In honor of “Argo,” the soon-to-be-released film about a military operation posing as a movie crew during the Iranian hostage crisis, we at The Jimbo List offer a selection of movies about bad movies. Really. See for yourself.
TROPIC THUNDER (2008)
Truly one of the most ambitious comedies of recent years, “Tropic Thunder” stars Ben Stiller, Robert Downey Jr. and Jack Black as actors in a Hollywood war flick who end up in an actual combat situation. It manages to skewer every part of the film industry, from egotistical actors to opportunistic directors and lunatic explosives consultants.
This Steve Martin-Eddie Murphy comedy is more entertaining than it has any right to be. The plot – about a low-rent director trying to make a film called “Chubby Rain” on a shoestring – is full of the usual gags about movies. Yet it kind of works. Martin conveys a real sense of passion for his utterly horrid production, and that’s the heart of the story.
SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN (1952)
Embedded in the story of the wonderful “Singin’ in the Rain,” you have the trials and tribulations of silent film folks learning how to make talking pictures. Jean Hagen is a riot trying to tame her New York accent, while dealing with newfangled microphones. Let’s just say it’s a long road from “The Dueling Cavalier” to “The Dancing Cavalier.”
BE KIND REWIND (2008)
“Be Kind Rewind” has a beautifully odd premise. Clerks at a video store decide to shoot their own versions of every movie in the place – because they accidentally erased all the tapes. Jack Black (shown here as Robocop), Mos Def and Danny Glover do the honors.
AFTER THE FOX (1966)
I have a real soft spot for this comedy starring one of my favorites, Peter Sellers. He’s a criminal known as the Fox, who tries to smuggle stolen gold into Europe by pretending to be a movie director helming a new flick called “The Gold of Cairo.” Sellers is at his insane best. Also quite funny is Victor Mature, playing a vain Hollywood actor.
FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION (2006)
Sadly, I can’t fully recommend “For Your Consideration,” which I consider the only dud in the Christopher Guest roster of semi-improvised films. This one is about a trio of actors who believe they’re on the verge of critical acclaim for their current production, “Home For Purim.” I normally love Guest and his stable of regulars (Catherine O’Hara, Eugene Levy, Harry Shearer, Michael McKean, Fred Willard, Jane Lynch, Parker Posey), but this one fell flat.
ZACK AND MIRI MAKE A PORNO (2008)
Yes friends, it’s a good, old-fashioned romantic comedy about two people (Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks) who decide to make a pornographic film. Certainly, this won’t be everyone’s idea of a good plot for a movie. But if you connect with Rogen’s brand of humor, which means filthy dialogue but full of heart, you’ll like it.
ED WOOD (1994)
We end with an ode to arguably the worst film in cinema history. Tim Burton’s “Ed Wood,” starring Johnny Depp and Martin Landau, is a comic gem. It takes a loving look at the career of Ed Wood, who directed the insanely awful “Plan 9 From Outer Space.” Burton finds the creative joy that can accompany even bad art, and Landau’s portrayal of an aging Bela Lugosi is amazing.
So, are there any masterpieces I’m leaving out? Add them to The List!