Defending my cinematic guilty pleasures

I love movies, but I’m not perfect. Like any film buff, I like to think I enjoy only the highest quality movies. But, like everyone knows, that’s simply impossible. Every one of you has that one movie that you can’t resist watching…but maybe you can resist telling your friends you can’t resist watching it. You know what I’m talking about. These are the movies I absolutely love, but might keep hidden behind the others on my DVD shelf. These are my guiltiest pleasures. And when I’m done, I want to hear yours!

1. Step Brothers
Being easily the movie I’ve seen more than any other in my entire life, “Step Brothers” can’t help but hold a special place in my heart. I was more than defiant about seeing this when it came out in 2008, seeing it as the typical comedy for immature high-schoolers. But once I graduated high school, I saw it. And I fell in love. And now, I can practically quote the whole thing. Sure, it’s inappropriate and immature. Sure, the story leaves something to be desired. But how can you not see Will Ferrel and John C. Reilly acting as 40-year-old man-children and not laugh? How can they not laugh? It’s ridiculous (“The house was built in 1874 by General Custer”) and absurd (“I’m not gonna call him ‘dad’…not ever! Even if there’s a fire!”) and I love it! The lines are unmatched, and the delivery is spot-on. And a lot of the quotes are applicable for everyday life! The supporting cast is just as funny…and even if they weren’t, their two leads could cover their asses. I guess it’s just the nature of the guilty pleasure…you can’t just explain exactly why you love it.

2. Mamma Mia!

My, my, how can I resist ya? The irresistible Meryl Streep, my favorite 007 Pierce Brosnan (sorry, I was a ’90s kid), and the most charming British actor of our time, Colin Firth…all together, all at a delightful (if stereotypical) Greek getaway, all singing over a dozen ABBA songs (on a side note, ABBA is my #1 guilty pleasure in music, too). Pierce Brosnan belting out “S.O.S.” might be one of the worst renditions of any song in history…but it might also be one of the most fun to watch. Every song in the movie is an earworm, so it’s so easy to sing along! Unlike the newest “Les Miserables,” these stars don’t take the chance singing live in front of camera. They like the help of a little auto-tune. But still, Meryl Streep singing “The Winner Takes it All” is beyond impressive, auto-tune or no. And the story is heartfelt and charming, the atmosphere is distinctly and genuinely Mediterranean, and during the credits the principal actors sing in sequined, purple and pink, ABBA-esque full-body outfits. “Mamma Mia!” knows it’s ridiculous, but it doesn’t mind being flamboyant about it.

3. The Love Guru

Rated 3.8/10 on IMDb…nominated for 7 Razzies and winner of Worst Screenplay, Worst Actor (Michael Myers), and Worst Picture of 2008…”The Love Guru” was not quite a widespread success, to be sure. But for me, it was an absolute gas! Michael Myers is hilarious as America’s second favorite love guru. He greets everyone with the Hindi-sounding “Mariska Hargitay.” He makes jokes about helping your uncle Jack off an elephant. He makes clever anagrams out of popular words. Sir Ben Kingsley, years after earning an Oscar for his role in “Gandhi,” plays Myers’ cross-eyed guru. He’s absolutely hysterical for having such a renowned career in drama! I would watch a “Love Guru” prequel that focused solely on Kingsley’s character. Jessica Alba, avoiding the challenges associated with playing someone of Indian descent, isn’t good at all but even she can’t ruin this fun. Singing “More Than Words,” Myers and Manu Narayan are very impressive (if completely auto-tuned). Afterward, Extreme’s ’80s rock ballad made it on my iPod. It’s quirky and clever, and it’s always easier to be funny when, even when you don’t have anything particularly funny to say, you can rely on a good accent to make what you are saying a little funnier.

4. Driving Miss Daisy

This one isn’t quite as bad. With the help of Morgan Freeman and Dan Akroyd, “Driving Miss Daisy” took home 4 Academy Awards in 1989, including Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actress (Jessica Tandy), and Best Picture. That’s why I’m so surprised whenever I call it my favorite movie and get funny looks! From the opening credits (with that iconic score, as soft as the setting that surrounds it) to the tear-jerking final scene, “Driving Miss Daisy” knows how to play with my heart. In one word: delightful. Fun, charming, and lovable are others that can describe this powerful movie. It touches on important life issues, and Morgan Freeman is just a blast to listen to. When I need to be cheered up, the hopeful “Driving Miss Daisy” is there. And by the way, I can also enjoy “Do the Right Thing” and admit that it is an objectively better movie! It certainly has more radical change on its mind than “Driving Miss Daisy” did that same year. Maybe Best Picture should have gone to Spike Lee’s masterpiece! But “Driving Miss Daisy” is my go-to when I need a pick-me-up.

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