Spoon-Fed Happiness

Guilty Pleasures Review
at Too Many Colors

A guilty pleasure movie is one that you like, but you don't go around saying that. You know you shouldn't, you know it's all beneath you, yet you can't help watching them again and again.

Guilty Pleasures

Movies about Rag-Tag Kids

by Erik Swedlund

I, like most decent, childless adults, do not watch children's movies.

Or at least that's what I tell my friends.

In reality, I love those rag-tag kids. You know the ones--that rag-tag group of misfits, the nerdy but loveable ones. They're shunned and laughed at by the "in" crowd, forced to band together for protection. They don't have a chance at winning the big competition. . . OR DO THEY? That contraption of theirs is crazy. . . BUT IT'S SO CRAZY IT JUST MIGHT WORK! That little one standing at the back is quiet. . . A LITTLE TOO QUIET!

Most movies like this are made for a young audience. It's an audience that enjoys seeing images of themselves on the big screen, and never tires of the formulaic underdog plot. Then again, that pretty well describes all audiences. The real distinguishing point is the squeaky clean rating given by the MPAA. You could argue that this basic plot outline fits The Rocky Horror Picture Show, but you ain't seeing that at the free noon matinee.

But it's so crazy it just might work!
The Rating System
Guilt from 1-5
How bad you feel about watching the movie. Inversely proportional to the chance you will tell your friends you've seen it.
Pleasure from 1-5
The amount of perverse enjoyment you receive while holed up in a dark, locked room, watching the flick.
So, then, here are my favorites from this guilty-pleasure-laden genre (title links take you to the film's page on the Internet Movie Database):

Stand By Me (1986)

Technically, not a guilty pleasure. It's not guilty because it's an excellent movie and everyone says so--I'm not at all ashamed to admit I like it. Plus, it's loaded with street cred: story by Stephen King, starring River Phoenix, Cory Feldman, Wil Wheaton, and Jerry "Sliders" O'Connel. Not at the top of their professions, maybe, but recognizable names at least. It's on this list to give a baseline for the ratings system.
Guilt: 0
Pleasure: 4

Explorers (1985)

Again with River Phoenix, this time joined by Ethan Hawke. A group of three rag-tag kids build a spaceship out of an old tilt-a-whirl seat and a bizarre, computer generated bubble. It gets rather silly at the end. Still, it touches the geek in all of us. A low guilt score, because most people have never heard of it--hence I'm not too ashamed to admit I like it.
Guilt: 2
Pleasure: 3

The Sandlot (1993)

A group of rag-tag kids play baseball and horse around. If you thought Walter Matthau ruined The Bad News Bears, then this is for you. If, like a sane person, you recognize Mr. Matthau's comic genius as a baseball coach, then The Sandlot can only provide some low-rent chuckles based on some very broad stereotypes.
Guilt: 3
Pleasure: 2

Race the Sun (1996)

A group of rag-tag highschoolers from Hawaii (including Casey Affleck), led by their teachers (Halle Berry and James Belushi), head to Australia to race their solar car in the international competition (against German bad guy Steve Zahn). Lots of solar-powered fun as their crazy contraption careens through the Outback.
Guilt: 4
Pleasure: 4

Fly Away Home (1996)

Only one kid; a rag-tag gaggle of geese star in this super-sappy tearjerker. I can't help but love it, it's so adorable. Anna Paquin and her father, Jeff Daniels, use their ultralight airplanes to teach orphaned geese how to migrate. Awwwwwww!
Guilt: 5
Pleasure: 5

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