Spare me the movies honored by film festivals attended by Hollywood wannabes tagging along after Hollywood elites bestowing blessings on existentially bereft characters. Forget cinematic musings on the meaning of life. Don’t bother recommending “films” raved about by critics and showered with Rotten Tomatoes. Show me a stupid movie. Make me laugh.
We have a tradition in our family of curling up on our couches and watching movies which we affirm to be stupid, with the hope that they will also be amusing.
My personal all-time favorite movie (encompassing stupid as well as non-stupid categories) is Animal House, a work of art enhanced by the unsubtly brilliant John Belushi. This movie happened to come out just as I was starting a job as a dorm director (actual title — Head of House) at Wellesley College. I had just finished a master’s in counseling, and it seemed a good place to start my professional life. Lo and behold, this magnificent movie made its debut and I found myself surrounded by students running around in togas. I have seen the movie approximately umpteen times since then and received the 25th anniversary edition as a birthday gift. Who can forget such classic lines as “Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life.” and “As of this moment, they’re on double secret probation!”
When my husband and I visit my daughter and son-in-law (they’re about an hour from here via Jet Blue, when the airline isn’t running late), or when they’re staying with us, we try to make time for a stupid movie. When we’re home, we’re joined by our son, who lives within driving distance and whose phenomenal imitations of various actors add to the fun. The Green Family Stupid Movie Film Festival, not attended by members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (how’s that for a pompous name?), has included such gems as Office Space, Hot Fuzz, Naked Gun, The Parent Trap (Dennis Quaid edition), Tropic Thunder, Airport and Stepbrothers. I didn’t like all of these, but the family camaraderie makes up for lame jokes and bad acting.
For me, two films from our festival stand out. One is Office Space, now termed a “cult classic,” which was made in 1999 and features Jennifer Aniston and Ron Livingston. It was written and directed by Mike Judge and based on Judge’s “Milton” cartoon series. The character Milton is the best thing in the movie. There’s also a scene in the opening credits that’s one of the best ever and one with which everyone can identify. If that doesn’t pique your interest, nothing will. My husband and I liked that movie so much we watched it with our son when we returned from our visit and enjoyed it as much the second time. The other favorite is Hot Fuzz from 2007, starring Simon Pegg, which has been described as a buddy cop action comedy film. Laughing your head off at a movie you had previously never heard of is a true pleasure; it is the raison d’être of the Green Family Stupid Movie Film Festival.
Other fine flicks which I recommend for yucks, but which haven’t been featured in the family festival include Bridesmaids; Liar, Liar; The 40-Year-Old Virgin; Groundhog Day; and Bruce Almighty. Strictly for women, I’ll throw in the Channing Tatum male stripper movie Magic Mike, which I saw in an estrogen-laced theater with exactly one man in the audience, whom I gratuitously congratulated for his bravery. I also have a weakness for movies with talking animals. (My taste is such that I’m positive no film festival would allow me in.) I consider the movie Babe and the Eddie Murphy Dr. Dolittle movies to be masterpieces. And let’s not forget the Marx Brothers.
As it happened, my daughter and I watched Bridesmaids for our second time under ideal conditions. We had just picked out her wedding dress, and on the way back to her apartment, with her soon-to-be mother-in-law and two close family friends, we got stuck in a snowstorm. We finally made it back to her place, ordered pizza, watched the movie and had a sleepover while everyone waited to be plowed out. Good times.
For our next Green Family Stupid Movie Film Festival I will suggest Scott MacFarlane’s A Million Ways to Die in the West. It was made in 2014, but I just found out about it. It won’t really matter if it qualifies as good stupid or just stupid. It’s all about the company. Laughter is contagious. Feeling depressed? Stressed? Need a mental rest? Prescription: Stupid movie plus double dose of popcorn.
— Ann Green
Ann Green is a freelance writer, editor, PR consultant and tutor.