Successful filmmaking isn’t always about quality. Sometimes the most entertaining film can be, well, pure crap. They fail for every reason in the book - lack of character development, an obscure plot, pure illogicality – but manage to creep their way into your life anyway, nestling in comfortably and resonating throughout the years. Whether you’re passing the time on a rainy day or looking for a release after a stressful day at work, it’s not the Oscar winners used to fill the void; it’s guilty pleasure. Don’t get too wrapped up in the pleasure part; there’s also the guilt factor. These are the films you’re completely self-conscious about watching time and time again. The films with titles you mumble when telling a friend what you’re up to, the films that make you blush when someone walks into the room and gets a glimpse at what’s on the TV. That being said, as you read my list of the top guilty pleasures of the decade, I’m blushing and utterly embarrassed. But I'm betting you're right there with me.
Before vampires looked like Robert Pattinson they looked like … Gerard Butler. Okay, so the whole gorgeous bloodsucker thing is nothing new, but in Dracula 2000 there’s certainly no such thing as a vegetarian vampire. So, we’ve got our vampire, now let’s add some modestly famous actors: Jonny Lee Miller, Jeri Ryan, Jennifer Esposito, Omar Epps and Colleen Fitzpatrick. Yes, that would be Colleen Fitzpatrick, better known as the singer Vitamin C, and no, she doesn’t sing “Graduation” in the movie. It all comes down to simple math: Pretty Faces + Fangs – Necessity of Brainpower = Addiction.
Sean William Scott could be the king of guilty pleasure films. Really, anything he’s been in could be on this list. There’s Road Trip, American Pie 2, Dude Where’s My Car?, Old School and a handful of others, but none strike a chord quite like Evolution. It’s got the David Duchovny-Orlando Jones tag team, creepy creatures, loads of slime and lines like “Give me back my friend, you big sphincter!” Scott isn’t the only part of Evolution with guilty pleasure juice flowing in his veins. If director Ivan Reitman had made Six Days Seven Nights within this decade, he’d be getting double honors.
Pearl Harbor takes one the country’s most painful memories, infuses it with attractive stars, a love story and every war movie cliché in existence and tries to pass it off as an epic cinematic experience? Well, okay. Insulting exploitation aside, Pearl Harbor is like a conglomeration of all the greats. Why spend over ten hours watching Saving Private Ryan, Titanic, Top Gun and Armageddon when you can get a little of each in the three hours of Pearl Harbor? That's as far from a serious proposition as you can get, but it's exactly why Pearl Harbor is highly addictive. It takes the best of the lot, rubs a little cheese on it and pretends it was made for pure entertainment rather than to pay any respect to its factual basis.
I hate this movie. It’s incoherent, gross and is worse than juvenile, it’s infantile. Thank you cable TV for playing this movie so many times over that it’s drilled so deep into my mind that I find Dizzy Harrison’s venture to become popular endearing. DJ Qualls has a face you cannot forget. Will dyeing his hair blond and changing his clothing really make me think he’s Gil Harris? Well, yes. I guess it’s like TV commercials; if you see an ad for Snuggies enough, it makes you think you’ll really benefit from having a blanket with sleeves and pockets. If you watch The New Guy enough, you’ll actually think it’s funny.
I blame MTV for my love of D.E.B.S. When they’re not filling designated movie time with Hustle and Flow or Not Another Teen Movie, they’re showing this. How friggin awesome would it be if you took the SATs and instead of getting into college, you got into spy school? D.E.B.S. rides its way to guilty pleasure fame on its superhero-esque nature and its ability to poke fun at itself. The tagline says it all, “They're crime-fighting hotties with killer bodies.” Girls will want to be like them and the guys will want to be with them. Either way, it’s as big of an oxymoron as the high heels the D.E.B.S. kick ass in; it’s low in quality but high in obsession.
There’s something very likeable about Camilla Belle, but When A Stranger Calls has some of the worst acting of the decade. Everything about this movie is laughable, yet, in true low-budget horror fashion, it hits it big at the box office. Damn you stupid horror movies and your ability to make my heart race with cheap scares. You’d think knowing what happens would spoil the suspense, but I’ve seen When A Stranger Calls dozens of times and catch myself holding my breath during high-tension scenes every time. How can the Mandrakis’ bird room not freak you out?
Thanks to Lindsay Lohan’s antics on the set of Georgia Rule, the film was tarnished before it even hit theaters. Sure enough, a vast majority of critics panned the film and it took in just under $20 million at the domestic box office. Say what you want about Lohan’s life decisions, but whether you’re willing to admit it or not, she’s a fine actress. Team her up with Felicity Huffman and Jane Fonda, and you get something that, even with a weak plot, is still alluring. The movie is about every mother daughter issue in the book and, in the end, doesn’t even make sense, but with every viewing its nonsensical-ness fades further into oblivion, convincing you that shit like this actually happens.
Baby Mama isn’t on this list for lack of quality. It’s here because I’m utterly embarrassed by the number of times I’ve watched it. I’m not the laugh out loud type. When I find something funny, I tend to smirk and make this ‘heh’ noise. (For some reason admitting this is just as embarrassing as admitting that I watch this movie on a regular basis.) Baby Mama makes me laugh out loud, uncontrollably at that. Rather than rattling off a list of quotes I find amusing, I’ll just let you know that just by scrolling through IMDB’s memorable quotes page, I’m alone, at my computer, hysterically laughing. Saturday Night Live may be doing a humor nosedive, but at least we have Baby Mama to keep the ultimate female comedy duo, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, alive and thriving.
Quarantine is a completely unoriginal low-budget horror movie, which makes it a perfect guilty pleasure candidate. We’ve seen it all before - the zombies, the shaky camera – but we want to see it again. The whole handheld camera perspective is a blast. It can be considered cliché at this point, but, when you think about it, wouldn’t the standard third-person perspective be more overused? If you just sat on your couch all day and watched REC, Cloverfield, Blair Witch and Quarantine, you might get bored. On the other hand, if you come across Quarantine after taking in a whole bunch of standard POV films, it’s a great time. I also still purport that Jennifer Carpenter’s overacting is justified by the fact that if you were in her character’s situation, you would act like that too. Don’t lie, you know you would.
Oh come on! Like you didn’t know this was going to be on the list. On the quality front, Jennifer’s Body was a huge disappointment. Writer Diablo Cody just couldn’t keep the wit flowing like she did in Juno, and Megan Fox, well, doesn’t do much beyond look pretty and eat boys. You can pick apart this movie all you want, but even with all of its flaws, it’s an undeniably good time. Fox keeps the boys happy, Amanda Seyfried handles the acting and the whole demon thing really turns up the heat. Think Heathers and The Craft, but less likely to develop a cult following and more likely to be a closet obsession.
Alright, confession time. You've heard mine, now admit yours. Share your shame in the comments section below by revealing your favorite guilty pleasure movies of the aughts!
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