Jul 6, 2010

Underrated: movies I like that no one else likes

For a few days now, a list has been growing in my mind (and on little scraps of paper lying on my nightstand and in the notebook in my purse). It consists of movies I like that did not receive critical acclaim, and that is putting it politely. Some are considered trash, others just weren't as beloved as they deserved to be. However, for many and varying reasons, they have found their way into my heart. This exercise in list-making has reminded me to give every film a chance, even if I am sure the trailer has told me all I need to know.

Independence Day comes racing to the front of my mind and so to the top of the list. It is not the best of the bad, but it has its charms. I saw this movie multiple times before I realized that Dr. Okun seemed familiar and somehow likable because he was played by Brent Spiner. I was on a "Star Trek: The Next Generation" kick. It was syndicated at the time, and I would watch it whenever I could with my bff Katie and our buddy Jayson, so it all just clicked one day. His character in Star Trek is quite different from the nerdy, pompous, obnoxiously-invested-in-his-work Dr. Okun. To me, it seems, he must have drawn on his exposure to Star Trek fans to flesh out the finer nuances of a character who clearly does a lot of nerd sparring in his off time. ("Nerd sparring" describes the way in which two very nerdy people "jokingly" trash talk one another about the other's pathetic lack of knowledge regarding things that don't matter, like Star Trek trivia OR things that do matter but which are patently nerdy, like the Periodic Table of Elements. A good example can be found in the movie Trekkies, like any scene. Also, I just Googled the words "nerd sparring" and I'm pretty sure it's never been used before now. Also available were dweeb sparring and geek sparring, but I like the ring of "nerd sparring."

So, back to the movie review. Will Smith is a good actor and is good in this film. There are a lot of big stars in this movie, including one of my all time favorite actors, Jeff Goldblum. I have a thing for Jurassic Park largely because of my love of the Goldblum. His performance in Invasion of the Body Snatchers (especially playing opposite Veronica Cartwright) is what made the movie for me. Harry Connick Jr.'s performance is rather hilarious. I still marvel that he was chosen to play an elite fighter pilot. He's quirky, but in the right way.

The visual effects are totally decent. The story is as campy as any other action movie of the time. The aliens are still scary and believable. There are plenty of comedic moments peppered throughout. I am trying to think of something in this movie that I don't like. Bill Pullman's cheesy speech (and I paraphrase), "if  we win, the whole world will call July 4th Independence Day." Yeah, that part is lame.

I admit it. I have been a little bit closeted about my admiration for this film. There is a back-of-my-mind kind of secret shame going on whenever I hear Independnece Day lumped in with other so-called terrible movies by Roland Emmerich. And I finally know why thinking about Independence Day makes me feel a little guilty. It's because I like this movie, and the only thing I ever hear about it is that it is awful. I have been bullying my appreciation for this movie into a dark corner, but I can't do that if I want to call myself a critic. Whatever I like, I'm gonna like, and whatever I don't like...well, I've never had any problem expressing dislike. It felt good to get that out there. I think I'll have to do this again.

Stay tuned for the next installment in the "Underrated" Series!


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  2. I liked Independence Day fine. I've seen it about 2.5 times. Remember how everyone referred to the movie as "ID4" when it was in theaters?

  3. Yes. I thought that seemed weird since it made it sound like a third sequel. I love the opening sequence where the moon shakes as the alien ship approaches. I am glad you enjoyed Independence Day. I figured I couldn't be the only one.

  4. I remember liking Independence Day too. It was what it was: mindless, summer blockbuster fun. I'm also surprised it's looked on with such general distaste considering the explosion of other crappy CGI movies around that time. Remember Volcano and Dante's Peak? Now THOSE are bad sci-fi action movies!

  5. I like this movie too. When the president gives his speech before all the airplanes take off -- "today is our indedendence day" -- I get all choked up and patriotic.

    Ugly dolphin ring though.

  6. Memphis Belle
    Million Dollar Hotel
    Princess Bride - Should be much higher on the imdb list
    all the presidents men - not eve on imdb top 250 list

  7. Million Dollar Hotel? Is that even on the list? I don't get that movie.


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