I go on and on about the movies I love and hate…and I’d say I’m usually on the side of the critics. However, I’m not a bandwagon critic-lover either. I, like everyone, have films which were reviewed poorly in my bank of beloveds. Even some “bad” movies have something redeeming about them…or perhaps they’re just fond memories, hence why most of these are from the 1980s (when I was growing up). So here are 15 of my favorite “terrible” films. What are your favorite clunkers?
These ratings are based on Rotten Tomatoes, with the first percentage in parentheses being Critics, and the second being Audiences who like it. If there was no rating, I went with IMDB ratings. We’ll start with the “highest” critically rated, and go down from there…
Executive Decision – 1996 (63%/51%)
This is the rare movie that audiences hated more than critics. To this day, I can’t figure out why. Call me crazy, but I actually like this more than Air Force One. And if you’re thinking this was a ripoff, it actually came out one year earlier. The cast, including Kurt Russell, Halle Berry, John Leguizamo, and Oliver Platt, is stellar, and the action is edge-of-your-seat stuff.
Iron Eagle – 1986 (50% Audience; IMDB 5/10)
I was surprised to see that Rotten Tomatoes didn’t have one critic review of this movie. But nonetheless, this is one of those mid-80s flicks that you know isn’t that great as you’re watching…but you just can’t take your eyes off of it. Seriously? A recent high school graduate finds a way to steal planes from the Air Force, flies to the Middle East with one other guy, and rescues his dad? And his firing aim suddenly gets better when accompanied by rock music? It’s beyond implausible! However, somehow, they pull it off. Oh, and this is Larry B. Scott’s first of THREE appearances on this list. 🙂
Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo – 1984 (IMDB 4.3/10)
I know a lot of kids in the mid-80s who were sucked in to the hype of breakdancing. The three kids in my house, including myself, all were. This movie, along with its stronger predecessor, were staples on our family TV. Part 2 is more of a musical than a serious movie like the first one, which instantly makes it more dated, silly, embarrassing, and cheesy. Isn’t it great?
Spacecamp – 1986 (40%/46%)
You have a lot of your major ’80s players here – Lea Thompson, Kate Capshaw, Tom Skerritt…..Larry B. Scott!!! You even have Leaf Phoenix, who would later re-name himself Joaquin. For a kid who loved the space program, it was pretty cool to see a group of kids get launched in to space because of a silly, overly literal robot named Jinx who can “shake a leg”.
Tango and Cash – 1989 (39%/53%)
Sylvester Stallone. Kurt Russell. What more is there to say? Although the script is sub-par, these two actually had excellent chemistry on screen. Jack Palance’s villain is a bit over the top (no pun intended, Sly…), but again, his character is a victim of the script. The ending sequence is more like a video game than reality, but who cares! Overall, it’s an enjoyable buddy cop action flick.
Who’s Harry Crumb? – 1989 (30%/43%)
John Candy, although popular among audiences, took his share of critical beatings throughout his career. This was a complete ripoff of Fletch, in terms of the constant changes in disguise and the type of humor they were going for. It’s not a great movie by any means, but it does have its belly-laugh moments.
Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers – 1988 (26%/59%)
Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a HUGE fan of the original Halloween. So when this came out in 1988, fans of the series were stoked; especially after the non-Myers sequel #3 – Season of the Witch. Given, horror sequels are largely awful, but this one was a triumphant return, in my opinion. The dialogue is clunky, but the scares are there. It also has the best ending in the series, aside from the original.
Mannequin – 1987 (22%/53%)
This is a flick that I’m truly embarrassed to like. Even as a nine-year-old when it was released in 1987, I knew it just shouldn’t be for me. Perhaps Kim Cattrall kept me aroused. Perhaps I was one of the few who thought Andrew McCarthy was a decent comedic actor. But either way, I can still watch it from start to finish and be at least mildly amused.
License to Drive – 1988 (18%/58%)
This is the best movie starring both of the Coreys aside from The Lost Boys. I know that isn’t saying much, but this movie is actually really funny. Sure, it’s a complete ripoff of its better predecessors in the teen comedy genre. But who cares? If you don’t take it too seriously, and simply enjoy it for what it is, it’s worth the ride to Archie’s.
With Honors – 1994 (17%/70%)
Panned by many a critic for being predictable and sappy, it’s one that a majority of audiences actually love (see above). Is it Joe Pesci’s best performance? Not by a long shot. Brendan Fraser’s, though? Hmmmmm. I think it serves up a lot to think about morally, yet does it in a way that keeps you comfortable and entertained.
Airborne – 1993 (17%/58%)
There are only a few recognizable faces here – Edie McClurg, as well as very early roles for Seth Green and Jack Black. The cheese factor is high through most of the movie. But the rollerblading race at the end is awesome…until you get the fairy tale happy ending at the race’s conclusion. Still worth a watch.
Armed and Dangerous – 1986 (14%/38%)
This oft-forgotten John Candy, Eugene Levy, and Meg Ryan comedy was in constant rotation on HBO in the late ’80s. A cop (Candy) and a lawyer (Levy) team up and get jobs as security guards. A whole lot of shenanigans happen from there, and many of them are worth a chuckle.
Wildcats – 1986 (13%/50%)
Goldie Hawn coaches an urban football team. Sound silly? Of course it is! But it’s also very funny, despite the overwhelming amount of critics who disagree with me.
The Toy – 1982 (11%/55%)
The premise is completely insulting to African Americans – a rich white guy (Jackie Gleason) rents a “toy” (Richard Pryor) for his son. However, the movie becomes more about the power of money and greed than anything black or white. Pryor is great in this role, and provides the audience with some of his funniest moments on film.
Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise – 1987 (6%/39%)
(Larry B. Scott #3!!!) I won’t beat around the bush. This movie is terrible. The original? A classic!! This one? Awful. But even though the story is exactly the same, only done worse…I still think it’s funny. In terms of terrible sequels, I laughed more at this than I did at The Hangover Part II. A lot more. So that has to count for something.