Movies & TV / Columns

The Top 5 Guilty Pleasure Movies: Road House, So I Married an Axe Murderer, More

March 23, 2020 | Posted by Steve Gustafson
Road House

Stuck inside and running out of things to watch? Hopefully you’ll get some nice recommendations from me or from someone in the comments. 

I wanted to talk about “guilty pleasure” movies and share some of my personal favorites. Before we jump in let’s talk about what makes up a “guilty pleasure” movie because too many people will name what they think should be called one and it really isn’t. 

A “guilty pleasure” movie is on that you enjoy despite it not not generally held in high regard. Take a movie like Batman & Robin. Despite making $238.2 million worldwide, critics have it rated at 11% and audiences give it a 16% on Rotten Tomatoes. Yet, if you happen to like it, I might judge you, but that’s an acceptable “guilty pleasure” movie. 

I’ve seen some people list a Fast & Furious movie as a “guilty pleasure” and I just can’t allow it. While critics judge the early chapters pretty harshly, it has done well with fans.

Then you take a movie like John Carter. While it didn’t perform as expected, it’s a solid middle rated movie and seems to have found an audience…a bit too late. 

Here are my 5 picks, all movie that carry a low score or review and you won’t find on anyone’s “Best of…” list. Well, maybe mine. 

Honorable Mentions
The Room
Over the Top

5.Terror of Tiny Town
You might be scratching your head at this one but allow me to give you some background on this. It’s a western from the 1930s. The acting is flat, the story is cliche, and the ending is as predictable as you can imagine. The charm comes in its hook. It is the world’s only musical Western with an all-dwarf cast. 

Seeing how everything plays out and how they use the actors height in some site gags always has me in a mix of disbelief and awe of what I’m watching on the screen. You can’t look away, even though the humor is so broad and the drama so uninspiring. It’s a piece of camp from another, much different, time. 

See for yourself…

4. Ishtar
Sorry, you’ll never be able to convince me Ishtar is the “worst movie ever made”. Is it a classic? Certainly not. But so many stories have been written about the behind-the-scenes of this movie that people judge it before even seeing it. 

The actual movie might be uneven but it’s strongly a movie that falls under “so bad that it’s good”. Dustin Hoffman and Warren Beatty have an odd chemistry that works for me. You’ll find yourself laughing more than groaning at the jokes and will probably be surprised at the venom this movie receives. 

Take, for example, Gary Larson’s The Far Side comic. Some of you might be too young for it but it’s definitely worth looking for. In one of Larson’s strips, captioned “Hell’s Video Store”, the entire store is stocked with nothing but copies of Ishtar. Larson later apologized, saying, “When I drew the above cartoon, I had not actually seen Ishtar … Years later, I saw it on an airplane, and was stunned at what was happening to me: I was actually being entertained. Sure, maybe it’s not the greatest film ever made, but my cartoon was way off the mark. There are so many cartoons for which I should probably write an apology, but this is the only one which compels me to do so.”

Don’t believe the hype and check it out for yourself. 

3. Road House
I know this is borderline but with a 39% critic rating and a mid-60 audience, I’m surprised this isn’t more beloved. 

Road House closed out the 80s in pure 80s style. You had Patrick Swayze as Dalton who might look mild mannered but happens to be one of the best bouncers in the business. He takes over the Double Deuce and all sorts of trouble ensues. Mix in Kelly Lynch as the love interest and Sam Elliott as the mentor and you have a guaranteed good time. 

Oh, and don’t forget Terry Funk is in it as well. 

One of the critics on Rotten Tomatoes wrote, “Whether Road House is simply bad or so bad it’s good depends largely on the audience’s fondness for Swayze – and tolerance for violently cheesy action.”

Yes please on both! 

2. So I Married an Axe Murderer
Another mystery to me is how this movie isn’t more popular. A simple, funny, incredibly quotable romantic comedy starring Mike Myers and Nancy Travis. It has its dark moments but a strong supporting cast makes this better than what you’d expect. 

Myers plays Charlie MacKenzie, a typical guy who is afraid of commitment, who meets Harriet (Travis), who works at a butcher shop. Everything seems to fit with them but only one problem. Harriet might be a serial killer. 

Myers plays his own father, Stuart, in the movie and pretty much steals the show. Mix in a solid soundtrack and this has all the makings of a good time.

“Heid! Pants! Now!”

1. Far and Away
I can never accurately describe my love for this movie. Something about it plays like a song of a siren, luring me to watch it over and over. 

It has all the pieces to be a classic. Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman play such different characters than we’re used to seeing and director Ron Howard reaches high to bring this epic to life. It just works for me. I mean, the score is done by John Williams so how can you miss?

Not only is Far and Away my top “guilty pleasure” it’s at the top o my favorite movies of all time list. Believe me, I get plenty of looks and eye-rolls on that one.

Still, I know I can put this movie on and be entertained from start to finish. And isn’t that what it’s all about?

Alright, go easy on me in the comments. We’ve got a lot of time on our hand so list your picks below.