Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Movies That Got No Play, aka "Good Bad Movies"

While many mediocre films are being touted simply because of their stars, stunts, or special effects, there are movies that are really intelligent and fun to watch that go under the radar in my opinion.  Here are some of those movies, in no particular order.

1. 'Jennifer's Body': I liked this film much better than the one Diablo Cody is known for, 'Juno', which I thought was average and kind of annoying.  Dawson's Creek should be proof that snappy commentary from sarcastic teens does NOT quality entertainment make.  'Jennifer's Body' has similar annoyingly witty teen-speak, but the underlying themes are quite compelling, if a little dumbed down for the target audience. 

-  Diablo Cody explores the theme of female best friends who are codependent.  She even names one of them "Needy".  I related to the portrayed friendship many times over.  Girls often find their BFF's are really competitive, crazy, evil bitches who eventually go after their boyfriend. 

- The film is also brilliantly about selling your soul for fame, as the Maroon 5-parody of a band literally did.  They would rather sacrifice Jennifer's Body than ravage it, so they can have their favorite M&M colors in their hotel room.   The irony is that they want the fame and money that gives them pimp power so they can GET girls like Megan Fox!  Adam Brody's character reminds me of far too many eyeliner and manscara-wearing hipster assholes I've met in my time.  I can't really blame Needy for slicing and dicing them.  Oh yeah, and what happens to Jennifer after she gets in the van with them?  She becomes hollow and evil and loses her soul, needing to feed on boys.  I relate.

-If you read the above, you will see the film is also subtly about sex and love addiction.   When she doesn't have a boy she's hollow, cranky, empty; when she does, she's "really pretty and glowy".  Fucking brilliant. 

The only question I have is why Diablo Cody chose to cast not-to-hot boys for her to eat.  Is it because they're more expendable? 

2. 'Teeth' - This indie flick is not for the squeamish or anyone with a penis, because the main character bites them off with her vagina dentata.  This film is hilarious and sick, but cautionary against divorce and remarriage, highlighting the perverse chaos and confusion it can cause.  This revenge tale also makes women feel strangely empowered...after all, the main character pretty much did what Lorena Bobbitt did.  Man-haters rejoice.

3. 'The Last House on the Left' - Another cringe-inducing revenge tale but I thought it was wonderfully acted and suspenseful, and is one of the most visceral revenge films I've ever seen.  It also goes to show you that if your son dies, another one will show up at your doorstep begging to be taken away from his abusive father.

4. 'A Perfect Getaway' - This film was beautifully shot, suspenseful, and has Timothy Olyphant in it.  Plus another super-hot guy with his shirt off.  But other than that, I thought it was really smart and keeps you guessing.  It reminds you that appearances can be deceiving, so don't judge a book by its character.  It teases the audience by having the characters talking about the very plot twists we are watching, making us wonder who the red herring actually is.  I love any serial killer flick, but this one was unique in that it addresses the women who love them as well.  This film is also about addiction to a person and codependency ruining your life.  Go to a meeting, homegirl!

5. 'Wicker Park' - The reason I like this underrated Josh Hotnett film is because it's not a cliche.  It's not your typical suspense/psychological thriller in that there's NO MURDER involved in the big reveal.  In that sense it differs from the 'Fatal Attraction's of the world (like 'Swimfan').  It kind of gets old when the "villain" is evil because he/she kills.  Can't people do other bad things?  I also love the fact that three out of the four people involved all behave stalkeriffically, so it's not as black and white as other character studies.  This film also jumps back and forth in time, using jumbled chronology to tell an atypical story about a love triangle.  It makes you think. 

6. 'Don Juan DeMarco' - I appreciated this movie even more after beginning my masters in psychology because I understood the terminology. This film-that-got-no-play was one of those life-changers for me.  It made me re-examine my life and strive for more in it.  It reminds me of Paulo Coelho's book, 'Veronika Decides to Die', which explores the thin line between being different and being insane.  Is Johnny Depp's character crazy because he sees the world differently than most?  Who cares?  He gets laid constantly! 

BTW, it's Johnny Depp, shirtless with a Castillian accent being romantical.  How could it not be good?  If you're a dreamer or a hopeless romantic, this movie is for you.

7. 'Freeway' - A twisted modern-day re-telling of 'Little Red Riding Hood', only the wolf is a serial killer!  Who knew southern belle Reese Witherspoon could play illiterate white trash so well?  This movie is cheesy and plain wrong at times, and I often want to drop-kick the continuity editor, but otherwise it's hilarious and quotable.  Example: "Why are you doing this?" "Because I'm pissed off and the whole world owes me! Now gimme your goddamn money!"
Plus the late great Brittany Murphy plays a lesbian junkie.  Indie gold.

8. 'Black Snake Moan' - Okay, first of all, this movie starts off with a love scene involving Justin Timberlake.  That should be the end of the story but it ain't.  This under-appreciated film was probably better than the award winning film by the same writer-director, Craig Brewer, (though it's not fair to say since I didn't bother to see it.)  The edgy film examines the link between childhood sexual abuse and sex addiction, as well as issues of anxiety disorders that go unacknowledged in certain parts of the country.  

It's also very quotable: "She got that sickness...What I'm saying is, she gotta get dick, or she goes crazy."   

The controversial chains with which Samuel L. Jackson binds Christina Ricci to his heater, in my opinion, represent the structure and discipline (or tough love if you will) that the character so desperately needs.  Why else was she able to finally sleep at night when binding herself tightly in them? 

This movie shows that two people can be extremely "fucked up" and have all kinds of issues but still love each other. 

"Rae" reminds me of a white trash version of me.

If you do watch it, do yourself a favor and savor the hilarity of the scene in which the young teen Lincoln comes a-knockin!

9. 'Repo Men' - What happens when a repo man who works for an artificial organ company needs an artificial organ?  Violence and hilarity ensues.  Oh, the irony! 

I like this movie because it doesn't take itself too seriously.  The fact that I was cracking up for most of it, which was dark and gory, tells me there's something wrong with me.  If I were a producer pitching this script, I'd describe it as 'Vanilla Sky' meets 'Fight Club'. 

It's basically a dark comedy about the evils of consumerism and a revenge fantasy.

And there's a love scene involving lots of blood.  Yes, you heard me.  Blood.  Lots of it.  I'm sick.

10. 'Mr. Brooks' - I know, another serial killer movie.  What you must think of me by now.  But I loved this movie, even though Dane Cook is in it.  It was just very poorly marketed.  I remember seeing the ads and thinking "Who the fuck is Mr. Brooks and why should we care?" 

"Mr. Brooks" is Kevin Costner and William Hurt is his alter ego / subconscious / "Dark Passenger" named Marshall.  Mr. Brooks is the only one one who can see the Marshall character, which I thought was inventive.

This is dark comedy about how serial murder becomes an addiction like anything else.  This is clearly where Dexter got its season 2 premise from (serial killer goes to 12 step), but no one noticed because no one saw this movie! 

I could have done without Demi Moore as the cop, but her sub-plot was sort of interesting too.  It's thrilling with fun twists and turns, and I have never liked Kevin Costner more.


  1. As I said, your reviews make me want to put these on my Netflix list...but it's your comments that really take the cake. "I often want to drop-kick the continuity editor..." Hilarious!! Honest and insightful commentary...

  2. Great review! Although I don't exactly agree that some of the movies here are worth watching, your reviews to Teeth and Jennifer's Body makes me wanna watch it. Diablo Cody is also great as it tackles codependency and love addiction.