I can sometimes feel embarrassed that I like some pretty low-brow movies. Stuff that is panned by critics, or seen as trashy humor, or doesn't have the coolness or cult popularity that many other films have. But I just happen to like some silly or C-level movies, and I wanted to list them and my reasons why.
The Perfect Man: Hilary Duff plays a teen girl who is sick of seeing her mom (Heather Locklear) be in bad relationships and moving her family after each split, so she invents a secret admirer for her mom, basing her ideas about love and romance from her friend's uncle, the handsome chef played by Chris Noth. She writes love letters from "Ben," makes a mix CD, sends flowers, uses her guy friend to pose as him on a phone call, etc. The problem gets to be when she knows she is setting her mom up for disappointment, and that the chef turns out to be the right guy for her, but the girl can't introduce them without revealing her ruse. It is a messed-up plotline (daughter pretends to be secret admirer to her mom), and the girl should be focused more on school and her hobbies than obsessing over her mom's love life. But I like it because the movie looks very pretty, the set decoration of Brooklyn looks great, and Heather Locklear and Hilary Duff really play very well off of each other as mother and daughter, especially in sharing a resemblance. Whenever it is on TV, I will watch it, more for the pretty look of the movie and the mother-daughter relationship.
Joe Dirt: Normally, I don't like David Spade. I don't mind if he's in a supporting role, but not if he's the lead, as his nasally voice can be irritating. But Joe Dirt I really like. It's a movie about a mulleted Southern rock-loving country guy who got lost from his family as a kid during a trip to the Grand Canyon, and he's been trying to find them ever since, while working odd jobs and living in various places. He works as a janitor at a radio station, where Dennis Miller as the DJ discovers his story and interviews him on air about it. The movie is really fun to watch for a few reasons. Joe Dirt himself is very sympathetic, has straightforward goals, and isn't a pushover, nor does he feel sorry for himself for being abandoned. He just continues through life and makes friends with a lot of unique and interesting people. The film has a great supporting cast, including Brittany Daniel, Christopher Walken, Joe Don Baker, Adam Beach, Rosanna Arquette, and Jaime Pressly, and they all fit great into their roles as country folk. Even Kid Rock appears in a couple of scenes, and he fits right in there, too, being a Southern rock country guy himself. The movie is just very enjoyable to watch, and I feel happy seeing that Joe Dirt ends up making his own family without realizing it, and being surrounded by love and support. I highly recommend it. Plus, it's got a great soundtrack of 70's Southern rock music.
Sugar & Spice: This is one of my favorite low-brow, "bad" movies ever. The basic plot is that a group of high school cheerleaders rob a bank to finance one of their pregnancies. The movie's strength comes from its cast, and adding a lot of bizarre touches to seemingly "perfect"-looking teen girls. One girl has an obsessive crush on Conan O'Brien. One has a mom in jail and lives with her weird grandmother. One is a devout Christian and acts very childlike to the point of annoyance to all. The lead cheerleader got pregnant by her quarterback star boyfriend, and they live in a small apartment where his enthusiastic but immature personality easily gets on her nerves. The humor can be very messed-up, and the girls get their ideas for the bank robbery by watching movies (Heat, Point Break, Dog Day Afternoon). The cast of this movie is made up of actresses who are often in "hot girl" parts, or seen as B-level talent, but they are a lot of fun to watch in this movie. Mena Suvari was great at being a tough bitch, Melissa George was hilarious as she keeps daydreaming about Conan, Sara Marsh was funny in a frustrating way as she acted annoyingly pious, and Rachel Blanchard was good. Marley Shelton was really great in the lead role (as she mostly has had supporting roles throughout her career). She has a very innocent, chipper-looking face, which made it even funnier as she grew more pissed off at her pregnancy, her boyfriend's childishness, and dealing with economic realities and having to be an adult at 16.
But one of my favorites of the cast, and the biggest surprise to me, was James Marsden. He was fantastic at playing the dopey, sweet, innocent boyfriend who goes through life with this hopeful optimism. I liked that while he could be misguided, he wasn't entirely dumb, and Marsden played a teenage jock so, so well. I was surprised that a guy with conventional good looks could be so good with comedy, and this was much earlier in his career. Now his comedic skills are better realized (30 Rock, Enchanted, the upcoming sequel toAnchorman), so I'm happy he's found a better place in his career than just playing a pretty guy (who often gets dumped).
The New Guy: I watched this on TV, thinking it would be a forgettable piece of crap starring the skinny nerdy guy from Road Trip. What I got was one of the best teen movies I've ever seen, and such a good subversion of teen movie cliches and expectations. The basic plot is that Dizzy Gillespie Harrison (DJ Qualls) is a huge dork at his high school who constantly gets picked on, and ends up getting arrested over a misunderstanding. He goes to jail, where he meets Luther (Eddie Griffin), who teaches him how to be a badass who nobody will mess with. When Dizzy gets out, he gets himself expelled from school, hangs out with Luther and his crew in jail, and goes to a new high school, re-made in a cool, loner image as "the new guy." The results are completely hilarious, as Dizzy becomes popular in an incidental way thanks to his new skills (and his dorky friends helping him out from afar).
What I love about this movie is how it cuts through the BS of other teen movies that focus on misunderstandings and betrayals as the main drama. When Dizzy sees his dorky friends while trying to impress a hot cheerleader (Eliza Dushku), he blows them off. Barely two scenes later, Dizzy goes to see them and apologizes, admits he was an ass, and they accept his apology and move on. No "you've changed, you're not the same person anymore" drama. And Dizzy uses his mistake to realize that the school needs unity between the cool kids and the dorks, and he brings everyone together, blending cliques, raising the school spirit, and leading the football team to win games. And as Dizzy becomes more relaxed, he drops the loner, badass image without realizing it, and is much more confident in his own skin. The movie really shines as it is about a dorky kid who learns to be confident and accept himself, and everyone genuinely likes him. Even when an old bully comes by to reveal Dizzy as a dork, the plan doesn't work. Partially because he gets foiled twice before he can do anything, but him being a dork isn't an embarrassment anymore, nor does anyone really care. It really makes me happy to watch, but I think that message got lost amidst a lot of the immature, lowbrow humor that populates the movie. Another high point is that this film has tons of cameos from a lot of musicians and actors and pop culture stars, and it is pretty fun to watch Vanilla Ice act like a bouncer in the record store he works at, Jerry and Charlie O'Connell trying to out-bro each other out, and Tony Hawk constantly being trashed on. Plus, Zooey Deschanel is in it as one of Dizzy's friends, and it's an early role of hers that she is barely recognizable in. I really recommend this movie.
I am sure I will have other favorite low-brow movies, but those are a few I will write about for now.