Why Bad Movies Matter
By Jake Kroeger on April 12, 2012
A couple of weeks ago, Adam Sandler’s Jack and Jill swept the Razzies, arguably making it the worst movie of 2011.
Of course, that’s not true.
The worst movie of 2011 rests in the hard drive of some angsty suburban kid who is desperately looking for someone to understand his perspective through film in tribute to experimental filmmaker Stan Brakhage, especially after being rejected from every film school in existence. Whether you agree with that contention or not, it’s much more important to note that Hollywood really doesn’t care.
Since 1980, the Golden Raspberry Award Foundation has been in existence to call out Hollywood on mailing it in with the films they make and release. Every single year, the Razzies find, probably without trying hard at all, several movies to call shitty with a statuette, usually ones that are critically panned across the board and commercially flopped. Catwoman, All About Steve, Battlefield Earth, Gigli, The Love Guru, and, most recently, Jack & Jill are movies that seem to unite people in hate. Still, they were made, haphazardly, and continue to be made just like the Three Stooges reboot that, from the trailers at least, looks like a lock for the 2013 Razzies.
Why is it that there is an official institution for calling bullshit on the studios that just gets laughed off?
Let us not forget that the so-called “biz” is absolutely a business and is more into playing the numbers game than ever. Currently, Jack Kerouac’s On The Road is being adapted into a movie not because it would make a good movie — if you’ve read the book, you know that it really wouldn’t. The medium of film does not suffer “slice of life” stories well, yet there is enough caché in the name of Jack Kerouac and On The Road, not to mention the bankable names of Kristen Stewart, Kirsten Dunst, Viggo Mortensen, Amy Adams, Steve Buscemi, and even Mad Men star Elisabeth Moss, to make it an easy “greenlight.”
Jack and Jill, as of this moment, has a 3% critics’ score on Rotten Tomatoes, but grossed almost $150 million worldwide. That means there were definitely more people than writer and comedian Halle Kiefer that saw it. With a reported budget of $79 million, why wouldn’t that be a win for Adam Sandler?
In high school, if you could confidently predict that you were going to score at least a B on a test without studying or taking notes, then scored an A, why would you ever study or take notes? Why would you try to make Little Miss Sunshine, which, to this day, has made just over $100 million, if you can make Jack and Jill and gross nearly $50 million more?
One could argue that the same amount of actual work was put into the production of Jack and Jill as Little Miss Sunshine, possibly even more given the production value of some Jack and Jill’s scenes. One could argue that they appeal to different demographics and nichés, thus having the intrinsic quality of the humor in either film unable to be compared. One could also stop playing devil’s advocate and admit that it’s easier to make a bad movie than it is a good one (Little Miss Sunshine has a 91% score on Rotten Tomatoes).
There is no way that just as much consideration into making a quality comedy was put into Jack and Jill as Little Miss Sunshine. If that were somehow true, then it would be ridiculous that either movie would exist next to the other.
The crux of this whole issue all comes down to marketing. Like any movie of questionable worth, Jack and Jill went on a massive marketing campaign, spanning billboards, buses, banner ads on the Internet, and more to effectively shove it down people’s throats in order to go and see it. Simply, Hollywood makes bad movies because people will still go see them. If you want to see better movies, go see better movies and stop seeing bad ones, then make sure to tell everyone that you know that they should go see the better movie. If there’s no better movie at the theater near you, then don’t see a movie. It’s not the only form of entertainment ever. You do know that the Nerdist Podcast does live shows around the country and the Nerdist Theater is in Los Angeles, right?