Do you know what a guilty pleasure film is?
There’s no official definition, but we all have an idea of what I mean. It describes those movies that you wouldn’t quite be willing to put on your favorites list, even though you’ve seen it something like 20 times. It’s that movie that makes you feel good, but it’s certainly not winning any awards.
Now, I don’t love this kind of terminology. I’ve admitted openly in our episodes that my taste in movies tend to lean towards fast-paced and boisterous. Not to mention that there’s not really anything wrong with simply watching a movie because it’s fun. After all, isn’t that the point of watching them? Escaping reality?
There’s a place for all types of movies, which is why I am wholly unashamed to admit that I saw Mamma Mia 2 over the weekend and I loved every single second of it. Seriously. I cried something like… 3 times over the course of the film.
Out of curiosity, I peeked at the critics’ feelings towards the movie. After all, I put myself out there as a movie reviewer. I was expecting something very negative. Commentary on the (at times) shaky plot and admittedly goofy choreographed dance numbers. Imagine my surprise when I found an incredibly positive response to the film!
This got me thinking about the whole idea of “guilty pleasure” movies. Movies like this one, where the whole cast and crew seemed to have collectively decided: “You know what? We know our audience. We know what they want. Let’s just do that.”
And it worked.
In fact, this was done so well that towards the end of the film, through my blubbering and crying and laughing and singing, I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed. I mean, how often is it that a movie just gives fans what they want?
It seems to me that movies lately have been too afraid to do that. Too worried about becoming a “guilty pleasure”. And what does that lead to?
Movies that clearly try to have some grand commentary running alongside their gratuitous fan-service, resulting in a film that doesn’t work for critics or longtime fans.
I’d site the Jurassic World series here. There are those sequences that are clearly made for the fans: like the pterodactyl attacks in Jurassic World or chilling house chase in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. But there’s also a ridiculously overplayed moral question or twist that was clearly meant to impress reviewers and critics. This often falls flat and does more to confuse and muddle the plot than it does to impress anyone.
There wasn’t any of that in Mamma Mia 2. I mean, there were moments that were unrealistic, perhaps. But there were no weird sideline plots thrown in. No commentary on the state of the Greek economy. Just a lot of ABBA and singing and dancing and happy endings. And I left the theater feeling satisfied, joyful, and wishing for more.
That’s how you’re supposed to feel when you leave a movie. I wish there were more. That’s supposed to be the whole reason sequels exist. Nowadays, going to movies is practically just half-hoping there’s at least one or two sequences that make it feel worth the ticket.
What I’m trying to get at is this: we need to rave about the movies that deliver. Especially in the case of sequels with a lot to live up to. Focus a little less on the “importance” of the film and more on the way it makes us feel.
Movies are meant for entertainment. Though they have proved themselves throughout history to be a place where grand ideas can be explored or social commentary can be expressed, every movie doesn’t have to do that.
It’s about balance.
So next time you have a lot of fun watching a “silly” movie, don’t feel so bad about it. In fact, share your feelings with the world. In doing so, you help to remind all of us that movies don’t have to be “important”. That watching a movie just to have fun is okay.
In other words, go ahead and put that movie in your top five. Tell people how much you love it. And be unapologetic about it. Together, we’re going to end the cycle of movie shame.
What’s your favorite “guilty pleasure” film? Comment below or hit us up on our social media @shotforshotcast on instagram or Shot for Shot Podcast on Facebook.