Humanity has had many accomplishments: the discovery of fire, the invention of the wheel, and sliced bread, to name the most outstanding. While considering the leaps and bounds we have made in positive progress (and we will, for the time being, ignore dictatorial regimes, genocides, large-scale destructive wars, and you know, slavery), there have been none quite so daring and so monumental as the development of cinema. We revere the top caliber of movies as glorious, awe-inspiring, and a treasure for the ages movies so good that we are profoundly moved to sob, laugh, or scream in frustration at the injustices of the human experience. Then, there are the others. The bad movies. The ones that not only can we not tolerate, we simply will not (a certain M. Night Shyamalan begins to spring to mind). Yet, is it so far-fetched to say that there are merits to even the most seemingly awful of films? Sometimes a film is so spectacularly “bad” that it transcends even the boundaries of plain movie-watching and becomes a cinematic and philosophic experience.
For example, “Avatar: The Last Airbender.” This was widely panned by critics, with some saying it was possibly the worst movie ever made. I highly doubt that, because this is in the same universe as Nicolas Cage films (which have ceased to be thought of as bad and have now become a pop-culture joke). The wooden acting of “Avatar:TLA”, coupled with the lack of coherence and plot, is what made it a box-office bomb, but perhaps it was made that way so that the audience can focus on the arguably stunning visuals and portray the surrealistic intention of the film. “It was so bad, it was unreal” now takes on a whole new meaning when you realize: that was the point.
Even “Sucker Punch”, which was universally dubbed A Movie of Cultural Irrelevance is actually smarter than you might think. It was a fantasy movie. Okay I know‒obviously, Sherlock. But what I mean is the entire movie was a fantasy, none of which was taking place in any realm of reality. It was the fantasy of Sweet Pea, the true main character, who retreats into her mind to deal with her very awful life. “Sucker Punch” is the result of a lobotomy‒just one big, odd subconscious coping mechanism for a girl to find peace despite the tragedy that’s befallen her. Also, with the way sexuality is used in the film, being partially set in a brothel, it becomes more about the difference between exploitation and empowerment. I will sound redundant, but, yes, the visuals were fantastic.
“Disaster Movie”, which received a 1% on film review site Rotten Tomatoes (I did not think that was possible), may actually be, not just two filmmakers experimenting on screen with a terrible script and horrific acting, but a testament to an attempt of pop culture to make sense of the inherently and seemingly pointless nature of existing, and exploring the philosophical concepts of existentialism and absurdism. Am I reaching here? Possibly.
Then there’s the entire “Twilight” franchise, which are actually decent movies if you free yourself from the mindset that everything that a teenage girl likes has to be dumb, vacuous, vapid, and devoid of meaning. Seriously, I feel like the dislike of these movies has less to do with the plot, character development, or coherence and possible lack thereof, and it more concerns the general dismissal of adolescent females and the idea that anything they like or identify with is of little regard. Adam Sandler’s movie That’s My Boy was actually about‒no…you’re right. That was a legitimately terrible and disgusting movie and if you like it, do endeavor to stay away from civilized society.
This has been a PSA.