Sunday, March 19, 2017

Gigli (2003) and My Theory of Five Types of Movies

Movies have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.  I was practically raised on them.  My parents like watching movies, and I ended up seeing a lot as a child.  Whether they were movies I wanted to see or movies that I happened to be in the room while they were on, I was surrounded by them.  Through all of this movie watching, I have realized something.  There are five types of movies.  Today, I’m going to explain what they are.

This post has probably already been written about.  Hell, I wrote a post related to this idea when I watched A Nanny for Christmas.  But I’m going to write about it again.  It’s been four years and I’ve seen many more movies.  It has shaped my thoughts about this topic.  Sometimes you need to cover a topic more than once to get all of your thoughts out there.  That’s what this week will be.  It’s an update of sorts.

The inspiration for this post was the movie Gigli.  It was a 2003 movie starring Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez that has since become notorious as one of the worst ever made.  It’s not that bad.  Gigli is part of that middle ground of movies that not a lot of people pay attention to.  Why don’t they pay attention to it?  People want everything to be binary.  They want to see things in black and white, without everything in between.  We all know there is more than black and white, though.  Right?  There are a whole array of colours out there to see things in.  Movies moved beyond the age of black and white a long time ago.  Colour is what we need.

My personal theory of five kinds of movies might only cover five of the colours that I want people to see, but I think they encompass every movie.  Particularly, that middle ground area will include everything that doesn’t fall into the other four categories.  The middle ground is much bigger than one might think.  So, with that said, let’s get into the five categories.  These might sound stupid, but it’s my theory.  Let me have it.

Good Good Movies
I try to stay away from this category when I’m scheduling the Sunday “Bad” Movies.  There would be no reason to cover them on a blog about bad movies.  The good good movies are the movies that are both well-made and entertaining.  That doesn’t mean that they can’t have faults.  It’s nearly impossible for something to not have flaws of some sort.  People make mistakes and the mistakes show in art.  It’s just a matter of minimizing the flaws and making it so that audiences don’t care about a few small problems.

Take, for example, Jurassic Park.  It was masterfully crafted from the acting to the cinematography to the special effects.  Sure, some of the early CG could be done better with the 25 years of technological advancement.  Yet the effects still look like effort was put into them.  That’s the second good in the “good good” that I’m talking about.  The people making it knew how to make a movie.  The first of the two goods comes from the entertainment value, which is there throughout Jurassic Park.  The scares, thrills, and wonders of the dinosaurs kept the audience invested.  The characters were memorable and the whole experience was fun.  It was entertainment of the highest degree.  That’s the first good.  Entertaining.  Good.  The craftsmanship was good.  Good.

Of course, the upper tier of this section gets into the special movies, like Jurassic Park, which are more than “good.”  They do something that other movies don’t necessarily do and that helps them get to greatness.  They stand out.  For the sake of this theory, however, they end up in good good, lumped in with movies like Happy Gilmore.  Speaking of Adam Sandler…

Bad Good Movies
The good in this one has already been explained.  The movies are well made.  The people making the movie knew how to make the movie.  There’s not a lot of bad to be said about the technical aspects.  The bad comes from the entertainment either not being there, or in the negative.  Well made with a horrible story or lazy performances.  That kind of stuff.  You can’t say that the movie is outright good because what happens in it is off-putting.  But you can objectively say that it was well crafted.  Again, it might not go above and beyond, but it’s serviceable.

Adam Sandler is the king of this kind of movie.  Happy Madison can put them out like no tomorrow.  Of course, the easiest movie to discuss in terms of the Sunday “Bad” Movies is Jack and Jill.  It wasn’t a poorly put together movie.  It looked fine.  It sounded fine.  The performances were fine.  What brought it down was the writing.  That took away any enjoyment.  The movie was dumb to the point that it was annoying.  The characters were so grating that it was hard to watch them.  The entertainment value was less than zero, making it a bad decently crafted movie.  It’s a bad good movie.

Good Bad Movies
If you couldn’t figure out what this category is based on what is already laid out, I’ll explain it.  It’s simple, once the pieces are in place.  These are the poorly made movies that are just plain fun and entertaining to watch.  The good comes from the entertainment value and the bad comes from the craftsmanship.  There are a lot of movies that fit into this category, many of them having already been covered for the Sunday “Bad” Movies.  There was Robo Vampire, the movies from The Asylum, and Elves, to name a few.

The movie I want to use as an example comes from the first year of doing these posts.  Miami Connection has gained quite the following since it was resurrected among the movie world a few years ago.  I think it was mostly due to the backing of Drafthouse Films.  The movie wasn’t all that well made.  There were some good action scenes, and it’s a whole lot of fun, but the writing is kind of atrocious and it feels more thrown together than actually crafted.  That said, Dragon Sound provided some of the best songs in 80s movies, so there’s that.  There’s no denying how fun the movie is, which makes it a good bad movie.

Bad Bad Movies
This is the worst place to find yourself.  If you’re making a bad bad movie, you might not like the final product.  If you watch it, you will probably feel like you wasted your time.  They’re the bottom of the barrel movies.  They are poorly made and they bring no entertainment.  I’ve covered a few of these during the five years I’ve been writing these posts and it’s a wonder I’ve survived some of them.

Way back at week 2, I saw A Car’s Life.  It was a knockoff of Cars.  Obviously.  The animation was near garbage.  There were barely backgrounds.  Nothing was made to look good.  It was like Reboot era computer effects without any effort put in.  The story was about a whiny car being whiny and realizing he shouldn’t be so whiny, yet he remained whiny.  The voice acting was also horrendous.  There wasn’t really a whole lot to get out of it outside of saying I watched it.  These are the kinds of movies that reside in the bad bad section.

The Middle Ground
This is where the post got its inspiration.  This is the key type of movie.  This is the piece at the top of an arch that holds the whole thing together.  The middle ground is that area in movies that people have been trying to get rid of, like they’ve been trying to get rid of bipartisan politics.  Is a movie between entertaining and anything but?  You can turn it on and not like it but not dislike it?  Even if it’s only mildly one way or the other?  That’s your middle ground.

The middle ground is reserved for movies that aren’t good or bad.  They just are.  A movie where some parts are entertaining and others are not.  It’s not an entertaining movie but it’s tough to say that it’s bad because there were parts that were enjoyable.  It’s watchable but nothing special.  The craftsmanship doesn’t make it stand out either.  It doesn’t have a feel.  It’s not poorly made but there is nothing to make it stand on its own.  That’s your middle ground.

There are way too many movies that fit into this section.  Adam Sandler movies have a feel, so they don’t quite get in here.  There’s usually a little more effort put into their craftsmanship that keeps them out of the middle ground.  But a movie like Gigli is perfect for this section.  It doesn’t move into the territory of something that you want to watch multiple times.  It doesn’t have a feel that makes it stand out.  There’s no artistry, and barely any positive or negative entertainment.  It’s perfectly fine and you could turn it on and not care.  The only thing that kept it from being good is that the studio interfered and changed a story that was already conceived because they wanted to jam a romantic plot in there.  That made it feel a little disjointed.  The middle ground was made for a movie like this, where there are some bad things but some good things.  It encompasses a lot of movies.  Parental Guidance, Repeaters, Tracers, Getaway, and Timeline also fit into this type of movie.  They’re not good.  They’re not bad.  They just are.

Now, this is all my theory.  Movies are more fluid than a simple theory like this.  Some people might narrow the good bad and the bad good sections and have more on the good good, bad bad, or middle area.  What I want to do is try and get people to widen the middle area before widening the bottom type, specifically.  Movies don’t need to be seen as an only good or only bad thing.  There are varying degrees of each.  A movie can be sort of good or it can be middle of the road.  What bothers me is when people take those and make them binary.  “Middle of the road means it’s not worth my time because there are other, better movies.  That’s bad, so it’s bad.”  No.  That’s not right.  If it’s middle of the road, it’s middle of the road.  It’s not bad.

It all comes back to my main philosophy that even bad movies have something that you can take away from them.  There’s always something worth watching a movie for.  Whether it is entertainment value like the good bad movies, or craftsmanship like the bad good movies, you can find something good in there.  Even the bad bad movies can teach you what doesn’t work.  The middle area movies can be good movies to have on as background noise while doing other things.  There is value in every movie and to write movies off because they aren’t the best of the best is to disregard what value there can be.  Bring back the middle ground.
After that mess of a post, here are some notes:

  • Gigli was suggested by @TheChewDefense, who also suggested Howard the Duck, Tracers, and Outcast.
  • Other movies I mentioned in this post were A Nanny for Christmas, Jack and Jill, Robo Vampire, Elves, Miami Connection, A Car’s Life, Parental Guidance, Repeaters, Getaway, and Timeline.
  • Jennifer Lopez made her third appearance in a Sunday “Bad” Movie with Gigli.  She was previously seen in Anaconda and Money Train.
  • Returning after a long absence is Lainie Kazan, who was in Bratz: The Movie.
  • Robert Hoffman’s second Sunday “Bad” Movies appearance was in Gigli, after already showing up in Shrooms.
  • The great Al Pacino was in Gigli.  He was also in Jack and Jill.
  • Another two time Sunday “Bad” Movies actor is Lenny Venito, who has been in Return to Sleepaway Camp and Gigli.
  • Ben Affleck starred in Gigli.  He had a role in 200 Cigarettes as well.
  • Gigli featured Elaine Klimaszewski, who was also in Date Movie.
  • Finally, there was Salvatore Vassallo.  He made his return after being in the movie Showgirls.
  • Have you seen Gigli?  I don’t think it’s as bad as people say it is.  Do you?  What do you think of my theory of movies?  Share your thoughts in the comments.  I’m sure I’ll appreciate them after this post.
  • What I definitely will appreciate is if you share suggestions for movies to watch in the future.  Put them in the comments or on my Twitter timeline.  They help me schedule movies.
  • Want to see clips of some of the stuff I watch?  Check out my snapchat.  You’ll get clips sometimes.  You’ll get weird pictures I find sometimes.  You’ll get weird letterboxd lists I find sometimes.  Add me under the handle jurassicgriffin.
  • Next week is a big week.  On Friday, the new Power Rangers movie gets released into theaters.  Of course I did a tie-in for the post on Sunday.  I’m watching Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie, which was an out of canon movie directly based on the show.  I don’t understand why it wasn’t canon either.  That’ll be out next week, so stay tuned.

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