One of the strangest things about film fans is the way we are all, on occasion, gluttons for punishment.
I'm not sure what it is about truly wretched films that draws film fans to watch and rewatch them for pleasure, but it's a near-universal truth that every now and then, it's an almost chemical pleasure to put on something physically painful just so you can gasp at the ineptitude and laugh yourself silly. There's a reason "Mystery Science Theater 3000" hit a nerve with all sorts of movie geeks when it premiered... it felt like someone took the private parties that so many of us had already thrown and turned it into a weekly TV show. I still remember the headaches I would get from watching films like "Flight To Mars" with my buddy Jake back in high school, and just howling the entire time as we would riff on the movies.
For many people, the pinnacle of bad movies is "Troll 2," a mind-bogglingly inept exercise in confusion that has actually built a cult over the last decade or so, and I guess I shouldn't be surprised that someone decided to make a documentary about the movie and its growing audience. What does surprise me is that "Best Worst Movie" manages to be more than just a record of a bunch of snickering hipsters beating up on an easy target, and it actually serves as a reminder that many bad movies started as someone's attempt to make something great, and that behind every phenomenon, there are real people who had no idea what impact their movie would have when unleashed on the world. And what surprises me most of all is that the person who made the documentary, which seems remarkably clear-eyed, turns out to be the young actor who played the little boy in "Troll 2" all those years ago, Michael Stephenson.
This is another of those movies that has been playing at festivals all year long. I saw it at South By Southwest in the spring, it was playing at Toronto when I was there, and then it just played the AFI Fest in Los Angeles on Saturday night. It's a great movie to see with a festival crowd, since that is (presumably) a very film literate crowd in the first place, and "Best Worst Movie" is as much about our reasons for loving movies as "Cinema Paradiso" was.