SIMPLE CRITERIA FOR A GOOD/BAD MOVIE

We don’t like to get hung up on rules, but it seems that there are a few that must be adhered to for any film which aspires to the true shelf life of a good/bad movie. In no particular order, here they are.

1. Must Take Itself Seriously – This might be the most important cornerstone of the good/bad genre. This tenet is most apparent in films that try to have comic relief but make their bones on drama and action. The result is usually that the comic relief isn’t half as funny as the drama or action. For this to come off, everyone involved has to believe, at some point, they are channeling great dramatic films and performances. That’s when the bad acting and overly-literate prose take on a comedic life of their own.

2. Should Have At Least One A-Lister – Simply put, it all goes over much better with someone riding a couple of hits. It sells the idea and heightens interest… so that when it turns out to be funny and not Oscar worthy, the industry has someone to blame. Think of Dirty Harry Number 4, “Sudden Impact.” (Never to be confused with an Oscar effort.) This movie depicted rape, used external violence that meant nothing to the plot, had women shooting men in the balls, and, to top it all off, showcased a farting English Bulldog. On paper, it sounds like something out of Monty Python, but this was a stoic attempt by Eastwood to keep Harry Callahan relevant. (67 million domestically, so who are we to argue?) Still, the dialogue is atrocious and barely two-dimensional. A solid achievement in Good/Bad Cinema.

3. Bad Guys Must Be Laughable… Never Scary – When conjuring up memorable villains, our thoughts drift to Alan Rickman’s Hans Gruber, in “Die Hard,” or even someone like Orson Welles’ Harry Lime, in “The Third Man.” These guys were not the leads, but in many ways, eclipsed the performances of their leading men. They were charming, ruthless, vile, and completely appealing. We know this point will be argued, but the baddies in our kind of movies are best served as buffoons. Screaming too much, slapping women and children, putting out cigarettes on small animals (these guys always seem to smoke). Perhaps the most important aspect to a good/bad movie villain is his or her ability to chew scenery and lines of script like a mountain goat.

This of course, is simply a starting point for what will become further discussion. There is so much material to mine, we’re sure all of our lists will continue to grow.