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The hidden charm of bad movies

By Tim Angerame
Staff Writer

A movie could be a beautiful work of art that defines a generation or an abomination upon mankind. For every groundbreaking movie like “Citizen Kane,” there is a disgrace like “Freddy Got Fingered.” However, it is comforting to know that terrible films are almost just as entertaining as good films.
Why do we find terrible movies so interesting? Most have nothing to offer and are poorly made. But that’s the point. We want to know why the movie is bad. We see reviews in the paper or on the internet about movies that shouldn’t have been made. The critic pleads with readers not to see the movie. But that just makes me more curious, and like a kid looking for birthday and Christmas presents in the attic, my curiosity overpowers me, and I see the movie anyway.
For example, in 1994, acclaimed director Rob Reiner released a movie called “North.” It was an OK comedy about Elijah Wood divorcing his parents and then traveling the world to find new ones. On “At the Movies with Siskel and Ebert,” Roger Ebert had this to say: “I hated this movie as much as any movie we ever reviewed in the 19 years we’ve been doing this show.” “It’s embarrassing — you feel unclean as you’re sitting there,” Gene Siskel said. “It’s junk. First-class junk.”
You would be a liar if you told me your curiosity wasn’t peaking right now.
Then there’s the 2000 film “Battlefield Earth,” universally regarded as the worst science fiction movie since 1984’s “Dune.”  With a reputation like that, I had to see this movie. When I finally found it on TNT, I ended up turning it off after 15 minutes, and I’ve seen much worse movies. Almost every shot in the movie was annoyingly slanted, and this was arguably John Travolta’s most flamboyant performance as an alien dictator.
I should also mention that “Battlefield Earth” and “Dune” are regarded to be the greatest sci-fi novels ever written, by L. Ron Hubbard  and Frank Herbert. Knowing that, you might be asking “Well, the books are great, so how could they possibly mess up a movie?” I have always believed that it would be impossible to fit all 200-300 pages of a famous book into a two-hour movie. Some stuff needs to be cut. That is why some hardcore “Harry Potter” fans find the books slightly better than the movies.
For me, I just watch bad movies for the fun. I like to laugh at the terrible acting. I like to imagine the process that went into coming up with the movie’s ridiculous premise. But sometimes, I even wonder what changes could be made to make the film a success. For “Battlefield Earth,” don’t slant the screen on a 45 degree angle for the whole movie, and tell Travolta to tone down his acting. For all movies based off books, know that there is only so much of the book you could fit in a two-hour movie, and try to fit in most of the important parts. For “The Hot Chick,” um, well er … Rob Schneider should stick to “SNL.”

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