Book Review: Rotten Movies We Love

Rotten Movies We Love: Cult Classics, Underrated Gems, And And Films So Bad They’re Good, by the editors of Rotten Tomatoes

We must get something straight at the beginning. I am not included, for the most part, in the “we” that this movie posits. I do not love the vast majority of these movies, and more to the point, the suffocating wokeness of the authors and their celebration of movies that revel in messiness and darkness, that celebrate identity politics and other insufferable aspects of contemporary life give me more reasons to dislike these films after reading these reviews than before. For the most part, the advocacy that these movie reviewers undertake on behalf of these widely panned films only make me hate the films–and the authors of this book–more. This book completely misfires in its goals, celebrating cinema that is bad in every sense of the word, bad technically, bad in terms of the competence of its production, acting, and especially scriptwriting, and bad morally and politically. Even those few films included in here that I have seen and happen to like (and this is a small number) are hindered by their presence in this book surrounded by some truly awful howlers and some terrible commentary only makes it harder to like such movies, except when one likes elements that the authors find problematic.

This book is a bit more than 200 pages and it is divided into seven parts. After a foreword by Paul Feig and an introduction by Joel Meares, the editor-in-chief of Rotten Tomatoes, the authors of the book talk about people’s choice films (I) that critics hated, including some longer essays on Maleficent and the Greatest Showman. A smaller section includes films that the author believes are so bad they’re good, like the 1970s Lord Of the Rings, Mannequin, and Master’s Of The Universe, as well as an infographic on 1994 as the rottenest year ever, including a lot of films that I happen to like (which are, alas, not in this book). The authors then turn to their attention to films that are not the best work, supposedly, of their directors, including classics like The Wiz, A Chorus Line, Hook, and Willow. Other films are labeled as Cult Leaders, including such films as MacGruber, Valley of the Dolls, Xanadu, Empire Records, Burlesque, The Craft, and Mommie Dearest. Some films are labeled as being ahead of their time, like Jennifer’s Body, The Frisco Kid, the Cable Guy, Ishtar, and Buffy The Vampire Slayer. The authors praise sequels that are worth a second look like Die Hard: With A Vengeance, Scream 3, Return To Oz, The Fast And The Furious: Tokyo Drift, and Jurassic Park III. Other films are praised for their satisfying basic instincts to laugh, to be scared, and so on, including films like Robin Hood: Men In Tights (which I personally enjoy), , Two Thousand Maniacs, about angry unreconstructed Southerners slashing up Yankee scum (which the authors apparently appreciate), Police Academy, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, and Billy Madison, among others. After this is a glossary, acknowledgements, index, information about Rotten Tomatoes, and information about the book’s contributors.

The most frustrating part of this book is that it absolutely fails with its potential material. I am someone whose demands of movies are limited. I expect to be entertained. I enjoy genre films (except horror films, a genre this book’s authors are overly fond of). I do not expect great art and do not appreciate misguided social statements from my films, and consider many film reviewers to be snobbish souls who do not really like films all that much and whose tastes often do not reflect mine and often whose values and standards do not reflect my own. There is a lot of room for a book that celebrates the films that offer genuine enjoyment but that do not meet the approval of critics. This book misses the mark because it represents standards that are even lower than that of the film critics they attempt to skewer and critique. This is a book that is so disappointing in its approach and in its content that it makes me think better of mainstream film critics and worse of the people at the Rotten Tomatoes. I cannot imagine that was the intention of these writers.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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