Weekend Roundtable: Good Things in Bad Movies

I’ll be the first to admit that we’ve skewed negative in a lot of our recent Roundtables and polls here in The Bonus View, with topics asking what’s the worst movie, which director is more incompetent, and so forth. To counter-balance that a little, let’s try to acknowledge that even some of the worst movies ever made often have some good quality or redeeming characteristic. That’s what we’re looking for in this week’s Roundtable: Good things in otherwise bad movies.

Since our Blu-ray reviewer Nate suggesting this topic, we’ll let him lead things off.

Nate Boss

Not Another Teen Movie‘ isn’t exactly inspired comedy, even if it easily trumps the modern spoof atrocities put out by those morons Seltzer and Friedberg. Movie references are thrown together haphazardly, cameos are wasted, and there’s little sense of continuity, point or purpose. However, the soundtrack – lordy oh lordy is it awesome. To get an ’80’s feeling, the majority of the music in the film is made up of covers of hits from the era featuring modern bands, some putting entirely new twists or spins on the recognizable tracks. While Marilyn Manson’s take on “Tainted Love” or Orgy’s “Blue Monday” cover may be the only ones to find their way to radio (Orgy’s from the album release, which predated the film), there’s still plenty of awesomeness to be found. The Smashing Pumpkins perform “Never Let Me Down Again” (stolen shamelessly from the Depeche Mode cover album “Music for the Masses”), System of a Down tweaks “Metro,” Phantom Planet improves on “Somebody’s Baby,” and even Good Charlotte (horrid band that it is) improves on “If You Leave” (amongst numerous other tracks performed by the band). Best of all, Goldfinger takes on the Euro pop hit “99 Red Balloons,” with a bilingual take (while a later game soundtrack would feature a solely English version) that absolutely rocks, besting both of Nena’s later revisions of her world-famous ballad.

The music cues in the film itself are wasted sometimes, no doubt. But when the album release of your soundtrack has enough gold in it to be able to leave out the covers of “Turning Japanese,” “Don’t You Forget About Me” or “I Want Candy,” or music from Ben Folds, Robert Smith, Everclear, Smash Mouth (who were huge at the time) and The Cars, you know that you have something special. Few films are remembered more for their soundtracks than the films themselves, and ‘Not Another Teen Movie’ earns this spot alongside the likes of ‘Lost Highway’, ‘Singles’, ‘The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou’, or ‘Spawn’.

Luke Hickman

At the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, Aaron and I went to see Gaspar Noé’s 161-minute-long shock-drama ‘Enter The Void‘ which is shot entirely in the first-person perspective. After a drug-induced trip that looks like nothing more than an extended screensaver, we follow our central character through the streets of Tokyo to a small club. While buying drugs in the rundown bathroom, cops raid the building and our central character is shot in the chest through the bathroom door. I’ve never been in a drug raid, let alone shot in the chest, but after watching the first forty minutes of ‘Enter The Void’ and seeing the world through the eyes of someone else, I sure feel like I have. It’s shame that everything else that follows the shooting is overindulgent “artistic” garbage that strives to hold your attention through the shocking images of rape, abortions and sex from the inside.

Mike Attebery

Teddy from ‘A.I. Artificial Intelligence‘ I want that bear.

I’ve gone back and forth on this movie over the years. I’ve tried to like it. It has its moments. But whenever I contemplate a repeat viewing, I just think back to the mecha carnage and the emotionally abusive tone of the whole movie, and I never want to see the damn thing again.

Of course, then I think of Teddy. What an awesome, awesome little character. He’s the best part of the entire movie. I wish he’d get his own cinematic tale one day.

Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)

I really, really wanted to like ‘The Mutant Chronicles‘. It’s a hyper-ambitious post-apocalyptic/steampunk/action/sci-fi flick, and rather than leaning on cartoonish CGI like a lot of low-budget epics would, its filmmakers created this world through classic matte paintings and dazzlingly elaborate, hand-crafted miniatures. It was a long, painstaking process, and when I look at the models in the Blu-ray disc’s making-of doc, I can’t help but marvel at the craftsmanship that went into them. The problem is that none of it works once they’re dropped into the actual movie. The live-action actors look like Colorforms sloppily placed over these gorgeous models. They never convincingly blend in with their backgrounds, and that makes it really tough for me as a viewer to escape into the thing. The acting’s stilted and wooden straight across the board. The dialogue creaks and groans. I never really cared about anything that was going on. So, yeah, the movie’s terrible. But boy, the miniatures are great!

Aaron Peck

Since the Roundtable we did about bad directors making good movies, I can’t get ‘Cutthroat Island‘ out of my head. It’s just a terrible, terrible movie. It left the careers of its two leads (Matthew Modine and Geena Davis) in its wake. There’s almost nothing redeemable about it, except… the movie’s score. John Debney’s original score for the movie is fantastic – so much so that I wonder if it was made for the wrong movie. It’s energetic, lively, and lends itself perfectly to a swashbuckling adventure.

Dick Ward

It’s not that ‘Spider-Man 3‘ is notably bad. The third installment in an already lame franchise didn’t leave me physically aching like the ‘Transformers’ movies do, but it didn’t thrill or delight me either. It just sort of happened. For a big budget movie, it’s pretty unmemorable. Seriously, how much of the movie do you actually remember? Mention the flick to most people and the first thing they’ll say is, “Emo Spider-Man.” And why shouldn’t they? The absolutely hilarious Peter Parker makeover and dance scenes are the only parts of the movie that really pay off. The emo hair, the dancing, and of course the accidental Mary Jane punch, are the only truly redeemable scenes in the movie. The rest is just mindless action schlock.

Josh Zyber

I’ve written about my distaste for ‘Inland Empire’ recently. The movie is David Lynch’s jump-the-shark moment, and I find that profoundly depressing. What’s especially disappointing about it is just how damn good Laura Dern is and how much she’s wasted in the film. The actress and Lynch are old friends, she’s worked with him a few times in the past and has done some of her best work under his direction, and she clearly trusts him implicitly. Dern puts everything she’s got into this movie and knocks out a fantastic performance (or really, performances, since she seems to be playing several different characters at various moments). In the midst of all the random, meaningless nonsense that Lynch throws willy-nilly at the screen, she’s the only thing holding whatever semblance of narrative there is together, and she’s absolutely riveting for the entire three hours. Unfortunately, even that isn’t enough to overcome the movie’s many other faults. I wish it were. I really do.


  1. for me it’s friday the 13th part 3. it is a bad movie but i like it. but my favorite part is where jason uses the spear gun and it shoots across the way. i love the cheesy way it comes across cause they shot it for 3D.

    • EM

      Good call. Fortunately, the opening-credits sequence is available on DVD in “Weird Al” Yankovic: The Videos and the later “Weird Al” Yankovic: The Ultimate Video Collection—so, you don’t have to touch the actual movie to watch the sequence. Unfortunately, the “Weird Al” video collections show the sequence without the actual credits, making the moment in which Al shows approval for his own credit somewhat baffling for the uninitiated. So far as I know, the end-credits song has not been made available outside the movie itself. Its lyrics are a little bit different; I haven’t heard them since Spy Hard ran in theaters, but I recall something like, “You’ve been watching Spy Hard! Thanks for watching Spy Hard! It’s the end of Spy Hard!!!”

    • Strange, I really liked Spy Hard back in the summer of 1996. I was a 12-year old boy back then. Maybe the movie doesn’t hold up today.

    • Then you were watching the movie wrong :p If you saw the first Spider-Man movie and then expected anything good out of the sequels, I’m not sure what to tell you!

      • Goblin suit aside I liked the first movie, I loved the second movie, and I was jazzed out of my mind for the third. I couldn’t even wrap my head around how awful it was when I left the theater. I actually forced my girlfriend to see it again with me the next day because I couldn’t believe it could actually be that bad… It was.

        • I’m not sure how you can love the second and hate the third. They seemed the same to me, except the third had an awesome dance number.

          • Really? The second actually took the time to develop a wonderful villain, the third threw three would-be excellent villains together slap-dash, with the only back story being a rewrite of years of continuity. Pasted Gwen Stacey into the story which is just damn silly, the Mask dance sequence and the emo thing were offensive at best. The finale was just a montage of each character crying (why was Peter so interested in Sandmans sob story while his friend was dying?) Venom was reduced to a whiny little bitch who doesn’t even get a chance to be even remotely menacing or an actual threat before he is destroyed. In my opinion Spiderman 3 was worse than both X3 and Wolverine.

  2. paramedic0112

    I just watched the ‘Spiderman 3’ blu ray a couple of days ago and I actually really enjoyed the emo spiderman scenes. It was freaking hilarious. What is not funny about that whole thing? And Bruce Campbell is hilarious also. The most disasterous part of the whole movie is the casting of Topher Grace for Venom. What a horrible decision!

  3. Jane Morgan

    Johnny Depp has been iconic in billions of dollars of box office slop.

    Lightsabers and force powers are always badass, even while cutting down boring junk.

    I always enjoy the Harry Potter trailers, even though the films disappoint.

    Richard Schiff, Vince Vaughn, Jeff Goldblum, and Pete Postlethwaite elevated The Lost World into a guilty pleasure.

    Rosario Dawson’s nudity in Alexander helped me ignore Colin Farrell’s hair.

    • paramedic0112

      Yeah, I would agree with you on ‘Alexander.’ I actually own it because it looks amazing on high def but it’s pretty grueling to sit through the whole thing. Dawson is definitely hot. Why go for Jared Leto when you got that waiting at home? Also, the battle in the jungle with the elephants is pretty epic. I really like the Vangelis score.

    • paramedic0112

      I can find nothing redeemable about the Harry Potter movies. I just can’t root for a spotty looking, limey, pubescent teen as a hero. I’ve only seen two of the movies, and against my will. Various girlfriends drug me kicking and screaming to see them. Shame on Gary Oldman, Ralph Fiennes and others for being in them!

      • Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort = one of the best villains ever, since you’ve only seen 2 of them, I’m not sure you even have a clue how mature and good the movies get, I’ve been a fan from the getgo so I’ve loved them all, but as someone who has probably never even looked at the cover of the book, might actually like the later films in the series

        • paramedic0112

          Yeah, never read the book. You’re right, since I’ve only seen two of the movies maybe I shouldn’t make such a generalized statement. But if you were to only own or see two or three out of the series, what would you suggest? Is it even possible to know what’s going on? Maybe when I’m bored I’ll sit through them just so I can say I’ve seen them.

          • Prisoner of Azkaban is widely considered the best in the series, it takes a VERY different and darker tone with the material from the first two films, it pretty much stays with that dark and gloomy tone the rest of the way through, Deathly Hallows part 1 and 2 are going to be the best of the series, its the most fleshed out of the books and its the best performances from anyone in the series, but it does help to watch them all, if you’ve only seen the first two and were never a fan to begin with I can see why you would not have wanted to continue, but from the third on they’ve almost improved every time (at least in movie form, as adaptions they havent IMO)

    • Alex

      There’s a whole collection of actors who fit that bill. Anthony Hopkins, Derek Jacobi, Judi Dench, David Suchet, and the late Donald Pleasance all come to mind off-hand. No matter how bad the film is that they’re in (Bad Company, Underworld: Evolution, Chronicles of Riddick, A Perfect Murder, any of the later Halloween movies, respectively), they don’t phone in their roles. They play them seriously as if they were glad to just to have another role. I love that in an actor. Too many stars nowadays phone in roles in movies that they think are beneath them (I’m looking at you, Mr. Depp in The Tourist), but I treasure any of those classically-trained, wizened generation of actors who give even the worst crap the best they have to offer.

    • EM

      For me, it’s Boris Karloff. I have endured quite a lot of dreck for Boris, who is uniformly excellent, even in the midst of steaming dung. Thank goodness he did star in some actually good movies, too.

  4. Alex

    I remember thinking that opening credits of “Godzilla” (the Matthew Broderick version) were remarkably cool. I also remember thinking that it was the only cool part.

    • paramedic0112

      Yes, but they butchered a Zeppelin song which is unforgivable. If anyone has seen the trailer for Fincher’s ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,’ that’s a good Zeppelin cover. Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Trent Reznor are a hell of alot cooler and more talented than P Diddy. Shame on you for helping him Jimmy Page!

      • The song in that trailer was horrible IMO, I HATE Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, IMO terrible band, so saying thats a good cover? I cant agree with that at all, made the trailer awful, of course P Diddy blows too, so either way you look at it, its a bad Zeppelin cover in my eyes 🙂

        • paramedic0112

          Dude, I think we might actually have the opposite taste. If you love Harry Potter and hate the Yeah Yeah Yeahs then I don’t think we’ll ever agree on anything. However, at least you have an strong opinion, so I respect that. I get annoyed by people who can’t take a stand on anything.

      • Alex

        Maybe so, but it had a halfway decent cover of a David Bowie song. I actually rather like the Wallflowers’ version of “Heroes”.

  5. paramedic0112

    How about the shootout at the museum in ‘The International’ with Clive Owen. Dude, that was one of the coolest gunfights ever, but the rest of the movie was pretty boring/forgettable. I just want to buy it on blu to show people that one part.

  6. paramedic0112

    Or how about the groundhog in ‘Indian Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.’ Just kidding, that was terrible too. Was that too harsh? Maybe that’s a better post for the Spielberg topic.

  7. I gotta say Dick, I actively hated ‘Spiderman 3’ while watching it. It was just an awful movie, but when the part of Emo Paker showed up I switched from hate to loathe. I felt like was transported to an unfunny ‘SNL’ skit.

    • paramedic0112

      Aaron, I almost always agree with your point of view and reviews so I’m surprised that you didn’t dig emo spiderman! The black suit gives you the ability to lose all of your inhibitions. It’s just a blast to see Parker playing against his usual goodie-goodie. The best is when he tells that girl next door, “Go get me some milk.” Ah well. To each his own. Maybe it’s because I’m a big Sam Raimi fan. I pick up on some of his style and humor in there.

      • JoeRo

        “Also when he punched his stupid boring girlfriend.” … [slow clap]

        Well played sir. For the record I also thought spidey 3 was a piece of shit, but man oh man did I love the strutting, dancing web-slinger.

    • Jane Morgan

      Harry Potter 8, I hope, will work as a standalone.

      There are lots of franchises that I’m comfortable owning only one movie of.

    • They arent terrible by any means, they just werent your idea of how the Harry Potter world should have been translated.

      Gotta ask, did you even read the books? If you havent then I cant say that your ideas on the first two movies mean much, the first two films were EXACTLY how I pictured Hogwarts, the characters and the world that rowling created, after that it got progressively worse but thats more because of time constraints and too much to cram into one movie, Deathly Hallows so far has been great though, but I was really ticked at the changes that have been made in most of the movies since the first two.

      I love them all and as a Harry Potter fan that has read all the books, nothing in this series was terrible by any means, I have my nitpicks but thats forgivable when it comes to movie adaptions

      • Josh Zyber

        I think we hashed this out when we did the Harry Potter poll a little while ago:


        I haven’t ready any of the books. As MOVIES that have to stand on their own, the first two Potter films are just GODAWFUL. I don’t care how faithfully they illustrate the books. They’re tedious and badly directed, with atrocious visual effects and no story momentum at all.

        • motorheadache

          Funny, I actually like the first two Harry Potter movies better now then I did back when they first came out. When I first saw them because I had take my little brother, I just thought they were okay. Kind of like Lord of the Rings for kids or whatever.

          But once I got into the series starting with the third movie onwards, now I can go back and enjoy the first two more than I did before.

    • Isn’t it funny how many films Barry Pepper is great in (i mean versus ones where he’s just there, since he isn’t in all that many), yet few people even know his name? He’s a scene stealer, for sure. conspiracy. i smell one.

      • paramedic0112

        Yeah my favorite performances of his are in Saving Private Ryan, Flags of Our Fathers, and True Grit. But come on, he’s not the only good thing in True Grit. That movie is all around great. Coens at the height of their powers. Should’ve won best picture. It or Inception.

          • paramedic0112

            So does that mean you’re doing the review on True Grit? If so, I look forward to it.

            Social Network was awesome. I would have been happy if it won. And actually, The Kings Speech was good, but I just don’t think it beats all the others.

        • he stood out to me because i didn’t know he was in it. and hes great in the picture. and i did say it was shot well. but the coens do better with original work than with remakes or adaptations.

          • paramedic0112

            I partly agree with you on the Coens writing. The originals like Miller’s Crossing and Raising AZ are in the top 5 of their work. But who could deny No Country For Old Men, an adaptation. I just gotta give you crap because I thought the Coens were sacred cows around here.

  8. I’m going to go for ‘War of the Worlds’ (Spielberg version) – Dreadful characters and ‘family’ situations. But saved a bit by some great action set-pieces.

    ‘They’ from Robert Harmon. Story with an interesting premise that goes nowhere, with a mediocre cast. It’s also got brilliant direction from Harmon, a great horror score from Elia Cmiral, and creature design by Patrick Tatopoulos, making some wonderful atmospheric horror moments that make you think with a good cast and script this could’ve been a truly great horror movie.

    ‘Battlefield Earth’ – A really superb score from Elia Cmiral (again).

    ‘Inception’ – The folding city moment. Quite visually fun, in an otherwise shockingly mediocre film.

    I disagree with Cutthroat Island on the list though. 😉 It may just be daft explosive fun, but it’s still better than all of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies put together. 😀

  9. Thomas Mitchell

    Let’s see…..The Aliens in Skyline were actually pretty cool and the visuals were fantastic for a low-budget film. The rest of the movie, though? Bleh…. Mega Piranha: It’s like a watching a train wreck, but it’s a movie that knows it’s a train wreck, which makes it even better. Final Destination 4: The end credits? Legion: Paul Bettany as the arch-angel Michael. And the fight between Michael and Gabriel towards the end. Pretty awesome in an otherwise generic film.