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« Battle of the Metaphors | Main | Whence the Publishing Consensus? »

April 07, 2003

Shameful Movie Pleasures

Friedrich --

It took a little coaxing -- OK, it took a lot of arm-twisting -- but a number of our readers finally stepped up to the plate and volunteered the titles of movies they've been mocked for having enjoyed. Not Guilty Pleasures, which is tired and overdone, but something fresh and innovative: Shameful Pleasures -- movies we're wary about admitting we liked, if only because we don't like getting laughed at.

It's too good a cringe-making collection not to celebrate in a posting of its own. It's also too wonderful to boil down to a top-10 list. So, arbitrarily conferring judge-and-jury duties on myself, I hereby present a top-20 Best-Of (Worst-Of?) Shameful Movie Pleasures list.

  • Police Academy
  • Turner and Hooch
  • Stuart Little 2
  • Dragnet (the Hanks/Ayckroyd version)
  • Top Gun
  • Brian's Song
  • Crash
  • Point Break
  • The Sound of Music
  • The Ten Commandments (especially the role of the Narrator)
  • John Carpenter's The Thing
  • An Affair to Remember
  • Reds
  • Kindergarten Cop
  • They Live
  • Every Which Way But Loose
  • The Truth About Cats and Dogs
  • Independence Day
  • Dunstan Checks In
  • Xanadu

I'll admit that I actually enjoyed six of these movies myself. Well, maybe seven. I'm not feeling rash enough today to specify which ones, though.

Special "Above and Beyond the Call of Duty, Or Even Sanity" Awards to Aaron for getting this thing going (and for 'fessing up to "Brian's Song"); to Laurel for admitting that she enjoyed "Vanilla Sky" and Annette for admitting to "...About Last Night" (imagine!); to Yahmdallah for "Xanadu" (!!!), and to Doug for volunteering "The Truth About Cats and Dogs"; and to Deb, who retires the award once and for all with her admission that she sometimes enjoys draping a dishcloth over her head and singing "Climb Every Mountain."

Despite feeling ever-so-slightly disappointed that no one admitted to having enjoyed a Burt Reynolds redneck movie, a Jim Varney "Ernest" movie, or the Stallone/Travolta "Staying Alive," I'm delighted by the results. I think we've all done a perfectly marvelous job of disgracing ourselves, and I think we should all feel completely ashamed of ourselves. And the nice thing is, we already do.

Many thanks to everyone who pitched in. What a courageous -- if goofy -- gang of visitors we have!



posted by Michael at April 7, 2003


This is not really in keeping with the theme, but I just saw a movie fellow lovers of the same might want to check out.

It's a recent sleeper called "Below." It's set during WWII aboard a submarine. Odd things begin to happen after they pick up some survivors from a recent sinking. It's perhaps the best submarine movie I've seen, and it's got a unique twist. Very compelling all the way through.

Posted by: Yahmdallah on April 7, 2003 3:23 PM

Good grief--liking The Sound of Music is a shameful pleasure? I think it's a great flick. It would never have occurred to me to be ashamed of liking it. Do you have any idea how naive this makes me feel? ;-)

Posted by: Will Duquette on April 7, 2003 5:09 PM

You know, I really racked my brain trying to come up with a contribution. I realized I was having a tough time, because so many of my friends would take pride in their apprecation of trash culture.

But just now, it finally occurred to me. A movie, and a TV series to boot.

One word: Highlander.

I love it to pieces. I can't get enough. I think I've seen every episode. There can be only one.


Posted by: alexis on April 7, 2003 5:27 PM


Sound of Music IS a good movie. It's only the putting a dishcloth on your head to get in the mood of being a nun so you can belt out Climb Every Mountain with the appropriate feeling that is a teeny bit embarrassing. The shameful part comes in admitting it to the ENTIRE WORLD on the Web.


Posted by: Deb on April 7, 2003 5:42 PM

Unless of course, you do something with blue chiffon when you sing along to "I am sixteen going on seventeen." That even I wouldnt admit to......



Posted by: Deb on April 7, 2003 5:44 PM

Well Michael, that was rather elliptical of you, but we finally know what really should have been on your list, instead of all that pomegranates and Krzysztof Zanussi business.

Posted by: Aaron Haspel on April 7, 2003 7:45 PM


I am trapped in a horror movie. Yesterday, there were more comments to this thread, and I added a long one.

Posted by: j.c. on April 7, 2003 8:40 PM

I wake from the dream, and realized it wasn't a dream. I am an idiot. Didn't realize this was new. That said, I have never met anyone who would laugh at someone for liking "John Carpenter's The Thing," and I know people, you know?

Next in my Netflix queue, "Xanadu"

Posted by: j.c. on April 7, 2003 8:58 PM

"Highlander"! Alexis, perfecto! Damn, if only it had come to you five or six hours earlier. Did it have something to do with the time zone? If so, maybe we can accomodate.

Zanussi be damned, The Wife and I just sat through Britney Spears in "Crossroads" without too much fast-forwarding, and wouldn't it be perfect if we loved it and wanted to put it on the list. For 20 or 30 minutes we giggled a lot. Then it got boring and repetitive. But we watched most of the DVD's special features anyway. We decided that Britney is actually an anime (Japanimation) character, though we remain fans anyway.

Should I be ashamed?

I think there's going to be a surprising number of copies of "Xanadu" rented from Blockbuster tonight...

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on April 7, 2003 10:58 PM

Yes, you should be very ashamed.

And since when was The Thing a shameful pleasure?

Posted by: James Russell on April 7, 2003 11:09 PM

If even 10 people rent "Xanadu", I bet that's 10 more than have rented it in the last 5 years! It'll cause this wierd spike in Blockbuster data...who knows, the Studio might think there's a trend and re-release the damn thing! If a butterfly flaps its wings in China...

Posted by: annette on April 8, 2003 11:25 AM

French Kiss with Meg Ryan and Kevin Kline

Wind, a sailing movie(!?!) with Jennifer Grey(deliciously unfixed shnozz and all) and Matthew Modine and his obvious lack of humor.

Then there is that sub-category, movies you can watch over and over, for no apparent reason, that causes your spouse to wail and gnash her teeth. In our house that is Endless Summer, a surfing documentary(?!?) from the 60's. Wife heard the music from that movie, came in my office and berated my obvious lack of good sense, bemoaned her obvious insanity for not having married a person from planet Earth, and then noticed it was just an ad on the TV, not the movie itself, looked sternly at myself and my friend the TV, and warned us we better not screw up and actually watch that movie again, dammit!

So I worked till 2 AM in the office, with the midnight replay of Endless Summer playing in the background, after she had gone to bed.

A guy I know that was a nuke tech on an aircraft carrier claimed that the only two movies that could hold up to endless repeated viewings during 6 months at sea(a true desert island list test) were Apocalypse Now and Major League, with Tom Berenger The fact that Major League was such a movie caused great consternation among the victims held in it's thrall. They apparently killed many brain cells attempting to identify what gave it the ability to suck time from anyone that came within it's reach, and to do it repeatedly. They eventually retitled the movie "Sisyphus", and merely bathed in it's reassuring and well-worn path, as he put it, "like permanent residents of an opium den at sea".

Posted by: David Glynn on April 8, 2003 12:08 PM

The priceless candidates keep coming. "French Kiss" -- that took some courage, David. Thanks.

Actually, you've come up with the basis for another good movie list: movies I love that my spouse gives me a hard time about. I wonder how different it would be than the list we just came up with. More pointed, maybe?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on April 8, 2003 2:36 PM

The wife also likes French Kiss. Maybe that's how I got into the habit of giving it a break.

Also, having read the previous thread, I have to say in our house when someone cries at a movie we always call Dumbo.

If you don't sniffle up when Dumbo's Mom is locked up, reaches her trunk through the bars and swings Dumbo in her trunk while she sings a lullaby, and then pushes him away at the end, well, you can't come over to our place and watch Dumbo.

Posted by: David Glynnn on April 9, 2003 3:22 AM

Starring Ed Harris, directed by George Romero, in a modern-era medieval fantasy about jousting hippies on dirt bikes in a traveling Renaissance Faire; ladies and gentlemen, I offer a truly bad film that I am unable to turn away from..."Knight Riders".

Posted by: Jim 7 on April 9, 2003 5:13 PM

I guess I have no sense of shame. I haven't seen all of the movies on the list but there are several that I enjoyed and it never occurred to me that there was any reason to be ashamed to admit it. My favorites from the list: The Sound of Music and The Ten Commandments (okay, I sort of get that one but I still like it)

So...teach me what I should be ashamed of. ;-) Do Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Excalibur qualify for the list?

Posted by: Lynn S on April 9, 2003 10:42 PM

Gosh, I am honored. I almost never win awards for anything. I'd like to thank my mother who gave birth to me, my father who wore a dishcloth to bed because my mom wouldnt let him use hair gel to keep his hair from flying all over the place, my sister for taking me to Sound of Music for the first time and my husband who just goes out to the garage whenever I pull the tape off the shelf and plug it in.....


Posted by: Deb on April 10, 2003 9:20 PM

The Morning News has a feature on Xanadu:

"Love! Romance! Roller skates! Xanadu actor Michael Beck comes to town, and Sarah Hepola reflects on what the movie meant to an entire generation of little girls (and boys) who wanted to be Olivia Newton-John."

Posted by: Aaron on November 3, 2003 11:01 AM

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