Bad Movies Are Great: Here’s Why

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Photo credit: Roberta Macedo

If I mentioned a movie released this year that had higher gross revenues than blockbusters like Thor: Love and Thunder, Elvis and Lightyear, I’m sure people would be shocked to learn that Minions: Rise of Gru was the movie in question. The Minions movie was an incredible commercial success and paved the way for the Despicable Me franchise to become the first animated film franchise in history to gross four billion dollars. This comes as a shock to teen and adult viewers, as this spin-off prequel has next to nothing to offer in the way of a deep and thoughtful story.

Simply put, the Minions movie – and many other movies – is pretty bad. The humor, animation style and simple plot are designed for a target audience of children and there is apparently little to be gained from the film other than light entertainment. However, pop culture trends have lent themselves to the novelty of a bad movie becoming an unforgettable experience to enjoy with friends and family.

“If you can watch a movie that’s…so absurd it amazes you, no one should take that pleasure away from anyone,” said James Lee, a film critic with more than 15,000 monthly readers.

The #gentleminions trend – where groups dressed up in formal wear to watch the kids’ movie – swept the internet in a frenzy. The similar #morbiussweep handle had people on the internet laughing hysterically at the false positive buzz generated by a soulless, critical film. Either way, crowds of young adults were heading to their local theaters not to see a great movie, but a terrible movie. In other words, these movies are so bad they’re good.

An outrageously bad movie that becomes cult is nothing new. Tommy Wiseau’s The Room has been touted by many sources as one of the worst movies ever made, but it nonetheless has a devoted group of fans who enjoy revisiting a movie disaster. Wiseau’s 2003 film was meant to be a dramatic tragedy reminiscent of Shakespeare, but its art direction missed the mark in that it is now considered a comedy.

The interconnected nature of the internet has allowed inside jokes to proliferate widely and this has led to the tendency to like bad movies to skyrocket in popularity. It’s realistic that such a bold and terrible film would carve out a modern media niche in the near future. Audiences for a “so bad it’s good” movie would likely be through the roof and enterprising directors would likely soon see the dollar signs. As long as the film scratches that itch properly, it’s not entirely unreasonable for one of these films to join the illustrious list of cinematic “classics.”

These bad films send positive reverberations through American cinemas. Photos with more than 50 children in costume in front of the Minions credits score hundreds of thousands of likes on social media. The Morbius mockery gained such popularity that corporate monolith Sony was convinced to re-release the film only to end up with a hilarious and unprofitable re-opening weekend. These cultural thrills are funny, but more importantly, they bring people back to the theater following an isolated pandemic where movies were consumed mostly at home.

Now that the guns have been hoisted and the masks lifted, the pandemic seems like a distant memory. However, the isolation experienced during the pandemic can have a lasting impact on mental health. People increasingly feel that their social skills have diminished and it is becoming increasingly difficult for individuals to be vulnerable to others. As a result, it seems like a perfect time for the spectacle of watching a bad movie with a group of people to gain popularity in 2022. These movies are the perfect stress buster in a world full of anxiety. These days, it feels good to kick back, whisper with buddies, and munch on popcorn while a movie plays on the screen. Even if the film is horrible, the experience can make him feel otherwise.

Jayden Cohen is a freshman majoring in Business Analytics at Miami Herbert Business School.

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