Let's Discuss: A Double Dose of Guilty Pleasure Movies

John wick Keanu Reeves Lionsgate
A great thing about movies is that sometimes, even if it is not going to win Oscars or be a hit with critics, it can still be an entertaining experience in its own right. These movies are more commonly referred to as guilty pleasures, and for the next two weeks, the box office will have two back-to-back entries that aim to satisfy those criteria. We begin with “John Wick.”

Keanu Reeves is back! This time taking on the title role in the actioner “John Wick.” It is an action-thriller centered on a retired hitman who gets back into his old business when gangsters kill his dog during a break-in. It is a revenge flick with an edge, and the promotional team behind the movie deserves major credit for boosting curiosity about it.

The clever use of a fuse doubling as a tie in the teaser poster is a brilliant eye-catching touch. Here Reeves has surrounded himself with a potentially successful starring vehicle and a strong supporting cast (Willem Dafoe and Ian McShane co-star).

It is a freshman effort by first-time directors David Leitch and Chad Stahelski. Co-directing is always a gamble due to the possible scrambling of dual narratives on the same story. However, Reeves is no stranger to the practice having been directed by the Wachowski siblings in “The Matrix” series.

Along with the Hughes brothers, they are an example of creative teams who share a symbiotic co-direction that is fluidly cohesive. Whether or not “John Wick” can deliver on the swell of expectations in recent weeks will be interesting to see. Revenge dramas touch on one of the core nerves of people’s guilty pleasure receptors, and the trailer indicates it’s going all out with that angle of its premise.

The Best of Me James Marsden Dawson Cole Michelle Monaghan Amanda Collier-Reynolds Relativity Media
Relativity Media
Changing gears to a movie on the other end of the genre spectrum, it is time to get into Nicholas Sparks’ latest movie is “The Best of Me,” a romance that spans the teenage years of young lovers (Luke Bracey, Liana Liberato) who are eventually torn apart by a concerned parent, only to rekindle their flame as adults (James Marsden, Michelle Monaghan). Sparks’ movies are the definition of a guilty pleasure. They are highly emotional affairs where sweeping soundtracks, lush scenery, and larger-than-life storylines carry audiences through the sorrow and heartbreak of love.

In 2002, it was the cult weeper “A Walk to Remember” that would set teen hearts aflutter with its forbidden romance that’s transformative properties would set a troubled guy on the path towards redemption. 10 years later, the pop culture impact of “The Notebook” is still being felt. Sparks’ movies have struggled to land the same blow of that film, though they have cleaned up at the box office. “Dear John,” “The Lucky One,” and “Safe Haven” all bear the distinction of financial success.

“The Best of Me” is poised to possibly join their ranks. It boasts a roster of young talent (Liberato and Bracy) as well as familiar faces (Marsden and Monaghan). Viewers might remember Liana Liberato from her fantastic work in “Trust” and her supporting role in the charming indie “Stuck in Love.” For those who might’ve noticed that the younger and older versions of the male lead (Dawson) do not bear a strong resemblance, there is a reason for that.

Paul Walker was originally set to play the older Dawson. However, instead of casting a similarly featured actor, Marsden was cast, and instead of recasting Luke Bracey, he remained, hence the lack of semblance. Whether a casting snafu is enough to throw off the entire film remains to be seen. What is far more knowable is that if you know what to expect, the delicious pathos of a romantic guilty pleasure, this is worth a look.

Are you looking forward to either of these guilty pleasures? Eclectic Pop wants to hear from you! You can share your thoughts by tweeting @EclecticPop or leaving a comment below.