Bad movies are great: here’s why

Photo credit: Roberta Macedo

If I mentioned a movie released this year that had higher gross earnings than blockbusters like Thor: Love and Thunder, Elvis and Lightyear, I’m sure people would be shocked to hear that Minions: Rise of Gru was the movie in question. The Minions movie was an incredible commercial success and it paved the way for the Despicable Me franchise to become the first animated movie franchise in history to gross four billion dollars. This comes as a shock to teen and adult viewers, though, as this prequel to a spinoff has nearly nothing to offer in terms of a deep, thoughtful storyline.

Simply put, the Minions movie — and many other movies- are pretty bad. The humor, animation style and simple plot are made with a target audience of children in mind and there is ostensibly little to be gained from the movie other than lighthearted entertainment. However, pop culture trends have lent themselves towards the novelty of a bad movie becoming an unforgettable experience to enjoy with friends and family.

“If you can sit through a movie that is…so absurd it’s gawkable, nobody should be taking that enjoyment away from anyone,” James Lee, a movie critic with over 15,000 monthly readers, said.

The #gentleminions trend — where groups suited up in formal attire to watch the childrens’ movie — swept up the internet in a frenzy. The similar #morbiussweep handle had people on the internet hysterically laughing at the faux-positive buzz a critically panned, soulless movie generated. In both instances, droves of young adults were hitting their local theaters not to see a great movie, but a terrible one. In other words, these movies are so bad, they’re good.

An outrageously bad movie gaining a cult following is nothing new. Tommy Wiseau’s The Room has been touted by numerous sources as one of the worst movies ever made, but it nonetheless has a devoted group of fans who love to rewatch the disaster of a film. Wiseau’s 2003 film was intended to be a dramatic tragedy reminiscent of Shakespeare, but his artistic direction missed the mark to the degree that it is viewed today as a comedy.

The interconnected nature of the internet has allowed for inside jokes to be widely proliferated and that has led to the trend of loving bad movies to skyrocket in popularity. It is realistic that such an audacious, terrible movie carves a modern media niche in the near future. The audience for a “so bad it’s good” film would likely be through the roof and enterprising directors will likely soon be seeing the dollar signs. As long as the movie scratches this itch correctly, it is not entirely unreasonable for one of these movies to join the illustrious list of movie “classics.

These bad movies are sending positive reverberations throughout theaters in America. Pictures with upwards of 50 kids in suits in front of the Minions credit roll score hundreds of thousands of likes on social media. Morbius mockery gained such traction that corporate monolith Sony was convinced to rerelease the movie only to be met with a hilariously unprofitable reopening weekend. These cultural sensations are funny, but more importantly, they are bringing people back to the theater in the wake of an isolated pandemic where movies were consumed primarily at home.

Now that arms have been jabbed and masks have been lifted, the pandemic seems like a distant memory. However, the isolation experienced during the pandemic can have a lasting impact on mental health. People are feeling more and more like their social skills have reduced and it is becoming harder for individuals to be vulnerable to other people. As a result, it feels like perfect timing that the spectacle of watching a bad movie with a group of people soared in popularity in 2022. These movies are the perfect stress reliever in a world fraught with anxiety. Nowadays, it feels good to kick back, whisper with some buddies and munch on some popcorn as a film unfolds on the screen. Even if the movie is awful, the experience can make it feel the opposite.

Jayden Cohen is a freshman majoring in Business Analytics in the Miami Herbert Business School.