This week marked the 25th anniversary of Ghostbusters II, a sequel that very few people consider to be a good movie. Some us, though, don’t mind watching it for a few favorite moments, some of them involving Peter MacNicol, some involving Bill Murray, some involving Rick Moranis, some involving the river of slime. There are genuinely great bits in what’s otherwise a mediocre comedy, and that’s something that happens a lot.
Those gold nuggets wrapped in a ball of crap can be the stuff that makes a guilty pleasure, but when they’re really notable is when we can’t even use them to defend the bigger picture. It’s one thing to totally enjoy, say, Howard the Duck (as I do), but it’s another to only appreciate Jeffrey Jones’s performance in the diner scene and never wish to lay eyes on the rest, ever. These are the movies that are too bad for the one moment to save them, no matter how brilliant.
That’s how I feel about the Star Wars prequels, which often come up in lists and discussions of bad movies with one or two awesome scenes. One thing that keeps a lot of mixed-bad movies down is the fact that bad things typically outweigh good things in our minds when it comes to entertainment. It’s not about seeing the glass half empty or half full with The Phantom Menace so much as it’s about the glass not physically containing a sufficient amount of an ingredient to fill what the recipe for a good movie calls for.
The beauty of movie media today is that we can choose to watch or isolate pieces of movies. I’ll turn on The Lost World: Jurassic Park if it’s on cable but only if I can time it right to just see the last act, with the T. rex running amuck in San Diego. Many times it’s an action sequence, and fortunately there’s YouTube to enjoy the excellent car chases in the otherwise bad movies Bad Boys II and The Matrix Reloaded.
Occasionally you don’t have to wait for the movie to hit video either, as the studios tend to release the great scenes as clips ahead or around the time of release. I’ve been able to rewatch most of the best scene from the RoboCop remake since the beginning of the year, for instance.
What are some great scenes from bad movies?
Here are some responses received so far via Twitter:
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