For most people, a typical movie-watching experience doesn't mean taking in the most audacious, challenging art the medium has to offer. There's a time and a place for French New Wave, Ingmar Bergman, and the boundary-pushing work of contemporary auteurs like Lars von Trier and Lynne Ramsay. But that time and place is probably not your living room after a long week of work. More often than not, the movie you're seeking doesn't require too much intellectual work and whose tagline should include a suggestion to suspend disbelief. In other words, you need a Bad Good Movie, also known as a Fun Bad Movie.
There are many such movies out there, and no two people will define a Bad Good Movie the same way. In gathering the titles on this list, we looked for the self-indulgent dialogue, excessive action, and irredeemably preposterous premises that defy you not to be impressed. Are these the 50 best Bad Good Movies of all time? The genre's nebulous nature makes it impossible to say, but they're certainly in contention, and we're probably re-watching one of them right now.
2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)
In a franchise that's up to eight feature films (with more on the way) and spans nearly two decades, it's the first sequel that stands out thanks to its sheer carefree audacity. Look at that title: 2 Fast 2 Furious! While the original's success made a sequel inevitable, Vin Diesel's absence tells you that he, at the very least, didn't have a lot of faith in the Fast franchise out of the gate (same goes for Ja Rule, who turned down a role that Ludacris took on). This fresh start, helmed by Oscar-nominated director John Singleton, allows room for a buddy-cop/childhood-friend bad act-off between Paul Walker and Tyrese Gibson, who go to Miami to bring down a drug lord and also drive really fast cars that have N02 injectors and drift around corners and stuff. Sure, there are the usual high-stakes races and the worst undercover operation ever run, and 2 Fast also offers the simple joy of watching Paul Walker try to call Tyrese "cuz" with conviction, or listening to Tyrese remind Brian, "I ain't going back to Barstow." The ensuing films reintroduced Diesel and got flashier -- 2017's Fate of the Furious sported a $250 million budget and a global box-office haul of more than a billion dollars -- but the goofy beating heart of the franchise can be found in the earnest work of Brian O'Connor and Roman Pearce, who wanted to drive cool cars, get the job done, and go back to a simpler life. It was not to be.
The 6th Day (2000)
Many Arnold Schwarzenegger movies were considered for this list. The near-misses: Conan the Destroyer, the bonkers 1984 sword-and-sandal sequel that improbably co-starred Grace Jones and Wilt Chamberlain; the 1996 conspiracy thriller Eraser, which provided one of the greatest lines ever uttered to a just-murdered CGI alligator: "You're luggage!"; and 1997's Batman & Robin, featuring Arnie's dad-joke-wielding Mr. Freeze. But a whopping three Arnold movies made the cut, including the cheesily awesome 1987 sci-fi thriller The Running Man, set in a futuristic totalitarian American police state of 2019 (!); and the 1996 Sinbad-infused hot-Christmas-toy-panic comedy Jingle All the Way. But the absolute most addictively good-bad Schwarzenegger movie is The 6th Day, the post-Y2K, post-Dolly commentary on the potential horrors of human (and dog!) cloning. A pre-Scandal Tony Goldwyn plays an amoral billionaire who harnesses the research of an unwitting scientist (Oscar-winner Robert Duvall) to do nefarious things like cloning Arnold's duped charter pilot and causing doppelgänger-based mayhem to ensue. Despite double Schwarzeneggers, The 6th Day's real hero is SimPal Cindy, a legitimately frightening and hilarious animatronic doll who just wants to be your friend.
Popularized through repeated late-night airings on TBS back in the day, the fish-out-of-water comedy Airborne is notable for scene-stealing early performances by Seth Green and Jack Black, as well as for being essentially a visual brochure for the then-zeitgeist inline skating lifestyle (please watch this Airborne sequence that featured honest-to-god Joe Satriani-esque guitar noodling). The melodramatic teen tension begins when a bodacious California surfer dude oozing 90210-era Jason Priestley vibes reluctantly relocates to Cincinnati and bumps up against blue-collar bullies who treat him as if he were the chill hippie-yuppie they've always been told heralds the arrival of Satan... until they need him, which occurs in this epic conciliatory confrontation that will bring a tear to your eye if you've drunk the appropriate amount of beer before watching it. The movie culminates in an epic downhill race as tense and batshit as something from Herbie the Love Bug, and it all ends perfectly with our hero being hoisted on the shoulders of his former enemies.
Most of what can be said about Armageddon has been covered by Ben Affleck in the film's commentary track, but his sarcastic burns of Michael Bay's reliance on cliché and unrealistic plot points generally sum up the blockbuster director's appeal: You know the movie is dumb, but things go boom and you'll love it anyway. Where Bay's more recent fare, like the Transformers movies, feel bloated and tedious, his late-90s work retains its clichéd veneer without becoming boring. Sending oil rig workers into space to blow up an asteroid isn't intended to be realistic, and Armageddon milks its unreality for all it's worth, leaving you ready for the cheesy, sentimental payoff the finale earns.
Bee Movie (2007)
No one can quite argue that Jerry Seinfeld's film-writing opus, Bee Movie, is technically bad. As a DreamWorks production, clearly, it's an animation leap from the pockmarked uncanny valley of the Shrek days. The voice acting of Renee Zellweger, Matthew Broderick, Chris Rock, and Jerry himself, among others, is perfectly competent. The premise -- the very fiber of the movie -- is where things start to fall apart, because Jesus Christ: Who is this movie for? A bee society sues humanity for exploitation and wage theft, the legal victory showers the bees with shitloads of money, which turns the hive into a utopian nightmare. Meanwhile, main bee Barry B. Benson (Seinfeld), disillusioned by his sole career opportunity as an industry honey man and the hive's slouch towards lethargy, sends him into the real world for life's answers and ends up falling in love with real, live woman Vanessa Bloome (Zellweger), which makes her boyfriend incredibly pissed, presumably because she's somehow cheating on him -- like, sexually -- with a bee. Between the human/bee fucking (how??????) and the litigation storyline, this hardly feels like a movie for children, and more like entertainment for very stoned and irony-poisoned adults. Obviously, that's why we love it.
Book Club (2018)
Think of this one as a sort of companion piece to the Fifty Shades franchise. What if a bunch of very famous women in advanced age played members of a book club that got all hot and bothered when they read E.L. James' infamous Twilight fan fiction? Book Club is not well-made, and the use of CGI backdrops is downright laughable. But the cast is so darn charming that you can't help just letting it wrap you in its comfy Crate and Barrel furnishings of a plot. Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, Diane Keaton, and Mary Steenburgen are all ladies on the hunt for love as they gulp down buckets of white wine. Andy Garcia should have been named Sexiest Man Alive for his performance as a romantic pilot, and at one point there's an extended boner gag involving Craig T. Nelson, a.k.a. Television's Coach. Are you sold yet?
The Boy Next Door (2015)
The first thing to know about The Boy Next Door, a glorious update of the erotic thriller from The Fast and the Furious director Rob Cohen, is that Jennifer Lopez's high school English teacher character receives a "first edition" copy of The Iliad from her teenage seducer. A first edition of The Iliad by Homer! (Cohen later defended the plot element in interviews by saying, "It doesn't mean it was the original printing.") Still, the detail gives you a good idea of why this forgettable-looking thriller is really a tawdry work of good-bad artistry. The craft is there -- Lopez is an engaging actress and Cohen is a fun director -- but the specifics are woozy and indistinct. It's the type of movie anyone would be proud to own the first edition of.
Collateral Beauty (2016)
Let's just take a look at the cast: Will Smith, Edward Norton, Kate Winslet, Helen Mirren, Keira Knightley, Naomie Harris, and Michael Peña. Those are some heavy-hitters, right? The most compelling mystery of this schmaltzy, hyper-manipulative ensemble drama is how each of them got roped into starring in such a disaster. The film follows a grieving advertising executive (Smith) who gets tricked by his deranged co-workers into thinking he's being visited by the abstract concepts of "Love," "Time," and "Death." (It's like Bergman's The Seventh Seal reimagined by… an ad executive.) There are plenty of tedious, mind-numbing ensemble dramas out there -- Crash is probably the most famous, and this year's Life Itself sounds completely absurd -- but Collateral Beauty stands out for its nonsensical title and its twist ending, which will either leave you cackling with glee or drive you to toss your TV out the nearest window.
When you think of movies adapted from particularly punishing source material, Dune probably tops your list. The events and backstory of Frank Herbert's sci-fi classic are hard enough to keep straight just in book form, but whittling it down into a roughly two-hour movie? That's an undertaking crazier than uniting the Fremen tribes against a common enemy to take control of their home planet -- but David Lynch did it, and the result is, honestly, impressive. Dune came out more than 30 years ago, so by now it's seen more than its fair share of takes, but I am here to tell you that anyone who watches the "HE WHO CONTROLS THE SPICE CONTROLS THE UNIVERSE" scene with their friends will have those friends for life.
A running theme for a bunch of entries on this list is that though none of them are great in every way, at least many of them have a distinct sense of style. Excalibur falls into this category: its acting and story are wildly melodramatic -- which anyone who's read Arthurian myth will tell you is pretty close to the source material -- but every frame of the movie looks like it could be an oil painting. There's also quite a lot of weird sex for a movie that you might think would be too stilted and stodgy to be fun to watch (one thing Excalibur gets exactly right is how easily a monarchy collapses if everyone defending it is embarrassingly horny). Plus, it helped launch the careers of Liam Neeson, Patrick Stewart, Gabriel Byrne, and Ciaran Hinds. AND Helen Mirren is in it!
Exit Wounds (2001)
Perhaps another Steven Seagal classic could occupy this space -- Above the Law has a place in the canon as his first feature, Hard to Kill features a delightfully implausible premise, Under Siege made him a bona fide mainstream action star -- but 2001's Exit Wounds is like watching 15 years of absurd action clichés distilled into 102 minutes of explosions, lethal injections, and locker room taser fights. The movie opens with Steven Seagal, as police officer Orin Boyd, saving the Vice-President from assassination by shooting down a helicopter with a pistol, but his heroism goes unappreciated because he disobeyed explicit orders not to kill anyone! And the worst thing a cop can do is disobey orders! DMX co-stars as a computer expert and billionaire posing as a drug dealer (don't ask!), and features on a soundtrack with a surprising number of heavy-hitting rap names. On a far more serious note, it must be said that Seagal has been accused of sexual assault by multiple women, supported Russia's annexation of Crimea, and seems by most accounts to be an unpleasant human being with a complete lack of self-awareness. We are laughing at him, not with him.
Fear has maintained notoriety mostly thanks to one scene: The roller coaster ride. It's easy to see why, because this moment sums up how far the ridiculous erotic thriller goes to ratchet up both the eroticism and the thrills. The film, which features Mark Wahlberg as an older guy into 16-year-old Nicole (Reese Witherspoon), chronicles their relationship from infatuation to obsession. You won't be surprised to learn that things take a potentially fatal turn when Wahlberg’s David becomes increasingly possessive and abusive, battling Nicole's father (William Petersen) for dominance in her life. David's obsession and penultimate intrusion sequence, in which David thinks it's a good idea to kidnap Nicole, are the stuff of nightmares, but they come off as comically melodramatic and ill-fitting in the flick’s noir tone -- all of which makes Fear a ridiculously fun roller coaster ride.
The Fifty Shades of Grey franchise (2015-present)
Let's start with one inarguable point: Fifty Shades of Grey is just plain bad. The "contract scene" is legendary in its badness. The sequels, though, add a whole new level of psychosexual pseudo-thriller (no one can call these movies in any way thrilling), making them at least as funny as they are terrible. Fifty Shades Freed, the trilogy's third installment, dispenses with all trappings of seriousness and gives us characters named things like "Jack Hyde" and "Boyce Fox" and Dakota Johnson saying, "No, you're not putting those in my butt!" Also, the soundtrack is fire. Fight us, you'll lose.
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2011)
The thing that sets Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance apart from its predecessor is that it's directed by Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, otherwise known as the Crank boys. And Ghost Rider 2 certainly has that Crank flair, being the third and last movie they collaborated on as both directors and dual camera operators (the other two movies were, of course, the Cranks). It's honestly one of the most visually exciting superhero movies ever made, with a distinct style, especially in its action scenes, that rivals anything Marvel has done since. The story may be weird and melodramatic, but what other movie gives you Nic Cage smacking bad guys around with a giant hell chain?
Gods of Egypt (2016)
Alex Proyas is the visionary director behind movies like Dark City and The Crow, and his head-scratching take on the sword-and-sandals epic is clearly the work of a visionary. Just look at the costumes, the sets, and the ridiculous sun-towing spaceship Geoffrey Rush's Sun God Ra drives around the sky. Just because the "vision" in this case is very silly, dumb, and white-washed doesn't mean it's not a vision. Compared to your average cookie-cutter superhero movie or grim action adventure, Gods of Egypt is a beguiling, charming look-book of psychedelic sci-fi and fantasy imagery. Throw in a bizarre performance from Gerard Butler as Set, the vengeful God of the Desert, and you've got a good-bad movie worth building monuments in tribute to.
20th Century Fox
The Greatest Showman (2017)
In the lead-up to its release, everything about The Greatest Showman seemed too ridiculous to be true: A circus musical that was a passion project for Hugh Jackman, featuring an incredibly catchy inspirational anthem from the now ubiquitous composers Pasek and Paul. And indeed the movie, once seen, continued to defy logic. Nothing about The Greatest Showman really makes all that much sense. Its relationship with the true story of P.T. Barnum is, shall we say, "loose." The songs feature insipid lyrics about dreams and stars. At one point Jackman rides to his daughter's recital on an elephant. And still there's something captivating about it. It's a trip, a fever dream into an invented past, best consumed in bite-size pieces. Catch it on cable and watch a number or two here or there -- you won't be able to get "This Is Me" out of your head.
You know how movies get hacking utterly wrong and Hollywood thinks all hackers wear black hoodies and sunglasses and are generally sexy-dangerous Lisbeth Salander types which leads to stuff like one of the best Onion headlines of all time? Well, blame all that on Hackers (and partly also on The Matrix), the 1995 crime caper starring Johnny Lee Miller and Angelina Jolie as hot high school computer hackers who take down a giant evil corporation using a few keystrokes and a lot of one-liners. It was made right at the birth of the World Wide Web, back when the internet was something new and beautiful and unknown and not, you know, a hive of scum and villainy and Russian fake news bots. HACK THE PLANEEEEET!!!
20th Century Fox/UTV Motion Pictures
The Happening (2008)
Don't trust the plants! That's the big takeaway from this simultaneously ponderous and fascinating ecological thriller from director M. Night Shyamalan, who struggles to make an intriguing apocalyptic premise about a science teacher (Mark Wahlberg) on the run from the wind into a non-ridiculous suspense tale. From its surprisingly grisly kill scenes packed with human self-mutilation -- this was Shyamalan's first R-rated movie -- to its less bloody sequences of innocent bystanders squinting at foliage in terror, The Happening vibrates on its own bizarre frequency. It's all held together by bafflingly sincere star turn from Wahlberg, an actor capable of turning seemingly simple lines like "What?" and "I'm talking to a plastic plant!" into synapse-busting outsider art.
Columbia Pictures/Universal Pictures
The Holiday (2006)
A movie about two women (Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet) who live across the world but decide to swap their equally gorgeous homes over Christmas -- and happen to find love while on vacation? Yeah, The Holiday could not be more indulgent, and yet because it leans into its too-good-to-be-true premise, the Nancy Meyers-helmed film (not the last on this list) is a gift wrapped up with a bow. Not only is there every stereotypical rom-com element you could wish for -- including Jude Law as a hot, sensitive dad -- there’s also a whole lot of house porn in Winslet’s character’s quaint English cottage opposite the contemporary L.A. mansion Diaz’s uptight Hollywood exec resides in. Your Airbnb experience may have looked a tad different than the photos and didn’t come with a whirlwind romance, but you can watch the extravagance of The Holiday and dream it did.
Open Road Films
Home Again (2017)
Home Again, from director Hallie Meyers-Shyer -- daughter of kitchen-porn auteur Nancy Meyers -- doesn't really hold a candle to her mom's best work, like Something's Gotta Give or The Parent Trap. But it's still a strange confection that operates on a very silly foundation. The basic plot: Reese Witherspoon is a desperate separated mom who meets three nice aspiring filmmakers while getting wasted on her birthday. They come home with her, she gets frisky with one of them, and then they end up just... staying on an invite from Reese's mother, played by Candice Bergen. It's a glossy quasi-rom-com that keeps reminding you how thoroughly strange its premise is.
The "memorable quotes" section of this movie's iMDB is a vault filled with vulgar, beautiful diamonds of screenwriting chutzpah. The movie's writer, Basic Instinct and Showgirls legend Joe Eszterhas, has an ear for lines like "Cristal, Baluga, Wolfgang Puck... it's a fuckhouse," and "I do the fucking, I never get fucked!" It helps that a steely David Caruso, fresh from his star-making performance on NYPD Blue, is the one delivering many of these zingers. Where many of the erotic thrillers of the '80s and '90s are genuinely really good and don't deserve to be tarnished with the "good-bad" label, Jade is both goofy and self-serious enough to earn its place on this list. If you can explain what actually happens in the movie's tangled web of a plot, please send us an email.
20th Century Fox
Jingle All the Way (1996)
Ah, what could be more fun than watching an Austrian bodybuilder cave to the crass demands of American consumerism? Nothing, we say! Arnold Schwarzenegger, in one of his three appearances on this list, is a bad dad who can and WILL make his son happy by getting him the in-demand Turbo-Man doll as a Christmas present. Remember when people started stampedes for Tickle Me Elmos and crazy shit like that? Well, picture that, but with Arnold, Sinbad, and a tone that tries to make the objectively depressing demands of capitalism vis-a-vis family life seem like a fun holiday jaunt that also somehow involves bomb threats. Jingle All the Way still gets screened around the holidays, and it's difficult not to see the appeal of the strangely charismatic rivalry between Sinbad and Arnold. It wants to be a heartwarming movie, but decidedly isn't, which ironically is what makes it so fun to watch.
Walt Disney Pictures
John Carter (2012)
Look, a property based on the work of Edgar Rice Burroughs (the writer who created the original alpha dude, Tarzan) about a human nobody who becomes king of Mars and has all the Martian ladies falling at his feet because he can jump really high is not something one would have expected to become a promising new Disney property in the year 2012. Still, one of the reasons it bombed as hard as it did was because the studio just had no idea how to market it to a general audience, and it's been long enough that the tide has begun to turn in its favor. John Carter is a truly fun and wild stand-alone science-fiction movie — an increasingly rare subgenre in the age of the Marvel Cinematic Universe that includes larks like The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Jupiter Ascending, and a handful of others that revel in their own absurdity and don't skimp on the budget necessary to bring their CGI worlds to life.
Jupiter Ascending (2015)
Jupiter Ascending is one of those "bad" movies that might genuinely be quite good. Yes, Channing Tatum is a man-wolf and Mila Kunis is the princess of space and bees don't sting space royalty and Eddie Redmayne hollers his little head off about "harvesting" people -- but what makes this movie great is how all of those things make total, absolute sense in the context of the story. The world the Wachowskis (yes, the Wachowskis!) created is so vibrant and strange and exciting, you almost can't help but get drawn in, even when Redmayne vamps so hard you're afraid he's about to pull a muscle. (And if you're a ballet fan, we have some good news for you.)
"Everything is possible... when you open your mind." The film's tagline applies to this list, where, through the alchemy of the internet, shit movies turn into pure gold. Limitless is the kind of movie that's dreamed up by 14-year-olds who took Adderall and got high after encountering Freudian philosophy for the first time: What if there were a pill that allowed you to use your brain's full potential, man?! Bradley Cooper's character takes a nootropic drug that makes him better at everything, including having sex and writing a book, but obviously he decides to use his talents to make huge bucks on the stock market and become a major political figure. There's a financial tycoon named "Carl Van Loon" (Robert De Niro) in this movie, and there's a scene where multiple Bradley Coopers clean his disgusting apartment. Throughout his transformation, Cooper's voiceover helpfully tells you some of the benefits of this wonderdrug, like becoming fluent in a language after half-listening to it, finishing a book in four days, and becoming a senator. It's hilariously bad filmmaking at it's finest: Open your mind to its possibilities.
Mamma Mia! -- the first one -- is so beloved it warranted a (better) sequel. But is Mamma Mia! a good movie? Certainly not. That doesn't mean it's not a goofy masterpiece, filled with Meryl Streep doing the most overacting this side of The Iron Lady, and Pierce Brosnan not even really trying to sing. Watching Mamma Mia! is like entering an ABBA-induced trance, where hunky men with six-packs parade in flippers and "Dancing Queen" is on loop. The vocals leave something to be desired, the plot is thin, but it's joy incarnate.
Meet Joe Black (1998)
Yep, that gif happens right at the beginning of Meet Joe Black, and the ensuing three hours are a cackle-inducing hodgepodge of pseudo-religious contemplation, a fantasy love story between the human representation of Death and a mortal, and Brad Pitt trying to speak patois. It's insane that anyone thought this movie was a good idea, and a two-hour version exists that was created by editing out most of the business scenes related to Bill Parrish's (Anthony Hopkins) media empire, so you know you're not getting an edge-of-your seat thriller when you fire up Meet Joe Black. Instead, it's a late-'90s curio with rule-breaking and bizarre performances from A-list celebrities, which you just don't find all that much anymore.
National Treasure (2004)
Nic Cage is at his best as historical cryptographer (and borderline conspiracy theorist) Benjamin Franklin Gates in National Treasure's clue-filled jaunt to save the Declaration of Independence from his rival Ian Howe (played by a bleach-blond Sean Bean) by... preemptively stealing it first. What follows is an insane exposition of convenient coincidences, upper-hand tradeoffs, a showdown with the FBI that ends with a firm handshake, and a romance built on a mutual love of America's historical documents. Which is all to day, sheer implausibility. But nearly 15 years on, the first National Treasure movie is a perfect satire of the goofy word salad used in modern American exceptionalism. Between Nic Cage delivering the iconic line "I'm gonna steal the Declaration of Independence" in a wide-lapel button down, Nic Cage crying standing in the room where the Declaration of Independence was signed, and Nic Cage cracking codes using techniques -- like dumping lemon juice on priceless documents or peering through an Aquafina water bottle to unmask the secrets on the back of a hundred dollar bill -- stored in his huge genius brain, it's hard to choose a favorite scene from this perpetually dumb-fun movie.
The Net (1995)
Released in those dizzying early years as millions, induced by ubiquitous AOL mailer CDs, were "logging on" for the first time via regular phone lines and brain-numbingly slow modems to experience the wonders of the internet, which people actually referred to as "the Net," as in "I'll be down in a minute, Mom! I'm surfing the Net! Jeez!" (when they weren't calling it the information superhighway, the World Wide Web, or cyberspace, that is), The Net was one of the first movies to sound the alarm about online identity theft. The tech-paranoia yarn pits perpetually panicked computer analyst Angela Barrett (a young Sandra Bullock) against unknown individuals hellbent on destroying her life after she inadvertently stumbles upon classified information and is forced to run around yelling things like "I don't get it -- why me?" At a particularly low point in her mad dash to get her identity back so that she can return to her happy hacker existence of ordering pizzas off the Net, she sums up why we all still need to be taking this movie's delightfully implausible premise very seriously when she memorably states, "They've done it to me, they're going to do it to you." Prescient.
Warner Bros./The Cannon Group, Inc.
Over the Top (1987)
It was hard to narrow down the "best" Sylvester Stallone movies to go on this list. (Shout out to Cobra, Tango & Cash, and Staying Alive.) The hulking '80s action icon is beloved by movie fans for his portrayals of Rocky and Rambo, two characters he helped create in his role as a screenwriter, but this arm-wrestling drama, on which he also has a writing credit, introduces us to Lincoln Hawk, one of his less-beloved-but-still-notable studies in masculinity. Over a score from electronic music pioneer Giorgio Moroder (and a stupefying theme song by Kenny Loggins), Hawk bonds with his estranged son and competes in the World Armwrestling Championship. It's not even that a movie about competitive arm-wrestling is a bad idea -- any subculture or niche sport can be mined for fun details and stories -- but the treatment of the subject is so melodramatic, so emotionally steroidal, that each frame glistens with baby oil. The title works as an apt descriptor of the whole experience.
Party Monster (2003)
A biopic about legendary "Club Kid" Michael Alig, who along with his roommate Freeze Riggs killed another person in their circle over an unpaid drug debt, has the potential to become a perverse hagiography of a murderer. But the bizarre gonzo performances of Macauley Culkin -- in his first role since Richie Rich! -- as Alig and Seth Green as promoter James St. James, along with the direction of World of Wonder co-founders Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato make this film part art-piece, part cultural documentary, and 100% oddly addictive viewing experience that you won't be able to stop thinking about for weeks after watching it. At the very least, you'll learn how to be fabulous (and how not to deliver lines if you want to be a convincing actor).
Rambo 3 (1988)
On the nonexistent list of movies that look the most historically misguided in retrospect, Rambo 3 would surely be near the top. Set in Cold War Afghanistan, where the Soviets were engaged in their version of Vietnam against local guerrilla fighters called the mujahideen, John Rambo steps in to ride horses and dispense good old-fashioned AMERICAN JUSTICE to the COMMIE SOVIETS. In addition to all the rah-rah patriotism (a departure from the franchise's origins), the over-the-top action sequences, and the stereotypical portrayals of just about everyone, the movie ends with a dedication to the "brave mujahideen fighters of Afghanistan" -- later changed to "the gallant people of Afghanistan" because, you know, the Taliban eventually came out of the chaos and instability sown by the mujahideen, the Soviets, and, of course, the Americans who recklessly intervened. Like Rambo.
MGM/UA Communications Co.
Road House (1989)
Why does Patrick Swayze's James Dalton, the highly trained professional "cooler" who works as a spiritually enlightened bouncer at a roughneck Missouri bar, also have a philosophy degree from NYU? It's best not to ask questions like that when watching a movie like Road House, an example of how genuinely unhinged and exhilaratingly cheesy '80s filmmaking could be. In his two-and-a-half star review of the movie, film critic Roger Ebert argued, "Road House exists right on the edge between the 'good-bad movie' and the merely bad." Obviously, we disagree: Road House is a pinnacle of "good-bad" movie craft, a film that almost feels like it's trying to top itself with each scene. It's not on the edge of anything.
The Room (2003)
It's a necessary component of any fun-bad movies list. The Room has gone far beyond cult status at this point, inspiring massive Rocky Horror Picture Show-esque screenings, quotes that have wormed their way into everyday speech, and a feature film about its making, so you probably are either a) already a fan of Tommy Wiseau's masterpiece, b) have moved on from Tommy Wiseau's masterpiece, or c) don't care about it and are looking for other fun-bad movies. Move right along.
TriStar Pictures/J&M Entertainment
The Running Man (1987)
How often do you get to see not one, but TWO future governors square off in a dystopian future universe (the year 2019, oh my!) that sounds a lot like The Hunger Games, but came decades before The Hunger Games? Just once! Yes, you can catch former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and former Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura in Predator and, uh, Batman & Robin, but only in The Running Man do they (apparently) battle to the death. Skintight costumes and a reality-show premise -- those sentenced to death have to try to make it through an execution gauntlet, all broadcast to television audiences -- make The Running Man not just a prescient commentary on the unreality of television production, but also an important political document. Maybe one day in the not-too-distant future, school kids will have to watch The Running Man as a primer on how to understand the American political system in all its good-bad glory.
Season of the Witch (2011)
Nic Cage and Ron Perlman dress up and traipse across medieval Europe while they transport a supposed witch to an abbey. Repeat: Nic Cage and Ron Perlman dressed up and traipsing! Across medieval Europe! Cage's other witch-based work, the Wicker Man remake, has rightfully earned its reputation as Nic Cage's most batshit performance, but the bad CGI and stilted dialogue of the chemistry-free buddy road trip duo of Cage and Perlman make Season of the Witch one of those movies you turn on and thoroughly enjoy late at night when you might be less than sober. Also, that is a young Claire Foy as the titular witch, whose season it definitely is!
Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 (1987)
"Garbage day!" With those two words, delivered with an unnerving glassy-eyed stare, Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 entered into internet history. You won't find many good-bad horror movies on this list because, in general, we found that horror is a tricky category when it comes to highly debatable matters of taste like this. Most of the good ones are just plain good, and the bad ones are boring or unpleasant. (Too many of the "good-bad" aspiring horror movies, particularly in the Christmas horror genre, are undone by their own winking irony.) Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2, which features lengthy flashbacks of scenes from the previous movie to pad out the run time, is ridiculous enough to be enjoyed as camp and strange enough to (almost) work as horror.
Before Noah Centineo was a Netflix heartthrob thanks to To All the Boys I've Loved Before, he was in a Netflix dud that is nonetheless a fascinating curio. Is SPF-18 a tongue-in-cheek art project? An attempt at genuine throwback romance? And why is Keanu Reeves playing himself? Is that Pamela Anderson? And is Goldie Hawn narrating? So many questions, and so few answers. What we do know is that SPF-18 was made by artist Alex Israel, who, according to Art News, "considers the film fully part of his artistic practice, and that elements from it have also figured in gallery shows." OK! The basic plot centers on a girl (Carson Meyer) who wants to lose her virginity and ends up with a bunch of her friends crashing at Keanu's place over the summer. And it's all performed with a flat delivery that makes it unclear whether the actors are in on the joke.
Spider-Man 3 (2007)
The vault of Spider-Man is stuffed with movies of varying quality (R.I.P. Stan Lee), but only one perfectly hits the so-bad-it's-good mark. Inexplicably nearly two-and-a-half hours long, Spider-Man 3 clumsily steers Tobey Maguire's self-congratulatory Peter Parker down an atrociously obvious developmental path and a multitude of loosely connected plot points while fending off, like, 15 different villains (OK, three) straight into the dumbest ending possible, where everyone's learned some Very Important Lessons about life and accountability and... stuff. The biggest draw of this tedious clockwatcher of a movie, however, is off-brand Venom, from Peter's toxic relationship with the symbiote from outer space -- you can tell he's a Bad Boy because of his greasy emo hair -- to Topher Grace as Eddie Brock turning into a spiny-toothed spider-rival. The pinnacle of dark influence comes about halfway through the movie, when Bad Peter interrupts Mary Jane's lounge singing debut with his own insane and stilted dance routine. There's so much more to talk about here -- James Franco's bad acting as amnestic Harry Osborn, the entire thing with J.K. Simmons and the newspaper, the short arc of the Sandman -- and in terms of overstuffed superhero sequels, of which there's no shortage, Spider-Man 3 is hardly unique, but it is a lunatic's crappy fever dream.
Sucker Punch (2011)
The main thing you need to know about Sucker Punch is that its director firmly, tragically believes it's a feminist movie. What about a bunch of girls dressing up in skimpy outfits to fight giant video game final bosses while psychically escaping their weird dance brothel orphanage prison isn't feminist?! The battle scenes in this movie are actually pretty solid -- as with most Zack Snyder properties, they're at their best when they're purely wordless action. Also there are steampunk Nazi zombies and giant samurai and battle robots and orcs and a dragon and Oscar Isaac in a dinner jacket and a pencil-thin 'stache and weird Jefferson Airplane covers. Actually, this movie isn't fun-bad; it's good.
St. Elmo's Fire (1985)
The cinematic oeuvre of the Brat Pack, the loosely defined group of actors from the '80s who starred in a handful of coming-of-age stories, is speckled with some good movies and some really crappy ones. But none of them are as enjoyably loathsome as St. Elmo's Fire, a melodrama about a group of recent Georgetown graduates grappling with adulthood by acting like complete assholes. Rob Lowe's Billy, Emilio Estevez's Kirby, Ally Sheedy's Leslie, and Demi Moore's Jules all flail about for two hours, drinking and hooking up and crying and playing the saxophone for some reason. Director Joel Schumacher is best known in some circles for directing Batman & Robin, the widely derided superhero movie, but St. Elmo's Fire is both zanier and more entertaining than that pun-filled misfire. Watch it now before some enterprising producer inevitably turns it into an endless, well-reviewed Netflix series.
Phase 4 Films
A Talking Cat!?! (2013)
Most of the movies on this list are competent products that don't accomplish what they set out to do, but succeed on a different aesthetic level. Most Hollywood misfires from major studios have a degree of moneyed gloss and professional coherence to them. In that respect, A Talking Cat!?! is not like most of the movies on this list. Schlock director David DeCoteau pads the movie out with long shots of vehicles slowly moving down winding roads and bits of amateur-looking nature photography. The actual feline that plays the cat of the title, which is voiced by Eric Roberts, can be seen chasing food pellets and following a laser pointer at various points in the film; the actors, led by former child star Johnny Whitaker, all feel like they're in different movies; the plot, which follows two single-parent families brought together by a magical (and cranky) cat, makes no sense. And yet: A Talking Cat!?! Is immensely rewatchable, the only good-bad movie to really approach the same surreal register and tortured psychic territory of The Room. Join the cult now.
Like so many artists on this list, Jean-Claude Van Damme has made more than a few fun-bad movies, so picking a single representative proved difficult. Bloodsport has become an important part of the action-hero canon, Kickboxer has a little too much cultural cache, and Street Fighter feels too much like a soulless IP grab to be included. But Timecop, with JCVD starring as a (surprise!) time-traveling cop, features more than an implausible plot: It's essentially impossible to succinctly summarize what happens, but you do get to witness a time-traveling criminal attempt to jump to his death in 1929, get hauled into court mid-jump, only to be sentenced to death that requires him to return to midair in 1929 to complete his fall. Time travel is a tricky subject to handle intelligently, so JCVD just roundhouse kicks relativity in the face and throws all logic out the window as he fights crime in different eras and tries to untangle one of the more confusing plots featured on this list. It tries to be high concept, but trips over itself too often to succeed. Oh, and of course there are the splits.
Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2 (2012)
You could theoretically watch the entirety of Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2 online just by searching YouTube for clips of the weirdest moments -- because the whole movie is just a collection of weird moments. Every single scene is so strange, and the humor and emotion so stilted, it's as if it was directed by a crew of aliens who only know an approximation of what human dialogue should sound like. This movie has everything: Fast-motion vampire running, a CGI baby, Michael Sheen maniacally giggling, a weird sex scene that's just close-ups of Kristen Stewart's face. It's somewhat incredible anyone made this insanely bad book into a movie, but by god they did, and doubled down on all the most outrageous parts while they were at it.
On the surface, Virtuosity's plot is a stroke of genius: In the future, a virtual amalgamation of a ton of serial killers from throughout history that cops use as a training program builds himself a physical body and goes on a murderous rampage. The former police officer who tracks him down does so because one of the killers who makes up the program's brain is conveniently the same one who murdered his wife and child. Weird overacting on the part of Russell Crowe and a rudimentary '90s understanding of how the virtual world works makes this more of a good-bad movie than a good one, but sometimes you just have to sit down with your buddies and tune in to Death TV.
Ridiculously over budget, cursed by both avoidable and unavoidable delays, and plagued by reports of ego clashes that caused credited director Kevin Reynolds to depart during production and script-doctor Joss Whedon to hurl some verbal tridents at Kevin Costner in hindsight, Waterworld laid a stinking, futuristic egg at the domestic box office and was laughed out of theaters before anyone could notice that it's Hollywood's greatest post-apocalyptic water-based action movie featuring eyeball-popping humor. But lest you think this movie is merely about a mutant merman doing battle with murderous jet-ski-riding sea pirates, you'll eventually learn that it's a movie about a mutant merman doing battle with murderous jet-ski-riding sea pirates that also has a important message. And that important message is: Take care of our planet, everybody, or you and your descendants will end up living on a man-made atoll in a godforsaken patriarchal society, subjected to frequent attacks by marauding water-skiers, and drinking your own filtered urine.
What Women Want (2000)
A movie so problematic it would likely explode Twitter into a violent shrapnel of weaponized hyper-woke threads, What Women Want feels like it was made in 1955, not 2000 -- though 1955 is probably the year Mel Gibson would have preferred to spend the prime of his life. Gibson plays a chauvinist advertising executive who's magically gifted with the ability to read women's minds, which makes him realize that he's been treating them badly his entire life. He did not, apparently, go full Method for this role, as his actions in life have made abundantly clear, and the plot of this Nancy Meyers-helmed movie leaves you with the impression that Gibson maybe actually believes he now knows what women want. The film may not be enjoyable for those who don't find it perversely hilarious to see Hollywood's gross exploitation of lowest-common-denominator humor -- the scene where Mel Gibson pretends to be gay to assuage Marisa Tomei's insecurities is particularly cringe-worthy -- but it is a fascinating cultural artifact that has retained enough relevance that it's getting remade from a woman's perspective in 2019. Yikes!
White House Down (2013)
Think back to 2013. What a time that was, when we had not one, but two films about a badass dude defending the President while the White House is under the attack. If you're spending a lazy day on the couch in 2018, may we suggest tapping into the version of that movie starring Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx: White House Down. Roland Emmerich unfailingly specializes in the shit-blowing-up genre -- hell, he's even caused destruction to the President's residence before -- and this is no exception. But the best thing about it is the intensely charismatic cast, including Tatum, Foxx, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Richard Jenkins, and Westworld weirdo Jimmi Simpson.
xXx: Return of Xander Cage (2017)
The xXx movies are the kind of bad-fun movie that are so fun to watch: Dumb, incomprehensible action flicks with lots of hot people and explosions and people riding vehicles the wrong way. These kinds of movies have no illusions about being in any way good. If you've seen the trailer for xXx: Return of Xander Cage -- the third entry into the series, which welcomes Vin Diesel back to one of the franchises that made him famous -- you know that, at one point, the titular thrill seeker rides a pair of skis -- regular skis! -- through the jungle, and THEN converts a motorcycle into a jetski and surfs with it. If you haven't seen the trailer, watch it, and then watch the whole movie. You'll thank us later.
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