The Top 10 Movies You Won't Admit You Love
Everyone has that pile of cherished DVDs at home that they push to the back of the shelf, or bury under copies of Die Hard, Robocop and Braveheart. Those movies you go to in times of distress, movies that can make the manliest of men seem a little too in touch with their sensitive side (i.e. movies that make you cry like a little girl) or their weird sense of humor. You might not quote from them while you’re hitting on the hot girl in your poli-sci class, but here are the top 10 movies you love but won’t admit to loving.
10. What About Bob?
This highly underappreciated Bill Murray comedy from 1991 is one of those movies that makes you laugh every single time, but that most people won’t actually admit is at the top of their favorite comedies list – or at least at the top of their favorite Bill Murray (or Richard Dreyfuss, who's equally hilarious) movies list. It’s an unusual role for Murray, whose character Bob Wiley is sincere and loving and neurotic to a fault. For an actor whose bread and butter were sarcastic, biting, overconfident leading men roles in the ‘80s and ‘90s this was a hilarious change of pace. If anything it makes me wonder why he didn’t go this route more often.
There was a time when Tim Burton had talent to spare, and could make a dark comedy as outlandish as Beetlejuice a really, really funny movie. And here was a very weird cast: Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis and Michael Keaton. Which casting director concocted that line-up? The really weird thing is that this was Keaton’s warm-up for 1989’s Batman. Only Burton could see the guy who played a vile, horny, scamming ghost as a perfect fit for the Dark Knight. And history would of course prove him right. I’m not sure why it’s so in vogue to dismiss Beetlejuice as an inferior flick, but it doesn’t seem to be taken seriously by either Burton fans or cinephiles. Inferior flick it is not. Take that battered DVD of Beetle Juice and put it front and center with Batman and Batman Returns; save your shame for Burton movies that deserve it: Planet of the Apes, Big Fish, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
8. Good Will Hunting
If you ask most guys whether they like this movie they’ll probably cop to it – the first time. It might even be on their top 10 list of Best Dramas About Tough Geniuses with a Soft Spot. But ask a guy a second or third time what he thinks of it and he’ll shrug it off. Why? Because this movie speaks to every young guy who sees himself, deep down, as the wounded, underappreciated genius who has the potential to change the world but is beat down by the vicissitudes of mediocrity and small minds that are unable to appreciate his brilliance. Which is to say, it speaks to just about every guy in college, math and philosophy majors most of all. But no guy will admit that he indulges in this romanticized self-image – especially since most can barely get through intermediate algebra, much less do advanced organic chemistry equations on napkins. So how do you admit to loving Good Will Hunting without owning up to your delusions of smartness? I find emphasizing the quality of the acting and writing, and the fact that it was Matt Damon’s first baby-step toward becoming one of modern cinema’s top 5 badasses – Jason Bourne – helps disguise the fact that I have a very misguided sense of self-worth.
7. When Harry Met Sally
Few men will admit to loving this movie, despite its hilariousness, without subjecting them to what would under the Geneva Conventions count as torture. I don’t remember the last time I was at a poker game and after lighting up our cigars one of the guys off-handedly remarked, “Man, I keep waiting for someone to make another romantic comedy as funny and heart-warming and cute as When Harry Met Sally. I mean, do I have to beg for more Meg Ryan or what?” (For purposes of journalistic integrity I should disclose that I don’t remember the last time I played poker or partook of cigar smoking, either). But the fact of the matter is that this was one of the great Billy Crystal comedies, romantic or not. It was – if I may be so bold – one of the best romantic comedies ever made, setting the mold for future greats, such as Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail. Are those movies the equivalent of kryptonite to most red-blooded American men? Perhaps. But let’s just keep one thing in mind before you go smack talking When Harry Met Sally to your buds, knowing in your heart of hearts that you love it: this rom-com wasn’t directed by some lovey-dovey woman, but by a man, Rob Reiner (who, it should be noted, gave us classics such as Spinal Tap and A Few Good Men). I propose that if you don’t think you could take Reiner in a hamburger eating contest or arm wrestling match, you should either say something nice or say nothing at all.
6. The Goonies
For all of you born in the ‘80s, you’ve probably seen this movie at some point during your childhood and loved it. But now when your friends start listing off awesome movies from the ‘80s – Back to the Future, Aliens, Predator – The Goonies gets mysteriously omitted. Why? Because it stars a bunch of kids? (Including Sean Astin, who would prove that some people get a second chance. And a third. And a fourth…) Because it’s a modern day fairy tale? Because it’s about friendship, instead of violent aliens or time travel? Well, whatever the reasons for this conscious omission, it was and still is one of the oft overlooked gems of the ‘80s, and everyone who grew up watching it knows this. So next time you’re reminiscing with your crew about the coolest movies of the ‘80s, be a man and list this awesome film about a bunch of adventurous boys.