Tuesday, May 26, 2015

No shame in loving "dumb" movies

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I have to be very careful sometimes when I talk about movies I like.

When you’re in any group of “serious” movie fans, those of us who talk about awards season like people in movies talk about horse races, there are certain standards you’re expected to uphold. Anything that won a major award is usually acceptable – the Academy Awards or the Golden Globes are always safe, though you get extra points if you can get something slightly more obscure.

Even better is if the movie was nominated, but lost to something that wasn’t quite as “good” but came from a bigger studio. In general, your favorite films should be mostly dramas, though Wes Anderson’s movies (“The Grand Budapest Hotel,” “Moonrise Kingdom”) get a special exemption.
Major blockbusters may be liked under certain circumstances, but only if they’re well made. It helps if you can spin some explanation of how, for example, all the explosions are really symbolic of the destruction of modern society. (It goes without saying that you have to say all of this with a straight face).

I’ve seen many of these movies, and there were some of them I actually liked. As a former English Literature major, I can talk about the thematic significance of nearly anything, which meant that even if I didn’t like a movie I can talk about it in appropriately serious tones.

But I’m tired of hiding the fact that there’s a part of me that absolutely adores dumb movies. Though I haven’t seen the sequel, I actually liked “Paul Blart: Mall Cop.” (I actually had to physically fight the urge to go back and delete that sentence out of embarrassment, or qualify it with something like “even though I know how stupid it is.” Truthfully, I’m still fighting it, and it’s hard enough that I’ll be amazed if this entire paragraph makes it online).

I love the most ridiculous action movies, the kind that defy both common sense and the laws of physics, and want to be able to gush about my love of “Furious 7” without apologizing for how wonderfully absurdist it is. I want to be able to watch Reese Witherspoon use a terrible Texas accent (at least, I think it was a Texas accent) and fall over stuff in “Hot Pursuit” without having to pretend I wished it were something like “Wild.”

I will admit that Witherspoon was really good in “Wild,” a tough, searching movie about grief and self-identity. But do you know one thing it wasn’t? Fun. And sometimes, all I want to do when I go to a movie is switch my brain off and watch idiots crash into each other onscreen.

So if you honestly want to see a movie, go no matter how many insults movie critics or your “serious” movie friends pile on its head. Even if I’m the one lambasting the movie, feel free to ignore me if that’s what you want. If you end up deciding I was right, e-mail me and we can trash the movie together.

But if it turns out that you love it – or even like it just fine – there’s nothing wrong with that. Shout your love from the rooftops.  No matter how “dumb” the movie is, there’s absolutely no reason to be ashamed.

Yes, even if it’s “Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2.”


  1. I love 'How to Marry a Millionaire' and 'Court Jester.' I love movies that are before my time and that serve little purpose but to make people laugh and entertain.