Last night I watched Encino Man and it just reminded me of some other films that I really enjoy but were similarly (especially looking back now) cheezy. To be fair, they aren’t “god awful messes” but they still suffer from things like bad acting, and poor script writing, etc, and the quintessential synthesizer music that dominated the 80’s. The films listed below (in no particular order mind you) are ones that I find to be pure brainless, low budget, and ultimately overlooked entertainment…kind of like 5 episodes of Friends seen back to back to back. At the very least they deserve a second viewing (or first depending on the person).
Behold the G-S-T Quick 5 – Cheezy (but still fun) Films:
1.) Encino Man – Now I grew up with this movie and it was a time when MTV actually played “music videos” (shocking, I know) and Pauly Shore was still making a name for himself. Interesting premise that a caveman trapped in ice from the ‘Ice Age’ is unknowingly unearthed by two high school students. That’s where this remotely straight lined plot segues to this wild and unlikely story where the uncool high-schoolers attempt to get popular by having this caveman be their friend. Pauly Shore is reigned in here and despite his off putting (almost Andy Dick-esqe) antics in later films is quite enjoyable and funny especially on repeat viewings.
Sean Austin, although well intended is actually a bit of a jerk in his quest to become popular. Brendan Fraser, who (like Adam Sandler) began a series of “social isolate” roles, does a decent job at portraying the mono-syllabic “Cro-magnon man” and pretty much is the high point of the film. Throw in some short but sweet lines from Richard Masur and this movie (despite some very weak and pretty stupid plot devices for most of the middle of this film) is still just a fun escapist event.
2.) The Arrival – Now I don’t know why everyone thinks this movie is so bad. To me, this is the most tolerable film on the list. Personally, I really like this movie but I do agree that Charlie Sheen went through a rough patch of movies (actually a big rough patch) and this happened to fall among them ultimately causing most to overlook this (and associate it with the likes of Beyond the Law and Money Talks) but this movie actually has a pretty cool concept.
The ground work for a wildly interesting and entertaining thriller was laid very well: a brilliant signals analyst discovers alien signals, not just coming to earth, but coming from earth dun, dun, dun. A ‘conspiracy’ cat and mouse game unfolds and it seems that everything Sheen fears is wrong actually is wrong and getting worse. The best part of the movie was it’s ending and it is, what I believe, one severely untapped well of sequel potential. Now I know what you’re saying, they already did a low budget sequel (and so low budget that even the SciFi channel is calling that low budget) but no one will admit to it’s existence, not even its writers:P So, in terms of this movie’s wide open possible story line arcs, this movie could (I hope, one day) follow the Stargate model and create an expanding universe of successful TV shows…just saying, it could happen.
3.) The Wizard – For those of us who were young enough to marvel at the 8-bit technological wonder that was the Nintendo Entertainment System (or NES) you probably were on board to see the very first (not adaptation mind you) video game inspired movie. Now lets be honest: The Wizard was a 90 minute commercial for Super Mario Brothers 3 (wrapped around an attempted heartfelt family story) that only made good with about 10 minutes of actual SMB 3 footage. Still it got me to drag my mom to see it.
This contrived story follows a family, torn apart by the untimely death (drowning) of one character’s twin sister…family movie huh? Luckily that was just told through exposition and not flashbacks. Well the surviving twin Jimmy, now about 9 or 10 and all but shut down externally, is put in a home becasue of his unwillingness to communicate with the outside world. When his slightly older brother (an assumed 12 year old Fred Savage – yes, Wonder Year’s Fred Savage) breaks him out the two head to California (for whatever they think they would find in California). Along the way, the 10 year old Jimmy discovers that his internalization (think a child like Rain Man) has caused him to be awesome at video games, and through the help of another quasi-run away, the trio heads off to the official Nintendo video game championship, called Video Armageddon (conveniently taking place in California).
Now despite my inferred or apparent sarcasm in my writing the above, I really do like this movie, but there are just so many bad parts that its tough to get people to watch it, let alone admit that they too enjoy this film. Among the plot holes, and inconsistent film footage (that after years of watching this are all I see now) this film is just fun to watch when there’s really nothing else on. Now one final bit of info for you still reading this entry, there is about a 3 second sequence near the end before the championship finals begin where (if you look close enough) you’ll see a 10 year old Tobey McGuire…you could call that an Easter Egg if you want and that’s got to be worth something to someone, right?
4.) Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure – Right off the bat, let me try to justify this to fans who will probably defend this movie and gripe me out for listing it this type of post. I love this movie, it’s probably one of my favorite 80’s movies and yes it had, a good budget, pretty good script, and up and coming/established actors…buuuuut, you can’t honestly tell me that after all these years it still stands the test of time.
It’s a goofy, fun ‘adventure’ and kind of historically accurate too…ha, ha, ha I couldn’t keep from laughing while typing that last part. But its still a good time, kind of like the new G.I.Joe movie. Finally, admit to yourself it is cheesy. Even when it came out they weren’t trying to be serious, but they did accomplish what it set out to do – give people a good time, a fun ‘buddy flick’ and some great one liners…so let’s just move on.
5.) Mannequin – Now who in their right mind imagined a movie where a time traveling Egyptian princess inhabits the mannequin designed by a charmingly incompetent struggling artist?? I’ll tell you who, someone whose parents survived the 60’s and who found out that acid flashbacks can be genetically transmitted. This final addition to our “cheezy” list really takes the cake, and the movie would be an absolute nose dive of a film (much like the sequel) if not for 3 very key elements…First, Kim Cattrall: who didn’t have a crush on her?? She was a fun, beautiful counterpart to Meg Ryan who was the female heart throb in the 80’s…nuff said. Second, and its a combo here, Estelle Getty (in a rare, non aged Golden Girls appearance) and G.W. Bailey (of Police Academy fame) offered just enough funny and memorable one liners to make their lesser screen time more enjoyable. Third…and no, it’s not Andrew McCarthy, but Meshach Taylor. Hands down the “Steve Urkel” of the movie, stealing every scene with his over the top but hysterical (I think anyway) flamboyant antics. A lot of things are funny to kids, but to me this movie still makes me laugh to this day.
So what do you all think? Anything more deserving make the cut you want to suggest?? Anyone agree with my list??