In Which All Of Our Opinions Are Right

Not-Guilty Pleasures

by Tyler Coates

I’ve gotten into two fights with friends over The Dark Knight in the last week. Basically, I was underwhelmed by the movie: it wasn’t the best thing I’d ever seen, but it wasn’t the worst thing, either. But the film has received near universal acclaim, and, in my experience in the last few days, someone who does not share the overwhelming positive reviews is branded a heretic.

I even had a friend attack me because I gave The Dark Knight and 27 Dresses the same rating (three stars) on Netflix. HOW DARE I COMPARE THE TWO?! Well, consider this: I have given five-star ratings to The Godfather, Magnolia, Fargo, and Gone with the Wind, as well as Finding Nemo, Noises Off!, Little Shop of Horrors, and Gilmore Girls: Season 2.

I want to live in Stars Hollow.

Film criticism is subjective at the literary level, so I have never said with any sort of serious tone that I know everything I’m talking about. And sure, I rip on people who like Garden State and 300 (which are pretty much on the same level of taste in my mind), but hell, I own The Best of Match Game on DVD, so can I really say who has better taste?

I’m against the idea of a “guilty” pleasure in the same sense that I don’t believe anyone can enjoy something ironically. Did you really spend six weeks growing that ‘stache simply as a goof that only you think is funny? Fuck you! I don’t waste time watching movies with Anna Faris because I think I’m hilarious – I’m doing it because I think she’s hilarious.

Will I rent The House Bunny? Absolutely.

The House Bunny was co-written by Karen McCullah Lutz, who also wrote Legally Blonde and Ten Things I Hate About You. She went to my alma mater (Go Dukes!) and co-wrote one of the funniest movies I have ever seen: She’s the Man.

She’s the Man has four big things going for it. There’s Amanda Bynes, who is hilarious (and creepily passes as a boy). And Julie Hagerty plays her mom! And David Cross plays the school principal! And it has a mustache montage!

Dear YouTube Gods: please have someone with a She’s the Man DVD and iMovie upload the mustache montage on the Internets. KTHXBAI.

She’s the Man also serves as a hilarious spoof of teen movies based on Shakespeare plays. This one takes its inspiration from Twelfth Night, one of his top comedies, and takes it as literal as it can: even the high school is named for the village in which the play is set.

OMG it’s FUNNY because she’s a GIRL but she’s NOT DEMURE like a LADY should be!!

I once recommended this movie to a guy, who scoffed at my tastes. And HE included Girls Just Want to Have Fun as one of his favorite movies on his MySpace profile.

You want to know another film that starred an Arrested Development cast member who managed to steal every scene and made a trite romantic comedy actually watchable? Why, the aforementioned three-star epic 27 Dresses, co-starring the delightful Judy Greer!

In 27 Dresses, Judy Greer plays the best friend of Katherine Heigl’s plain Jane. Is it more obnoxious to see a movie with a hot blonde who just can’t make it happen with men, or to see an actress you think is talented and funny resort to playing the sidekick to the boring star? At least Judy got the better jokes, even if she didn’t end up happy with a boyfriend in the end.

While writing all of this I came to a realization that I really like movies about attractive women like Katherine Heigl, Jennifer Aniston, and Jennifer Lopez who FOR SOME REASON can’t seem to find a husband. Where is this fantasy land, and why does Carrie Fisher always show up?

Carrie Fisher: Everywoman’s best friend, particularly Nora Ephron.

Hey! I know what you’re thinking. “Why does Tyler seem to focus only on movies targeted generally to women?” Well, to that I say: I like dumb cock-rock movies as well! Take, for example, the oevure of Will Ferrell.

Anchorman was a great stupid-but-funny movie that I can still enjoy after several viewings. It helps that it takes place in the 70s and I have an affinity for very wide plaid ties (I do love Match Game, after all). And it’s a dude’s movie, but I think we all agree that this girl owes her entire career to this film:

And when I’m not laughing along to cheesy jokes, I’m laughing along to cheesy melodrama.

Critics have called Valley of the Dolls one of the worst movies ever made. The acting is fairly atrocious, and the writing not much better, but it’s one of the quintessential late ’60s Hollywood films, one that surprisingly flirted with taboos and the counterculture. It has one of my favorite lines: “Ted Casablanca is not a fag!” (Duh, he totally is!) And the theme song, sung by Dionne Warwick, has the greatest title.

“Theme from ‘Valley of the Dolls'” – Dionne Warwick (mp3)

I’d even recommend the novel by Jacqueline Susann, which goes further than the film by including blow jobs and lesbians. (Those who like meatier subjects can go straight to Ayn Rand: The Fountainhead is basically Valley of the Dolls, only with architecture instead of Broadway and S&M instead of lesbianism. Oh, and that whole Objectivism thing.)

Ayn Rand in a funny little hat.

Roger Ebert and Russ Meyer one-upped the makers of the original by creating their own wacky, sort-of sequel / sort-of remake Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. It’s as if Ebert and Meyer said to America, “You want lesbians? Why, we’ll give you lesbians!”

Meyer and Ebert heart boobz.

Like any good Russ Meyer film, this one is all jump-cuts and boobies. It’s a bigger cult classic than its predecessor, with more speed, more sex, and even an awesome beheading!

While the original Valley of the Dolls focused primarily on the Broadway world, this one takes place amid the music industry of the early ’70s, which means it has equally and awesomely terrible music. And yes, I do have the soundtrack.

“Find It” – The Carrie Nations (mp3)

“Look On Up At The Bottom” – The Carrie Nations (mp3)

“Sweet Talkin’ Candy Man” – The Carrie Nations (mp3)

“In The Long Run” – The Carrie Nations (mp3)

Read fourfour’s exhaustive appreciation of BVD here.

Oh man, and don’t even get me started on movie musicals:

But even I have standards, and I will not be seeing Mamma Mia!

Finally, here’s something I’m not afraid to admit: I love movies where Southern women sit around and talk. I dunno, I guess it just reminds me of the comfort of home and the parts of my childhood that weren’t so awkward. So, naturally, Steel Magnolias is pretty much the best movie ever.

Well, OK, maybe not the best movie ever. That might have to go to Coal Miner’s Daughter, which I watched daily for two weeks until I had developed a Butcher Holler twang.

Stop makin’ that noise, Doo! You sound like a big ol’ beaaarrr growlin’!

Can a movie that garnered critical acclaim and an Oscar for its lead actress be considered a guilty pleasure? Well, I know if I told people that one of my top ten movies was the Loretta Lynn biopic starring Sissy Spacek and Tommy Lee Jones, they might give me some shit. But, like most movies, it’s worth a viewing; it’s well made, absolutely endearing, and hilarious.

But really, the truth of the matter is that one shouldn’t have to defend his or her movie tastes. People like what they like and, contrary to some people out there, it’s unfair to base someone’s entire personality around what shitty movies they like.

Honestly, I’m more suspect of people who are ashamed of secretly liking The Truth About Cats & Dogs than those who can say with a straight face, “Yeah, I like that movie where the dog pulls Janeane Garofalo around on roller skates. What of it?”

Own your opinions! If you stand your ground, you’re more likely to sound like you know what you’re talking about.

Tyler Coates is the contributing editor of This Recording. You can read more of his writing on his blog and his Tumblr.


“Coal Miner’s Daughter” – Sissy Spacek (mp3)

“Honky Tonk Girl” – Sissy Spacek (mp3)

“You’re Lookin’ At Country” – Sissy Spacek (mp3)

“You Ain’t Woman Enough To Take My Man” – Sissy Spacek (mp3)


Movies we were anticipating.

Six movies that stuck to Andy.

Take away all our sadness.


12 thoughts on “In Which All Of Our Opinions Are Right

  1. Oh God i’m so happy you mentioned She’s The Man cause it’s gonna be on TV tomorrow night and all week i’ve been somewhat guiltily (yet not really) looking forward to spend the night all cosy with my doona and bed socks surrounded by junk food watching it.

  2. BUT Mamma Mia rocks, my friend nearly fainted she enjoyed it so much. Its utterly loveable cheeseball with kareoke. Great Swedish art direction as well.
    Sounds right up your strasse. You should go.

  3. Mamma Mia! rocks not. Maybe it was because I was sitting in the fourth row, maybe it was because I just watched the Dark Knight and was trying to stretch my 12 bucks as far as I could, or maybe it was because the woman next to me kept singing along, but when I read Anthony Lane’s review and got to “The legal definition of torture has been much aired in recent years, and I take “Mamma Mia!” to be a useful contribution to that debate,” I couldn’t help nodding my head. Way to show restraint.

  4. bg5000 – maybe it’s because she’s the man DESERVES 3 separate blog mentions. it’s brilliant. the end.

    meanwhile I love me a movie musical. I wrote two essay-length blogs about high school musical (and no I don’t love it ironically) and even I can admit mamma mia is crap.

    I saw it. it’s crap. not even the fabulous meryl streep can save that trainwreck.

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