I don't know what makes bad movies good, but I'm pretty sure what makes good movies bad -- trying too hard. You get a profound idea (or steal it from a book) and decide you can make a profound movie out of it. You heap layer upon layer of profundity on it and the whole thing collapses of its own weight. But you are convinced that you have made a good movie, and you find a few people who agree with you and pretty soon it's Oscar time and winning one -- far from convincing you that the awards system is wrong -- convinces you that you are profound.
But if you set out to produce a little romantic love story with some quirky, human characters, and if you're an actor who was kind of third-line Saturday Night Live a few years back, you're not only not going to get respect, but you're up for ridicule for trying and you're out of the profundity sweepstakes. Never mind, you might make a lot of movies and a lot of money and have adoring fans ranging from eight year olds to their 66-year-old grandmother.
I had seen Adam Sandler on Saturday Night Live and found him mildly amusing. I was aware he had gone into movies and was beginning to build a following, mostly of little boys, who enjoyed the gross-out factor as much as he did. Then I heard a review on Siskel and Ebert (I think it was still Siskel then) of a movie he made called Punch Drunk, recommending it and recommending that Adam Sandler follow his inclination to do more serious movies.
Now I wouldn't have bothered with The Wedding Singer or Mr. Deeds, but I became an Adam Sandler fan based on that film. From there I went to Spanglish and Big Daddy, both of which won my heart, largely because they were such a good fit for this appealing actor.
The other night The Wedding Singer was on television, and I decided to watch it. I don't have to tell you it is a bad movie, mauldlin and stereotypical. I am indifferent to Drew Barrymore, but she turns out to be a good foil for my boy, and I am probably wrong about her. Here's the thing of it: I liked this bad movie, for all the reasons a lamebrain or adolescent (or both) is supposed to. It is sentimental and romantic, and there is Adam Sandler, looking weird but somehow being a nice boy, giving singing lessons to old ladies and helping a little boy who made the mistake of drinking at a wedding with the all-important lesson of how to heave and not to drink again.
Once many years ago someone accused me of being romantic. I said then what I say now, I am not one bit romantic. Here's exactly what I am: Cynical and sentimental. That said, I take heart from the likes of Adam Sandler.
That's all for today...from your sentimental cynic movie critic.