Before I decide to watch a movie I’ll peruse Rotten Tomatoes. As long as it is considered fresh by their (Rotten Tomatoes) criteria of receiving 60% or more positive reviews from critics, I’ll give it a shot. Sometimes there are movies that I just want to see regardless of their ratings, or there were movies I watched before Rotten Tomatoes even existed and enjoyed before even knowing the aggregate critical score. I call these my guilty pleasure movies. These aren’t “so bad, they’re good,” these are movies that despite their poor critical acclaim, I personally enjoy and encourage other people to watch.
Guilty Pleasure Movies - Comedies
Ace Ventura: Pet Detective - 45%
I was surprised to find that this movie wasn’t “Certified Fresh.” Then I watched it again, and it became clearer why, especially as I became older. Its extremely goofy and centers around physical comedy, this is not highbrow comedy and honestly, there are not jokes so much as gags. Jim Carrey isn’t for everyone, but he is for me. However Carrey seems to have an original take on comedy, and this guilty pleasure movie exudes that as well as any of his films. Especially in this movie, his first real “hit.” You have to give credit to Carrey here; I can’t see this movie being funny without him. His mannerisms, his body contorting energy and cadence are everything to the humor in this one. There is a surprisingly worthy twist in the mystery as well. Furthermore, this movie should be kept in context to the comedies of the 90s and how much influence Carrey had.
Ghostbusters 2 - 51%
Ghostbusters 2 gets a bad rap. Because of the massive success and quality of the first film, it can't possibly measure up amd meet expectations. That doesn’t mean it isn’t a good film. In fact, now thay the reboot as come and failed miserably, the second Ghostbusters looks tremendous in comparison. There is no denying that Peter MacNicol is hilarious in his role as Janosz, and the “road work” scene may be my favorite among the series. Even the theme of “uniting the city against evil” is strong. It’s true that it may be geared towards kids (after the success of “The Real Ghostbusters” cartoon series) but there is enough in there for adults to enjoy. This is less of a guilty pleasure movie, just more of a critically under appreciated film.
Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (53%)
Assuming you’ve seen all the other Kevin Smith movies up to this point, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back has a lot to offer. Character and situational references are like Easter eggs hidden about and fill the film with cleverness to go along with the stoner humor. If you haven’t seen the other Smith films, well you’re just left with the stoner jokes. A guilty pleasure film at its most guilty, the meta references differentiate it from other films of genre.
Guilty Pleasure Movies - Action
Die Hard 3: With a Vengeance 51%
This was probably the biggest surprise. I haven’t met many people that don’t like this movie, especially compared to the previous release, Die Hard 2: Die Harder (which I actually like, just not enough for this list). It’s the best buddy cop movie that doesn’t include a cop. With a Vengeance came in during the action movie overkill of the 90s, and for that reason it may not have stood out. By today's standards though it's a fun action thriller starring what action films are hoping to accomplish and contains what are now considered action legends.
Zeus: Why are you calling me "Jésus?" Do I look Puerto Rican to you?
McClane: The guy back there called you Jésus.
Zeus: No, he said "Hey, Zeus!" My name is Zeus.
Zeus: Yes, Zeus! As in Father of Apollo? Mount Olympus? Don't-fuck-with-me-or-I'll-shove-a-lightning-bolt-up-your-ass Zeus!
Transformers (2007) 54%
Transformers is not a great movie, but it almost perfectly embodies the cartoon show (minus Bumblebee as a Camaro). It was made for people like me, who watched it when they were younger and had the toys. It was made about as adult as you could be while still appeasing children and adding humor. He may have soured his reputation as a person lately, but Shia LeBeouf is likeable as Sam Witwicky. Some of the gags are forced, but there’s more heart in this movie than any of the sequels (they’re almost unbearable to watch). This was also the first movie where I didn’t feel like I was just watching a computer generated movie the entire time, the Transformers look amazingly real. Most of all, Transformers is a movie made for fans of the original cartoon, it's nostalgia run rampant.
Under Siege 2: Dark Territory (34%)
I am pretty much game for any movie that involves the so-called hero 'isolated.' The Die Hard formula (being isolated in one place) that is also used in one of my other favorite actioners (Executive Decision) works well here as Steven Seagal is stuck on a train. It’s a different type of “against all odds” that you’d see in a Schwarzenegger or Stallone film, it’s more about being clever, not just over powering your opponents (yet still kicking their asses). It is really a shame that Seagal hasn’t been in a "quality" film since 1996. And even at his best, Seagal movies are always a guilty pleasure.
Last Action Hero 38%
Any cinephile should appreciate this film. It may be made for a younger audience, but it plays so well through movie clichés and does its best to point out the ridiculousness of them. I am not sure reviewers saw this movie as a commentary on that. Think of it as ‘Scream’ for the action genre. It has all the great conventions of action movies, a great, English-accented antagonist, a big gun toting, reckless protagonist, hot love interest and “flesh wounds.” Penned by Shane Black who excels with action comedies, The Last Action Hero is self-aware that even a child recognizes the irony. This film is a perfect example of when critics takes themselves too seriously. Last Action Hero is a guilty pleasure film that displays satire at its funniest.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990) 44%
This is easily the best TMNT film that has been made. The film is surprisingly dark in tone, especially compared to the sequels. There is actual fighting, weapons are used and there is even blood! Everything about this movie is closer to the original comic than the cartoon show that contributed to the rise in popularity. And that’s why it is a better movie. I still watch this movie and develop a sense of anxiety as Rafael slowly becomes outnumbered during the fighting scene on the roof. "I mean c'mon, how do you guys expect to beat me? Good answer, good answer!"
Guilty Pleasure Movies - Drama
Vanilla Sky 41%
I cry each time I watch this movie. It’s one of those movies that by the end you have a completely different perspective on what the movie is about. Part science-fiction, part romance and partly about dealing with vanity, it shows Tom Cruise as many different personas, all wrapped into one character. I don’t want to spoil the ending, but the weight of what he finds out is such a huge downer, it fills me with regret.
Guilty Pleasure Movies - Sci-Fi
Differing from the comics in many ways, specifically that John Constantine isn't a blonde-haired bloke from England , it is still a strong adaptation. Solidly made, and not feeling the need to delve into an epic, it keeps the story simple, questions religious laws and has great wry humor. It has a hint of mystery and good performances from Keanu Reeves and Peter Stormare in a limited role.
Pitch Black (2007) 57%
This is Vin Diesel’s best role, in which he’s reprised countless times in other films and video games. Pitch Black is another movie that is simple, but epitomizes the anti-hero in Diesel’s Riddick. Essentially a movie about survival, Riddick isn’t even necessarily the main character. The guilt, or lack thereof, that many of the characters are gripping with sets the stage for character interplay. It’s got a great opening sequence narrated by Diesel that sets the stage.
Alien 3 Extended Edition (42%)
The only reason this movie was received so poorly was that the previous two movies are widely considered two of the best science-fiction films of all-time. There are problems with this movie, no doubt, but there is also plenty to like. The slow pacing, technical mastery of art direction (David Fincher's first film) and the nostalgia of the first film where the characters are all stuck as claustrophobia looms while this ultimate killing machine is on the loose. The extended edition actually adds in an entirely new plot line that helps build the motivation of some of the characters.