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It's a Guilty Pleasures double feature

Movies that we love in secret, from serious clowns to Steven Seagal — and the vino we pair with popcorn.
/ Source: msnbc.com

It's popular nowadays to complain about how Hollywood only releases garbage.

To which we say: Oh, please. Hollywood always put out garbage.  Those films are the stuff that movie Guilty Pleasures are made of.

Some of our picks are just plain bad. Some suffer from Guilt by association. We've even paired up some movies , just to take the edge off.

‘On A Clear Day You Can See Forever’ (1970)Can you believe that Jack Nicholson’s second role after earning his indie cred in “Easy Rider” was in this uber-Hollywood Barbra Streisand flick helmed by “Gigi” director Vincent Minelli? With those credentials, you’d think you’d get something extremely special. It’s special all right — in the short-bus sense. Babs stars as Daisy Gamble, an ordinary girl who just happens to possess psychic abilities. She goes to a psychiatrist (played by French heartthrob Yves Montand) to help her quit smoking. He’s not the least bit interested in her until, under hypnosis, he realizes she’s lived many lives (like the Shirley MacLaine story come to life) and falls in love with one of them, the lovely Melinda. Babs gets to go from ‘60s Brooklyn-accented Mod to Victorian English with just a snap of Montand’s fingers. If you’re a Babs fan (and I watch “Funny Girl” anytime I catch it on cable), you won’t be able to resist this aged cheese. Montand even warbles a few tunes. Meanwhile, all Nicholson has to do in his role as Streisand’s half-brother is look as cool and stoned as possible. On a Clear Day, indeed. –Paige Newman

‘Dude, Where’s My Car?’ (2000)

Some films tackle world wars, Rwandan genocide and paralyzed boxers. “Dude, Where’s My Car?” is about two stoner dudes who lose their car. It also involves breast-enhancement necklaces, a room full of pudding, cultists wrapped in bubble wrap, a giant alien woman and one really pissed-off Chinese takeout order box. It’s stupid, but it’s fun in the same way that Bob and Doug McKenzie were fun. Seann William Scott and Ashton Kutcher are such good-natured, uh, dudes, that you know nothing really bad is ever going to happen to them. And some of the dialogue and scenes, though slapsticky, are legitimately funny. Not all of us will end up with “Dude!” and “Sweet!” back tattoos, but who hasn’t wanted to “go all egg roll” on a fast-food speaker box? We're still waiting for the eventual sequel, which is rumored to have the awesome title, “Seriously, Dude, Where’s My Car?” Dude! Sweet! -Gael Fashingbauer Cooper

‘Ski School’ (1991)

It wasn’t just that “Ski School” had all the elements of a classic “Porky’s” on the slopes — including, but not limited to, gratuitous nudity, sequential on-camera beer bashes, a think-what-we-saved-on-music-rights soundtrack and way too much generic skiing footage. The true mark of its distinction? Just how long after its time this gem, shot at British Columbia’s Whistler resort, was born. By 1991, it had been a long slalom down from 1984’s “Hot Dog … The Movie” or even John Cusack’s star turn in “Better Off Dead.” By the ‘90s, bad sports films were supposed to be earnest, not titillating. Just witness “Ski School” dared to be out of place, out of time and out of taste. Yet it has a certain “Animal House” brilliance, thanks mostly to the sublime efforts of Dean Cameron, whose ski instructor Dave Marshak is a sort of Otter of the mountain, around whom all good times and cleavage necessarily revolve. Cameron’s acting talents (see also “Sleep With Me”) have never been fully appreciated, perhaps because he signed on for the utterly pointless “Ski School 2.” Why ruin perfection with a sequel? -Jon Bonné

Sneaking wine into movies
The mood strikes on dreary winter afternoons and a like-minded, self-employed friend and I head to a movie matinee. We ditch deadlines and cell phones, put laptops to sleep and set off to indulge in guilt-laden hooky. Armed with contraband wine, homemade white truffle butter popcorn (nothing but Orville) and Slim Jims, we head into the dark theater and go AWOL. One caveat: We must match the wine with the movie.

Before we smuggle our forbidden cache, we choose our libations carefully. The vino/cinematic challenge gets competitive. For “Brokeback Mountain,” is it “Goats du Roam” Red from South Africa? Zinfandel from California’s Black Sheep Winery? For “The Da Vinci Code,” is it Bonny Doon’s “Cardinal Zin” or “Blastphemy” from Canada’s Blasted Church Winery? A Tasmanian pinot for “The Devil Wears Prada”? To avoid embarrassing commotion, we pop the cork (and popcorn) prior to hitting the theater. Cushioning the bottle (bubble wrap works) is advised, as we learned one afternoon. An empty bottle rolled and clanked down towards the stage during “Tin Cup,” leaving us with devil-may-care smirks and giggles. -Barbara Travers

‘School Ties’ (1992)

It isn't hard to understand why I might have watched “School Ties” once — it's a cute-boy-fest. But every time it comes on cable, or appears in HBO's On Demand listings? Brendan Fraser looks good without his shirt on, it's true, but does he look that good? Yeah, actually, he does, and the supporting cast is mighty foxy too: Chris O'Donnell, Ben Affleck before he got all puffy, and the terminally underappreciated Randall Batinkoff. But the real appeal of the movie, I think, is its simplistic morality, the broad strokes in which it paints good (Fraser's character, benevolently beefy David Greene, standing up to ‘50s prep school anti-Semitism) and bad (transparently petty super-WASP Charlie Dillon, played with ferrety gusto by Matt Damon's uncapped teeth). The Very Important Lesson the movie wants to teach us is one most of us learned long ago; it's an overly earnest anti-establishment take on a bygone time, but that's exactly what makes it fun. It doesn't try to make its villains complex or layered. It just makes them prejudiced jerks I can enjoy hating. And boy, do I enjoy hating Anthony Rapp as supporting bigot McGoo Collins. Can't stand that guy. -Sarah Bunting

‘Shakes The Clown’ (1992)

Anyone can mock clowns for being creepy and weird. It took a special brand of insane genius to do it with the thoroughness, imagination and, yes, affection that Bobcat Goldthwait brought to “Shakes The Clown.” The comic’s directorial debut depicts rival clown gangs locked in a power struggle for control of their town. In a weird way, it’s a perfectly realized (if hermetically sealed) world, with clowns viewed by civilians as just another subculture to be dealt with, like punks or stoners. It’s also a sociological gold mine; the complex social pecking pits TV clowns against party clowns, rough-and-tumble rodeo clowns, constantly abused mimes and, possibly even lower still, milkmen. What keeps it from falling apart at its own cleverness is the fact that, within the skewed framework Goldthwait sets up, everything’s played more or less straight. Shakes is a womanizing alcoholic with enormous talent who’s on the verge of losing everything (and ending up in jail for a murder he didn’t commit, to boot). So why complain that a kid pees on his face in the very first scene? If that's not hitting bottom, I don't know what is. -Marc Hirsh

Steven Seagal movies After a long day at work, I'm a remote-clicking maniac. I don't want news, historic documentaries or “ER” reruns; I want mindless, plotless action flicks. I want Steven Seagal, the tan man with a ponytail, in black, always running down some river bank. I can't tell you the movie titles, even though I've seen each one at least a dozen times. My favorite? The one where he's the wronged good guy, out to get the bad guy. Oh, right — that's the plot for all of them. But that's what I love about his movies: the sameness of them. There’s always the car chase, barroom brawl and warehouse-that's-about-to-blow-up escape scene … and the schticky tender moments, like when he finds a stray dog. Seagal always gets the bad guy. His character is always fighting for a cause, standing up for the little guy, taking on a Goliath and winning. Despite the sappy dialogue and acting, his stoic do-gooder tales grab me every time. I can rest, knowing the good guy won. –Dara Brown

‘Titanic’ (1997)

Mention “Titanic” to educated, cultured folk and there’s a good chance you’ll be met with condescending sniffs and, if you’re lucky, a defiant declaration that they’ve never seen it, accompanied by a proud refusal to even brook the notion. To which I say: Shut up. What they miss is that the drippy love story isn’t what the film is about at all. It’s merely the mechanism though which we see the film’s true subject — the boat. The reason Rose is in first class and Jack is from steerage isn’t to show that love conquers all, it’s to provide an all-access pass to every section of the ship as it steams towards its doom. Chaining Jack below decks after the iceberg may smack of melodrama, but it also keeps him and Rose at water level almost the entire time and prevents them from abandoning ship before the precise moment when it becomes completely submerged. The result is that we're right there with the ship every second of the way as it slowly, inch by inch, goes to its death. James Cameron's earlier films occasionally slipped into techno-porn. This was his love song to a giant slab of steel. -Marc Hirsh

‘Bride and Prejudice’

Rent this movie and rent it now because — check it out — Sayid from “Lost” totally dances. Naveen Andrews, the mopey Iraqi on ABC’s “Lost” and Barbara Hershey’s real-life, super-hunky, age-inappropriate British boyfriend (of Indian descent) sings (er, lip syncs) and, as described by his onscreen sister, gets down like the “Indian M.C. Hammer.” Even if you’re not into Sayid, rent “Bride and Prejudice” because it’s stupid, happy, sweet, fun, and completely without artifice. In this Bollywood send-up of the Jane Austin classic, American Boy annoys Indian Girl, Boy saves Girl’s teenage sister from cad, Boy and Girl ride into the sunset on an elephant. The source material’s finer plot points are shed to make room for delightful-albeit-poorly-dubbed musical numbers. (FYI: Andrews (Sayid), as American Boy’s best friend, doesn’t get nearly enough screen time.) Meanwhile, Nitin Chandra Ganatra, as uncouth suitor Mr. Kholi, does a spot-on turn as an Indian impersonating Peter Sellers impersonating an Indian. The coup de grace: A love song beach montage featuring a Baptist church choir and a line of dancing surfboards. –Helen A.S. Popkin