There are a lot of bad movies out there. A lot of them. And most of them aren’t even worth watching for the so-bad-it’s-good factor, which means a lot of wasted film reel.
That said, occasionally, in the middle of a huge pile of suck, you’ll come across a shining beacon of sheer awesome that almost makes it worth watching the rest of the movie. It doesn’t happen very often, but when it does, the experience is truly magical. In light of this, I’ve composed for you a list of some such scenes–my favorite diamonds in the rough, if you will.
1. The final battle in Drumline.
It probably comes as no surprise that Drumline was a godawful movie. Films featuring a freakishly talented kid from the streets who has to learn discipline to succeed at a new school rarely are, no matter what art they’re focused on or how many sequels get commissioned (I’m looking at you, Step Up franchise). Drumline is no exception, but it has one thing going for it:
Drumlines are freaking cool. And even Hollywood can’t ruin that.
The 6 minute battle at the end of the movie is sheer genius. I could re-watch that scene all day long, just listening to the rhythms and watching the synchronized drum sticks flying in the air, and giggling slightly at “high school students” being entirely too serious while wearing funny hats. The whole thing is brilliant. Seriously, go watch it. I’ll wait.
2. The final battle in 8 Mile
In a similar vein, the final showdown in 8 Mile was freaking crazy–but the movie was terrible. Personally, I love Eminem’s music, and I think the guy is an incredibly gifted artist, but singers need to stay the hell out of movies. He can’t act to save his life–all he does is stare blankly and occasionally furrow his eyebrows. He’s like a male version of Kristen Stewart, only instead of stuttering, he stops blinking.
But that final scene. Oh man.
Fortunately, this is yet another situation in which your experience of the final scene is in no way diminished by not having seen the rest of the movie. Eminem’s character, B-Rabbit, goes up against his movie rival Papa Doc, and effectively destroys all of his ammunition by insulting himself first. It’s a genius move, and absolutely hilarious to watch, and that’s not to mention the sheer lyrical beauty that is Eminem. In fact, considering that they summarize the rest of the thing in this sequence anyway, it’s probably better to skip the rest of the movie and just watch this. Then you can forget watching Eminem flounder on screen. And seeing his pasty ass.
3. The balcony scene in Green Lantern
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a youtube clip of this scene, so you’ll just have to take my word for it. While the rest of the movie is just regurgitated superhero crap with a smattering of Ryan Reynolds acting like a toolbag, this scene is a shining beacon of snarky glory. Since I don’t think there’s any reason for any of you to ever watch this movie (frankly, I’m a little surprised that I saw it, and I assure you it was not my decision), I’m just going to tell you what happens. Let’s set the scene.
Ryan Reynolds/Hal Jordan has just finished some daring heroics intended to impress his childhood friend and implied ex-lover, Carol Ferris (Blake Lively), and has descended onto her balcony in the dead of night under a cloud of stars. In a deep, romantic voice, he calls her out on to the balcony and begins to spout cheesy superhero shit about his life as the savior of humanity–and she starts making fun of his spandex.
“Hal,” she quips, laughing hysterically, “I’ve seen you naked. Do you really think I’m not going to recognize you because you covered your cheekbones?”
Thereby thoroughly trouncing Lois Lane, who never did figure out that whole glasses thing.
4. Will Smith’s Entire Career
Don’t get me wrong. I adore Will Smith. I think he’s hilarious and brilliant and attractive to boot. But one thing he is not is a good judge of scripts (he allegedly turned down the role of Neo in the Matrix for Wild Wild West–I don’t think this point is arguable). Through his long and illustrious career, Smith has starred in some wonderfully godawful films, all of which had their requisite moments of brilliance. Observe:
- Independence Day – While wildly entertaining, I think the utter suck of this movie is apparent even without having watched it. I mean, it’s about an alien invasion, which humans defeat with a computer virus. That’s so many levels of wrong I don’t know where to start. BUT, when Will Smith manages to bring down that alien plane, and then proceeds to sucker-punch the alien while shouting “Welcome to URF!!!” (and yes, it’s definitely urf, and not Earth), I don’t think there’s a person in the world who didn’t cheer.
- Men in Black – Okay, guys. I know this movie is our childhood and everything, but seriously, you’re going to argue it’s good? Yeah, I didn’t think so. That said, the scene where Will Smith is getting his intelligence tested is nothing short of brilliant. It manages to demonstrate both his character and the character of the entire Men in Black organization without dialogue. That is genius writing. And it’s hilarious, so there’s that, too.
- Men in Black II – I know nobody’s going to fight me on this one. But seriously, do you remember the scene in the post office? Please tell me you remember the scene in the post office. That’s all I have to say about that.
- Hancock – This movie was terrible. I don’t think anyone was surprised, honestly–despite having a brilliant premise, even the trailer managed to make it look like garbage. But the opening sequence? That was the movie Hancock should have been. If they’d just stuck with that, instead of putting in this ridiculous side-story with Jason Bateman’s wife, it might have avoided the suck pile.
- I, Robot – Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a total Asimov nut. It probably comes as no surprise, then, that I found the casting of this movie groan-worthy, since “Will Smith” is basically synonymous with “hilarious but over-the-top and ultimately frivolous action movie.” That said, the interrogation scene with Sonny is sheer poignancy, and what subtlety Smith’s acting lacks, Alan Tudyk more than makes up for–even through the hindrance of motion capture. (For anyone watching the clip – the scene I’m talking about actually starts about a minute in.)
5. Walking Tall: your tail light’s out
To give you an idea of how bad this movie is, I have to first describe the situation that compelled me to see it. I was a sophomore in high school. I was in New York with my family on vacation, and my parents had gotten tickets to Late Night with David Letterman. Because the show is only for 18+, my parents decided that the prudent thing to do was to buy my brother & I tickets to a nearby movie theater, where we could entertain ourselves in relative safety. Because of the length of time we had to entertain ourselves, they bought us tickets to the two least objectionable movies playing in that theater: Walking Tall, and the Scooby Doo Movie.
Alex and I both agreed that Scooby Doo was, hands down, the superior film.
That said, there is one shining moment of badass brilliance on the part of the Rock, and it is the scene I’ve linked to above. It requires no context. Just go watch it and be prepared to laugh. (Also, is that Robin Scherbatsky in the passenger seat??? It is.)
6. Titanic: the hand
Well, here we are. The one that’s going to get me in trouble. I know that Titanic is, like, “the best movie ever!” and “so romantic!,” not to mention one of the highest-grossing films of all time. And it stars Leonardo Di Caprio, who is like so talented, and Kate Winslet, who is gorgeous and amazing. And also it was directed by James freaking Cameron.
But, in my humble opinion, everything about this movie is over-rated, including its actors and its director (I may have to write a post about why I generally don’t like Leonardo Di Caprio’s performances some day, because I get into arguments about him with surprising frequency). The love story is boring, the characters are flat, and it kind of trivializes one of the greatest tragedies in human history in favor of attractive people getting bent out of shape about a necklace. And it is entirely too long. But there was one scene that wasn’t over-rated in any way, and that is, of course, the famous sex scene.
…you know what? I’m not going to elaborate on this one. You all know why it’s brilliant. If you don’t, you will when you’re older. ;)
Honorable Mention: Mr. & Mrs. Smith: house wrecking
(shit starts going down at 3:10)
While Mr. & Mrs. Smith is certainly a terrible movie, and this scene is certainly awesome, I have decided that it does not qualify for this list because the scene is not all that stand-out from the rest of the film, or even action films in general. It’s just an average action sequence with an inventive backstory in an unusual setting, which is only a little bit brilliant. But I enjoy this scene immensely, though the rest of the movie is complete garbage, so there you go.
What do you think? What suckish movies turned out your favorite moments of brilliance?
“I’m king of the world!” -Leonardo Di Caprio, Titanic, right before not falling and thus subjecting us to the rest of this movie
P.S. Happy March, everybody!
pg. 189 of Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift