When it comes to chronicling the worst of Hollywood, the annual Golden Raspberry anti-awards have pretty much knocked it out of the park for the last 38 years. Can’t Stop the Music, Howard the Duck, Showgirls, Striptease, Battlefield Earth, Gigli, Catwoman, The Last Airbender, Jack and Jill, 2015’s Fantastic Four … there’s no denying these are among the most terrible things major movie studios have ever committed, and their immortal enshrinement as Golden Razzies “winners” for worst motion picture are more than deserved.
But looking at the vast panoply of Golden Raspberry “Worst Picture” selections, there are quite a few films that, retroactively, may not deserve their status as the year’s absolute crappiest mainstream movies. Indeed, more than a few “winners” have to be considered the least terrible of that year’s worst picture nominees, with several “winners” now considered not only better than recalled, but a handful now recognized as genuinely OK-to-great motion pictures.
So after almost four decades of “celebrating” the worst Hollywood has to offer, isn’t it about time we reflected on some of the more respectable Razzies winners from years’ past?
10. Inchon (1982)
This Korean War drama is infamous for being hardly anything more than a vanity project for Sun Myung Moon’s Universalist Church (trust me … it’s a long story.) That said, the movie itself really isn’t that bad, and considering its impressive ensemble cast – where else can you see Sir Laurence Olivier and Richard “Shaft” Roundtree chewing the same scenery? – it’s hardly any worse an all-star melodrama than stuff like Pearl Harbor or Tora! Tora! Tora!
The film drags here and there (thanks in no small part to a meandering subplot revolving around Jaqueline Bisset looking pretty and not much else), but overall it’s not a terrible little would-be epic. And it’s DEFINITELY better than any of the other films nominated for worst film of 1982, especially those cinematic turds Megaforce and Butterfly.
9. Hudson Hawk (1991)
This Bruce Willis caper was ultimately a victim of its own marketing hype. Released hot on the heels of Dick Tracy, the comic-book-ish crime caper was woefully misadvertised by TriStar, whom attempted to sell the movie as a straightforward Indiana Jones meets Batman-like mega movie event.
The movie itself, however, is really a weird, absurdist parody of the action genre, complete with villains named after candy bars and a downright bizarre subplot about an Illuminati-esque secret organization trying to figure out an entirely different Da Vinci code so they can master alchemy. Apparently, filmgoers and critics alike never picked up on the fact that Danny Aiello and Sandra Bernhard were overacting on purpose, and the flick became one of the biggest box office busts of the early 1990s.
In hindsight, Hudson Hawk is hardly a terrible picture, and – despite its complete muddle of a script – is a fairly entertaining pastiche of a popcorn picture. And there is NO denying that it was the best of the five flicks nominated for 1991’s Razzie – compared to Dice Rules, Nothing But Trouble, Cool as Ice and Return to Blue Lagoon, Hudson Hawk is practically The Godfather Part II superglued to Citizen Kane wrapped in all three of Kobayashi’s Human Condition movies.
8. Cocktail (1988)
Cocktail isn’t a good movie, but it isn’t bad, either. If anything, it appears the Razzies chose this film as 1988’s worst based simply on the public’s growing distaste of Tom Cruise (yes, people were sick of him and his extracurricular Scientology shenanigans even then, kids.)
Objectively, though, there really isn’t anything in Cocktail that makes it transcendentally worse than any number of shameless star vehicles from the late 1980s, and even the central plot about competitive bartending can hardly be considered the tackiest and tawdriest premise for a film from the era.
Since then the film has reached cult movie status, and its soundtrack – which elevated “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” and “Kokomo” to to the top of the charts – might just be the most idiosyncratically ‘80s thing ever. And even if you don’t necessarily like the film, it’s certainly preferable to the 1988’s Razzies also-rans, which include such celluloid horrors as Caddyshack II, Mac and Me and a movie starring Bobcat Goldthwait as a man who takes financial advice from a talking horse.
7. The Adventures of Ford Fairlane (1990)
For a brief point in time and space, Andrew Dice Clay was one of the hottest commodities in Hollywood. Alas, the commercial and critical failure of Ford Fairlane, his first big studio star vehicle, guaranteed his mainstream success would be short-lived while insuring video stores coast-to-coast would be well-stocked with such illustrious straight-to-tape fare as Brainsmasher: A Love Story throughout the remainder of the 1990s.
While Fairlane is far from a great action-comedy, all things taken into consideration it’s not a bad little genre romp, with the highlights being an absolute cavalcade of guest appearances: Freddy Krueger, Al Bundy, the lead singer of Motley Crue, Wayne Newton and even Morris freakin’ Day all star alongside the Dice Man, while the entire score is provided by Yello – a.k.a, the group responsible for the “Oh, Yeah” song from Ferris Bueller.
And come on – is anyone really going to hate on a movie that features both Lauren Holly spending half the movie rocking a beehive pompadour and push-up bra and Gilbert Gottfried getting electrocuted to death?
6. Leonard Part 6 (1987)
Well, this one is going to be hard to defend, considering what we know about Bill Cosby now. A box office dud absolutely lambasted by critics, Cosby himself was so disappointed by the final product that he infamously refused to do publicity for it. Three decades later, however, the film doesn’t seem as terrible and even has a little bit of nostalgic charm working in its favor.
From the “how in the hell did anybody come up with this?” department, Leonard Part 6 (an in-joke early on explains why we’ve never seen the first five movies in the fictitious series) revolves around Dr. Huxtable’s attempts to unravel a global conspiracy to turn animal against man so, of all things, a cabal of totalitarian vegetarians can take over the planet.
Most of the jokes are almost unbearably corny, but it’s hard to not get into the slapdash, madcap antics and just enjoy all of the absurd, over-the-top nonsense going on, from Cosby using live lobsters to get out of a James Bond-ish death trap to the grand finale where he escapes from an exploding building via ostrich. Yes, it’s dumb and unsophisticated, but it’s still far superior to the other four noms for worst movie of 1987 – trust me, you’re WAY better off with this one than you are Ishtar, Jaws: The Revenge, Who’s That Girl or Tough Guys Don’t Dance, that’s for damn sure.
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