Big Lead Sports Bar


Guilty Pleasures for Your Christmas Break

Since I'm on quasi-hiatus, and I'm still extremely overloaded with non-Mondesi work, I felt like giving sports the day off and talk a little entertainment. Besides, the Pittsburgh sports scene is pretty depressing now, anyway. The Steelers are out, the Penguins are not only struggling but may be out (for real), and the Pirates refuse to make any offseason moves that warrant discussion. Pitt hoops is for all intents and purposes off until January 4 against Syracuse. And Wannyball: Year II failed to produce a bowl appearance. I could talk about Mike Tyson's cocaine bust, but honestly, is anyone surprised at that? So we go off-topic for a day.
In my limited free time, one of my hobbies is collecting DVDs. At this point, I would guesstimate that I have somewhere between 300-400. In that collection is a number of great movies, a number of bad movies, and a number of movies that go under the category of "guilty pleasures".
We all have our guilty pleasure movies. You know they're bad, but you can't help yourself from watching. So while going through my collection recently, I thought I would give some recommendations of my best "bad movies" for you to indulge in over your Christmas Break from work or school. And no, if you don't like any of them, I will not give you your hour-and-a-half back.
In no particular order, my suggestions for your next trip to Blockbuster:

Out Cold
2001, 89 minutes, PG-13. IMDB rating: 5.5 of 10. Amazon rating: 4 stars out of 5

The plot:
A bunch of misfits at a no-frills Alaskan ski resort fret when their beloved hangout may be purchased by a hotshot developer with big plans for change.
The skinny:
It's billed as "Animal House on ice", but I think that's a little too flattering. And when was the last time anyone looked to the Raleigh News & Observer for a meaningful movie review?
If you watch Comedy Central enough, you'll be sure to stumble upon this movie sooner or later. I honestly don't remember this ever appearing in theaters, but according to, it took in $13 million (with production costs of $24 million) back in 2001. Someone probably got the ax for financing this one.
I caught bits and pieces of this movie at various times on TV, so I figured I would give the DVD a shot. There are a lot worse ways to spend an hour-and-a-half, as there are some good laughs.

--You have to love any movie that even floats the possibility of a hot tub scene featuring Dog Bites Man's Zach Galifanakis and Victoria Silvstedt. Pure fiction.

--The original Six Million Dollar Man, Lee Majors, as "John Majors", the big-time resort developer/heel. A great performance. And not to be confused with former Pitt coach Johnny Majors.

--Anchorman's "Champ Kind", David Koechner, in a small supporting role as local yokel "Stumpy". Koechner is always good for a few laughs, as his track record (40 Year Old Virgin, Talladega Nights, Waiting) would indicate.

--There's actually an actor in this movie named Flex Alexander. Not a character, an actor. That should count for something. Plus, he looks just like Randall Cunningham.

--The deaf football player from The Replacements shows up as a gay bartender named Lance.

--A stoner ski bum named Pigpen plays a prominent role. Always a good thing.

--A ski race in which the winner is determined by who has the most beer in their mug at the bottom of the mountain. Fantastic idea. Brilliant strategy by the winner, which I will not spoil for you.


2006, 90 minutes, PG-13. IMDB rating: 6.1 of 10. Amazon rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

The plot:

A group of high school underacheivers who fail to gain acceptance at any college come up with the next best thing: they create one of their own. Apparently they've never heard of community college. Regardless, they manage to dupe enough parents into $10,000 tuition checks, they take over an old mental hospital, and voila!

The skinny:

Despite the absolutely ridiculous premise, the writers and actors carry it out in a somewhat believable manner...until the eventual "everything comes crashing down" scene and subsequent battle to become an accredited college. Lots of solid comedy performances from a number of talented young actors. We need more original (albeit far fetched) movies like this, and less remakes and old TV shows converted to the big screen. Written by the team behind the original American Pie.


--The college is named South Harmon Institute of Technology, their mascot is "the Sandwiches", and their school newspaper is "the Rag".

--"I'm a Mac, I'm a PC" star Justin Long is "Bartleby Gaines", the brains behind the operation. Not only do these guys create a fake college, they go the whole nine yards and create a fictitious ".edu" website.

--A great performance by Jonah Hill as Bartleby's best friend and co-conspirator. You've seen this guy as "The eBay customer" in 40 Year Old Virgin and "Barry" in Grandma's Boy, and he has a number of projects lined up for the future. Best known for his line in this movie, "Ask me about my weiner!"

--The always angry Lewis Black as crazy Uncle Ben, who poses as the Dean of the school

--Vince Vaughn's first victim in Wedding Crashers, the very popular Diora Baird, has a supporting role

Grandma's Boy
2006, 94 minutes, R/Unrated. IMDB rating: 6.6 of 10. Amazon rating: 4 stars out of 5

The plot: A 35-year-old video game developer has no choice but to move back in with his grandma and her two roommates. He tries to pass it off to co-workers as living with a bunch of girls. Hilarity ensues.

The skinny: I've heard this movie referred to as "most underrated of 2006", and while I wouldn't go quite that far, I would agree at its underrated status. There really wasn't a lot of fanfare to this one, which is surprising considering the subject (video games) and the world's obsession with them.

The only major problem I had was the lead. Allen Covert was the star, and you've seen him in nearly every Adam Sandler movie. Seriously, look at his resume, this has gone beyond Sandler simply throwing him a bone: Longest Yard, 50 First Dates, Anger Management, 8 Crazy Nights, Mr. Deeds, Little Nicky, Big Daddy, Waterboy, Wedding Singer, Happy Gilmore, Airheads...with barely anything else in-between. He's funny in small doses, like wearing the Michael Jackson glove in Wedding Singer, but he can't carry a movie on his back.


--If you've never heard of Nick Swarsdon, you'll know him after this movie. I think he absolutely steals it. He plays a co-worker of Covert's who still lives at home, has a race car bed, and wears pajamas with feet in them.

--A disgusting quasi-love scene between Swarsdon and 72-year-old Shirley Jones (yes, the same Shirley Jones who was Miss Pittsburgh 1952)

--The Mother-in-Law from Everybody Loves Raymond playing video games

--Jonah Hill, mentioned above in Accepted, as, pretty much, an overweight nerd

So there you have it...a few convenient ways to spend some of your holiday down-time. And if you can't make it to the video store, check out ESPN's Madden Nation for some great, unintentional comedy. I've been into that show recently. They throw the country's best Madden players on a bus, meeting and playing against real NFL players along the way, while competing in a tournament to become the nation's ultimate Madden player.

Try and catch the episode at Edgerrin James' house, where they don't even give the poor Madden Nation contestant a seat, and to boot he must endure the taunts from the Edge's intimidating posse lurking in the background. 10 out of 10


Reel Fanatic said...

Grandma's Boy? Really? I was gonna just say no, but you're definitely starting to break down my resistance!

Zarley Zalapski Blues Explosion said...

Not necessarily a "guilty pleasure", but it's pretty funny.

"Made" starring Vince Vaughn (right before he got huge) and Jon Favreau. I had never seen it, and someone gave it to me for Christmas out of the blue.

Vaughn and Favreau are two lowlevel, bumbling, thugs from Los Angeles that get sent by their mob boss to do a job for his associate (played surprisingly well by Puff Daddy/P. Diddy/Diddy/Sean Combs/whatever) in New York.

Vince Vaughn is hilarious in it.

bizzo5000 said...

Try and catch Swarsdon's standup act on Comedy Central if you can. Highest of high comedy.

Geeves said...

Swarsdon is moving up in the food chain. He's like Dane Cook, but actually funny.

C'mon, you gotta give Out Cold a little more love, if for nothing else that the wicked outtakes at the end.

Accepted actually had a great message to it. I won't bore you with it, but seriously. I would put it on the underrated list as well. Besides, I was enjoying it, then bumped it up 5 notches when I saw that Lewis Black was in it.

Grandma's Boy. I give Sandler props for basically saying "know what? my boys are gonna be in all the movies I produce, and i don't give a rats ass what you think."

Other "dumb" guilty pleasure movies to consider/you forgot

*Wayne's World
*Clerks I & II
*Joe Dirt
*Muppets from Space (TRUST me)