Darkness. Disgust. Dyspepsia. And we’re only 10 minutes into Pokémon.
I’m trapped in Movies 8, feet stuck to the floor, watching. My three kids giggle. I groan. Next door, my wife, Karin, and our oldest daughter are watching Bruce Willis actually die in a movie. But I drew the short straw. So, here I sit, with a bucket of butter and a gawd-awful film.
My head hurts.
Then it hits me. This movie is so bad that it’s rotting my forebrain. It must be. I stare at the screen and bizarre, brightly-colored amine creatures flit about. Looking away, I spy another zombified adult. I’ve seen that face in Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
Much, much later, I rejoin my wife in the lobby. “So, Hon,” I growl. “WHAT’S THE WORST MOVIE YOU’VE EVER SEEN?” I give her a subtle glare.
“Worse than The Three Stooges?” She asks.
“Next to Pokémon, the Stooges are Masterpiece Theater.” I feel a spasm of pain. “At the end, the characters’ memories were erased.” I rub my temples. ”Lucky Pikachu.”
Karin gives me a you-took-one-for-the-team hug, smiles, and tries to change the subject. “Did the kids like it?”
“The kids like Cap’n Crunch and Barney.” My eye quit twitching. “That THING wasn’t a movie. It was a feature-length video game ad.”
“It was THE WORST MOVIE I’VE EVER SEEN.”
Karin was sympathetic, and eventually my brain began to work again. I was able to walk and ingest solids after just a few days.
Yet I was wrong about Pokémon, Pikachu, and Squirt-thing. They’re not as bad as it gets. I revised my opinion when the kids got older and I was duped into seeing The Matrix. This film put science education back two decades. If you missed it because you were doing something more worthwhile and fun, like eating lint, let me explain. This is set in a world where all the energy we need is sucked out of your recumbent body and fed into …THE MATRIX. Got that? But you don’t care because your mind is wired into virtual reality provided by… THE MATRIX. If you don’t like this arrangement, you can opt out and take a red pill. Then they escort you to the box office and give you your money back.
No. If you’re like me, you can’t move because you’re with family and spilled soda has crazy-glued your shoes. So you sit and hope to see a plot kick in or some credible acting burst forth. You’d even settle for significant theme sneaking onstage. The credits roll before any of this happens.
Yet lots of people love this movie. My son is one of them.
“Why?” I asked.
“Really, Dad? Just because it’s got really cool high-speed filming with real industrial-grade cameras. You know? For really-slow-motion.”
And so it does. Really.
I know this because he spent the entire summer at home with a DVD watching the bullets-being-dodged FRAME-BY-FRAME. The director could have saved a ton of money and not missed a beat of the plot, since there wasn’t any, if he’d just run the bullet bit as a loop for, say, three months. Now I’m old fashioned. I expect characters to be more interesting than special effects.
But I admit that technology has helped make movie going easier. Once we had to drive to the theater, hand over a fistful of cash, and risk seeing a terrible movie. Now we have DVDs, Netflix, satellite, a big-bundled-monthly-bill, and we’re guaranteed thousands of terrible films. Ah, Progress. Remember video stores? They used to have remainder bins full of these movies that went “straight to video.” But the odd thing is that someone, somewhere, with popcorn-scorched gustation, liked the film enough to spend a mondo-million bucks to make it.
Now that the kids are out and about, my wife and I are often left to make our own movie picks. This would seem to improve the odds getting something we both enjoy. Not necessarily. I’ve been told that I am not to be trusted with the remote control or the Netflix “que.” Apparently, I can be the guy with the remainder-bin taste buds.
For example, I like Ma and Pa Kettle; You Can’t Take It With You; It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad World and What’s Up Doc? I relish an evening with low-budget 1950s horror films. Finally, I can watch them without having to hide in the back of the theater, peering over a seat. Now I just hit pause and turn on all the lights. But when I look around, I find myself alone.
Karin can take just so much before she bails.
I do try to watch movies with my wife, but her taste runs more to dog flicks. We watched Marley and Me, a story about the worst dog in the world. A fun movie, I’ll admit, but mostly because it made our dogs look not all THAT bad.
Sadly, not all mutt movies are good.
The next bit of canine cinema we saw, thanks to the magic of Netflix, is now top contender for The Worst Movie Ever….
I can see why this flick put its tale between its legs and fled the theater. It has three problems. First, it’s got Richard Gere in it. Second, it DOESN’T have Julia Roberts. And third, it features one of the most dim-witted pooches to ever slobber on stage. Proof? Gere spends an hour of screen time, or 7-Gere-Years, teaching this dog to fetch. This appears to be a major accomplishment for both man and dog.
Spoiler alert. In Hachi, Gere doesn’t bed the fetching female lead. It’s not that type of movie. It might be better if it was. Once he teaches Hachi to retrieve a squeaky yellow ball, Gere gets on a train and never returns. Some may say that this improves the film. I wouldn’t know. I fell asleep. But my wife assures me that the ending was pensive. She cried, and offered to watch it again with me. I declined. Instead, I rented Where the Red Fern Grows to clear the Hachi-odor out of our house.
Karin’s quick to defend Hachi-The Dog That Waited against all attackers, especially me. She argues that The Hot Tub Time Machine is the worst. I’m in no position to disagree, since my son talked her into seeing this horrible (she says) film while I wasn’t around. My son still enjoys sleeping in our hot-tub, so the movie couldn’t be THAT bad.
Yes, there are plenty of great movies out there that both my wife and I like. The Wizard of Oz entertains and offers memorable characters. North by Northwest and The Birds continue to make us sit on the edge of our seats. We laugh and cry every time we see Steel Magnolias. And just recently, we were pleasantly surprised by Eddie Murphy in A Thousand Words.
Still, the remainder bins overflow with stinkers, and the aroma lingers.
But what IS The Worst Movie In The World? It’s hard to agree. There’s so many contenders that I think we need to break it down by category. Here’s my pick of the worst pics.
Worst children’s movie? How about Mac and Me?
Worst first-date movie? Definitely History of the World Part I.
Worst comedy? Anything with Adam Sandler.
Worst Western? ALL OF THEM. Right?
Worst Horror Film, special unintentionally-funny category? I’ll have to do more research when Karin’s not around and get back to you. It’s a tough call.
We’ve come a long way since Teenage Zombies. Despite competition from abroad, Tinsel-Town still slaps together the best horrible horror films.
If only they could make the price of popcorn less frightening.
This “Best Of” article originally appeared September 27, 2012. Robb is taking a break for a few weeks, so we’re re-posting some of our Lightfoot favorites.
Robb has enjoyed writing and performing since he was a child, and many of his earliest performances earned him a special recognition-reserved seating in the principal’s office at Highland Elementary. Since then, in addition to his weekly column on A News Cafe – “Or So it Seems™” – Robb has written news and features for The Bakersfield Californian, appeared on stage as an opening stand-up act in Reno, and his writing has been published in the Funny Times. His short stories have won honorable mention national competition. His screenplay, “One Little Indian,” Was a top-ten finalist in the Writer’s Digest competition. Robb presently lives, writes and teaches in Shasta County.