With the impending Oscars, there’s recent dialogue about what makes a “good” movie. Expert opinion has merit. They have critically analyzed, painstakingly produced, and consumed thousands of films. Their decades of experience provides eons of expertise that is invaluable to young filmmakers. However, I think it’s criminally misguided to assume that expert opinion is the opinion. Just because an expert says that a film is “bad” doesn’t mean that it’s not a “good” movie. What I mean by this is, a film’s success is not based on box office success or a nuanced revelation. A film’s success is based upon the visceral reaction, a term coined by a former professor of mine, Craig Erpelding, that the audience has while watching the film. A visceral reaction can be anything from crying to laughing to laughter-induced tears. As long as the reaction is strong, it’s visceral. While I have many favorite films, I think that there are several “bad” examples that have done an amazing job at feeling. The following list is a condensed collection of films that exist in Media Services that have given this film student a visceral reaction.
When an uptight FBI agent is tasked with bringing down a drug lord, she is forced to partner up with the local officer, a lippy agent who likes working alone. Together, they use unconventional methods to gather leads, make arrests, and uncover the truth. Starring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy, this film has adventure, mystery, and comedy. The acting is a particular stand out, as Bullock and McCarthy are electric together. I watched this film with my own family, who use language similar to McCartney’s character, and we could not stop laughing. Sensitive ears and eyes beware—this film has strong, harsh language and scenes of gore.
When a hesitant lawyer lets her hair down to surprise her boyfriend, his wife opens the door. An unlikely friendship forms as the two track down other mistresses and uncover his shady business dealings. Starring Leslie Mann, Cameron Diaz, and Kate Upton, this feel-good comedy is a love letter to friendship, regardless of how it starts. The trio make an unlikely dynamite cast, with the “wife, the brains, and the boobs” together, the three are more than entertaining. My mom and I love this film, as it leaves us with a sense of sisterhood, security, and self. Sensitive ears beware—there is some strong language in this film.
A fifteenth century female landscaper gets the opportunity of a lifetime when she’s asked to design King Louis XIV’s grand garden. Haunted by a recent personal tragedy, and project setbacks, she struggles to complete the grand garden. Starring Kate Winslet, this film has amazing set design, costuming, and score, and will leave you longing for more period pieces. My sister and I particularly love this movie, as its swoon-worthy dialogue leaves us ready to launch ourselves into the fifteenth century. Sensitive eyes beware—there are some sexual scenes and scenes of child loss.
Three men fight to release a prisoner thought to be the benevolent twin of the evil King XIV. After the death of his son, one of the men swears that the King is behind it, and fights to get him off the throne. However, one of his friends is an advisor to the young king. One of Leonardo DiCaprio’s early roles, this film has action, romance, and a dash of comedy. This is another one of my sister and I’s favorites, as it marries telenovela’s dramatic twists with European history. Sensitive eyes beware—there is scenes of child loss, sex, and fighting.
After his father, a dishwasher, slowly begins to break down, a young robot decides to show off his invention to a world-famous inventor. Instead, he uncovers a sinister plot to rid the world of “lesser” robots. This animated adventure has an absolute stacked cast. Mel Brooks, Ewon McGregor, Amanda Bynes, Jennifer Coolidge, Halle Berry, Robin Williams, and more, are all voice talents in this amazing film. I loved Robots as a child, but I love it as an adult for several reasons. It has stood the test of time, as it comments on economic status, ethnic cleansing, and embraces bigger robots. Robots has something for everyone—whether you’re an admirer of animation, adventure, or corny jokes, this film is for you!
After a socialite gets one of his staff pregnant, her mother, a witch, curses all of the girls born into the family to have pig features. You read that right, a snout nose and thin ears will be bestowed upon baby girls of the Wilhern family. After being humiliated by the family, a suitor decides to reveal her identity. He hires someone to try to get a photo of her, but the hired help ends up falling in love with her. Catherine O’Hara plays the overbearing mother to Penelope, played by Christina Ricci, in this film. The mise-en-scene of this movie is very 2000’s, matching with films like Nanny McPhee, The Santa Clause 3, and A Series of Unfortunate Events. Another childhood favorite, this movie has love, adventure, and a strong sense of self.
When she’s thrown in jail after her husband’s murder, Libby Parsons grows suspicious after her son disappears with the woman she entrusted him to. Released on parole, Libby decides to find him. Starring Tommy Lee Jones and Ashley Judd, this thriller particularly stands out for its original plot. While the interpretation of double jeopardy is technically wrong, it’s still a very enjoyable film in one of the most underrated genres: 90’s crime thrillers. Sensitive eyes beware—this film has violence and some blood.
The gang is back together in live action—as the costumes of their unmasked criminals are stolen. The gang races to figure out who is behind it before the costumes come back to life. Starring Freddie Prince Jr., Sarah Michelle Gellar, Matthew Lillard, and Linda Cardellini, this film screams fun. I have a hard time watching any other Scooby-Doo adaptation, as this one is the best. The casting is the particular strength of this film, as Matthew Lillard is a particular standout.
Though these films rank relatively low by film critics like Rotten Tomatoes, they are successful. They channel a sentimental, hopeful, and even goofy feeling from this author. Attached to them are stories that are inspirational and that deliver one crucial message—be yourself, unapologetically. All of these films are available for checkout at Media Services. For more recommendations, visit the author at the desk on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights.
Abby Welch is a senior at IU studying Media and Cinema Arts with a specialization in Screenwriting. She holds minors in Spanish and History. Last year, she was admitted to the 4+1 Masters of Library Sciences program. She has been with Media Services for one year and this is her second blog post.