Once again, EW has taken a crack at creating another list of sorts and once again a miss on the final verdict.
This time around it’s movies that you watch over and over. I don’t know about the rest of you, but by EW saying that you = me then they really don’t know me at all. Granted, I will give them credit for nailing about a third of the list of my personal repeat viewings, they sadly did not encompass a complete listing of the ones I would consider movies I would watch over and over again. Why they chose 17 instead of a round number like 15 or 20 is beyond me.
So, if you want their take, click on the link above. If you want my personal take, and this is not a best of against all others, see below.
First off the six that EW nailed.
The Princess Bride (1987)
Highly quotable and readily available on cable, this is a classic tale of true love. The Fire Swamp, the Pit of Despair, the battle of wits, and what I would give for a holocaust cloak. All these ideas conjures up a true fairy tale world full of giants and pirates and awesome sword play from the guy that brought kick ass light saber duels. Inconceivable, you say about watching it, repeatedly? I don’t think that word means what you think it means. Now watch the damn movie, I mean it. Anybody want a peanut?
Die Hard (1988)
Encore has been running this classic repeatedly over the last month and even though I have the first three on DVD, I must watch it every time I see it on television. I made the bold statement on my Facebook status, recently, that I believed it to be one of the top five all time best action movies, if not number two. In that list I think I put Raiders of the Lost Ark at number one. Regardless of status on any other list, this one agrees with EW that it is highly repeatable. Why? Once again, quotable, perfect premise, and easily accessible. It is timeless because it spawned a gross amount of copycats dubbed the “Die Hard on a blank” films ranging from boats, trains, planes, and even a hockey arena. John McClane is also the everyman who has no problem with speaking his mind during a fight. Go back and watch the fight scene with Alexander Gudunov (RIP) towards the end and you’ll see why McClane is perfect. He literally spouts various things he will do to the bad guy as he is fighting him which just speaks to what we all would be thinking if we were in the same situation. “You mother******, I'm gonna kill you! I'm gonna ******' cook you, and I'm gonna ******* eat you!” You can’t argue with that. I couldn't, even at 13, which is how I was when I saw this in the theater. R rated movies weren't policed as much then.
The Goonies (1985)
The map, the restaurant, the water slide, the ship. A classic Saturday afternoon, rainy day, treat of an adventure that pits kids against booby traps and felon family members. Spielberg and Donner brought together all the elements in a nonstop roller coaster ride of fun. Yes, the dialogue is a bit cheesy and the acting is rather bad from some of the kids but you cannot help but take on the voice of Sloth when you eat ice cream or profess your love for someone else. I will say that while it is readily available on cable, stay away from the commercial laden channels and hope to catch this on movie channels because networks like G4 butcher the hell out of it in terms of editing. If you have never seen the movie before you get the worst possible line of continuity of the plot and those of us with the film and dialogue permanently burned in our brain will find it horrible to try and watch, skipping over classic lines in our mind, while we see the film jump completely over scenes of relevance to the story.
Shawshank Redemption (1994)
It might be the story or it might be Morgan Freeman’s voice that makes me continually watch this when it comes on TNT usually once a week. It clocks in at over two hours on television and despite the length, it normally classifies as a repeat viewing as well as a film that should be on a separate list for movies-I-catch-at-the-same-spot-each-time-I-watch-it. The script is so good that you forget that this was written by Master of Horror, Stephen King. Extra Special scenes of note are the rooftop tarring and beer drinking scene, the reveal of how Andy Dufresne beat the warden, and Red getting paroled.
Back To the Future (1985)
Another gem of repeatable viewing, the original conjures up that era of capitalism and 80s nostalgia. We should all wish to magically wake up to a life of inherited wealth with a brand new truck and other material possessions without having to really work for them. And the move perfectly captures the 80s as well as the 50s which makes it a great placeholder for the Reagan years which include Pepsi Free, the Walkman used in Darth Vader from the planet Vulcan persuasion scene, the De Lorean and the Valtera skateboard used by Mary McFly. Admit it, you tried riding a board while hanging onto the bumper of a car. I did, although it was one of those polypropylene banana boards from the 70s. They were akin to roller skates versus in line skates or Rollerblades if you compared the banana board to the more popular models of skateboard. Christopher Lloyd offers up one of the greatest lines ever in “When this baby hits 88 mph, you’re going to see some serious shit,” which is second only to Biff Tannen’s “Hello, McFly?” which is a paraphrase of the actual dialogue spoken in this film.
Anyone who grew up with the board game or better yet video games in the 80s knows that adapting a game is really a bad idea. Adapting a board game is nearly impossible. Although, I am still waiting for that buddy flick, Chutes and Ladders, to be greenlit. That being said, Clue gets the job done, masterfully, in a way that could only be attributed to its cast. Martin Mull, Christopher Lloyd, Tim Curry, Michael McKean and Lesley Anne Warren might not be what you consider A list celebrities but in their own right they are comedy royalty. You have one third of Spinal Tap, Frank N. Furter, Father Jim/Doc Brown, and a staple of Mel Brooks movies in Madeline Khan. (RIP) “I hated her... so... much, It–it... the f–, it–flame... flames... flames on the side of my face, breathing, breath... heaving breaths... heaving...” throw in a pop culture cameos from Howard Hessman, Jeffrey Kramer, go-go goofball dominatrix, Jane Wiedlin and Kellye Nakahara-Wallet that only true Pop Culturists will know as Nurse Kellye and that’s all I’m saying because I’m tired of throwing you too many bones. The multiple endings, the adherence to the game’s plot and good god, Colleen Camp gives reason to multiply view the movie.
Now the rest of the list.
One of my wife’s favorite films and a testament to a successful relationship in Hollywood that has outlasted Tom and Nicole, Burt and Lonnie, Meg and Dennis and is only five years short of beating out Tom and Rita. It’s another pure 80s flick as it follows the premise of a secret that keeps to people together as long as that secret doesn’t get out, much like films where a guy dresses up as a girl or vice versa. Here, Kurt Russell takes in amnesiac Goldie Hawn, who in reality is a rich bitch who hired carpenter Kurt to design a shoe closet for her yacht. After she refuses to pay, he plots revenge to make her feel what it means to have nothing when she falls overboard and washes up with no memory. Pretending to be her husband he brings her to the backwoods of the Pacific Northwest and the two end up in love. It’s a cheesy rom-com that actually makes me laugh and I have to watch it whenever it comes on television.
Secret of My Success (1987)
Another testament to the power of Gordon Gekko’s idea that greed is good. Michael J. Fox shows up again in a film about capitalism as he fakes his way into the corporate world as a mythical executive at his uncle’s company. He accidentally beds his aunt (by marriage), falls in love with his uncle’s mistress, and plots to take over the company before his uncle can let it be taken over by Herman Munster, himself, Fred Gwynne. The soundtrack features Who legend and 80s soundtrack God Roger Daltrey as well as David (St. Elmo’s Fire) Foster. And who can forget the use of the Jaws theme in the pool scene or Yello’s Oh Yeah during the late night room romp?
Dazed and Confused (1993)
Before they were BIGGER stars Ben Affleck, Matthew McConaughey, Adam Goldberg, Parker Posey, and Milla Jovovich all take a Slow Ride into the last day of school and into the night for a beer bash. It perfectly encapsulates the mid 70s with the music, the trends, and the fashion. Check ya later! Although toned down on television I find it hard to resist watching Ben Affleck get his comeuppance as O’Bannion the bastard.
Christmas Vacation (1989)
Out of all the “Vacation” movies, next to the original, this has to be the most successful if not funniest. I guess it’s cheating since it airs like clockwork every Christmas but how could I not enjoy repeated viewings of the true to life struggle of Clark W. Griswold to bring his family the hap-hap-happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny Effing Kaye? Hallelujah. Holy shit. Where’s the Tylenol?
The Wedding Singer (1998)
Say what you want about Adam Sandler’s credibility as an actor, but don’t deny that The Wedding Singer was a great rom-com of totally tubular proportions. Once again, capturing the 80s it boasts all the great things to poke fun at including Michael Jackson’s Beat It outfit, Journey’s "Don’t Stop Believin’" done by string orchestra, no less, VCRs, Billy Idol, and Culture Club. Round up Sandler’s usual troop of sidekicks and you got a wonderful trip down repeated viewing lane.
Another awesome flick that finds itself among the Encore movie rotation, Aliens takes the shock and awe from the first film about one huge effing bug and multiplies the bad guy quota and includes a bad girl in the queen. Who hasn’t muttered the line, “Get away from her you bitch!” Hell, even Mrs. Weasley has a Ripley moment in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows as Bellatrix LeStrange goes after her kids. James Cameron ratchets up the sci-fi and the action and gives us one of the coolest fight scenes between a power cargo loader and a queen alien ever filmed…bring the total number to one. This is another of the movies that belongs on the other list of I catch it at the same place every time.
Think of the low lit smoky arcades of the early 80s, the college campus pizzerias with their Donkey Kong and Pac Man games surrounded by geeks, the low tech Disney style special effects and you get one of the cult classics of all time. You also get a much anticipated sequel being released in 2010. Way ahead of its time for 1982 computer generated images, TRON used a blend of true CGI that only accounts for about 20 minutes of actual screen time. The backgrounds and landscapes were matte paintings and Moebius inspired artwork and the actors and other sets were filmed in black and white and then rotoscoped to have that neon technological feel. When the movie shows up on cable every once in awhile I feel compelled to veg out and wish for a light cycle for Christmas.
Back To School (1986)
If for no other reason to re-watch this film I say to you two words, William Zabka. Yes, John Lawrence from Karate Kid is the perfect 80s nemesis. So much so, he did it three times. Besides Back To School and Just One of the Guys, Zabka appears in the most respectable Rodney Dangerfield film of all as a rival college swimmer and boyfriend to be reckoned with, yet his bark becomes so much worse than his bite with BTS. However, Dangerfield makes up for it with his portrayal as a self made millionaire who wants to show his son that you need an education more than money in this world…although it helps when you can pay NASA to do your science homework and Kurt Vonnegut to write your English papers on who else but, Kurt Vonnegut. Throw in Oingo Boingo, Sam Kinison, M Emmet Walsh and the Triple Lindy and you have a film worthy of watching hundreds of times.
Forrest Gump (1994)
Tom Hanks took a lot of missteps in his career. The Man With One Red Shoe, The Money Pit and Bonfire of the Vanities are just a small taste of bad films he made…of which I still love two thirds of that selection. But after all those duds, Hanks emerged as a bonafide A-list actor with hits like Big, Philadelphia and of course Forrest Gump. You can argue that the history is a bigger draw than Hanks simple man with a simple mantra, “Life’s like a box of chocolates…” but he does pull off a performance that demands repeat viewings. Spanning close to four decades of U.S. History the film takes Gump from humble beginnings as a child strapped to metal braces all the way to his adult life as a man with an impressive business portfolio and equally impressive son, pre-The Sixth Sense, Haley Joel Osment. The soundtrack is a great slice of Americana and the ability to splice together present day performances with historical footage of events and people makes Forrest Gump a great movie that can be watched again and again.
Good Morning Vietnam (1987)
With only eight films, one of them being Popeye, and a cult television show under his belt, Robin Williams wasn’t known for his movie work as much as his comedy act and loud Hawaiian shirts. But the “based on a true story” turn as Adrian Cronauer, the Vietnam disc jockey who had trouble with authority, gave Williams much needed gravitas to balance the improvisational style that guided him into such films as Dead Poets Society, Mrs. Doubtfire and Good Will Hunting. The radio broadcasts, along with the soundtrack, make for a reason to watch over and over again as well as the attraction of looking into the underbelly of the Vietnam War as a hushed up source of misinformation to keep the public on the side of the Government’s interest in staying in the war.
Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)
Once again, you came for the funny and stayed for the family feel from Robin Williams in drag as Euphegenia Doubtfire, the uncanny nanny. Doubtfire is another, “Shh it’s a secret” movie, where the secret identity of Williams’ character sets up the plot and makes for some great comedy as he tries to juggle the ruse along with trying to reunite his broken family. I really should make that separate list because this is another “I always catch it at the same spot” film.
Big Trouble In Little China (1986)
It’s not the greatest movie in the world but it is a classic cult film from John Carpenter. Kurt Russell as Jack Burton adds a side dish of machismo to the main course of Lo Mein in this old world Chinese mythology tale of wizards and curses. The chopsocky fighting scenes are right up there with the 80s Kung Fu exploitation films and Russell’s wit and characterization as a carp out of water in the world of the world beneath the world of China Town gives Carpenter a one two punch on the repeated viewing scale. It’s all in the reflexes.
Besides your annual dose of sugar induced coma from Halloween candy, get your thrills and chills on with the original bogeyman in Michael Myers. John Carpenter provides a simple premise. Jamie Lee Curtis provides the…lungs of a scream queen and Donald Pleasance provides the great misunderstood and not listened to siren of warning against a small town police force who refuse to believe that Michael Myers is on the prowl in Haddonfield. Even though you know who gets killed and how, it’s still a great film to re-watch with the lights off again and again. “You can’t kill the bogeyman.”
Pirates of the Carribean: Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)
It’s a gamble that probably shouldn’t have worked. A Disney film based on an amusement ride about pirates. A Disney film featuring skeletal pirates. A Disney film featuring Johnny Depp as pirate. The obvious connection of those statements is, of course, Disney Film. The underlying one is the whole pirate business. POTC went into the familiar waters of piracy that were screwed up royally by Cutthroat Island and Hook. A Disney movie about pirates looks about as entertaining as a Gilbert and Sullivan opera. Something clicked like the flint of a pistol or lock of a treasure chest. The film tapped into that childhood fantasy of scallywags and treasure chests and life on the open seas so well that no one minded that it was based on a theme park ride. Not too many movies can be so lucky. [read Country Bears and Tower of Tower] Throw into the mix that the studio had trouble buying into Johnny Depp’s Keith Richards Rapscallion combo and the film had all the makings of a huge sinking ship. But it didn’t. It became a huge hit, re launched Depp’s stardom outside of a Tim Burton film and made piracy fun again as long as it wasn’t at the expense of the RIAA. The fact that the film boasts exotic locations, dark themes of undead pirates marauding the Caribbean coast, and a bit of violence not usually found in a Disney film carry the original into two blockbuster sequels, an online game, console games, a revamped amusement ride and third possible sequel means that the original is a force to be reviewed over and over.
Mel Gibson has made a ton of movies But besides his Mad Max series, one other set of films made him into a household name in the states and that was the Lethal Weapon series. The buddy flick franchise was a huge success launching Gibson’s celebrity cred into the stratosphere. As Martin Riggs, Gibson had that same John McClane quality in that he was a cop that didn’t always play by the rules and was prone to being a little vocal during his fights. The original is still the best and is probably one of the last times you’ll see Gary Busey before he went completely nuts. Repeated viewings are a must for me as I can never get enough “I’m too old for this shit” gruff from Danny Glover and have always wanted to find a reason to say, “Hit em again, Endo!”
Real Genius (1985)
For me, college wasn’t exactly like it was portrayed on film. I didn’t have Val Kilmer for a roommate. There was no weird man living in my closet. I also did not work on some secret government laser project that was a perfect way to cook popcorn. I must have chosen the wrong major. Still, I can’t help but drop the remote every time this film comes on. Resident prick William Atherton brings his Leprechaun looks to Dr. Hathaway and Michelle Meyrink (We miss you on screen) provides just enough quirky weirdness to be kind of hot as Jordan. We are left to admire her modern day replacement in Melanie Lynskey. And even though Val Kilmer was the supposed heart throb moving onto Top Gun and Batman Forever, Gabe Jarret definitely grew out of his geeky phase and became a good looking adult. Though a sequel has been bandied about like a catnip laced toy for us to chew on, nothing takes the place of the original in terms of repeated viewings. It is a moral imperative to watch it over and over.
Those of us who grew up in the stretching shadow of the Cold War and computer technology recognize WarGames as being both highly improbable and scarily plausible. To think how many times we may have came close to nuclear war is unthinkable and probably highly classified. Yet as archaic as the technology is, specifically the phone modem and Joshua’s digitized voice, the elements of tension are still there and Matthew Broderick brings that so-smart-he-could-be-dangerous-if-he-wasn’t-so-impishly-cute-and-innocent persona to screen so well, you want to go ahead and let him accidentally start World War III. Shall we play a game? Sure, repeatedly.
The Lost Boys (1987)
Forget Twilight, everyone wanted to be Kiefer Sutherland’s vampire in the 80s. It’s just so sad that they had to have a Corey based sequel that did a huge disservice to the original. One of the few movies Joel Schumacher didn’t royally bone when he made it, The Lost Boys provides that quintessential 80s blend of bad boys and….alas Coreys. A great soundtrack featuring Foreigner front man Lou Gramm’s “Lost in the Shadows”, INXS’ “Good Times”, and yet again, Roger Daltrey remaking Elton John’s “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” only serves as great side cars to Gerard McMann’s “Cry Little Sister” with its children’s choir rendition of a pseudo set of commandments done A cappella as Kiefer gets impaled on a set of Grandpa’s antlers.
A Christmas Story (1983)
You cannot compile a list of the movies you could watch over and over and not mention the annual classic, A Christmas Story. Why? Because it gets played for 24 straight hours on Christmas Day. Over the past few years I’ve managed to get a complete viewing in by strategically watching parts through the 24 hour period. Usually, I will make the effort to sit and watch it in its entirety at least once. I do own the DVD but there is something about catching it on television on Christmas that makes it all the more special. Next to A Charlie Brown Christmas and It’s a Wonderful Life (Which regrettably got left off of this list due to a 20 film limit), it is probably one the most repeatedly watched holiday movies abound. If you miss it, you deserve to shoot your eye out.
Apart from not being able to list It’s a Wonderful Life as a favorite movie I love to watch over and over, I was remiss in including only a single John Hughes Film in this list. That’s because it would have comprised a majority of it had I given into temptation. Let’s just say that his films deserve multiple viewings, multiple quoting, and multiple reverence as a dedication to a man we lost in 2009, though he’d been absent from the scene for years.