I watched the first disc of the first season of the 1988 Superboy TV series this weekend. It's bad. Very bad. Especially the guy they got to play Lex Luthor in the first season.* Despite the fact that it really was bad, I did enjoy watching it on some level. And I got to thinking about things that are so bad that they actually cycle around and become good.
I have four reasons why I think this happens. At least for me.
Doing the "MST3K" Mystery Science Theater 3000 took the existing concept of getting together to watch bad movies and make fun of them with a running commentary. This is something that fellow Nerd Lunch contributor Jeeg and I have done with several things. When Superfriends debuted on Cartoon Network, we had a blast sitting there poking holes in all the stories and crude animation. And we watched all three Star Wars prequels together with the idea that we would just sit and make jokes about the movies. And that was good times except with Attack of the Clones which was so nonsensical that we weren't able to make any jokes. All we could do is look at each other and say, "HUH?!" Even Catwoman was an enjoyable experience when I went with a group to watch it. (Sadly, Jeeg could not make it that night.) The movie was so absurd that we just had fun laughing at it. Certainly the key to this type of experience is to share it with someone who shares your sense of humor. I've sat through many a bad movie that might have been worth watching had a buddy suffered with me.
A Rewrite Away from Being Good This reason may only apply to creative types. Sometimes, I don't mind watching a bad movie if I can see the potential in it. To me Superman III is one solid rewrite away from being an okay movie. Star Trek: Nemesis is a rewrite a away from an okay movie. X-Men III was probably two drafts away from being good. And I do get some enjoyment out of mentally fixing these movies. I have often used these movies as writing exercises by typing up revised outlines for the movies. Despite the added enjoyment, it's frustrating in a different way because they weren't too far away from getting it done right in the first place.
The One Redeemable Quality Sometimes there's a bad movie that is worth watching because of one redeemable quality. One scene may save a movie. One actor may make a movie worth enduring. I just watched Equilibrium. Not a good movie really. But Christian Bale and Sean Bean make it watchable. Star Trek V is one of the worst Star Trek movies, but the chemistry between Shatner, Nimoy and Co. has made it worth enduring for me. Dick Tracy is not enjoyable at all, except it looks great. Awesome art direction in that movie. Xanadu is hard to sit through, but there's some fun music in it. Sound of Music is a real yawner until the end when the Von Trapp family gets mauled by bears. Oh wait...I'm doing that rewrite thing, aren't I?
The Guilty Pleasure Some movies are bad. And you know it. Yet you love the movie anyway. And there's no real reason for it. Something about it clicks for you. And you won't defend it. If someone started trashing it, you'd just acknowledge that they're right. But you don't care. You announce your love for the movie anyway. For me, Desperado is such a movie. I know it's not a good movie. The plot, what little there is, is contrived and derivative. Things happen for no apparent reason. Guys have guitar cases that turn into machine guns and rocket launchers. Why? I don't know. It just happens. But that movie is so fun.
Where did the Superboy TV series fall in that list? Probably in the "a rewrite away" category. But, my three-year-old daughter enjoyed watching it just because it was Superboy. So, I suppose on some level, there was one redeemable quality about the show, too.
So, I open the floor. What are some movies or other things that are so bad that they actually become good? Does your list fit any of the reasons above or can you think of other reasons?
*So bad was Scott Wells, the actor who played Lex Luthor, that I had to IMDb him hoping that he did not work again after his departure from Superboy. I was happy to see that after one more bit part his acting career was over.