A guide to avoiding bad movies

Mikey 11 comments
A guide to avoiding bad movies

We've all seen plenty of 'top 10 worst movies' lists and even more reviews on bad movies, and I've contributed my share here on numerous occasions. This got me thinking: How does one avoid seeing a bad movie?

There probably is a science to this mythical art which escapes most of us, but I will attempt to pass on my wisdom to you in the hope that you won't ever have to hand over your hard earned clams to see a bomb again.

I will mention at this time that this guide is not about how to get out of being dragged kicking and screaming to a 'chick flick' by your better half. There are some very creative ways to get out of that but perhaps that's a topic for another article.

Also bear in mind there is an assumption that you already know a little about the plot, who directed, who's stars etc perhaps from at least watching the trailer. So without our further stalling, I present my guide for avoiding bad movies.

Does the movie star any of the following actors?

  • Chris Tucker
  • Jennifer Lopez
  • Eddie Murphy
  • Jean-Claude Van Damme
  • Ben Affleck
  • Steven Seagal
  • Paris Hilton
  • Jessica Simpson
  • Lindsay Lohan

If the answer is 'yes' to any of the above, you need to do the following. Take the money you were going to spend on this movie and donate it to a charity or give it to a homeless person, because the mere fact that you would contemplate seeing a movie with any of these actors suggests that your karma is way off balance and needs re-adjusting.

Is this movie a sequel?

If this movie is a sequel to a movie you know is already good, does it have any affiliation with the original movie? Same cast? Same director? A comparisons for reference would be:

  • Alien = Good: All following sequels = Crap

If not, then the odds are against you so proceed with caution. Best to wait until a friend wastes his money on the movie first so you can get some feedback you trust. There are occasionally times where a sequel, despite best intentions with original cast and director can be an epic failure. Example:

Are computers central to the story line?

If your response is 'yes', read this first and save your money. It's no secret that Hollywood doesn't understand computers. We have Hackers, The Net and Swordfish as long-standing proof that if you don't understand computers, and you go and make them central to the story line, your film will blow chunks.

Is the movie a parody?

If you answered 'yes', now ask yourself "Was this parody created by anyone other than Mel Brooks?". If you responded with 'no' and you still want to proceed, you risk severe loss of IQ due to brain poison on a par with Meet the Spartans or the Scary Movies. For more advice, check out The Movie Whore's The fine line between good and bad movie parodies/spoofs.

Is the movie based on a video game franchise?

I'm sorry, but if you still cling to the misguided hope that a good movie will ever be spawned from a video game, then you are deluded. For your punishment, and yes you do deserve one, I think you need to re-watch any of the following atrocities (while sober):

Is the movie directed by Michael Bay?

Michael Bay's movies are easily among the worst in Hollywood history. With 7 films under his belt and only one possibly being barely passable, the odds are stacked against you. If you need reminding, revisit Bad Boys 1 and 2, The Rock, Armageddon, Pearl Harbor, The Island or Transformers.

Has the movie been over hyped?

As far as movie marketing formulas go, the over-exposure of a movie is directly proportionate to how sh*tty it will end up being. Movies that are pimped on radio station and or SMS competitions will always fare even worse. As a general rule of thumb, if you are exposed to more than 3 marketing attacks of the same movie in the same day, it will surely suck balls.

Does the movie suffer from bad casting?

Tara Ried as an archaeologist? Eddie Murphy as a professor? Natalie Portman as a queen? Samual L Jackson as an art collector? If you know the movies I'm talking about, you also know how much they sucked. There's nothing worse than popular actors being cast as intellectuals and other bad casting choices, and when it does happen it's embarrassing for everybody involved.

Is the movie a remake or something that was done right the first time?

Let me throw these examples at you.

If it isn't broken, don't fix it. If you've already seen it and you liked it, why pay to see a lacklustre version of it? Because you are weak and gullible that's why. You should know by now that all, yes ALL remakes are vastly inferior to their original counterparts.

Does the movie have a tech gimmick?

The 3D cinema phenomena that was popularised in the early 50's and then someone thought it would be a great idea to reintroduce it to an unsuspecting generation a few decades later. If a movie can't be sold on it's own merits then alarm bells should be sounding. Need I remind you of Jaws 3D?

Is this movie part of the 'Movie' series?

You know the ones I mean. Scary Movie and Epic Movie to name a couple. If there was ever a time to put the cinema manager in a headlock and demand a refund it's after watching any from this series. In fact, these movies are so bad that I think it might hold up in court if you demanded a refund after only sitting through the opening credits.


I think in the interest of helping out our fellow film-goers, everyone should feel free to contribute to this list in the comments below.

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Wednesday 23rd July 2008 | 08:38 PM

You had me right up to the bit about Michael Bay. I liked those films!

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Kim OJ

Thursday 24th July 2008 | 02:07 AM

I do not think you can entirely count out Eddie Murphy, but otherwise it looks like a good guideline. I would just add to read a review by a critic you know before you blow your cash.

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The Movie Whore

Thursday 24th July 2008 | 06:54 AM

You knew this was coming when you wrote this. I know you. You have been waiting for this. Here it comes.

Actors- Lorenzo Lamas
Dolph Lungdren
Jennifer Love Hewitt

Add these to the list.

Aliens was great. Alien III was great. Alien Resurrection is a guilty pleasure.

Clerks was great. Clerks II was Awesome and I shall smite thee for saying otherwise thus sayeth The Movie Whore.

I will give you computers.

Thanks for reference on the Parody/Spoofs.

Mortal Kombat was damn good. However Alone in the Dark was so bad I forgot I had seen it and watched it again.

Transformers was awesome, AWESOME! I tell you. I dig the Bad Boys flicks. He makes fun out of this world movies. You know what to expect so sit back and enjoy the ride.

I give the rest of the of the list however there are some additional things to add here.

Superhero movies not made by John Favraeu, Chris Nolan, Brian Singer, Some guy named Del Torro will suck balls. If it is done by the before mentioned then it stands to kick a little a**.

If it is a Horror Movie with a PG13 rating then please kill yourself before you go see this movie.

If this is an Action Movie with a PG13 rating it will make you wretch in the popcorn.

Note excepted directors above to the Action rule.

Forget the critics. You know what you like. Go for what you want don't be ashamed to love it if it is bad. Every one has an inner Movie Whore and you should embrace yours.

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Thursday 24th July 2008 | 09:28 AM

Steven Segal? Why? He is the epitome of awesome. I will watch any movie he is in, regardless of the nonsensical premmise or plot.

Vandamme had a couple of ok ones also, but, in the most, they were a little saggy, and you're totally correct about the rest of them, and I would never consider paris an actor.

With respect to computers though, matrix anyone? Terminator?

Michael Bay movies rock man, totally love them all.

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Thursday 24th July 2008 | 10:12 AM

I hate it when people on the internet are wrong

aliens is the best sequel ever made, ever!

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Dan L.

Thursday 24th July 2008 | 12:27 PM

Bay movies are OK but theres no replay value from them.

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Sunday 26th October 2008 | 05:13 PM

Silent Hill was a pretty good film based on a computer game. Resident Evil 1 was also pretty good (let's not talk about the sequels, eh?)

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Sunday 26th October 2008 | 05:50 PM

There was a Wing Commander movie? Did it have Mark Hammil?

You missed some key clues of bad movies:
* Is the movie Australian?
* Sub point - did an Australian film critic rave about?
* Does it have Nicole Kidman in it?

If yes, don't bother...

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Monday 27th October 2008 | 02:19 AM

Nice work Mike,

And I agree for the most part. Myself, I would have included something like:

If the movie has more than one scene that has a focus on the following items, you should give it close consideration before going: Car crashes, explosion with a man walking away with his back to it who does not look back, shootings, lots of fancy guns, more than 3 hot babes, and my favorite...sound in space.

Let me see if I can make myself more clear. I am tired of movies about Fast Cars, Hot Babes, Explosions, Robberies, Guns, Zombies and the like. I am tired of movies that depend on high tech movie special effects to make them impressive.

The movies that make the biggest impression on me are the ones that make me think.

The hottest babe, walking away with her back to the biggest explosion and not looking back, getting into the coolest 60's muscle car, driving off with Will Smith, as they launch missiles at the car following them, while they are on their way to dis-arm a bomb that will blow up the White House, and the bomb sequence stops with the timer reading 007 seconds left. This is not a movie that will have much for me.

When I think of today's movies, and compare them to the old T.V. series Twilight Zone, I am in amazement. I don't know what it cost to produce each one of the 126 episodes of the T.V.series, but it was surely less than a shoestring. A 10 second appearance of a major Hollywood star in a movie today costs more than the total cost of every Twilight Zone ever made. And most 1/2 hour Twilight Zones were far better than most of what is coming out of Hollywood these days.

Good insights Mikey,


Trent Greguhn

Trent Greguhn

Saturday 17th April 2010 | 07:06 AM
105 total kudos

I'm with Kim OJ. Love Beverly Hills Cop and Coming to America.

And anything with Natalie Portman is good news for me.

Otherwise stellar list-- so accurate.

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Henk V

Saturday 17th April 2010 | 08:14 AM

Another part of pop culture I dont spend much time in.

Ive seen some really good movies made in other languages. I think you should add, does the movie have subtitles; you have a good chance that its ok.

I do see that the frogs have made what is apparently just another rehash of the delicatessen originator. Think that is three related movies so far. Delicatessen was good the other two ive seen suffered from fixed direction and constrained characterisation.

Mel Brooks, bring it on. I think I was the only australian who understood the astounding mormon joke in the middle of blazing saddles. Damn, if mormons come over and explain what they believe, you have to listen

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