POSTED December 26 2013

Guilty pleasure or pleasurably diverting?

Jackie Chan in Rush Hour 2

Jackie Chan in Rush Hour 2


In 1978, cinephiles Richard Corliss and Martin Scorsese introduced the idea of movie “Guilty Pleasures” in Film Comment. Among Scorsese’s guilty pleasures that year were Khartoum, Land of the Pharaohs, The Man I Love and Lady in the Dark. Because I loved the last two movies, I challenged the idea of “guilty pleasure,” and when I met Richard in the 1980s teased him that only a Catholic movie geek would feel guilt about his or her lowbrow favorites.

Since then I have called the movies I love unwisely and too well “guiltless pleasures” or “pleasurably diverting.” Then yesterday our younger daughter, wanting to honor both our Jewish and Movie traditions of eating Chinese food and watching a Christmas movie on December 25, asked if we could watch the Rush Hour films with, Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker. These movies always make the two of us laugh. Husband, probably expecting It’s a Wonderful Life or Meet Me in St. Louis or Little Women, looked at me in horror as if he were about to revoke my movie-reiewing license.

As we watched human Gumby Jackie Chan and motormouth Chris Tucker and ate our Mei Fun, we laughed ourselves silly. And I thought, these aren’t guilty pleasures, they’re pleasurably diverting, movie comfort food that elicits laughter. What are your go-to films for pleasurable diversion?

Jackie Chan in Rush Hour 2

Jackie Chan in Rush Hour 2


  1. Gary says:

    I think I feel guilty about loving trashy films (Rich and Famous comes first to mind) because they are bad, like fast food but as addicting. Who eats just one Dorito?

  2. Carrie Rickey says:

    I love Rich and Famous. It’s as preposterous as Susan Sontag and Jackie Collins being best friends, but it’s really moving about desire.

  3. Lately (i.e., for the past several years) we’ve watched DodgeBall quite a bit and Blades Of Glory (which actually has subtle levels of slightly deeper recognition humor for skating-conscious families). I never feel any guilt. Years ago I read a funny letter in the New York Times written by a man standing in line at a video rental store behind the distinguished, erudite and somewhat arcane poet John Ashbery. The letter-writer was dying to see what Ashbery was renting and simultaneously feeling a little sheepish about his own (he felt) slightly low-brow choice. It turned out that Ashbery was renting Going Beserk and gave the letter-writer a slightly embarrassed shrug and grin when he discerned the situation and just said: “I really like those guys.” Even better than Rich and Famous was the SCTV parody Rich and Jealous. But of course one couldn’t exist without the other. Curtis

  4. I just had a great time revisiting both “The Mask of Fu Manchu” and–to cite a very different example–Tarkovsky’s “Nostalghia”. Both are reprehensible messes redeemed by great filmmaking.

  5. Richard Corliss says:

    Actually, Film Comment launched its Guilty Pleasures feature with Roger Ebert in the Jul.-Aug. 1978 issue. The scheme was for each worthy to choose and discuss 10 films. Scorsese, who followed in Sep.t-Oct. ’78, picked 125! That could be an emblem of the director’s prodigious movie love, and a clue to his difficulty in whittling a coke-fueled bio-pic down to three hours. The man can’t say no to the children he loves, especially if he spawned them.

  6. Robin says:

    Fish tacos & Anchorman 2 was it for us on the 25th. Will Farrell with a dose of everyone else you can think of.
    Funny , slightly too naughty and made us all want to watch The Other Guys again.

  7. Johne591 says:

    I appreciate you sharing this article.Thanks Again. Really Cool. ecdbkedbkcag

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please prove you\'re not a robot: * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.