My Top 10 Guilty Pleasures
#3: What Women Want (2000)
Remember the days when Mel Gibson wasn’t a stark-raving nutcase? I do. For the longest time, Gibson played macho, take-charge, action-driven characters, such as in the Mad Max and Lethal Weapon films, as well as in Braveheart (1995), The Patriot (2000), and Payback (1999). What some people may not remember, was that Gibson was also a talented comedic actor, and in What Women Want, he showcased it with a good sense of flair and timing. The story revolves around Nick Marshall (Gibson), a womanizing ad executive, who magically is given the gift of hearing what women think. At first used as a tool for his own purposes, Marshall soon realizes how women actually think of him, and decides to use his power for the benefit of others instead of himself. Yes, the story is silly, but I found myself enjoying Gibson in this role, so different from what I’ve seen him in before. He has great chemistry with the female lead, played by Helen Hunt, and the rest of the supporting cast, including Marisa Tomei and Alan Alda, provide good laughs throughout the film. The set decoration provided a great environment to work in, the soundtrack is filled with Frank Sinatra, and the whole film is reminiscent of classic Hollywood slapstick. Gibson would return to much more serious roles, both on-screen and off, but here we are given the chance to see him step back, let loose, and have a little bit of fun.
#2: Far and Away (1992)
This film is one of the forgotten pieces in the careers of both its leads, Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. Directed by Ron Howard, the film centers around two Irish citizens, one poor in Joseph Donnelly (Cruise) and the other rich in Shannon Christie (Kidman). Together, they escape the hardships of their lives and head over to the newly born United States of America, where land is so vast that they literally will give it away on a first come, first serve basis. Along the way, we see Joseph take a job as a bare-knuckle boxer, and Shannon eventually work as a saloon showgirl. There are many things wrong with this film, the characters are fairly one-dimensional, the depiction of Irish immigrants is borderline offensive, and both Cruise and Kidman’s accents are damn near laughable. However, the romance between them is electric; these are two people, who at the time, were really in love, and that feeling easily comes through in their interactions together. The scope of the film is very impressive. Ron Howard was able to make a film that is amazing to look at; from the hills of Ireland, to the streets of Boston, to the vast fields of Middle America, every single moment in the film looks awe-inspiring. For the breath-taking visual aspects, along with the great romanticism between Cruise and Kidman, Far and Away is worth revisiting.
And, my #1 Guilty Pleasure Movie is…
#1: Something’s Gotta Give (2003)
Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton have got to be two of the most watchable actors of their generation. Even in a film that’s complete fluff, as in Something’s Gotta Give, the two have such youthful and spirited personalities that you can’t your eyes off them. Keaton plays Erica Barry, a famous playwright in the middle of a writer’s block. Jack plays…Jack, in all honesty, but with the name and persona of Harry Sanborn, an old-school playboy. Harry likes to date much younger women, and in the beginning of the film we find him dating Erica’s daughter, Marin (Amanda Peet). After suffering a heart attack in her beach home, Harry’s doctor (played, in a weird casting choice, by Keanu Reeves) advises him to stay where he is, which eventually leads to the interaction and eventual romance between him and Erica. These segments are the best moments of the film, as we watch these two smart, interesting people converse in a way that only flirtatious couples can. I can’t think of anyone except Nicholson and Keaton that can make a mild walk along the beach seem fun, light-hearted, and simply lovely. Unfortunately, the film descends below their standard to meet the requirements of the rom-com plot, and along the way we’re greeted with unneeded nudity, slapstick comedy, and forced, awkward situations. But the acting between Nicholson and Keaton is so good that it lifts the film above the normal fare, to make it not just a guilty pleasure, but also a darn good movie.