Welcome to the next CHUD List.
tackled our our disappointments, our essentials list and slowly exhumed
our Kills List from 2003, and now that we’ve begun the beguine, we must
The CHUD.com Top 50 Guilty Pleasures.
all got those little flicks that we know are wrong, but feel so right.
And after our preceding list of disappointment, we decided to cleanse
the palate by honoring our favorite guilty pleasures. These are films
that are flawed and often completely indefensible, but we can’t help but
love them anyway. As before, from a master list of over 100, the
involved parties (Devin, Jeremy, Micah, Russ, and Nick) all killed
off a choice for each one we claimed. As a result, we’ll run a big list
at the end of this of the ‘ones that got away’. So, here are the Top 50
Guilty Pleasures. Two a day, every week day for five weeks. In no
Can’t Buy Me Love
(1987, Dir. Steve Rash)
Why It’s a Guilty Pleasure: Of all the social climbing fantasies of the buy-sell 1980s, Can’t Buy Me Love has to be the most repugnant. Patrick Dempsey stars as Ronald Miller, a socially awkward nerd with two obsessions: astronomy and being popular. When Ronald sells out the former to purchase the latter (he sinks his lawn mowing earnings into a replacement suede outfit for the most popular girl in school), he ditches his lifelong friends and turns into such a spectacular prick, at which point you begin to actively root for his demise – and not in a figurative sense.
Can’t Buy Me Love is terrible across the board. Steve Rash’s comedic timing in positively Ophuls-ian; when you lack the craft to payoff a simple fart gag, it’s time to move on to other genres (Rash did not, and that’s why he’s now helming direct-to-DVD sequels for Universal’s American Pie and Bring It On franchises). He also struggles to establish the screenplay’s attempts at class consciousness because Ronald’s entree to privileged society lives right across the fucking street; ergo, the only thing separating Ronald and high school royalty (such as it is in this film) is taste.
But you expect movies like this to be comedically bankrupt; it’s a bonus when they bottom out conceptually like Can’t Buy Me Love does. The first act establishes Ronald’s friends as unambitious losers with no interest in girls whatsoever, while the jocks are charmless dolts. The only thing worth having in the entire movie is the girl, Cindy Mancini (Amanda Peterson), but Ronald is too fixated on popularity to notice that she’s falling for him (Ronald’s sort of timid about sex in general, which raises other issues that are understandably never resolved).
And, four paragraphs later, therein lies the guilty pleasure: Ms. Amanda Peterson. Of all the MIA sex symbols of 1980s teen cinema (Deborah Foreman, Joyce Hyser, Lucy Deakins, etc.), Peterson seemed the most attainable. She was also very geek friendly (her other notable performance was as the object of Ethan Hawke’s desire in Explorers), and clearly playing her own age (whereas Hyser was twenty-eight in Just One of the Guys). That Ronald opts to cavort with Cindy’s best friends once he’s made the leap to Mr. Popular only makes you hate him more (btw, these girls were obviously cast for their bodies, because their schnozes are begging for the knife).
Signature Moment: Here’s how inept Can’t Buy Me Love is as a comedy: the film’s only laugh line, “You shit on my house, man!”, is played completely straight by a tortured Courtney Gains (Malachai from Children of the Corn).
What It’s Missing: Peterson in various stages of undress, and a crowd-pleasing denouement in which Dempsey is beaten to death by a drifter.
My Personal Connection to It: I skipped this in the theater (my taste was already refined in 1987, damn it!), but watched it more times than I care to enumerate.
Watch It With: No one.
– Jeremy Smith
I Come in Peace (1990, Dir. Craig R. Baxley)
Why It’s a Guilty Pleasure: It’s pretty much the epitome of all that is golden about guilty pleasure films. Do this math:
1 dash of Dolph Lundren
1 tablespoon of Brian Benben
10 Compact Discs that kill
1 cult film still not on DVD
1 soundtrack of brand new Jan Hammer music
It also features Matthias, who’s Hues in his native Germany.
Dolph Lundgren started to showcase why he was more than just an athletic face with this film, leading towards the Golden Dolph Age [Universal Soldier, Showdown in Little Tokyo, Men of War]. He’s gruff, tough, and with black hair allows us not to fall in swoon of his golden boy good looks.
When faced with an intergalatic threat, square-jawed action hero Jack Caine (The One True Lundgren) teams up with tiny FBI agent Brian Benben (who delivers seed to Madeline Stowe), resulting in a lot of fun action sequences and snappy dialogue. Its goals do not include rewriting action or sci-fi history, but it’s a fun time at the flicks and one that usually flies way under the radar of most.
Signature Moment: The villain of the movie often dispatches folks with the line “I Come in Peace”, to which Dolph retorts “You Go In Pieces, Asshole” before shooting some face. It’s one of the great send-offs, later repeated in the last Bush campaign as “We Go in Peace’s Asshole”.
What It’s Missing: A DVD release.
My Personal Connection to It: For the three weeks of its release, my friends and I saw the film at midnight thrice times. I also paid full retail for the VHS release. I also made a point to offer my patronage to Abraham Benbenrubi.
Watch It With: Eyes.
- Nick Nunziata