Guilty Pleasure: Cinema Style

I’m sure I’ve stated many times here that I am a fan of both the ridiculous and the sublime, and when they come together in something sublimely ridiculous, so much the better.

Far more time has gone into thinking about this post than I would care to admit, including various searches and lists on the Googles, time on IMDB, and introspection. My desire is to cover all the necessary points without any grievous omissions, for an omission on a list like this would probably be the worst thing ever.

Bearing all that in mind, what follows is a list of my top nine cinematic (history themed) guilty pleasures. These movies are more entertaining than historically accurate, and to list these as “great historical films” runs the risk of opening oneself up to ridicule from hardcore historical nerds.

Whatever. Honeybadger don’t care.

[ Feedback welcome! Am I forgetting anything? Is my taste in movies so poor you’ll never read my blog again? ]

Top Nine Cinematic Guilty Pleasures

  1. National Treasure

    Utterly absurd premise but executed so well. Often I find myself relating to Riley on a spiritual level, mostly when he finds himself somewhere and has no idea what’s going on around him. And now that I’m in Philadelphia, I can tell you where all the filming locations are wrong.


    I can tell you for certain that their mad dash from Independence Hall to Reading Terminal Market is more like a 10 min distance run than a 10 second sprint.


  2. O Brother Where Art Thou

    SO quotable I don’t even know where to begin. The fact that my reenacting group leader is like the embodiment of Ulysses Everett McGill, down to the obsession with hair pomade, is a twist of fate no one saw coming.


    “Damn! We’re in a tight spot!”


  3. Night at the Museum

    I lived in DC when the second one came out and loved seeing all the museum parts come to life, especially all the space monkeys. I also greatly enjoy Ben Stiller’s humor. I can endorse all three installments of this series, except for their treatment of Custer in #2 because Custer was far from stupid.

    Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian

    Custer and a Space Monkey


  4. 1776: The Musical

    Utterly ridiculous and sublime I LOVE IT. I actually wrote a whole post about it here.


    Why do you assume you’re the smartest in the room?
    Why do you assume you’re the smartest in the room?
    Why do you assume you’re the smartest in the room?
    Soon that attitude may be your doom (aww)  [Hamilton Lyrics]

  5. Captain America: The First Avenger

    Between this film and Avengers I, I probably saw Captain Rogers in the theater about 14 times. We were practically going steady. Also, Peggy is everything I aspire to be as a woman.


    The Star Spangled Man making his plan.


  6. The Mummy

    It took me a couple tries to get through it the first time because it was scary (I really don’t do horror), but once I realized it was hilarious, I was hooked.




  7. White Christmas

    I love everything about this film, from Danny Kaye to the Sisters song, to the fact that old, retired General Waverly reminds me so much of my grandfather who served in the Pacific and is buried in Arlington.


    “How much is wow?” “Somewhere between ouch and twanggg.”


  8. Disney’s HerculesMulan

    These films aren’t even close to being historical but the music is great. Well, Mulan is based in fact, as much as a Disney movie ever is.


  9. The Patriot

    Neither ridiculous nor sublime but whatever, I liked it.


    Perhaps these Australians are jealous of America’s freedom story.


Honorable Mention

In no particular order, these are films that, for the most part, I greatly enjoy but are not on my “go to” list. In fact, I often forget these films exist when I’m searching for a movie to keep me company.

  • Hamilton – Still haven’t seen it ….
  • The Greatest Showman

    I’ve seen this film once, but it was visually stunning, the modern soundtrack was a nice twist, and during the final number, I noticed two gentlemen who were supposed to be the original Siamese twins, Chang and Eng Bunker who had spent some time with P.T. Barnum’s circus. Woah, IMDB actually credits them by name! Then when reading his Wiki page to get closer to the facts, it said he had bought the collection of Charles Willson Peale’s Philadelphia Museum. So that’s pretty cool.


The original Siamese twins!


  • Braveheart

    I went through a Braveheart phase in high school, so much so that one of my senior quotes in the year book is from Stephen, one of the (more eccentric) characters: “To find an equal, an Irishman is forced to speak with God.” The soundtrack was amazing.


Stephen, the crazy Irishman


  • A Knight’s Tale

    Another cool (and modern) sound track. Very talented cast, before they made it big.


“Don’t you know who I am? Geoffrey Chaucer. You know … THE Geoffrey Chaucer..?”


  • Indiana Jones – Why do I keep forgetting the Indiana Jones franchise exists?? I have not seen the fourth installment, but I’m pretty sure this movie is singlehandedly responsible for giving archaeology majors unrealistic career expectations since it hit the silver screen.

If only archaeology were really this exciting ….



Bill, Ted, and Socraytes


  • Forrest Gump

    Sometimes when people are being particularly stupid, I want to tell them that their arguments are like Lieutenant Dan – “ain’t got no legs to stand on.”


    Lt. Dan. I’ve always thought Gary Sinise would make a good Hancock.


  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail

    Once upon a time in high school, I could probably quote this film (and any Harry Potter book) verbatim.


    Nevermind. Tis a silly place.


Not Anywhere Close to Making The List

  • Inglorious Basterds – I’ve watched this film not once but twice and I still don’t get it.
  • Troy – After having to translate The Iliad in high school Latin class, watching this was so painful I might have actually cried real tears of misery.


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5 responses to “Guilty Pleasure: Cinema Style

  1. The Night at the Museum when Theodore Roosevelt is sort of getting it on with Pocahontas annoyed me for some reason. Maybe because it made it seem like TR wasn’t a devoted family man.

    I remember my re-enactor friends hating The Patriot because they were on set and found that the weaponry wasn’t quite correct or something. I thought that was silly until I became a re-enactor. 🙂

    • Same! I consider The Patriot a Guilty Pleasure here because everyone hates it because: its more historically inaccurate than other historical films (I guess?), because Mel Gibson, or because something else. But I saw the film long prior to reenacting and it was one of the first films where I paid attention to, and appreciated, the costuming and production details.

      I didn’t have any issues with TR/Pocahontas because it seemed pretty innocent. I remember being more annoyed by the romance between Ben Stiller and Amelia Earhart.

      • Yeah Ben and Amelia — too weird.

        I consider Dances with Wolves a guilty pleasure because I loved it though I thought the portrayal of Indians as almost God-like was too much. Like all people Indians are just as great and just as flawed as anyone else but no better. Another great soundtrack though.

      • I haven’t seen Dances with Wolves. I’ll have to add that to my list.

        Also, a friend observed that TR’s relationship was with Sacajawea, not Pocahontas. I’m not sure that changes the oddness factor, but I did want to set the record straight …

      • Hahaha–your friend is right! I forgot! It’s still annoying to me. 🙂

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