Don't Hate, Celebrate the Top 9 Not-So-Guilty Pleasures of 2011
Traditionally a "guilty pleasure" is something you'd be embarrassed for the world to know you secretly enjoyed or for your Facebook friends to see you clicked on, but you know what? Around here we embrace the bad-to-godawful movies we love, and besides; what the heck does it even mean to like something ironically, you insufferable hipster? Toss away your pretentious hat, sit down in the circle of trust, take a deep breath, and join Movieline in unabashedly celebrating the inane, misguided, off-the-mark, and downright B-A-D but nevertheless shamelessly entertaining movies of the year - the Top 9 Not-So-Guilty Pleasures of 2011. Because we all love some terrible things, don't we?
9. Nick Nolte in Zookeeper
Maybe I just cribbed from everyone's Worst Movies of 2011 list. Maybe Nick Nolte's work as a TGI Friday's-loving gorilla named Bernie in Zookeeper eclipses his shattering work in Warrior on the basis of its cringe-worthiness alone. And maybe I feel so bad that poor Nolte had to sing Florida's "Low" in character as a gorilla opposite Kevin James that it's endeared me to his scenes. Also: Primates instantly make any movie better. Everybody knows that.
8. The year in Armond White-isms
Call for his head all you want, I'll staunchly defend notorious film critic Armond White (The man who once coined the phrase "abortionhorny" and thought Lady Gaga would make for better Lisbeth Salander casting!) to the end, purely because his reviews are so goddamn entertaining. Add to that the iconoclast take on movies, supported by left-field arguments that are sometimes so crazy they make complete sense, and you've got an essential voice in contemporary movie writing. Even if he raved over Adam Sandler in drag; let that be an exception.
7. The Footloose soundtrack
I have no fondness for Blake Shelton's feeble country mimicry of a Kenny Loggins cover, but Movieline's Louis Virtel was won over by the Footloose remake's contempo-pop soundtrack of redos. They can't all be Karen O-Led Zeppelin covers, I suppose. Let's hear it for the art of pop homage done toe-tappingly well enough?
At first, it seemed like French acting legend Gerard Depardieu, to quote 2011's viral sensation the Honey Badger, simply did not give a shit. But unlike the year's other infamous celebrity incidents (Lars and the Nazi Joke Heard 'Round the Word, Madonna's HydrangeaGate), this one boiled down to one man's humble humanity (and prostate issues). So ridiculous was the tale that Anderson Cooper broke his dashing resolve to giggle through his on-air report, but think of Gerard and embrace his moment of weakness; there's no shame in acknowledging our fragile human vulnerabilities from time to time.
5. Season of the Witch/Drive Angry/Trespass (AKA A Good Year for Nic Cage)
I wouldn't call it a banner year for Nicolas Cage himself, but it was a great year to be a Nic Cage watcher. He started out 2011 with the medieval gift of silliness that was Season of the Witch, guzzled beer from his enemy's skull in the genre pic Drive Angry, and (with the other Nic - Nicole Kidman) bequeathed us with Joel Schumacher's Trespass, a film Movieline's S.T. VanAirsdale loved, and laughed through, unapologetically. All one big set-up to watch him pee fire!
4. Tyler Perry's Madea's Big Happy Family
My personal conversion to the church of Tyler Perry happened earlier this year when I found myself rolling in the aisles during Madea's Big Happy Family. Is Perry's Madea a cartoonish, hulking hurricane of a woman? Does she reinforce unfortunate cultural stereotypes even as she doles out totally reasonable life advice? All I know is Perry - the performer, the director, the check-cashing media tycoon (and sensitive man of the world) - is some kind of genius to have made an empire out of a wig, a muumuu, and an attitude, one that further allows him a pedestal from which he geniunely consoles and encourages his fans. Hallelujer, indeed.
3. Lonely Island's "Jack Sparrow"
All you need to know, if you don't already, is that Jorma Taccone, Andy Samberg, and Akiva Shaffer - AKA Lonely Island - wrote an inspired ditty and snared icon of yesteryear Michael Bolton to sing the hook. Only ginormous film fan Michael Bolton turned it into a song about Pirates of the Caribbean, Forrest Gump, and all of his favorite movies -- an ode to the cheesy, cliched movies we all love. Instant karaoke classic.
Love it or hate it, the Twilight Saga is what it is. And when Robert Pattinson started chowing down on Kristen Stewart's pregnant belly in the kooky denouement of Bill Condon's vampire sequel, shit started getting so, so real. AND THEN THE WOLF GUY FELL FOR THE BABY AND OH MY GOD YES.
Speaking of Twilight, the universe that Stephenie Meyer created inadvertently led, in turn, to my number one most enjoyable film experience of the year: Sitting through the entirety of Abduction. Terrible line readings, second unit typos, Taylor Lautner's posturing '80s action-inspired swagger - it was all there, and it was all insanely terrible and great at the same time. Does this border on liking Abduction ironically? Maybe, but I couldn't help it. Just know this: Every second of feeble-handed acting, directing, and writing held my attention rapt and engaged my senses; I came alive imagining the winding thicket of talent, dollars, and choices that could've churned out such a product. Was any of it intentional - was John Singleton just fucking with us all? Probably not, but still; this holiday season give yourself the gift of watching Abduction and soak in the glory of the ultimate Bad Movie We Love of 2011.
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