august MOVIE MEME, day 7: movie I’m ashamed to love
We’re moving on from repeatedly watching movies over and over, past and present. Now for the movies that you watch in secret for fear of reprisal. These are the ones that you saw with a group of people and you were the only one who didn’t say anything… because while everyone else harped on it, you were plotting your trip back to the theater to see it again. Here are my guiltiest of guilties…
Heartbreakers (2001, dir. David Mirkin)
The premise: It follows the conning lifestyle of a mother-daughter duo who woo rich older men out of their money before they croak. Or trick them into cheating to rack up the alimony. It stars Sigourney Weaver as the mother hen, Jennifer Love Hewitt as the head-strong daughter, and Gene Hackman as their latest target.
Shame factor: The movie was relatively ill-received (the Wall Street Journal called it “nasty” and “clumsy”), and is it really ever in vogue to admit you enjoyed a movie starring “Love?” It really is a pretty repulsive premise, but, then again, aren’t most physical comedies pretty “nasty” at their cores?
But…: Sigourney does incredible things with comedic roles, and it’s not noticed enough. From the moment she started singing “Back in the USSR” in a put-on, hookerish Russian accent, I was sold. For how cheap the plotline seems, there are definitely a lot of laughs. And did I mention Anne Bancroft is in it in her last on-screen film role? That’s got to count for something.
Cutthroat Island (1995, dir. Renny Harlin)
The premise: A female pirate (Geena Davis) goes after her father’s legacy – a treasure that her dastardly uncle (Frank Langella) want for himself. Along with the company of a sneaky con-man (Matthew Modine), the ship captain comandeers a crew to Cutthroat Island to beat her family, and an armada of British ships, to the punch.
Shame factor: Well-known as one of the biggest flops of all time (I believe it was number-one for a while after its release… or at least very close to Waterworld), it made just over $2 million opening weekend for a grant total of 10 by the end of its run. And one look will tell you it wasn’t exactly cheap to produce. Entertainment Weekly called it exhaustingly frantic and worth about $3.
But…: Sure, the acting definitely left something to be desired, and it was never quite clear to me what sort of accents the characters were supposed to be harboring, but dammit if it wasn’t terribly fun. Nearly a decade before Pirates of the Caribbean made it cool to be a swashbuckling movie again, I don’t think this one got a fair shake. The plot was pretty convoluted, and it was certainly loud, but I’m a sucker for a whirlwind adventure.
Speed 2: Cruise Control (1997, dir. Jan de Bont)
The premise: Annie is back. Sandra Bullock returns for a second bout with high-octane excitement. This time with her cop boyfriend in tow (Jason Patric), Annie goes on an ill-fated romantic vacay in which the luxury cruise liner they’ve boarded has been hijacked by a crazed disgruntled employee (Willem Defoe) bent on destruction.
Shame factor: Oh, let me count the ways… the movie was a giant box office flop, was completely derailed by the critics, and basically epitomizes the reason film snobs have hated Bullock for so many years. It doesn’t help that Defoe’s performance is so unhinged it’s hilarious (particularly his obsession with his “friends,” the leeches he keeps in his bathtub) and that the slow-moving cruise ship doesn’t exactly compare to the speeding bus.
But…: I’m a major sucker for anything Sandra. Yes, it was a bizarre choice of setting, but I think it was unfairly compared to 1997’s other big ship movie. Bullock is charming as ever, and the movie is entertaining enough for me to revisit multiple times. And Defoe, though utterly demented, was born for roles like these. Yes, Patric was a bit dry, but what exactly was Keanu Reeves – Humphrey Bogart? The real star for me is Annie… she’s a bumbling everywoman who can ground even this outrageous plot.