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Pop Rocks: Basic Cable Blues -- The 10 Movies You Will Always Watch When They Come On

You know the feeling: It's 11 p.m., you're lying half-conscious on your couch and thinking tonight -- tonight -- is the night you're finally going to go to bed before midnight and get a decent night's sleep. Maybe this will be the start of a new chapter in your life, one in which you no longer click channels aimlessly until the wee hours, allowing the idiot box to draw you in with its fluorescent tentacles and rendering you useless and nodding off at your desk the next day. By Jove, this could be the beginning of a whole new life!

But just in case, you scroll through the guide one more time. No, no...don't look at TBS or AMC, DON'T LOOK AT THEM.

Too late, you find yourself inexplicably watching heavily edited, commercially laden versions of one of your favorite movies. Next thing you know, it's 1:00 in the morning and you're covered in Dorito dust, brimming with just enough self-loathing to help you drift off into a fitful, wretched sleep that will come to an abrupt end when that alarm goes off in five hours.

What the hell is wrong with you?

Jaws

They show this fucker every July 4th, sometimes in a 24-hour marathon, and I still can't not watch it when it's on. I own the 30th anniversary DVD, the Blu-ray and at least one VHS copy, and yet I cannot help sitting through 45 minutes worth of Chili's commercials and "Extenz" ads whenever it pops up in basic cable. Farewell and adieu to my goddamn common sense.

The Shawshank Redemption

I'm not sure what happened between the 1950s and today that turned our prison populations from decent-hearted fellows full of sage advice and homespun wisdom into tattooed psychopaths, but I'm sure Obama had something to do with it. And was there ever a more satisfying feeling than when Hadley beat the shit out of Boggs? Take that, you ginger rapist.

The Godfather

It's a special kind of stupid that makes me watch a 3+ hour movie...with commercials. I can't set aside 30 minutes to pay my bills, but I can somehow find five hours to watch a sanitized version of Sonny getting machine-gunned at the toll booth. I'm sure the folks at American Express will understand.

 

A Few Good Men

It took me a long time to warm up to this one, mostly because Aaron Sorkin's dialogue tends to throw me into spasms of buttock-clenching rage. Now, I'm a willing convert. Has Tom Cruise ever been as popular since? Has Demi Moore? Is it possible to watch the Col. Jessup scenes without growling along to every line ("Who's gonna do it? You? You, Lieutenant Weinberg?")?

He really hated Lt. Weinberg, I guess. Or just Jews in general.

Deep Blue Sea

A.k.a. Jaws' bigger, dumber brother. I'm not sure it's "so bad, it's good" or it's just plain bad, but super-sized, hyperintelligent sharks chomping on respected actors like Stellan Skarsgaard and [SPOILER]Samuel L. Jackson[/SPOILER] never gets old. Nature is lethal, but it doesn't hold a candle to man. Or TBS.

Stay for the end credits, when you get to hear LL Cool J's "Deepest Bluest (Shark Fin)" rap!

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

What is our fascination with seafaring movies? Perhaps we all feel the pull of the briny blue, barely perceptible in genes that scarce remember our species' vagabond origins. Maybe it's the irresistible idea of leaving it all behind and setting out for the horizon, our troubles and responsibilities left on a faraway shore.

Or maybe we just like dudes in sailor outfits.

The Breakfast Club

I admit it; I hate The Breakfast Club. It's almost worth watching on TNT or the like just for the horrible editing: "F-damn you! F-damn you!"

And doesn't pot make you wanna dance?

 

Goodfellas

Yeah, you thought Breakfast Club editing was bad. Every time I see this listed on AMC, I ask, "What's the [fucking] point?" And every time, I [fucking] watch it, my feet propped up on the chest containing my perfectly serviceable [fucking] HD DVD, chock full of every F-bomb and spray of Joe Pesci's arterial blood.

This is a pretty good approximation:

A Christmas Story

See also Jaws -- Here's the problem with A Christmas Story (and it's not that Darren McGavin was way too old for Melinda Dillon): You never get to see it all at once. The nature of the holidays is such that one rarely has the time to sit and enjoy a movie in its entirety, unless that movie is Die Hard. I'm still not sure I've ever watched this thing from beginning to end.

Honorable Mention: Fellowship of the Ring

I haven't braved this on basic cable, because I think it would clock in somewhere around seven hours on commercial TV. I've noticed, however, that Starz only ever plays Fellowship. Sure, it's the best one, but I'm now in a permanent state of mourning from watching Gandalf die 20 times.


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