Liking Not-Great Movies

Posted on July 10, 2018 at 8:00 am

I really enjoyed A. Martine’s essay in Medium, In Defense of Passion Over Talent, B Movies, and the So-Bad-It’s-Good Work of Art. An excerpt:

Although I am incredibly critical with films when it comes to quality, I also acknowledge that the issue is much more complicated than that. I have hated films that, objectively speaking, were well-made, and I have loved films that, on an intellectual level, I knew were terrible.

I am at peace with making that distinction because I’ve always had two tiers of judgment when it comes to appreciation, two definitions for “good movies”:

– the legitimately great ones that have made of me a lifelong film fanatic and aspiring screenwriter;

– the ones which, by all arguments, are not. They are incredibly tacky, downright nonsensical, challenge all credibility — and I love them.

I responded:

I think films need to be evaluated on two axes. The y-axis is the aesthetic merits of the film — it is “good?” The x-axis is a different standard: watchability. Many films are unquestionably superb, brilliantly written, filmed, and performed. And yet how often do we pull them off of the Criterion Edition shelve and watch them? The x-axis films just go down easy. They’re films to watch when you need pleasant company or have the flu. Or films to on a summer night after a day at the beach. There’s nothing wrong with movies people like, and nothing wrong with movies you like just because you like them.

I call the films in that second category “flu movies,” and those are the only ones I will buy. I don’t buy movies because they’re great; I buy them because I will watch them a lot. Of course some films are at the top of both axes, like “The Sound of Music” and “The Wizard of Oz.” And I don’t like the term “guilty pleasure.” If a movie makes you happy, you should never feel guilty about it.

Related Tags:


THE MOVIE MOM® is a registered trademark of Nell Minow. Use of the mark without express consent from Nell Minow constitutes trademark infringement and unfair competition in violation of federal and state laws. All material © Nell Minow 1995-2024, all rights reserved, and no use or republication is permitted without explicit permission. This site hosts Nell Minow’s Movie Mom® archive, with material that originally appeared on Yahoo! Movies, Beliefnet, and other sources. Much of her new material can be found at, Huffington Post, and WheretoWatch. Her books include The Movie Mom’s Guide to Family Movies and 101 Must-See Movie Moments, and she can be heard each week on radio stations across the country.

Website Designed by Max LaZebnik