Pretty much everyone under the age of … well, pretty much everyone alive in 2016 was partially raised by Hollywood (for good or ill, but that’s not this article’s concern). Most of us retain movies from our childhood that we delight in sharing with our own children. Willow, Goonies, and The Breakfast Club are three of mine. On the flip side, though, most of us also have movies that we loved in our youth but that we would be slightly embarrassed, at the least, to show our children. Although, even in our embarrassment and protestations of “come on, I was just a kid!” we still harbor the wish that our kids, too, will find the joy that we did in the bad movies of our youth. Below are five of the wonderfully bad movies that I will show to my children (but only when I’m ok with my taste in movies being mocked).
5. Dream a Little Dream
As a kid, baseball cards taught me about percentages and decimal points. The 1989 movie Dream a Little Dream, however, didn’t teach me a single thing about consciousness, meditation, or anything remotely connected to metaphysics. Maybe it wasn’t supposed to teach me anything apart from the fact that Corey Feldman looks weird when he runs, but while watching it, I sure felt like something was going over my head. What I didn’t miss was the fun wrapped up in this weird, almost nonsensical story about teenagers whose confusion and angst felt familiar. By the way, as an adult, watching the movie reveals that there is nothing of substance in the movie to go over anyone’s head. It was simply the nonsensical plot playing tricks with my underdeveloped brain.
4. Ernest Saves Christmas
I’m not sure if labeling Jim Varney an “actor” is an insult to the profession or to Jim Varney. Regardless, those of us of a certain age were raised on the stupid, poorly done, and exuberant Ernest movies that made Jim Varney famous-ish (I’m using “stupid,” of course, in its most charming sense). And we loved those movies. Ernest Saves Christmas is the most heartwarming of the entire Ernest canon (reading the words “Ernest canon” should reveal a layer to the movies that many have never before considered). In fact, Ernest Saves Christmas became a holiday tradition for many of us in the same vein as “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer,” white elephant gift exchanges, and fruitcake. Reintroduce yourself to this holiday *cough* classic, and root for an Ernest Christmas that has a joy that can never be conquered.
3. The Last Starfighter
This 1984, “Michael Myers“-directed sci/fi movie is the poor man’s Star Wars. Nay, change that to destitute man’s Star Wars. There is, or rather, should be a measure of movie-watching grace extending to special effects-laden movies of yesteryear. It’s unfair to hold filmmakers of the past to the same standard as current filmmakers are held in respect to special effects. That being said, The Last Starfighter fails to reach the standard expected of special effects in the early ’80s. Neither that nor its rice-paper-thin plot prevents the movie from being any less inspiring, though. For those of us who watched The Last Starfighter as a kid, we couldn’t help but hope that Centauri would show up whenever we were playing “Galaxian.”
2. Mac and Me
One of the common complaints from movie lovers of today is that Hollywood has surrendered even the pretense of originality. Well, Mac and Me (as well as number three on this list) proves that Hollywood’s current lack of originality isn’t even original. Blatantly ripping off E.T., this movie about a cute alien who becomes friends with a boy frequently makes critics’ “Worst Movies Ever” lists. An honor that is unfair. This incredibly bad movie is also incredibly fun. Plus, it made an already cool McDonald’s even cooler. In the ’80s, if you had never had a birthday party at McDonald’s then you never truly had a birthday party; Mac and Me confirmed that.
1. No Holds Barred
No Holds Barred stars Hulk Hogan. No kid, or no boy, at least, who came of age during the ’80s could resist the cheesy, boisterous allure of Hulk Hogan. This helps explain why this movie even exists. Hulk Hogan was a star before No Holds Barred. Considering his target audience, No Holds Barred only made him more famous in the eyes of those of us who loved Hulk’s Hollywood star vehicle. Although I still “secretly” love this movie, there is no denying that almost every single aspect of it is terrible (David Paymer is good, though). As a side note, writing about No Holds Barred makes me once again long for a movie co-starring Sgt. Slaughter and Jake the Snake. If that last sentence makes sense to you, a Hulk Hogan movie at #1 on this list also makes sense to you. The rest of you should familiarize yourself with possibly the best bad movie of the last three decades.