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
(1995, Dir. Joel Schumacher)
Why It’s a Guilty Pleasure: Asking what’s the best Batman movie is a trick question, since none of them are really all that good. Every Batman film since Burton’s 1989 blockbuster has major, serious issues, and they all stem from one place: Batman is a character uniquely unsuited for the big screen. In comic books his ridiculous outfit, origin and methods work because of the tiny but integral gap between reality and comic art. When turned into a three dimensional man, though, all of Batman’s ludicrous idiosyncrasies and fetishes become glaring and embarrassing. And that’s why if there’s a Batman film that comes close to being the best Batman film, it’s Batman Forever.
Tim Burton was obviously uninterested in Bruce Wayne in his films, and seemed barely able to work up anything for Batman himself. While Forever director Joel Schumacher continues in Burton’s villain footsteps, having Two Face and The Riddler played hyper-maniacally (the biggest single problem with this film is that Tommy Lee Jones and Jim Carrey are seemingly going for The Joker instead of their own characters. It’s the villains who hold the Burton films together; in Forever it’s the villains who almost tear the whole movie down), he’s also keenly interested in the man behind the Bat. Val Kilmer’s an inspired choice in the role, bringing a real, natural and personal darkness to the role that Christian “Lookit how brooding and dark and never smiling I am in all my movies” Bale practices in the mirror every morning. But the masterstroke is having the inevitable Bat Love Interest be an abnormal psych expert.
And this, I suspect, is what fanboys hate about this film. Their Batman is dark and troubled, but in a cool way. In Schumacher’s world Batman’s a sexual deviant, and the rubber suit suddenly is less about armor than about kink, and the adopting of a young circus orphan takes on sinister overtones (“Do you hang out in a lot of biker bars, Bruce?” Dick Grayson asks for the audience). Batman has always been rife with psychosexual overtones – the basic attachment to his parents (and that pearl necklace in Frank Miller’s Year One, which has become part of the accepted mythos, is so deeply and creepily Freudian that it makes me want to take a shower) and the sadomasochistic tendencies are just the start – but the character’s darkly goth sexuality never quite got the attention Schumacher gave it here. He’d burn off any aspects that were intriguing with base camp in Batman and Robin, going wholly gay with the characters, ignoring the more interesting nuances.
So with Batman Forever we get the only film that feels like it acknowledges (in more than an offhanded way) the oddness at the center of the character, as well as trying to walk the tightrope between the silliness of the concept and fan-demanded seriousness. This is the trick that always brings the Batman films down, by the way, because it’s impossible to take any aspect of the character seriously when all of his trappings and environments are patently stupid and silly. In Batman Forever it’s the unbelievably strained villains who tip the whole thing over, but the few moments where Schumacher keeps it all balanced on the wire are strangely fascinating.
Signature Moment: “Holey rusted metal, Batman.”
What It’s Missing: A good Two Face. Tommy Lee Jones is atrocious in the film, and if Jim Carrey was going to be allowed to run amok for the whole running time, Jones should have been reined in and been more of a serious threat.
My Personal Connection to It: As a kid I loved Burton’s Batman, but found Batman Returns to be grotesque and overstuffed and dull. Forever, though, seemed like the perfect antidote to where Burton had been going. I had never been a Batman comic fan, so I felt that a movie that didn’t take itself so baroquely seriously was the right step.
Watch It With: Your dominatrix.
– Devin Faraci
Jaws 3-D (1983, Dir. Joe Alves)
Why It’s a Guilty Pleasure: Jaws 3 is the unloved, severely retarded result of an abusive creative gestation that found producers David Brown and Richard D. Zanuck abruptly settling for the briefly back-in-vogue 3-D gimmick when their plans for a John Hughes-scripted, Joe Dante-directed parody, National Lampoon’s Jaws 3 People 0, were thwarted by Steven Spielberg. If at some point it’s revealed that Brown and Zanuck went ahead and indiscriminately grafted huge chunks of Hughes’s screenplay onto Richard Matheson’s draft, it would explain so much.
But it wouldn’t detract from my deeply shamed enjoyment of Jaws 3-D one bit. I would sooner give up wiping my ass than renounce the power and the glory and the MacCorkindale of this visually shoddy second sequel to one of my favorite movies of all time. In fact, if Jaws 3-D has taught us anything (how to live, how to love, how to blow up a shark when the undigested star of Manimal is helpfully proffering an undetonated hand grenade), it’s that a truly great film can withstand the shoddiest of follow-ups. So while we piss and moan over the potentially deleterious effects of Aliens vs. Predator on their respective first installments, here’s a movie that trades on our affection for Spielberg’s original (Mike and Sean Brody are all growns up and shockingly well-adjusted after spending most of their adolescence being terrorized by great white sharks) before knocking it to the ground and doing it like Kitty Genovese for ninety minutes. And though we should feel implicated, we just look on dumbly.
There’s no shortage of onscreen indignity in Jaws 3-D: Lou Gossett, Jr.’s turn as publicity-happy Sea World proprietor Calvin Bouchard was his first since winning the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for An Officer and a Gentleman; Dennis Quaid has spent most of his career gamely laughing off his involvement in this picture (and he is uncharacteristically terrible); Lea Thompson appears to be in a highly aroused state for the entire movie; and Joe Alves trashed whatever shot he had at segueing from production designer to director with this one-and-done misfire. But for those not personally involved in its making, Jaws 3-D is agreeably gaudy. And it’s a giant shark movie with some production value. We just don’t get enough of those these days. (Fie, New Line!)
Signature Moment: Right before the thirty-five-foot(!) mama shark starts busting up Bouchard’s “Undersea Kingdom”, we get this brilliant bit of ADR.
Little girl voice: Daddy, look at the fish!
Daddy voice: Huh? Holy shit!!!
Also, the obscenely doughy male extra at 1.09.00. Please tell me he got a day-player bump to take his shirt off.
What It’s Missing: A laugh track.
My Personal Connection To It: I was seriously expecting a good film based on the very effective teaser that ran before Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone with Molly Ringwald. Somehow, I talked my mom into taking me to see this. Even at nine-years-old, I knew Jaws 3-D was a piece of shit. But I loved it anyway.
Watch It With: Prescription eyeglasses, lest you think your vision has irreparably blurred.
- Jeremy Smith