Now, you might not guess this to look at me, but I may be the only non-pothead in the western world who likes stoner movies. I saw Wayne's World in the theatre, like, five times. Don't believe me? Ask Glark. He was there, too.
I've seen Dude, Where's My Car? more times than I can count, and not just, as Rusty attests, in order to watch Ashton Kutcher and Seann "All My Names are First Names, but My First First Name Has a Mysteriously Superfluous 'N'" William Scott making out. I also really liked Dude, Where's My Car? II aka Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle.
I even liked Pootie Tang.
Here's my theory. Pretty much all movies can be slotted into four categories:
- smart smart - a movie that wants to be smart and succeeds, i.e. The Philadelphia Story
- stupid smart - a movie that tries to be smart and fails, i.e. almost anything by Steven Soderbergh
- smart stupid - an entertainingly stupid movie made by smart people, i.e. Super Troopers
- stupid stupid - an unentertainingly stupid movie made by stupid people, i.e. anything starring Rob Schneider
Okay. So maybe by now some of you regular visitors to this site have a bead on my literary habits and tastes. And maybe you can even correlate mine to yours, and figure out if you'll like or hate anything I've read based on your previous comparisons of our tastes. So let's take this exercise one step further and play the Amazon "Customers who bought this also bought..." game with our respective movie libraries. I'll show you mine if you show me yours.
The Big Lebowski
This isn't exactly a smart smart movie and it isn't quite a smart stupid movie. It's a smart movie about a simple guy. (Get your life jacket! Things are getting deep over here!) I've found that the Coen brothers' movies that I end up loving the most are the ones that seemed most messy the first time I watched them. The Big Lebowski is a classic example.
Based on the trailer, I so expected this to be an irredeemably dumb movie. Which just goes to show that trailers cannot be trusted, because Super Troopers redeemed itself within the first five minutes. It's a textbook example of a smart stupid movie.
Wet Hot American Summer
And here's another textbook example. I would never have even glanced at this movie without Wing Chun's adamant recommendation. You know that moment when you're watching a movie and something happens onscreen to reassure you that you're in more than capable hands and all you have to do is sit back, relax, and wait to be entertained? Where the movie is so easy to enjoy that you get the sense that, if they could, the filmmakers would reach through the screen and administer direct firm-yet-gentle pressure onto your diaphragm to make it even easier for you to laugh? For me that moment comes at about the one-third point in this movie, during a musical montage of the counsellors going into town for a break. Funneee!
I was sixteen when I saw this movie in the theatre, and man, did I ever miss the joke. I did not get the overdone characters. I did not get the convoluted plot. I did not get the post-ironic sentimentality. I wish I could remember what thoughts were going through my head as I watched it. Probably trying to figure out which matching-neon-socks-and-shirt combo I was going to wear to school on Monday.
This was the movie that made me realize that Richard Dreyfuss wasn't always histrionic and irritating. I'd always thought he was born that way. Rusty tells me that I would've realized this earlier if I'd watched Jaws, but I like swimming in the ocean too much to do that to myself. Not to get all film-nerdy, but this movie does the most amazing thing with its soundtrack by weaving it in and out of the actual action of the film. Rent it and pay attention to that aspect. It'll blow your mind. I think this movie may actually be smart smart, but I can't get past my girlish crush on John Milner to figure it out.
South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut
Yes, the South Park TV series bugs. But don't even tell me you don't like this movie. I don't want to hear it. And if I tell you that this is one of the most important, meaningful movies to come out in recent years, you just nod and smile, okay? And if you tell me that Satan's stirring rendition of "Up There" isn't one of the best songs you've ever heard in a musical, you're going to make me weep a single picturesque tear. For you. Because you're dead inside.
The 40-Year-Old Virgin
Maybe it's just because I haven't left the house to see a movie in over a year, but I loved this movie SO much. I was expecting it to be stupid, yes. And funny, of course. But I wasn't expecting it to have heart. I'm a sucker for heart. Steve Carell is my new secret boyfriend. If you want to share him with me, that's cool, because I've got Paul Rudd and Seth Rogen here for backup.
The Royal Tenenbaums
Like The Big Lebowski, this is a messy movie that I wasn't sure I even liked the first time I saw it. But multiple watchings (and re-watchings) have changed my tune. And years from now, when Ben Stiller has finally degenerated into Richard Dreyfuss Lite, as seems to be his destiny, let's all remember his moving portrayal of Chas Tenenbaum and sigh a little sigh together.
The Philadelphia Story
Hey, when did this list stop being about stupid movies? Well, too late now. I loveloveLOVE this movie. In fact, it might be my favourite movie of all time. Katherine Hepburn! Cary Grant! James Stewart! Witty dialogue and a snappy plot! And what's that over there? A social message, albeit a somewhat charmingly dated one? This was probably the last smart smart movie ever to be made.
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
Is this a smart stupid movie? Smart smart? Who the hell knows. Who cares? Badges? We don't need no stinkin' badges! We don't have to show you no stinkin' badges!