TGIFiveSpot: Five Great Scenes From Bad Movies
Sometimes, when confronted with a hot mess up on the silver screen, we as viewers can still mess around and find a silver lining.
Feel free to agree, disagree, or add your own nominations below, in the comments section, at the end of this show.
Wu-Tang vs. Bill Murray in Coffee and Cigarettes (2003)
Jim Jarmusch has made some strong, interestingly esoteric films. Down by Law and Dead Man, to name a couple examples. Coffee & Cigarettes is not one of them. It uses the universal, single-setting motif, in this case a coffee house, as his Night on Earth used a taxi-cab. Yet it's less successful doing so. Despite the possibilities posed by a colorful cast, the end result feels like art-house laziness.
Still, this scene, a meeting between Wu-Tang brethren, and real-life cousins, RZA and GZA, with Bill “Groundhog-Day, Ghostbustin-ass” Murray, is an inspired choice. Jarmusch had just worked with RZA in his prior film, Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai. He would work with Murray immediately after this movie, in Broken Flowers. In between, there was Coffee & Cigarettes, a mostly lackluster movie aside from these seven memorable minutes.
The Venn diagram of Wu-Tang Fans and Bill Murray Fans, is probably a larger subset than some might think. While those who love both, likely possessors of good taste, enjoyed seeing them form like Voltron for this movie moment.
If you don’t love, or at least like, either? Then we're not sure this scene is for you.
Al Pacino vs. Bennifer in Gigli (2004)
Al Pacino is one of the greatest actors of all time. He’s also been mostly doing paycheck films, reverting to self-parody in performances, for a couple decades. Maybe it was 1990's Dick Tracy, the listless Warren Beatty/Madonna comic-book film, that got Pacino started down the cartoon lane. Maybe it was being awarded his first Oscar twenty years late, for saying Whoo-Ah, in '92. He still made several strong performances in good films during the nineties: Carlito’s Way, Heat, Donnie Brasco, Glengary Glenn Ross, Any Given Sunday. But his shouting did veer towards unintentional comedy at times.
By 2000, much like Robert Deniro, his days of great movies and performances were all but gone. Gigli isn’t really a Pacino film. In fact, he went uncredited upon its release in theaters. Gigli was also a bomb of Ishtar-like proportions. But that stink, mostly stuck to the real-life couple who co-starred in it: Ben and JLo.
Meanwhile, Al runs off with the only part worth watching. He doesn't do it by eschewing his enunciating overemphasis. He does so playing an unhinged personality that makes this style feasible. And not sticking around long enough to wear out his welcome. If you ever made the mistake of staying with Gigli long enough to get there, Al’s histrionics are a highly welcome respite. The rest can watch this, and skip the rest, forever. Trust us on this.
Iron Mike vs. Ironman in Black and White (1999)
Unlike Gigli, James Toback’s Black and White isn’t awful. In fact, there’s plenty of interesting concepts and characters woven into this hodgepodge. The Wu-Tang Clan milieu, during their late-nineties peak, for starters. Bijou Phillips brings it, in her bad-girl-steeped-in-black-culture, teenage-angst role. Brooke Shields acting doesn’t feel as wooden as it normally does. But there’s tons of truly terrible performances, plus subplots, such as everything involving Allan Houston and Ben Stiller. There’s also next to no script, let alone any discernible story arc.
So, the power of the performers, and their ability to interact, is really all Black and White has got. But when it’s Robert Downey Jr, pre-Ironman, and Iron Mike Tyson, pre-face-tattoo, let’s face it, that’s quite a lot. This turbulent exchange, at the most awkward cocktail party of all-time, is everything. It’s enough to forgive what would otherwise be problematically homophobic language. Here, it feels like an authentic incarnation of on-parole Mike in '99. Meanwhile Downey Jr, battling his own demons while in and out of jail around this same time, pushes himself and Tyson to the brink here.
Van Damme vs. Penguin in Sudden Death (1995)
Bad movies, and Jean-Claude Van Damme, go hand and hand. There’s not a single movie he ever made that wasn’t somewhere between “corny but entertaining”, or “irredeemably awful”. Sudden Death, as an overall film, veers closer to the latter. But this scene right here? Definitely resides in the camp of the former.
Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane might not cop to it, for legal reasons, but that show’s recurring “Chicken Fight” doesn’t exist without this. So both for that reason, as well as the pure hilarity of watching Van Damme fight it out with a pro-sports mascot in a concessionary kitchen, we love this OG cartoon.
It’s also probably a handy clip to use for any NHL Fan rivals of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Although if you root for the Washington Capitals, the director’s cut, with the Penguin vanquishing Van Damme in savage fashion, probably feels more accurate.
OX vs. An Army of Bumbaclots in Belly (1998)
Of all the movies included in this somewhat ignominious group, Belly is easily the best of the bunch. It looks gorgeous, with go-to video director Hype Williams showing his keen eye for cinematography that had him in high demand on MTV during the late-90’s/early-00’s. DMX might be the best rap actor since Tupac, and puts in work here. It’s the rare movie where the bad guys get to learn, grow and win. This scene is not the only memorable one in the film, but it is the most.
All that being said, the plot is almost as non-existent as Black and White, even though it isn't improvised and pretends otherwise. As actors, T-Boz and Nas, are a great singer and rapper. Nothing is remotely believable, and none of it truly comes together. Still, if you can turn your brain off and take it for what it is, it’s highly re-watchable.
This particular scene, is straight up jacked from Scarface, a flawed but superior and iconic film. Still, this scene, with Jamaican drug lord Lennox aka Ox, played brilliantly by dance-hall legend and actor Louie Rankin (Shottas), is much cooler. And damn near every line is a quotable in it, while the action is an injection of pure adrenaline.
Editor's Notable Omissions: We strongly considered including the (SPOILER ALERT) shark-eats-Sam-Jackson-in-mid-speech clip from 'Deep Blue Sea', teased in the .GIF in this post's header. But we left it out for being a) obvious enough to border on cliche and b) arguably originally intended to be serious. We also decided against the Kareem vs. Bruce Lee battle from 'Game of Death', since that flick may have been good, we just can't recall the rest.