Junkfood Cinema: A Decade of Guilty Pleasures

By  · Published on December 18th, 2009

When Neil asked my fledgling Junkfood Cinema column to be a part of the Decade in Review, I was honored. When he outlined specifically how I would be involved, I was infinitely more pleased. I mean seriously, a look back at the guiltiest of guilty pleasure films? How hard could that possibly be? This task would prove far more arduous than anything I’ve done in my short “career” as a film critic. First of all, though it may seem trivial as time is constant and perpetual, it is a big deal for any website to review an entire decade. Ours is a media still very much in its infancy and this will mark only the second decade that has concluded since the inception of the internet. So the pressure is ever present. To narrow the scope to my own task, it turns out many of the bad films this decade walked a fine line between enjoyably bad and simply unwatchable; most landing ultimately on the side of the former.

Compounding the problem is the fact that I am facing a two-fold system of opinion here. With any “best of” list there is an unspoken concession of subjectivity, but with so-bad-they’re-good films there is an extra component of assessment. There has to be at least some semblance of consensus that the film in question is actually bad, and then further that its flaws don’t detract from an ironic appreciation. I have sifted through lists of every major release for the last ten years, seeking the regarded stinkers, and slowly eliminated all the films that (a) I didn’t find that bad (b) were bad but also entirely without any redeeming value and (c) that I had not seen.

Forgive me, I am babbling. Here is my list of this decade’s films that fell well short of critical acclaim but still found their way into my favor and, in many cases, my DVD collection. Also, in keeping with the flow of the column, please enjoy the malnutrious junkfood pairings for each entry.

The Replacements (2000)

This cheesy little nugget from 2000 has everything you expect from a great football film. The underdog element, the last-second heroics, the slow motion, and…Keanu Reeves? The basic premise here is that professional football players have gone on strike and the league recruits scab players from all walks of life to finish out the season. With a goofy script, a host of bad dialogue, and an actual attempt to make us buy Reeves as a quarterback, it’s not hard to understand this film’s absence from the the top 50 grossing movies of 2000.

I like The Replacements despite itself. I’m a sucker for football films, good or bad. As lackluster as they are individually, the cast composing the football team works well as an ensemble. I also remember a couple of actual sport strikes over the years and I always wondered what would happen if the various leagues hired scabs. There is an underlying admonishment of professional sports as a corporation that is ultimately fumbled but I have to give the film props for the effort. And I’ll be dipped if some of the gags didn’t make me giggle; the various places from which they found their players were at times pretty clever. And as much as I don’t believe Reeves as a QB, you gotta love the idea of Gene Hackman coaching football; something about that totally fits.

Junkfood Pairing: Deviled Eggs. There is a scene where the sumo wrestler turned offensive lineman eats a bowl of raw eggs before the game. This results, not surprisingly, with his vomiting all over the field. As you watch this poignantly probing scene, treat yourself to a heaping pile of deviled eggs. I’m sure you won’t be nauseated at all.

The Fast and the Furious (2001)

We all remember this one, and the myriad faster and furious(er) sequels it spawned. The basic premise is that a series of heists are being perpetrated by street racers and the police send a man undercover to discover their identities. Blah blah blah…pink slips and spoilers…blah blah blah…end. The cast of this thing reads like a who’s who of terrible actors. Headlined by Paul “Doorknob” Walker and Vin “Stop Calling Me Powder” Diesel, the cast is rounded out by Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, and Ja Rule. Any racing film that thinks it’s a good idea to cast Ja Rule as anything but a speed bump is clearly not a good one. The film is shiny, glossy, rap-fueled sex on wheels pandering to a thrill-seeking, or just bored, youth culture. The performances are bargain basement, the story is overly simplistic, and some of the conversations are inexplicable. It’s essentially a bad ripoff of Point Break with street racing standing in for surfing.

The reason I really like this turkey is that it is modern-day carsploitation. I can ignore Paul Walker and Vin Diesel struggling to construct sentences as bearable interludes between outrageously cool car stunts. The sequence at the beginning and the final heist at the end are incredibly well timed and undeniably exciting. The Fast and the Furious features street racing scenes that will be remembered in one breath with the likes of Two Lane Blacktop. And as much as he hacks his way through dialogue, Vin Diesel is pretty flipping awesome in this. He personifies the macho meathead hero that would have fit this film to a T had it been made thirty years sooner.

Junkfood Pairing: Tuna Fish Sandwich, no crust. Speaking to both Paul Walker’s ineptitude and the absurd script, there is a scene where he waxes idiotic about the merits of the tuna fish sandwich at a local eatery. He is basically making an excuse for why he patronizes the establishment each day when really he just has the hots for the girl who works there, but it leads to reference after superfluous reference to this damn sandwich. I think there is even a longer, more ridiculous conversation about tuna fish in the sequel so obviously someone thought this moment was iconic.

Zoolander (2001)

It’s funny that this film should be released in the same year as The Fast and the Furious as I’m not convinced the Derek Zoolander character isn’t based on Paul Walker. This Ben Stiller-directed comedy follows a once-great male model who falls from grace, struggles with his identity, and is brain-washed into attempting to assassinate the prime minister of Malaysia. You know, that old song and dance. Zoolander is overtly stupid and certainly aimed at the lowest common denominator audiences; but then, I guess that would include me. There are dick and fart jokes along with scores of pratfalls and no shortage of mugging. The incessant celebrity cameos work about once out of every eight times they appear. It has that certain brand of silliness that can tend to turn people off.

That brand of silliness very much appeals to me. I am well aware of this film’s shortcomings, but I still find it funny. It’s unbelievably self-aware and I actually find elements of it far more clever than it gets credit for. Again, I’m not arguing that this is a good film; far from it. But it is a heck of a comedic collaboration and it definitely makes me giggle. It’s also exceedingly quotable; the lines being so quippy and predominately on-the-nose. I always like watching Will Ferrel do things that force him to step outside of the petulant alpha male he constantly plays, and his Mugatu character is something special to say the least. It may be because my wife watches America’s Next Top Model and I’ve seen just how stupid models can be, but something about Zoolander always seems to bring the chuckle.

Junkfood Pairing: Wax Lips. As disgusting as it sounds, these barely edible treats are the perfect Zoolander supplement. A great running gag throughout the film is the fact that Derek’s signature “looks” are indistinguishable despite having differing names. Pop this inexplicably classic candy onto your face and you will have what it takes to pull off Le Tigre, Ferrari, or even Blue Steel!

XXX (2002)

Is it surprising that there are two Vin Diesel movies on this list? Hell no! Nearly every film in his catalog could qualify as a guilty pleasure. XXX is the story of a thrill-seeking extreme sports enthusiasts contracted by the government to infiltrate a Russian crime syndicate and, though he isn’t terribly amenable to the idea, he accepts the mission over an inevitable incarceration. This film is so cheesy you might as well melt it down and dip chunks of beef into it; cheese and beef actually serving as a suitable image for encapsulating this film. It packs in so much eye-liquidating action that the DVD case is bowed out on all sides. The premise is completely mindless, the idea that the NSA would ever let this goofus handle something half this important is insulting. But at least things are jumping over other things and there are lots of explosions right? Doesn’t benefit the film at all that Vin’s line delivery seems phoned-in between off-screen blowjobs from Asia Argento.

Did I mention Asia Argento? Yeah, she’s incredibly sexiful. And as much shit as I give him, I like Vin Diesel a lot. He’s a guy that is playing himself in every film and merely the surroundings change. In that way, he’s very much like John Wayne. I know I’m not the only person who occasionally likes to shut off the more sophisticated parts of my brain and vapidly stare at stupid action films. There are some impressive stunts in this film and Samuel L. Jackson is doing a phenomenal impression of recording artist Seal. There is a scene where the camera pans across a plethora of high-tech gadgets and weapons up to a shot of Vin sitting behind the wheel of a muscle car. He mumbles to his handler, “I want all that, in here.” It’s kind of a nothing moment but it is the perfect summation of the entire thought process behind the studio making the film: we’ll take all the familiar standards of a James Bond film and cram them into the popularity of The Fast and the Furious. Perfect!

Junkfood Pairing: Mountain Dew and Doritos Extreme Kickin’ Chili flavor. If you want the full douchebag experience, pop in the DVD of XXX, open a whole case of Mtn. Dew, as it is now called, and tear into a back of the most absurdly-monikered flavor of the most extreme chips in the chip aisle! Oh, and high five your bro-mances every time there’s a car crash or explosion. It’s the most extreme you can get without actually acknowledging that there is in fact a world outside your living room. Extreme!

Bad Boys II (2003)

There was absolutely no way to construct this list without paying homage to the king of cinematic destruction: Michael Bay. While I am patiently waiting for my personal reparations from the Transformers 2 debacle, it has shed some new light on what I used to consider his absolute worst film. This movie is a perfect example of what happens when a director with a lot of knowledge of the second unit and no grasp of quality filmmaking is given carte blanche. Bad Boys IIis an endless parade of Bay’s id blasted all over the screen. There is not a single car left unsmashed, no building unrazed, and no race unoffended. This movie is insultingly stupid from start to finish and features all the slow motion spins and sweaty attractive people you’ve come to expect from Bay.

This movie is so awful, but admittedly fun, that you could create several elaborate drinking games based on it. I’m not sure if it’s the opening KKK rally crashed by the two African-American cops or the coffins tossed willy nilly at speeding traffic, but somewhere along the line I just threw up my hands and said, “Very well Bay, if this is what’s happening, bring it on! What else you got?” He then proceeded to launch a Hummer down the side of a hill merrily crunching an entire shanty town along the way. And as much as the dialogue appears penned by a particularly impish 14 year old, somehow Smith and Lawrence are able to deliver it with bang-on timing and I’ll be damned if they don’t have great chemistry. Besides if not for this film, would we ever have gotten a Diddy, Murphy Lee, and Nelly collaboration? What the world may have missed!

Junkfood Pairing: Rocky Road Icecream. Several great tastes, mashed together with no semblance of order or restraint? Creating something very cool that looks really messy? Yeah, that sounds about right.

Freddy Vs. Jason (2003)

So it’s 2003 and you’re a big movie studio. You need a sure fire formula for bringing the bang at the box office, but have no faith in original scripts. What do you do? I know, take two long-dead horror franchises and throw them into a blender; what comes out is pure popcorn. Some of the elements of the story of Freddy Vs. Jason wouldn’t fly with even the most accommodating of horror geeks, like me for example, even with full awareness of the previous entries in both series. The movie also features some really awful CG effects and, for some reason, Kelly Rowland of the now defunct Destiny’s Child. To say this movie is a gimmick is to say that chewing razor blades is slightly unpleasant.

I love it. I don’t care. There are a host of great kills and I love the idea of using Jason to make people afraid again so Freddy can return; being that his entire existence is contingent on believing in him, much like Tinkerbell. The fight sequences are spectacular and feature moments of style that are way too intelligent for this film. Freddy’s continual references to Jason being retarded is kind of a fun little commentary on silent, hulking slasher killers versus pithy, loquacious ones. Also, seeing what Jason Vorhees’ nightmare looks like is a great addition. The ending is just vague enough to reject the notion that this skirmish could ever have an ultimate victor. After all if we clap our hands and wish really hard, we can always bring Freddy Krueger back.

Junkfood Pairing: Skewered Meat. Preferably raw but if you absolutely must cook this carnally scrumptious delight, I guess I can’t stop you. As you tear into the tender flesh, think back to your favorite dismemberment, decapitation, or otherwise grizzly demise. Oh wow, my mouth just got all watery.

Alien Vs. Predator (2004)

Continuing the crazy franchise mash-ups is AVP. The idea here was clearly to succeed at separating just as my Sci-Fi geeks from their money as Freddy Vs. Jason did with horror geeks. The result is something that, believe it or not, is far less entertaining. The movie just kind of exists with little to no appropriate utilization of either classic movie monster. You get yourself set for a supremely epic battle but instead two of the Predators are killed off almost instantly and it becomes almost entirely about killing off the terribly uninteresting humans. Not to mention the fact that it has one of the dumbest, desperately sequel-thirsty, twist endings I have ever seen.

I enjoy the sheer stupidity of this film and its employment of crazy violence. But I really love the concept behind this confrontation more than anything else. You have two classic Sci-Fi alien species here. The predators are, at their core, intergalactic hunters of the highest proficiency. The tube-headed aliens on the other hand exist for no other purpose than to eat, mate, and breed; completely animistic. Doesn’t it make sense that these two would be at odds? I love the absurd back-story of how the predators are essentially using Earth as a game reserve to facilitate what they consider to be the greatest hunt of all. So while the execution is sloppy, there’s a lot of really cool stuff in this.

Junkfood Pairing: Green Slushie. As the film is set in Antarctica, it would make sense to enjoy a frozen treat while watching. Even more appropriate would be if that frozen dessert resembled, in color and somewhat in texture, the blood of the aliens in the film. Just watch out for brain freeze…or irreversible corrosion of your mandible.

The Longest Yard (2005)

Yup, another football film. Doubling up on franchise smoothies and football movies; should give you a fair portrait of my tastes. In this remake of the 1974 Burt Reynolds vehicle, Adam Sandler stars as disgraced professional quarterback Paul Crewe who, in the wake of a point shaving scandal, hits the bottle hard and steals his girlfriend’s car. This brazen stunt lands him in prison where an annual football game between the guards and the inmates offers him the chance to once again take the field; whether he wants to or not. This movie is capital C commercial from start to finish. It stars not only Sandler and Chris Rock, but rap stars, former NFL players, and professional wrestlers. Yes, as in more than one wrestler. It’s juvenile and crude and features jokes one normally finds in teen sex comedies; despite no one in the cast being younger than 25…and there being no females to be found after the first five minutes. For example if you’ve always wanted to see Tracy Morgan as a transsexual cheerleader, the wait is over.

The Longest Yard is like a Christmas gift for movie geeks who are also football fans. The jokes may be nauseatingly bad, but the scenes depicting the actual playing of the game are badass. The hits look real and you will hurt vicariously. You have to respect the fact that Adam Sandler actually attended a pro football quarterback camp in order to appear more authentic under center. Also, there is a cool Dirty Dozen aspect to the film where they are recruiting players of various degrees of deviance from the prison population. Very fun movie.

Junkfood Pairing: 8 Foot Party Sub. As you watch The Longest Yard, and dine on the longest sandwich you can buy, remember that it should most assuredly be full of several different varieties of meat. The unfathomable amount of testosterone in this film will not abide a single veggie.

Snakes on a Plane (2006)

I am so giddy about this movie it makes my ears wiggle. Quite possibly the best guilty pleasure film of the last 2 decades. I was on board for this movie from the day I heard the title, and the trailers did little to curb my enthusiasm. I don’t even have to go into a plot synopsis because it’s telegraphed by the title. The most absurd premise this side of a Syfy channel original, horrible acting from supposedly talented people (referring mostly to Julianna Margulies), and laughably bad CGI all combine to make the ultimate crap salad. It’s script really seems as if it were written on a dare. Samuel L. Jackson is taking the whole thing way too seriously for what it is, but that’s to be expected. It is an awful, awful film.

And I love every mutha-pluckin second of it. This is exploitation at its very best. The film features the hook of a crazy concept, horrific violence, dry as powdered milk acting, and completely superfluous nudity. I am enamored of the fact that Samuel L. Jackson threatened to leave the project when they wanted to change the title to something other than Snakes on a Plane. I don’t think anyone working on this film had any delusions about what they were creating, but the great joke here is that they all appear to be taking it so seriously. If this film had been made in the 1970’s, it would have played all the seediest theaters on 42nd Street and been booked for months at every drive-in. It’s brainless, but hilariously so. And the tagline that found instant cult status, the one about Mr. Jackson’s tiring of the reptiles on his airplane, sums up not only this movie but why we love this actor in the first place.

Junkfood Pairing: Gummi Worms. I would suggest throwing handfuls in the air every time a nipple is bitten off or a socialite constricted.

In The Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (2007)

If you aren’t familiar with Uwe Boll, well…good for you. The man is responsible for some of the worst movies of the last ten years. He is a lunatic who, in addition to trying to adapt every single video game he can get his hands on, refuses to accept the overwhelmingly poor quality of his films and his rebuttal to his critics is to challenge them to boxing matches. In this particular train wreck, he is adapting a role-playing fantasy game into a grand cinematic bowel movement. I cannot count on one hand the problems with this film. It has a great cast of people who are none of them used well and who all apparently suffered from temporary acting amnesia. The worst is Matthew Lillard who, let’s face facts, is an abysmal actor anyway but displays a special brand of ineptitude here. His accent and line delivery makes him sound like the drunkest asshole at the Renaissance Fair. I’m not even going to try to explain the story because my eyes would go cross and possibly never uncross. Sufficed to say, it makes as much sense as using a blowtorch to blow your nose.

Abandon all thought, ye who watch this film. If you look for one shred of conventional movie form or structure, you will hate it. You will notice things like overly medicated Ray Liotta as the wizard who flies around his library like Trinity from The Matrix. Or perhaps you will pick up on the fact that only one evil creature antagonist per ten is in full makeup and the rest are wearing 1980’s, plastic Halloween masks. Knowing Uwe Boll and his cannon of film, I found this movie wonderfully bad. It’s what the world would look like to King Arthur on an acid trip. I really enjoy the ass-kicking tandem of Jason Statham and Ron Perlman but about the time they get to the magical, forest-dwelling lesbians, the movie had graduated to something beyond period action film.

Junkfood Pairing: A Tankard of Mead. As it is not at all wise to watch this film sober, I find it only fitting to drink the flaws away with a giant mug of this medieval honey wine. Ok, so you can’t get your hands on mead? Any good German beer should do the trick. Just so long as you are tipsy by the time Matthew Lillard says the word, “behoove.”

Death Race (2008)

Wow, from Uwe Boll to W.S. Anderson? It’s like the battle of the hack videogame movie makers. If you are anything like me than you love a little 70’s cult film entitled Deathrace 2000 by Junkfood Cinema Hall-of-Fame alum Roger Corman. When I heard a remake was in the works, I was severely unhappy. My anger was in many ways well founded. This thing is super stinky. The plot of the remake is that the warden of a nightmarish prison decides to institute a road rally featuring the worst of the worst of the population. The cars are weapons on wheels and the only rule is win or die. The film is built like a video game and when it isn’t shoving terrible performances and weak story elements down your throat, it is relying heavily on rock ‘em-wreck ’em car racing. Bad rapper turned bad actor Tyrese Gibson is the very definition of subpar and Statham constantly sounds as if he is holding in a massive fart. The biggest insult to the audience’s intelligence is the idea that female prisons are filled withthe kind of smoking hot sexpots that accompany the drivers as their navigators.

If you watch this movie and don’t think it kicks ungodly amounts of ass, I don’t care to know you. The film understands exploitation just as did its godfather Roger Corman. The treatment of the Machine Gun Joe and Frankenstein characters actually pays a great deal of clever reverence to the original. The auto-battles are uber-fantastic and send me into fits of glee. There is almost no reliance on computer-generated graphics which makes the car stunts even more impressive. There are lines of dialogue in this that are so off-the-wall bad that I almost have to believe W.S. Anderson threw them in just to ensure the audience was paying attention. “I’ll show you who shits on the sidewalk!” I also love the setup involving the prophesied, dystopian fall of our economy by 2010 that accidentally outlines every fiscal catastrophe that actually came to pass years prior to when they forecast.

Junkfood Pairing: Monster Candy Sticks. Okay, bear with me on this one. Do you remember the chalky, novelty candy sticks that were basically just fodder for the pop culture packaging? They are still around and long ago made a series of Universal monster varieties. So as you watch Frankenstein tear ass across the track, enjoy the pure blandness of sweet, sweet marketing ploys; the Frankenstein set in particular.

Twilight (2008)

It pains me to add this epic cinematic abortion to any list. For the record, I loathe this film with a firey tenacity. It takes a beloved horror standard like Vampires and, oddly, sucks the life right out of it. Vicious, scary creatures of darkness are transformed into whiny, emaciated emo losers with no balls. The dialogue is the most unforgivable dreck ever uttered by anyone of any age on screen and the special effects force us to ponder the usage of the word special in that context. Anyone with half a brain can see this is the worst kind of corporate filmmaking and is a showcase of ineptitude on its most basic level.

But, it is the epitome of a guilty pleasure. Talk to even the most die-heard, avid fan of this abominable franchise and they will admit that they love this film in spite of how bad it is. They are fully aware that it is utter garbage, and even their rose-colored glasses cannot blind them from its problems. To ignore this film in the context of guilty pleasures would be irresponsible. I will also have to make the confession that, given the right quantities of alcohol, I can make an enjoyable evening out of watching Twilight. I laughed my ass off the first time I saw it mostly because I could not believe this film ever sold ticket one. If you took a drink only when Edward broods, you’d be drunk by the conclusion of reel one.

Junkfood Pairing: Ballpark Hotdogs. Not only does this complement perfectly the most abhorrent scene in the whole film (as far as both movie geeks and baseball fans are concerned), but is in fact a giant bag of wienies. And honestly, a giant bag of wienies is a truly apropos way of describing this turdburger.

Punisher: War Zone (2008)

I had a feeling, based on the trailers, that this film was going to suck. When my buddies went to see it, I pitied them. When they came back with that all-too-familiar look on their faces, the chuckling bafflement, my desire to see this film suddenly went through the ceiling. Punisher: WZ rehashes the story of federal agent Frank Castle who, in the wake of the murder of his family, becomes the vengeful warrior of justice known as the Punisher. We’ve already had two bad incarnations of this story but this one exists in an entirely separate dimension. The acting is some of the worst I’ve ever seen in a major theatrical release. Ray Stevenson is the perfect choice for the part…when he isn’t talking. And Dominic West, who plays the villain Jigsaw, utilizes what will go down in history as the single worst New York accent in any movie ever. There are exchanges between these two that are indistinguishable from an SNL sketch that would be mocking it. There are leaps in logic that Evel Knievel couldn’t negotiate on a rocket bike and the film features what may be the only onscreen appearance of Irish-Rastafarian parkour artists.

So how does Punisher:WZ compensate for these mammoth setbacks? Violence! Dumpsters full of blood-gushing violence. It’s is crazy, over-the-top, and outrageously enjoyable. People get stabbed in the neck, blown up by rockets, eaten by mental patients, and punched to death. The careless disregard for moral decency and intellectual content is so unbelievably awesome! The stuff that is supposed to be funny falls flat while the intended serious moments illicit the most uproarious of laughter. Dominic West is my pick for second best of the worst performances from this list. His accent and his gangster posturing would exasperate Edward G. Robinson. And as much as it is the genesis of the most hilariously insufferable character in the film, the scene where West falls into the glass compactor and becomes Jigsaw is actually pretty badass. I also love the opening scene where almost every actor is blatantly ripping off The Godfather, which they all apparently watched on AMC the night before.

Junkfood Pairing: Hawaiian Punch. It not only looks like blood, which underscores nearly every scene in the film, but calls to mind the most jaw-droppingly ridiculous scene. There is literally a scene in this film where the Punisher punches through a man’s face. I’m gonna repeat that so you fully take the journey with me, he punches THROUGH a man’s face! One minute he’s about to punch a thug’s face and the next minute we are staring at a bloody stump atop a pair of shoulders. So great!

My Bloody Valentine 3-D (2009)

There are bad horror films, and there are terrible horror films, and then there are horror films with three-dimensional vagina. My Bloody Valentine 3-D is most likely to be found in the latter category. I love the original 1981 film. It’s a fantastic slasher that plays like the polite Canadian cousin of Friday the 13th. When I had to suffer through this piece of celluloid trash it was taxing. It is unspeakably stupid and would insult the intelligence of larger deep-sea mollusks. The ending is one of the worst cheat twists I have ever seen, and I’ve seen some crappy movies. I know characters in horror films aren’t typically the brightest bulbs on the Christmas tree, but people do things in this movie that defy 17 different breeds of logic. The only reason this film exists, the only reason it was made, was to be the flagship vessel of the recycling of a moldy old horror film gimmick. It leans on this gimmick like a giant box office crutch and offers little to nothing outside the hook.

That being said…3-D bush! I have to admit that the effects in the film, hoaky and gimmicky as they were, provided some of the most fun I had at the theater all year. This was the kind of movie you went to at midnight with your buddies to laugh at the goofiness on the screen and cackle at the mayhem bursting forth from the screen. If nothing else, the film features the triumphant return to horror of the great Tom Atkins; a legend of the genre. And as far as the three-dimensional nudity, it’s not simply that it exists on screen but the sheer duration of bare breasts flying at your face will have you believing you stumbled into the strangest strip club in town. Cool kills, laughably bad story, and naked marketing ploys. What more can you want?

Junkfood Pairing: A Box of Chocolates. More specifically, I must insist that you seek out a heart-shaped box of chocolates. The killer in the film has a nasty penchant for removing the hearts of his victims and sending them to other townspeople hidden inside these festive gifts. If you happen to come across the cherry-filled one, bite down with such ferocity as to spatter your neighbor’s face; now that’s 3-D!

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call-New Orleans (2009)

Sometimes a movie is released that utterly defies explanation. A movie so bizarre and weird that you struggle impotently to construct an accurate description for those who have not seen it. Bad Lieutenant: POCNO is a film that simply must be experienced. Nicolas Cage fairly accurately portrays Nicolas Cage playing the worst cop in the world. He is addicted to every drug known to mankind, and three or four that aren’t, and balances his time equally between stealing from the evidence room, torturing the elderly, and appreciating local wildlife (both real and imaginary). Cage gives his most unhinged performance since The Vampire’s Kiss and you often find yourself pinching your arm to make sure you are not dreaming what is happening on screen in front of you. Werner Herzog delivers scenes so inescapably nonsensical that I have to imagine the whole film is a giant practical joke at the audiences’ expense.

You may not have more fun at the movies in your life than you will have if you catch this before it leaves theaters. I was laughing so hard at some of the dialogue that I had to wipe tears from my eyes on more than one occasion. It has been my theory years that Nicolas Cage is, himself, a complete nutjob and that all the bad performances we have gotten from him in recent years stem from Hollywood trying to stuff six feet of crazy into “regular Joe” characters. And finally Herzog figures that out, surrounds him with a gonzo set of circumstances, and suddenly people are hesitant to completely write him off. He is my candidate for best/worst performance on this list. I don’t know if it was the non-sequitur close-up scenes of iguanas and alligators, the breakdancing soul, or the lines Cage decided to mumble incoherently instead of articulate but at some point I surrendered to the insanity.

Junkfood Pairing: Pixie Stix. Whether you eat it right out of the vile or snort it from neat little lines on a vanity mirror. I suggest ingesting as much of this additively sweet candy as fast as you can while watching this film. Once the currency of our youth, this childhood narcotic should keep you up “til the break of dawn!”

Related Topics:

Longtime FSR columnist, current host of FSR’s Junkfood Cinema podcast. President of the Austin Film Critics Association.