Wednesday, February 2, 2011

When Bad Movies Happen to Good People

Ah, the beloved internet! An opportunity to speak one’s mind, blow one’s horn, or tell one’s story. Or in this case, to rat oneself out as a lowbrow counter-intellectual.

Confession: I have just wasted 101 minutes of my life on the worst movie ever made. What’s worse, I sensed this from the previews, but watched it anyway. My excuse? –my husband, the Center of the Universe (CoTU) wanted to see it. He twisted my arm (figuratively, of course), but that’s really no excuse for having given more than an hour and a half of what precious life is left to me on this planet to such a horrendous film. In fact, it’s so bad, it gives bad movies a bad name.

I can’t yet bring myself to tell you the title, but I’ll try to work up to it.

This whole nightmarish episode started innocently enough when we were watching a completely respectable, yet mediocre movie called “Date Night”. Right—if you’ve seen it you know it’s not great, but not embarrassingly bad either. And if you like Tina Fey and Steve Carell, you’re willing to put up with a crazy and predictable storyline. I had rented the DVD just for something to make us laugh, after a tough week with two funerals and nine inches of snowfall.

The situation germinated during the previews on the rented DVD. A buddy movie, four guys (three middle-aged and one Gen-Xer, cavorting in a ski lodge, in and out of a hot tub, and clearly caught in a time warp that has taken them back to 1985. Now if you recognize the set-up, you’re as big a lowlife as I am. Could you possibly ever admit that you’ve sat down and watched “Hot Tub Time Machine”? And for those of you who think I am making this up, let me just say, if only it were so…

Now in my defense, the movie starred John Cusack who I grew quite fond of after Hi Fidelity, About a Boy and Must Love Dogs. Okay, I should have stopped after Hi Fidelity and About a Boy, but at least I’m keeping mum about America’s Sweethearts, which must at least rank in the top five worst movies I’ve ever seen… So CoTU is cracking up over the previews for this so-called movie, and I’m shaking my head as if I’m being force-fed The Three Stooges. Which, in essence I was, except that it was The Four Stooges.

“We’ve gotta rent this!” he gushed, laughing at the lunacy of this quartet. “Over my dead body,” I reasoned. “Come on,” he urged. “You love John Cusack! –and there’s that guy from The Office!” (Did I mention that Craig Robinson who plays Darryl Philbin on The Office was in this abomination? He is. And in case you’re wondering, he’s not Michelle Obama’s brother—that’s a different Craig Robinson.)

I groaned, grunted, moaned, and accidentally let out a single guffaw at a bit of humor that was sneaked into the previews, so I was pretty much cooked. CoTU asked me to look for it the next time I wanted to rent a comedy.

Sadly, as it turns out, I was in the library the next day to pick up a book being held for me. I could say it was “War and Peace” or “The Sun Also Rises”, but 1) I don’t lie, and 2) you wouldn’t believe me anyway. After I grabbed my book from the “Hold” shelf, I took a quick look on the DVD display. They had (believe it or not) not one, but two copies of “Hot Tub Time Machine”. I picked one up, and dutifully checked it out. (In retrospect, I can’t believe that your tax dollars and mine bought these movies for the library!)

Two minutes into the movie I tried to walk out. Said I was heading upstairs to sort my socks or alphabetize the medicine chest. CoTU implored me to stay, “This is funny stuff!” he insisted. “Puh-lease, honey, this is pathetic and gross," I countered. But he used his most persuasive voice and facial expressions, and I relented. (I should have at least used this to leverage some off-setting possibility, you know—a bargaining chip for watching one of the ‘slice of life’ movies CoTU so opposes, but I wasn’t thinking.)

So I saw the whole awful mess of a movie, and I mean to say Mess with a capital M. I’m not proud of it, except perhaps as a testament to my endurance. When it was over, CoTU had to admit that it was a terrible movie, though it provided him with a lot of laughs.

“You know what the good news is about this movie?” he asked?

“That it’s over?” I suggested.

“Nope. That it’s on your library card. Not mine!”

“Yeah, but the library’s not allowed to make that information public, and you’re the one who rented “Year One”—at Redbox.”

Who’s got the last laugh now?


  1. Leah, I will watch some crap movies, but that is not one of them. Though it's good to know that you run over the same speed bumps we all do from time to time. If your husband has not yet seen it, I think he would like Dodgeball. For you - The Blind Side.

  2. Damn, and I was poised to rent it; I'm so 1985.

  3. Oh, my. You're right, it seems as though libraries should only have uplifting or enlightening movies. As determined by someone with impeccable taste, of course. Thanks for the laugh.

  4. Hmm... interesting. I've heard it's a really funny movie. Now, I have to watch it to see what's so awful about it. :)

  5. We recently saw Hot Tub Time Machine. I'm embarrassed to say that it was NOT the worst movie we've seen recently. And that is just sad. (Shows either our rotten taste or our lousy luck when picking out movies.)