We all have a favorite stupid movie that we watch over and over despite knowing that it's bad -- the kind of movie that we profess to love, but when someone says they didn't care for it, we're all "Yeah, I can see that." For me, that's all my favorite movies. "Quality" cinema like Citizen Kane and Pacific Rim is fine for what it is, but when you show me nonsensical dialogue, uninspired special effects, and gratuitous violence, I will swallow each ludicrous frame, digest every syllable of stilted dialogue, until I become ill and bloated with secret meaning. And then I'll puke that meaning all over you, like a mother bird feeding her young.
Hope you brought an umbrella, readers, because this column's about to get messy.
#5. Doom Explores the Nature of Morality
I want to clarify right away that I actually rewatched all these movies specifically for this article over a very short time span. For Doom, I had hoped that the hazy memories of late-night double features in my twilight years of high school would inoculate me against the stupidity, but in the end I just wasn't prepared for how bland and fucking forgettable this movie is. But the low quality shouldn't be all that surprising: Not only is this a video game adaptation, but it stars "Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson" way back when he was just "The 'Dwayne Johnson' Rock" and ... wait, Karl Urban is in this? I love that dude! He's the most badass part of everything he's ever been in because his face looks like someone drew a frown on a giant walking knuckle.
Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
Killer grimaces aside, this movie seriously sucks, don't watch it. Except the part where it (sort of) disassembles everything you know about the nature of morality. You should watch that part twice.
The Secret Message
Early on, a character named Goat is bitten by a demon. He starts to turn into one, because this whole script is clearly a zombie movie that was hastily rewritten into an Aliens knockoff. When he realizes that he's DOOMed, he decides to save his friends by slamming his face into a wall until he dies.
At least I think that's what's happening. They kinda forgot to light this scene.
Later we learn that when a demon "infects" you, it can go one of two ways: If you're an inherently bad person, it turns you into a monster, but if you're an inherently good person, it gives you superhuman reflexes and a healing factor. According to the movie, this is because it accesses the genetic code of your soul.
This is where shit gets real: Goat was genetically predisposed toward being a bad person, but he was willing to sacrifice himself for the greater good. Karl Urban's John Reaper, on the other hand, says he's "done terrible things," but when he gets infected by the magic-demon serum, he gets really good at playing first-person shooters and saves the day. That means that Reaper is a good person on the inside (promise!); he just doesn't do anything good. Goat (some side character) was born shitty, but overcame that shittiness to become selfless enough to make the ultimate sacrifice by head-banging himself to death.
Basically, Doom makes the exact same point David Wong made last year, only this movie doesn't realize it's making that point, because if it did, Goat would be the hero of the whole damn story, and not just the lone hero of my aching heart.
I'll never forget you, Goat. And good job in House of Cards.
#4. Batman & Robin Is About Batman's Homosexuality
Batman & Robin is the most uncontroversially terrible movie I could bring up. I'm talking 12 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. Rewatching it for notes and screencaps is the most hazardous thing I've ever done for my career, and I once spent an entire week reading Reddit. It's so bad that when my roommate walked in on me watching this movie, I immediately slammed my laptop shut, and I can only hope she assumed I was watching porn.
I wasn't watching porn. But I was watching a movie that is all about how much Batman loves dicks.
The Secret Message
What you have to understand is that gayness has always been a major part of Batman's character. Sure, the higher-ups at DC insist he's straight, but the folks actually writing the character disagree, and when I have to choose between trusting a guy in a fancy tie and a guy who claims to have traveled to other dimensions, I'm always going to pick the latter. Even Frank Miller insists that Batman "would be much healthier if he were gay," and this is Frank Miller talking.
This is Frank Miller smiling.
From the perspective of a writer preparing to write a story within the existing Batman mythology, the gay subtext is hard to ignore: The guy is a reclusive billionaire leading a double life revolving primarily around other men and fetish gear. Sure, you're not wrong if you write him straight, but it makes more sense to say "Hey, maybe sometimes there are cocks in him."
Obviously I'm using this picture.
Enter Joel Schumacher. Aside from his use of surface-level gay stuff (the celebration of the male form in the outfits with massive codpieces; the fact that every fight scene looks like it was lifted from musical theater), he takes it a step further and makes overcoming heterosexuality a major part of Bruce's story arc.
Sure, Bruce Wayne has a girlfriend in this movie named [didn't catch it] and played by [who gives a shit she has like two minutes of screen time], but she's mostly presented as something he has to figure out how to ignore. Every time they're together, he's making excuses to keep the relationship from moving forward: "I'm not the marrying kind," he says, "There are parts of me you wouldn't understand."
Ladies: If a guy says that to you, it's not because he's Batman.
But the more telling part is how Batman deals with Poison Ivy's mind-control pheromones. Through the movie, Wayne manages to overcome not only Ivy's seduction, but the sexual advances of the aforementioned smoking-hot blonde supermodel, and the whole time he seems confused as to why he's sexually attracted to Poison Ivy at all. When Batman explains his suspicions to Robin, the younger hero is all [doofy voice] "You've got some real issues with women!"[/doofy voice] The big scene before the final battle shows Batman convincing Robin to suppress his heterosexuality in order to do battle with her. If that doesn't convince you, there's also the fact that George Clooney said he portrayed Batman as gay on purpose. That might be relevant.
My point is that while Joel Schumacher made a terrible movie, that might only be because he was trying to do something that's almost impossible to pull off. So partial credit for you, Joel Schumacher.
Chris Weeks/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
And good job on House of Cards.
#3. Two and a Half Men Studies the Perils of Modern Masculinity
They must feel sooooo stupid in their space mansions.
Why is this stupid show so successful?
The Secret Message
The premise of Two and a Half Men is a metaphor for the two different kinds of masculinity the modern kid has to choose between. On the one hand, we have Charlie Sheen: a hard-drinking, lazy, womanizing misogynist who's successful, handsome, morally bankrupt, and completely miserable. On the other hand, we have Jon Cryer, who's effeminate, weak-willed, respectful/submissive to women (depending on the episode), and ... also completely miserable. Yup: He has no good role models to teach him how to become a man, and he is forced to go out into the world to find guidance on his own.
Miley Cyrus is his best bet, apparently.
It seems like this might be screwing him over. Jake was portrayed as precocious, but in later seasons he became kind of a dipshit. Either he's suppressing his own intelligence out of frustration at his life's inherent lack of direction, or making one of the characters really stupid just allowed the writers more room for doofy jokes. It's sorta unclear how much of this was intended.
Because this show isn't just dumb, it's also bad. That isn't always the case. Some "dumb" movies are actually pretty good despite their apparent stupidity, like ...