Eric’s Top 10 last week was Top 10 Films You Can Watch Over and Over Again. This week I thought I would put the screws to myself and twist the idea a bit, so lets make it Top 10 Films You Have Actually Watched Over and Over Again. So, in literal terms, what are the ten films that, better or worse, are the movies you’ve seen most in your entire life. Clearly, this list could yield some startling results and has the potential to be a little embarrassing, but I say lets bare it all and see what it says about us as movie fanatics. So, without further ado, here are the ten films that I believe I’ve seen more times than anyone with a social life and future goals should admit to.
10. Waiting For Guffman (1996)
Still the most brilliant and under-appreciated of Christopher Guest’s mockumentary films,”Guffman” will always have a special place in my heart. Easily one of the most quotable films of the 90s, Guest magnificently spoofs local theater, one of America’s least well known subcultures. If you’ve known this world, the parody of the smalltime stage and its delusions of grandeur is as spot on as Spinal Tap is to the debauched world of rock and roll.
Corky St. Clair: And I’ll tell you why I can’t put up with you people: because you’re BASTARD people! That’s what you are! You’re just bastard people! And I’m goin’ home and I’m gonna… I’m gonna BITE MY PILLOW, is what I’m gonna do!
9. This is Spinal Tap (1984)
This Rob Reiner classic gets regularly omitted from Eric and I’s Top 10′s, most often because if we aren’t forced to exclude it out of hand it would likely turn up on every damn list. I’ve been in bands since I was fourteen years old and access to the full battery of “Spinal Tap” references at a moment’s notice has inevitably been a qualifying prerequisite in every one of them. “Spinal Tap” is pure genius. Few American comedy ensembles can vie for a shot at the title of “America’s answer to Monty Python,” and long before there was David Cross and Bob Odenkirk (“Mr. Show”), there was the ridiculously talented triumvirate of Christopher Guest, Micheal McKean and Harry Shearer. “Spinal Tap” the film never gets old, even if nauseating “This one goes to eleven…” impersonations that seem to pop up everywhere have done their college best to suck out the feeling.
Nigel Tufnel: [on what he would do if he couldn't be a rock star] Well, I suppose I could, uh, work in a shop of some kind, or… or do, uh, freelance, uh, selling of some sort of, uh, product. You know…
Marty DiBergi: A salesman?
Nigel Tufnel: A salesman, like maybe in a, uh, haberdasher, or maybe like a, uh, um… a chapeau shop or something. You know, like, “Would you… what size do you wear, sir?” And then you answer me.
Marty DiBergi: Uh… seven and a quarter.
Nigel Tufnel: “I think we have that.” See, something like that I could do.
Marty DiBergi: Yeah… you think you’d be happy doing something like-…
Nigel Tufnel: “No; we’re all out. Do you wear black?” See, that sort of thing I think I could probably… muster up.
Marty DiBergi: Do you think you’d be happy doing that?
Nigel Tufnel: Well, I don’t know – wh-wh-… what’re the hours?
8. Jaws (1975)
I still argue to anyone who will listen that Stephen Spielberg’s uber-classic about a sociopathic shark named Bruce is among the scariest films ever made. Regardless of whether the end result was the product of Spielberg’s acute appreciation of Hitchcock-ian “less is more” techniques or what may constitute the ultimate intervention by the film gods – the failure of a mechanical movie shark, “Jaws” is both a commercial juggernaut and an undeniable edge-of-your-seat- classic. I can honestly remember being afraid to jump in darkened swimming pools at night as a young child, for fear of being chomped by a chlorine-resistant beast of the deep. I don’t know what that says about my intelligence as a child, but I’m perfectly comfortable admitting that this is one of my all-time most watched films.
Hooper: This is what happens. It indicates the non-frenzied feeding of a large squalus – possibly Longimanus or Isurus glauca. Now… the enormous amount of tissue loss prevents any detailed analysis; however the attacking squalus must be considerably larger than any normal squalus found in these waters. Didn’t you get on a boat and check out these waters?
Hooper: Well, this is not a boat accident! And it wasn’t any propeller; and it wasn’t any coral reef; and it wasn’t Jack the Ripper! It was a shark.
7. Highlander (1986)
In 1986 I was completely obsessed with the rock band Queen. Just knowing that they were responsible for the massive soundtrack to “Highlander” as they had been before for 1980′s “Flash Gordon” was enough to get me to the theater the first time, it was the broad swords, trenchcoats and immortals that brought me back the next 16 times in the theater. I’ve admitted this at least once before, but I’m fairly certain the final count for viewings in the theater was 17 (it honestly may have been 14, but I think either way I have permanently soiled my reputation and solidified my standing as a card carrying member of the dork squad). “Highlander” director Russell Mulcahy took a truly original screenplay by first time screenwriter Gregory Widen and made something quite spectacular out of it. Like the first “Terminator” to the rest of the installments in the series, both film and television, the original “Highlander” had a low-budget charm and necessity-is-the-mother-of-invention-edge to it that has very little relationship to the drivel of the same name that came after. Students of film will appreciate the film’s clever dissolves and transitions as well as the depth of story and concept at the center of this spectacular film. I have no idea how many times I’ve seen it since, on VHS or DVD, but there is little doubt it will forever be the film I’ve seen most in the theater.
Connor MacLeod: You’re a liar!
Ramirez: You have the manners of a goat. And you smell like a dung-heap! And you have no knowledge whatsoever of your potential! Now.
Ramirez: Get out!
Connor MacLeod: Help me, I’m drowning!
Ramirez: You can’t drown, you fool, you’re immortal!
6. Real Genius (1985)
This is one of those films that I discovered after the fact, and therefore never had the chance to screen in a movie theater. As a kid the subscription to HBO and Cinemax introduced me to any number of films with varying degrees of quality and substance. “Valley Girl” director Martha Coolidge’s ode to smart kids with no social skills was just the pep-talk I needed at the time. While I couldn’t identify with the uber-intellects of the main characters, the ineptitude in nearly all other things had a thunderous resonance. Any film that climaxes with a house exploding with popcorn, that’s been cooked by the rays of a laser beam from space, done to the triumphant tune of Tears for Fears “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” is good enough for me.
Mitch: You know, um, something strange happened to me this morning…
Chris Knight: Was it a dream where you see yourself standing in sort of sun-god robes on a pyramid with a thousand naked women screaming and throwing little pickles at you?
Chris Knight: Why am I the only one who has that dream?
5. Top Gun (1986)
Here’s were honesty may not be the best policy, but such is life. Right or wrong, I thought this movie was the beginning and end of all things when I was a youngster. This was the exact moment I cast aside my “Star Wars” toys and began imagining myself as a hot shot Naval aviator with carnal knowledge of stuff – too bad I didn’t find out what “carnal knowledge” was until I used it incorrectly in a sentence. Every once in a great while I’ll still give this bad boy a spin, and I do, from time to time, like to take it right into the “Danger Zone.” I also enjoy quizzing friends on the identity of the now-highly credible actor/director who played the character “Merlin.”
Merlin: What are you doing? You’re slowing down, you’re slowing down!
Maverick: I’m bringing him in closer, Merlin.
Merlin: You’re gonna do WHAT?
4. Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Of all the “Star Wars” films, “Empire” was obviously the coolest and darkest thematically. I’m sure my parents took me to see the original “Star Wars” in 1977, but I was too young to remember the experience. The first film would become a constant VHS presence in years to come, but life absolutely changed after “Empire.” I had everything from storybook cassettes to action figures, puzzles and sleeping bags with Millennium Falcons and X-Wings on them. I’ve probably seen all three original “Star Wars” movies fairly equally at this point, but I still have to give the advantage to the first film of the series that I experienced on the big screen and at a time when I was old enough to have my entire world turned upside down and love absolutely every second of it.
Darth Vader: Calrissian. Take the princess and the Wookie to my ship.
Lando: You said they’d be left at the city under my supervision.
Darth Vader: I am altering the deal. Pray I don’t alter it any further.
3. Almost Famous (2000)
“Untitled,” Cameron Crowe’s directors cut of this film remains my favorite DVD commentary track ever. This is in my opinion a perfect film. There is nothing I would change, no cast member, no performance, no camera angle or song on the soundtrack. It is as close to my heart as any film will ever be. As a filmmaker, Crowe is analogous to my favorite songwriter (Neil Finn of Crowded House), I sometimes let them both off the hook a little easy (“Elizabethtown”), but the truth is their work resonates louder and longer than almost any of their peers, contemporary or otherwise. I have no idea what the official count would clock in at, but I know, between both the theatrical and re-cut versions, I’ve cleared the 50 views mark. Ironically, my interest in the film has also led me to one of my favorite music artists of the last decade in Mark Kozelek, the former lead singer of Red House Painters and “Almost Famous” band Stillwater’s bassist-of-few-words Larry Fellows.
Russell Hammond: You, Aaron, are what it’s all about. You’re real. Your room is real. Your friends are real. Real, man, real. You know? Real. You’re more important than all the silly machinery. Silly machinery. And you know it! In eleven years its going to be 1984, man. Think about that!
Aaron: Wanna see me feed a mouse to my snake?
Russell Hammond: Yes.
2. Apollo 13 (1995)
Now were getting down to it. My love affair with this film began the moment I heard it was in production and that NASA had approved the production to film in it’s zero-gravity inducing planes. I’ve been known to describe my vast appreciation for all things in space by claiming that if you put a hot dog in space I’ll watch it. Fortunately, for all fans of space exploration and in particular the Apollo space missions, “Apollo 13″ star and sparkplug Tom Hanks is as big a fan as anyone and took special care to create a film that had as much respect for detail as it did admiration for the three astronauts who traveled all the way to the moon, just to watch it fly by out the window and barely make it home again. Hanks would go on to produce the HBO series “From the Earth to the Moon” about many of the other Apollo missions, but Ron Howard and Co.’s “Apollo 13″ is the cream of the crop of films about the American space program – right along with “The Right Stuff.” I’ve never been able to burn myself out on the film, despite having screened it so many times that the only suspense available to me now is whether or not I will actually watch the thing all the way through to the end – and I nearly always do.
Jack Swigert: Ken, there’s an awful lot of condensation on these panels. What’s the story of them shorting out?
Ken Mattingly: Umm… We’ll just have to take that one at a time, Jack.
Jack Swigert: Like trying to drive a toaster through a car wash.
1. Princess Bride (1987)
Hands down, without question, “The Princess Bride” is the movie that I have watched the most number of times of any single film ever. I truly believe that great movies are meant to be experienced over and over again, just like an amazing record, and even I can’t fathom the number of times I’ve seen this Rob Reiner classic, based on the novel by William Goldman. There is no film more quotable or more infinitely enduring than “The Princess Bride.” I can recall my father taking me to see the film the first time, and I remember thinking just like Fred Savage does in the first scene with Peter Falk that he had lost his ever-loving mind trying to take me to a movie called “The Princess Bride,” but little did I know he was introducing me to a film that will, until the day I die, never leave my side. No one before or since has made a film quite like it, and like The Beatles’ “Revolver” or Crowded House’s “Temple of Low Men,” “The Princess Bride” is a thing that I will never tire of and I definitely can’t live without.
Inigo Montoya: You are sure nobody’s follow us?
Vizzini: As I told you, it would be absolutely, totally, and in all other ways inconceivable. No one in Guilder knows what we’ve done, and no one in Florin could have gotten here so fast. – Out of curiosity, why do you ask?
Inigo Montoya: No reason. It’s only… I just happened to look behind us and something is there.
Vizzini: What? Probably some local fisherman, out for a pleasure cruise, at night… in… eel-infested waters…