Film has long become one of the most popular forms of entertainment. Be it action movies, comedy, horror movies, or dramas, well-made films always tell engaging stories. We all know and remember such epic and outstanding movies as The Lord of the Rings, Inception, The Matrix, Terminator 2: Judgement Day, all the series of the Harry Potter franchise, and so on. Many critics and viewers agree these movies are among the best in their genres, almost perfect masterpieces that set the quality standard for future generations of directors.
Contrarily, there are movies we remember due to them being bad up to the point of ridiculousness. The best example of this statement would probably be The Room filmed by Tommy Wiseau in 2003. Ross Morin, an assistant professor of film studies at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota, called The Room “the Citizen Kane of bad movies” (Entertainment Weekly). The whole movie is a cringefest: starting with poor acting and ending up with poorly written dialog and awkward scenes, The Room is so bad that it managed to become a cult production. Almost every scene from it is worth being immortalized as an example of how movies should not be made. “You’re tearing me apart, Lisa!” This dramatic moment of the film has been making people laugh hysterically for almost 15 years.
Another example is Tough Guys Don’t Dance. Filmed in 1987, it is a decent criminal drama with comedy elements. The movie was not such a disaster as The Room, but it completely failed at the box office, and also included perhaps one of the worst scenes in cinematography. In it, Ryan O’Neal’s character is standing on a cliff edge, reading a letter; at some point what he reads shocks him, and he starts yelling, “Oh man, oh God” over and over again. O’Neal’s acting is so bad in this scene that the director Norman Mailer had to apologize for leaving it in the final version of the film.
Many movies, however, fall somewhere in between the two extremes described above, being neither masterpieces, nor complete failures. Let us take a closer look at some of the worst and cringiest moments in movies most people know.
Troll 2 is by no means a good film. Still, being far from such disasters as the aforementioned two, it can still boast of a ridiculously silly scene. In it, a teenager Arnold (played by Darren Ewing) realizes that he is going to be eaten alive by trolls; when it dawns at him, he yells, “Oh my Gooooooood!” for so long, with such energy, and with such a funny expression on his face, that it is impossible to keep from laughing. A fly sitting on Arnold’s forehead as he screams somehow makes the scene even more laughable. Actually, the scene is so bad it has become a popular meme among YouTube movie reviewers, who often use Ewing as an example of poor acting.
Any cinema fan knows for sure that celebrities starring in a film do not automatically guarantee this film’s high quality. This statement is especially true for Gigli, a movie by Martin Brest starring Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez. Overall, the film has only 6% on the Rotten Tomatoes website, but one scene from it is particularly bad (Rotten Tomatoes). When Lopez and Affleck are having an intimate rendezvous, she invites him to bed with the phrase, “It’s turkey time”–which is already ridiculous enough. When Affleck (and the viewers) does not get her suggestions, she only makes it worse by adding, “Gobble, gobble,” increasing the scale of awkwardness dramatically.
American Pie is an American comedy for teenagers, and because of this it should probably not be judged too strictly. Nevertheless, it contains one of the cringiest scenes in movie history: namely, when Jim has sex with an apple pie his mom cooked. As if this is not enough, Jim’s father returns home right when Jim is in the middle of the process, so to say. The two of them keep staring at each other for a moment long enough for you to wish it end. And to make it worse, in the next scene, we see Jim and his dad sitting on a couch looking at the destroyed pie, and then dad says, “Well, we’ll just tell your mother that we ate it all.” The forgiveness and understanding of this event is disturbing.
Stanley Kubrick’s Lolita filmed in 1962 is a masterpiece both because how well it was directed, and because of how powerful its literary source was. Despite the whole topic of the main character’s pedophilic love towards a teenage girl being already disturbing enough, the movie also contains one of the cringiest moments in the entire history of cinematography. In fact, it is uncomfortable to watch in a good sense: Kubrick masterfully pumps up the nerve strain. When Humbert finds a hotel to spend time with Lolita, he discovers it is already full of policemen. One of them named Clare Quilty, a pedophile himself, makes a note when he sees Lolita: “I wish I had a lovely daughter like that.” An innocent phrase said by a pedophile gains a completely different, sinister-sounding meaning, and makes you want to look away from the screen.
Everyone has their own criteria of what is acceptable or not, and their own threshold of disgust and weirdness. What is just laughable and ridiculous for one person may be completely unacceptable for another. What makes you close your eyes in disgust or shame might be a slight discomfort for someone else. Considering this, it might be difficult to compile an ultimate list of the cringiest moments in film. Nevertheless, the aforementioned scenes are definitely uncomfortable to watch. Starting with the slight bewilderment caused by Ewing’s performance in Troll 2, the list gradually increases the scale of awkwardness up to disgust (American Pie) and repulsion (Lolita). And while the latter two were made this way intentionally, we can only guess whether the scenes from Troll 2 and Gigli had been overlooked, or filmed like that on purpose.
“The Crazy Cult of ‘The Room’.” Entertainment Weekly, EW.com, ew.com/article/2008/12/12/crazy-cult-room/.
“Gigli.” Rotten Tomatoes, www.rottentomatoes.com/m/gigli.