#TBThursday Review: Movies So Bad They’re Great (Guilty Pleasure Films)


Preston Barta // Features Editor

We’ve all seen movies so bad that for some odd reason we actually like them. Sometimes it’s intentional, other times it’s not. The term known as “guilty pleasure” is thrown around a lot, usually by people who are afraid to admit they like something they also think is beneath them. There are certain films you’ll come across that are often sited as guilty pleasure films, despite the reality that there is nothing really to be ashamed of.

In honor of this week’s release of M. Night Shyamalan’s THE VISIT – which is being deemed by many as an intentionally bad film that is actually good – the below films have somehow edged their way into the guilty pleasure status. Whether we failed to understand their intentions or simply just can’t figure out what it is we like about them, here are three films so bad they’re good.

BioDome 1BIO-DOME (1996)

All of Pauly Shore’s movies can fall in this category, really. However, you could say ENCINO MAN, SON IN LAW and IN THE ARMY NOW were better received flicks. BIO-DOME, on the other hand, is a dumb movie. There is no doubt about it. Critics and moviegoers found the 1996 Pauly Shore and Stephen Baldwin vehicle to be an absolute abomination to cinema. It received some of the lowest scores in movie history. Even one its stars, Kylie Minogue, called it the single biggest mistake of her career (and it sure didn’t help Shore’s career). Yet, there is such a charming quality to it, especially if you were a kid of the 90s. It’s not a film to turn your brain on for; it plays more like a movie you turn on in the background and laugh at occasionally because it’s so ridiculous.
– Preston Barta


Last-Action-Hero-1993LAST ACTION HERO (1993)

There are a lot of ways a movie can be a guilty pleasure. However, one of the measuring sticks, if you will, is that the experts universally dislike it, but you appreciate it in a whole different light. It’s a movie that when you mention it, your friends laugh at you because it’s not good at all. An example of this type of movie would be Arnold Schwarzenegger’s LAST ACTION HERO, a movie that I admit is in my personal collection. The movie is about an 11-yr old kid named Danny (Austin O’Brien) who has an affinity for the movies, specifically the Jack Slater series with Arnie as the titular character. His father has passed, his mom (Mercedes Ruehl) works all the time, and the movie theater is his only escape. When Danny goes to a screening of the latest Jack Slater movie, a magical ticket takes him into Jack Slater IV where he meets his idol. From there he is the young sidekick helping Slater foil the plan of a power-hungry hitman named Benedict (Charles Dance).

A majority of the critics dislike the movie, directed by John McTiernan of DIE HARD fame. The plot does get in the way of itself in letting Benedict come into the real world, rounding up other cinematic villains to takeover New York. The magic ticket becomes a way out for the writers, shunning the fact that Danny can’t get it to send him home. Why I like LAST ACTION HERO, though, is because of the in-jokes they use to reference terrible action movies. There are A LOT of bad Arnie puns but he’s playing an extreme version of the Arnie character, with Danny by his side to point out every sort of action movie trope (at one point, he tries to get Jack to say the F-word, telling him he can’t because it’s a PG-13 movie). Also, I’m a sucker for terrible puns. I can’t hate a movie where a guy gets stabbed with an ice cream cone, and Arnie says “Iced that guy… to cone a phrase.”
– Jared McMillan


8e4d59f829120b9be37f7ee3b419d70b_600x400MACGRUBER (2010)

MACGRUBER is the type of comedy that needs to be reassessed. I believe many just missed the point, and rightfully so. Based on the SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE sketch of the same name, resident goofball Will Forte is put in the driver’s seat for the (somewhat) spoof of the all-American action hero. He’s more Mr. Bean than he is Rambo, but Forte plays the role commandingly straight while adhering to every action cliché in the book.

Going over the reviews upon release, many complained director Jorma Taccone (The Lonely Island, HOT ROD) was solely going for shock and forgetting the jokes. However, Forte’s (who served as a screenwriter on the film) just has a weird, weird sense of humor that I believe played against the machismo attitude that so many action films fall prey to. But under the cover of darkness is a wildly funny adult comedy that is slapstick, sketch and quotable all into one nice little (non-explosive) package.
– Cole Clay


All three films are available for purchase on DVD and VOD.

About author

Preston Barta

I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.