5 Mediocre Movies Made Awesome by Real Events
Like competitive siblings born to a critical mother, Life and Art have never really gotten along that well. The constant parallels drawn by critics and the endless accusations of imitating one another have caused the relationship to crumble. Art has even tried to branch out on its own, seeing as art is the only one mobile enough to do so (life, for the sake of this metaphor, is probably in a wheelchair or something since it's harder to move and always just a little sadder). Yet, even with distance between them critics remain unhappy, crying about how out of touch they've become.
Ugh.Nowhere is the rivalry more apparent than in the context of film versus reality. Audiences demand that the two feel the same but look completely different. Consequently, it's a nice change of pace when you catch Life and Art accidentally working together in cinema. I've collected five movies that, alone, are mediocre at best, but coupled with the real life circumstances surrounding each film they are catapulted into greatness. It's like seeing a child stand on the shoulders of his handicapped brother in order to reach new heights, or two siblings working together in a brilliant column to beat a dead horse of a metaphor across two paragraphs.
Reunion in FranceIn the early 1940s, studios hadn't figured out yet that movies could be more visually aesthetic than a filmed high school play. Without believable special effects or a mastery of cinematography, the best movies relied on outstanding dialogue, acting and plot to carry the story. Reunion in France was unique to the era in that it had none of these. The film was such a colossal failure that when the female lead, Joan Crawford was interviewed years later she said, "Oh God. If there is an afterlife and I am to be punished for my sins, this is one of the pictures they'll make me see over and over again."
"Stop it, please!"The film stars John Wayne as a downed American pilot in occupied France who stays hidden from Nazis with the help of Joan Crawford. Also, they start to fall in love. The movie was made in 1942 and apparently by that point in the war, our country was so used to building weapons they forgot how to make anything that didn't inflict pain. How Reality Intervened:John Wayne seemed like a perfect fit for the role of a WWII soldier, fighting alongside the French Resistance behind enemy lines. He was cast partially because he embodied the patriotism and masculinity America yearned for in a hero, and partially because all the other actors were busy
Why would a democracy need a Duke anyway?So, watching Reunion in France , knowing that it was made during the Second World War and seeing one of the only actors without any context for the role stumble and sweat his way through it makes it a little more enjoyable to sit through.
AmericathonIn 1979, United Artists released a comedy that took place 20 years in the future. A powerful conglomerate of Native Americans threatens to foreclose on the federal government unless it can raise enough money to stay afloat. The solution is a telethon for America. The movie didn't do very well and quickly disappeared. It bombed because it relied on the absurdly prophesied state of America in the future for most of its laughs. One of the kindest critics of the film in 1979 said, "The premise of
Hang on a second, that Chinese girl is freakishly tall.It's certainly more interesting to watch today if for no other reason than its bizarre accuracy. Still for a movie that's designed to be hilarious, it feels like a cruel mockery of the most significant events of the last few decades. It's like watching a romantic comedy that takes place entirely on a 9/11 flight.
Less Than ZeroIt was a customary practice in the 80s to take good, contemporary books and
"Hey! It's me, Joe! Hey! Where're you going?"And that's where the similarities end. The film adopts a weirdly insistent anti-drug message that didn't exist in the book and as movie ends with the three main characters learning lessons and saving one another from the depravity of Los Angeles, you can't help but scan the credits for a DARE logo. The movie certainly has good moments, specifically any scene with Robert Downey, Jr. as he plays a self-destructive addict who's slowly killing himself.
Slap ShotA perennial theme in sports movies is victory for the underdog. Universal tried to capitalize on that theme with the 1977 movie
The name is just cursed.The solution? As of March 2010, the team is actually moving south , and Johnstown gets kicked in the ribs one more time by circumstance. Watching this movie with all the current context makes the story that much more heartbreaking and even people indifferent to hockey can't help but root for the success of Paul Newman and his Chiefs.
Kickboxing AcademyThe 90s are responsible for some of the
Oh, nooooo.Yes, the romantic leads are siblings. Why they would cast a brother and sister in these roles makes about as much sense as someone green-lighting a project called Kickboxing Academy without any real fight sequences. Still, the movie instantly becomes tolerable and even fun to watch given the knowledge that no matter how much you're suffering, the leads are suffering infinitely more. I can't think of a better or more literal way for the Art and Life siblings to join forces than a brother and sister making out in a kid's movie... unless maybe one of them was crippled.