Look, I am an educated woman. I studied literature in college. I know what it takes to create a good story, and I can recognize when a story is bad.
The same goes for movies, of which I am a connoisseur. When it comes to movies, I am not a snob. I am an equal opportunity supporter. I appreciate film and cinema, but I also love popcorn movies and corny movies and unearned, tear-jerking movies.
Yes, I like to be challenged by an unexpected storyline or complex characters. I like when movies make me feel things and think about new issues and consider ideas that I hadn’t before, but I also enjoy turning my brain off from time to time and just buckling up to go along for the ride.
In general terms, a “good” movie is well- plotted, directed, written, and acted. A “bad” movie is basically the opposite of that. And then there are also movies that are trying to be good but come out bad and unenjoyable.
For one, a good-bad movie is not trying to be anything other than what it is. There are no pretenses: It offers itself to you at face value, and you either accept it or you don’t. A good-bad movie wants you to know that we’re all on the same mediocre page.
If you see a good-bad movie on TBS while you’re folding your laundry, you’ll likely stick around and accidentally sacrifice a whole afternoon. And a good-bad movie is likely to be the secondary channel while flipping back-and-forth from a TV show airing live. A good-bad movie is also a $5 DVD bin impulse purchase— the sight of it brings you a flash of joy and a craving that’s so sudden, it needs to be satiated on the spot.
So maybe the script isn’t well-written? Maybe every line of dialogue is cliché and corny, but you’ve got the ever-charming lead actor saying the words so you’re hanging on them anyway. Or you’ve got a legendary actress adding on her own frazzled flare. Sometimes my motto is simply: Come for the premise, stay for the actors!
Greg Kinnear is the first name that comes to mind when thinking of good-bad movies because he is inexplicably in a lot of them. But, I can’t help it; I am a fan of whatever he does.
On one hand, you have a genuinely good movie (also one of my favorites): You’ve Got Mail, in which he plays an utterly delightful supporting role. Its script is a work of art, the chemistry between and performances of the actors are spectacular, and the plot involves the age old favorites of secret/mistaken identities and the fine line between love and hate.
And on the other hand, you have one of my favorite bad movies to watch, Stuck in Love in which Greg Kinnear plays a sad-sack writer who can’t move on from his ex-wife of 3 years. It is, unfortunately, the kind of movie that drives the general public to write off the rom-com as an un-prolific genre.
Stuck in Love is the definition of corny and cliché, but that is what I love about it. It’s basically porn for writers and people who love rom-coms. I know that. But Greg Kinnear is charming! The camera loves Lily Collins! She can’t love until someone teachers her! Stephen King makes a cameo! It has the recipe of things that I love in movies, but the execution is off. And sometimes that’s okay! Because despite its flaws, it makes me happy!
The second actor that comes to mind who happily rides this good-bad movie train is Diane Keaton. She has an Oscar. She has acted in many amazing films and has a fabulous screen presence. She could have retired. But instead, she has leaned into her age and all the fun to be had in getting older.
I have watched the latter half of her career just as avidly as I have sought out the films of her youth, because Diane Keaton has tackled a lot of tropes involving growing old and finding the vigor of life in your twilight years. It’s refreshing to see these stories brought to life by such a talented actor because if Diane Keaton has taught me anything, it’s that life doesn’t end at 40. Or even 70.
While many of the movies she has done in recent years are widely considered cinematically bad, I enjoy them to my core. I’m talking Morning Glory, The Family Stone, Book Club, and Poms. Yes, even Poms. Anjelica Huston be DAMNED!
Some of them make me feel things in my chest. Most of them make me laugh out loud. They’re cute! They’re fun! Is there suddenly something wrong with being cute?? Don’t you like having fun while watching a movie?? DON’T YOU????
What I think is bad and what you think is bad are two totally different things! And guess what, if we’re friends, I will recommend bad movies to you that I think will bring you joy because I want you to have a good time. That’s what friends are for!
Don’t you dare judge me. I can love whoever I want!
Diane Keaton and I are having a great time over here—join us, won’t you?