacher run on the Batman franchise, veteran actor Michael Gough stood steadfast through it all. Playing one of the most beloved comic characters of all time, Alfred Pennyworth, Gough turned in a solid performance in each of the four films. In the last, the bombastically terrible Batman & Robin, filmmakers snuck in a subtle subplot where the trusted Alfred was dying. Beneath all the garish lights and over-the-top acting, was the story of Bruce Wayne coming to grips with the fact that he may lose the man he had always thought of as a father. It was in these moments Clooney became the actor we now know he has the talent to be when onscreen. Both Clooney and Gough gave incredibly heartfelt performances in the scenes they shared, which made the audience feel they were watching a completely different movie.
Terry Crews singing (White Chicks): Terry Crews does not get enough credit for the gifted entertainer that he is. He has the physicality and chops to be a top-notch action star, yet he has comedic abilities to share the screen with even the funniest of actors, or in this case, not funny actors. The Wayans Brothers project, White Chicks, a groan-inducing if nothing else. But there is one scene alone which is worth watching the flick for. Crews is ready to take one of the Wayans in their creepy make-up out for the night, but cue up the ballad A Thousand Miles by Vanessa Carlton, and this tough guy shows his soft spot. With the tune blaring Crews, holds nothing back as he sings and pantomimes throughout this song in a way that you can’t help but laugh at.
Kelsey Grammer as the Beast (X-Men 3: The Last Stand): In a previous article I covered everything wrong with this blatant cash grab of a movie which signaled the low point of the X-Men franchise. Despite trying to shove five storylines into a single movie, the filmmakers behind X-Men 3: The Last Stand did made one spot on decision, the casting of Frasier star Kelsey Grammer as the Beats. With a voice and demeanor which scream intellectual, Grammer was possibly the best and only choice to bring the urbane blue mutant to life. True we already had a blink-and-you-miss-it Hank McCoy cameo in the previous flick, but this was the Beast fans had been dying to see.
The Lightsaber battle (Star Wars: The Phantom Menace): In 1999 we as a society tried to convince ourselves that the movie we had waited so long for was good, and not an overstuffed piece of melodrama full of Senators and trade disputes and Jar Jar. But eventually the realization came over us that Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace was not a good movie, save for a shiny moments in the climax; Darth Maul with his double bladed lightsaber going up against Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi Wan Kenobi while the sound of John Williams’ Duel of Fates fills the air. This was the full on battle between Jedi and Sith we fans had been looking forward to for years. Under the guidance of a second unit at the top of their game, this was a fast paced battle with high stakes that captivated everyone.
Raul Julia as Bison (Street Fighter): Esteemed character actor Raul Julia had a leg up on all of his Street Fighters co-stars for the simple fact that he actually read the script and said to his SAG Award winning self “There’s no way anyone can take this crap seriously”. And thus Julia turned the ruthless General M. Bison from a ruthless terrorist into a complete egomaniacal ham, and it worked oh so well. In a flick stuffed with terrible performances, Julia ensured that his was the most over the top, yelling and showboating with the best of them. With his passing coming soon after the release of Street Fighter, fans of the actor took comfort in the fact that he seemed to have a ton of fun on what was his final project. For you in the audience seeing Street Fighter may have been one of the most memorable moments of your life, but for Julia it was a Tuesday (or whatever day it was you saw the movie).
The Cinematography (The Black Dahlia): When director Brian DePalma assembled an all-star cast to take a noir inspired look at one of the greatest unsolved crimes in American history, no one could have believed it would have sucked as bad as it did. The end result was a flick with a directionless plot and poor acting, but it looked incredible. Cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond, made sure that every shot dripped of a style befitting the type of movie they were trying to make. In a better movie this elements would have been icing on the cake, but as it stands, the cinematography (along with Mia Kirshner’s haunting performance) is the reason to watch this trainwreck of a movie.
Superman/Clark Kent fight (Superman 3): Few times in the history has an actor and role lined up so well as Christopher Reeve and Superman. And after two successes in the Superman franchise the powers that be decided it was time to make things not awesome and had made the third installment of the franchise Superman Meets Richard Pryor. The major plot point of the film is that the Man of Steel has turned evil which leads to a battle between the belligerent Superman and his mild mannered alter ego. In the midst of a ridiculous film, this stands as one of the best moments in any Superman flick. As the dual identities of the most famous superhero battle it out, Christopher Reeve pours into heart and soul into the performance drawing the audience in and leaving them cheering at the end.