On the one hand, why spend the rare day when both you and your spouse get to stay home together with no children around watching a shitty movie? On the other hand, when ELSE are you going to do that? When in the last three years have you just sprawled out on the couch watching an action movie sequel and making loud predictions about what each poorly-written character is going to say next, taking breaks only to answer the occasional work e-mail and throw a batch of chocolate chip cookies in the oven?
Watching something we care about is like an appointment we have to keep. Let’s get that kid in bed and make sure she doesn’t pepper us with requests to change her pajamas, because there’s a new episode of The Good Place. If we don’t get around to it tonight because we’re too tired or have work to do, then tomorrow’s Internet could very well spoil whatever plot twists lie in wait. Good TV or a good movie demands that you pay attention, and sometimes it teaches you something even when you think you’re not there to learn anything.
A bad movie, though? Come as you are. Blade II (2002) was the exact right bad movie for a day of self-indulgent sloth. Wesley Snipes, a.k.a. Blade, a.k.a The Daywalker (he has all the vampires’ strengths but none of their weaknesses! the opening credits tell us so) fights vampires…and then the vampires recruit him to join forces with them to fight the new strain of almost-invincible vampires that THEY are trying to fight. OR DO THEY? Who will double-cross who first? What cheesy line will be deployed at what dramatic moment to signal to the audience that the vampires were fucking with Blade THE WHOLE TIME? Didn’t see that coming, did you?
When you sit down and watch Blade II in the middle of the day, you know what you’re going to get. When Wesley Snipes implants a grenade into a dude’s skull, that grenade is going to go OFF before the film is over. Kris Kristofferson as Whistler is going to get the shit kicked out of him multiple times, and still, improbably, he’s going to survive and totally heal from each of those beatings, except that his right leg will still be in the same leg brace from the first Blade, so he doesn’t lose that signature tough-guy limp. The sole female character with more than one line, Nyssa (Leonor Varela), will end up dying a pointless death in deference to her divided loyalties between her father, her brother, and Blade himself (who twice saves her life). Ultimately, it is Blade who gives her the very last thing she wants: to see the sun and immediately die of sunlight exposure.
It’s funny, because the reason we watched Blade II is that we’d watched Blade the other day, and you know what, Blade was pretty good! I’m not saying I’m mad, Blade II, I’m disappointed. I’m also saying, though, that hating movies and being entertained by them are not two mutually exclusive things. If anything, my husband and I bond far more over critiquing a bad movie than we do over enjoying a good one. Good TV is another story; good TV allows anticipation and excitement and investment to build over a longer period of time. A good movie is absorbed and then fades relatively quickly into the past. A bad movie, though, is one we’re likely to quote to one another for a long time. And yet our busy lives so rarely accord us the luxury of having time to waste on bad movies. Now, I almost hope we get disappointed so thoroughly again soon.