In pop culture we looooove ourselves some lists – and Best/Worst Film Lists are no exception. I’m goosing the concept: which film, in a wholly subjective poll with a sample voter size of exactly ME, would be the Best “Worst Film?”
IF you had to choose. IF it was the last movie on earth. If it was the Thunderdome and two movies went in but only one could leave. Etc etc.
Parameters: The Golden Raspberry Awards since 1980 have annually “dis-” honored the Worst Film Of The Year. Here is La Liste D’Infamy from earliest to most recent, or as I’ll call it, the “talent pool.” (I don’t blame you if some of these flicks flew under your cinematic radar):
- Can’t Stop the Music
- Mommie Dearest
- The Lonely Lady
- Rambo: First Blood Part II
- Howard the Duck / Under the Cherry Moon (tie)
- Leonard: Part VI
- Star Trek V: The One What Shatner Directed
- The Adventures of Ford Fairlane / Ghosts Can’t Do It (tie)
- Hudson Hawk
- Shining Through
- Indecent Proposal
- Color of Night
- The Postman
- An Alan Smithee Film: Burn, Hollywood, Burn!
- Wild Wild West
- Battlefield Earth
- Freddy Got Fingered
- Swept Away
- Sylvester Stallone, Bo Derek, and Gina Gershon have each starred in two of these films.
- Joe Eszterhas is the screenwriter responsible for two of them.
- Bruce Willis & Demi Moore have each starred in two – for a total of four – while they were still married. Coincidence? (At least they didn’t make the fatal mistake of starring in a movie together, like Bennifer Version 1.0 did with Gigli).
- John Derek has written and directed two of these films – the very same two that his wife at the time (Bo Derek) starred in. Coincidence?
According to the Internet Movie Database, the movie from this list with the LOWEST aggregate member rating (on a scale of 1-10) based on total votes is Gigli, with a rating average of 2.3.
So the worst “Worst Movie Ever” is Gigli.
Which I saw in the freaking theater.
Paying full price.
I can NEVER get my one-hundred and twenty-one minutes back. But I can take it off my list out of sheer spite.
Now I’ll ask the remaining nominees to please stand until disqualified by the following criteria:
- No sci-fi, cos’ if it’s on this list it’s Galactic Cheese (Battlefield Earth & Star Trek Shatner).
- No musicals for the same reason – and thank Zeus there wasn’t a sci-fi musical (Can’t Stop the Music, Under the Cherry Moon).
- Ditto comic book adaptations (Howard the Duck, Catwoman).
- Remove any movie with exclamation points in the title, because there’s an unwritten rule in Hollywood that these movies always, ALWAYS suck out loud (Inchon! & Burn, Hollywood, Burn!).
- Erase any and all period war dramas crippled by ham-handed direction, uber-sappy melodrama, and Melanie Griffith playing anything other than a ditzy blonde (Shining Through – though how the hell does A Stranger Among Us, where she’s a NYC police detective pretending to be a Hasidic Jew, not make this list?!)
- Take away the “adventures in ecstasy of a woman’s erotic awakening or re-awakening” (Lonely Lady, Ghosts Can’t Do It, Indecent Proposal).
- Also take away movies that actually CONTAIN “an erotic adventure” IN the subtitle of the movie (Bolero, I’m eye-rolling in your direction).
- Take away stand-up comedian “vehicles” – although calling Tom Green a comedian is a stretch, he’s just Canadian most of the time (Leonard Part 6, Ford Fairlane, Freddy Got Fingered).
- Take away movies that bleed red, white, and blue Jingoism (Rambo 2, The Postman).
- And just take Madonna (Swept Away). Please.
That whittles it down to the following:
Color of Night
Wild Wild West
And believe it or not, there’s a clear-cut winner.
Lest you think I have Bruce Willis favoritism, I’m voting
Color of Night off the island immediately. First, because I figured out the Captain Obvious ¡WHIZ-BANG PLOT TWIST! instantly. Second, because I didn’t ask to see Bruce Willis’s penis, I didn’t want to see Bruce Willis’s penis, and yet I saw Bruce Willis’s penis.
Now on to
Cocktail. Which I’m throwing down a flight of stairs & bouncing off this list for three reasons:
- Gina Gershon’s old nose.
- That evil song “Hippy Hippy Shake.” I hate the Georgia Satellites.
- That evil-er song “Kokomo.” I hate the Beach Boys even more than the Georgia Satellites.
This may be unpopular but I’m axing
Mommie Dearest next. This Joan Crawford biopic is basically a made for TV piece of schlock. But in it Faye Dunaway has made a Camp/Cult Film For The Ages, if not The Definitive Camp/Cult Film. Her performance here has contributed so indelibly to the pop culture and the pop landscape (No… more… wire… HANGERS!!!!) that it’s too easy to call this the Best Worst Film and too impossible. It transcends this list. Not that it isn’t a terrible movie, but it’s too imbued in the culture to withstand a fair evaluation as a Best Worst Movie. And besides, I don’t want to rain on the Gay Pride Parade and any appropriated iconic totems. Hudson Hawk. This movie is quite ungreat. But in the film Bruce Willis gives amazing Bruce Willis. He always gives good Bruce. He’s so adept at it. And he’s the MVP of this flick. Think of how truly bad it could have been with, say, Sylvester Stallone. Or Madonna. And in addition, I didn’t have to see his penis. But I still have to remove it from the list. Even with the Willis Factor™ it wasn’t funny as a comedy and it wasn’t exciting enough as an actioner. It tries to be both and it’s neither. I hate fence-straddlers. Fail greatly & spectacularly at one thing instead of being non-committal and mediocre at two. Wild Wild West. This movie is also quite ungreat. And it’s eerie how similar it is to Hudson Hawk. Another lumbering dunderheaded movie hoisted up by its own big-budget petard. It even has the charming Will Smith giving fantastic Bruce Willis. It’s slick and not wholly unpleasant. But like HH, it’s not funny enough as a comedy and not whiz-bang enough as an action flick. There’s no there, there. It’s missing that, I don’t know what, something French?
So, like Highlander, there can be only one. And here there is only one movie left on this list. The BEST, WORST MOVIE IS… SHOWGIRLS!!!(exclamation points added by me)
Without a doubt. No contest. The only true winner on the entire list, because this movie is unblinkingly consistent in tone throughout. The other movies go for a vibe and fail to reach it or find it or sustain it. The other movies try too hard to be serious, or funny, or futuristic, or Madonna. Or even be Showgirls. Showgirls just is.
It’s a Perfect Storm of Best Worsts: Actual showgirls. Gina Gershon with new nose. Laughs, intentional and unintentional. Sex. Wooden dialogue. Boobs. Vegas. This movie is exactly what it purports to be. It didn’t aspire to be Oscar-worthy nor set out to be anything but what it is. And it delivers such rich schlock and cheese – and delivers it beautifully – that it rises above the rest. It’s that cliché “so bad it’s kinda good.” It’s a Zen bad movie. THE Zen best worst movie. Showgirls – THE Citizen Kane of Best Worst Movies. EVER. Showgirls – kid-tested, stripper approved.
This article appeared in slightly modified form on Tiffany Leigh’s blog, Soundtrack To The Motion Picture. ED/PUB:LM