Because so-called "bad" movies can be classics, too.

If you think the term "guilty pleasure" is a bad thing, we've got news for you — the guilt is part of the fun. From flowery rom coms to cheeseball action flicks and bizarro musicals, our guilty pleasure movies all have one thing in common: they were, for the most part, critical bombs (and, sometimes, box office bombs as well). But just like we don't need nutritionists telling us that a deep dish pizza with a side of hot fudge isn't good for us, we also don't need critics telling us the movies we enjoy are trash. Sure, these films may be convoluted and over-the-top, but they're also, for the most part, pretty darn sincere. Not surprisingly, all of the choices on our list got higher Rotten Tomatoes audience scores than critical ones, being the clearest sign that the people have spoken — and the guilty pleasures have won. 

So, like Patrick Swayze falling backwards out of an airplane, Diane Lane lip-synching a smokin' rock anthem, or Andy Samberg rolling down a mountain for a full minute, we're going no-holds-barred with this, EW's list of the 20 best guilty pleasure movies.

STREETS OF FIRE, Diane Lane, Michael Pare, 1984.
Credit: Everett Collection

Streets of Fire (1984)

Walter Hill (48 Hours, The Warriors) probably had no business directing a musical, but dang, we're glad he did. Drenched in smoke and neon, this fever dream either takes place in the 1950s or the year 3,000 — and looks like someone plugged "American Musical" into an AI movie generator. A big budget production from Bizarro world, this film showcases a drop-dead gorgeous Diane Lane (playing Ellen Aim, a '50s sort of Pat Benatar) and a vampiric, razor-faced baby Willem Dafoe

Streets of Fire is like a beautiful and confusing car wreck. The passionate array of nonsensical adjectives unleashed among critics is further evidence of its power: is it a "biker rock musical" that was deliberately dated, a "pulp burlesque"// "retro-contemporary" (oof) that's both "lousy yet brilliant?" No surprise that much of the original music was penned by Jim Steinman, creator of the ultimate guilty pleasure song, Meat Loaf's "Paradise By The Dashboard Light."

HOT ROD, Andy Samberg, 2007
Credit: Everett Collection

Hot Rod (2007)

The only guilt involved here is how few people have seen the awkwardly hilarious comedic greatness that is Hot Rod. Starring Andy Samberg as Rod Kimble, a wannabe Evel Knievel, discovering this movie feels like digging up lost treasure behind a 7-11, being a low-key hybrid of Jackass, Napoleon Dynamite, and the best of Farley/Ferrell/Sandler.  

Hot Rod is the kind of comedy that has no problem stopping the action for a joke, no matter how out of context or bizarre the punchline may be (two words: "cool beans"). Sight gags, like Samberg rolling down a mountain for over a minute (following a Footloose-inspired dance sequence) had us sobbing with laughter in a way we hadn't since Ron Burgundy got stuck in a phone booth. And the supporting cast is particularly strong, from Ian Mcshane as Samberg's evil step dad and Bill Hader in full stoner glory to Will Arnett just… being Will Arnett. Even the '80s-inspired soundtrack is perfect, making this a can't-miss guilty pleasure and a criminally underrated comedy gem.

Showgirls (1995)Elizabeth Berkley
Credit: Murray Close

Showgirls (1995)

Notoriously "bad" movies are like car wrecks — we know we shouldn't look at them, but we can't help ourselves. And it's that same impulse that makes Showgirls a hot topic more than 25 years after its release. This operatically tacky creation about a Vegas stripper, played by Elizabeth Berkley, inspired a well-received documentary (You Don't Nomi), continues to play at midnight screenings and stage shows, and has also spawned countless critical re-examinations. 

Watching it now, the thing that stands out (more than the nudity or bad dialogue) is the crazily exaggerated tone. From expressions to makeup to line readings, every moment, every line, even the tossed-off ones ("did you eat dog food too?") feels like Drag Race b-roll. Paul Verhoeven later acknowledged that he purposefully directed his actors to amp up the over-the-top quality, turning even the most simple moments grotesque. And this NC-17 creation isn't a perfect guilty pleasure by any means: the on-screen misogyny is depressing, the way Berkley's career unfairly tanked is tragic, and its sexual violence is just…wrong in every way. And with respect to those sins, Showgirls' camp classic is still a high-gloss experience worth watching for some, even just to say you did it.

MAID IN MANHATTAN Ralph Fiennes, Jennifer Lopez, 2002
Credit: Everett Collection

Maid in Manhattan (2002)

Maid in Manhattan is a kind of updated Cinderella story, except instead of being trapped by evil stepsisters who force her to clean all day, JLo is stuck in a bad job that forces her to clean all day. Positives: the plot gets pulled along by the sheer force of JLo's charm and spunky can-do spirit, plus the New-York-as-a-fairy-tale concept is always a winner. Negatives: the male love interest is, uh, Ralph Fiennes, who has as much chemistry with Jenny from the Block as Voldemort. But that's okay, because the real romantic goal here is upward mobility. 

This lust-free zone is aimed at those who fantasize about high-end hotel robes, fresh flowers, and billion-thread count sheets. And if that's what, say, an exhausted parent wants to watch, well, we get it. One person's yawn-fest is another's guilty pleasure.

OVERBOARD, Goldie Hawn, 1987, © MGM/courtesy Everett Collection
Credit: Everett Collection

Overboard (1987)

Problematic? Um, a little… which is part of what makes Overboard the ultimate guilty pleasure: we shouldn't enjoy watching a rich lady get kidnapped, gaslit, and Stockholm-syndromed into becoming a loving mom. But by golly we do. And the craziest part is how darn endearing the whole thing is — wacky, even! But if anyone can convince us that this situation is both deeply romantic AND a miraculous character transformation, it's Goldie Hawn. And pairing her with real-life partner Kurt Russell just ups the chemistry, making this a top contender for Guiltiest Pleasure of All.

Credit: Deana Newcomb/Summit

Twilight (2008)

We're talking about the OG Twilight (directed by indie auteur Catherine Hardwicke), the (relative to the others) low-budget, practically fringe version of the teen-vampires-in-love saga. Guilty, because it was so critically panned by the (at the time, even worse than now) mostly male film critic establishment. Pleasure, because at its heart, Twilight is an intense portrait of an under-respected, rarely-explored topic: teenage lust from the girl's POV. 

The intense performances from the leads — Kristen Stewart as Bella and Robert Pattinson as Edward — are admittedly laughable with sullen stares between dodgy eye-contact, but it's exactly that odd, uncomfortable chemistry that draws you in and never lets go, having us holding on to their every awkward exchange tighter than Bella's spidermonkey (if you know, you know).

HOPE FLOATS, Harry Connick Jr., Sandra Bullock, 1998
Credit: Everett Collection

Hope Floats (1998)

Back in the '90s, before Atlanta took over, Texas was the place to film small-town movies, filled with charming spots like Smithville right outside of Austin. And sweet Smithville was the perfect place for Birdee (Sandra Bullock, who else) to reunite with her high school sweetheart (Harry Connick Jr., because this was the '90s). And while Sandra + small-town Texas is a foolproof classic rom com recipe, if you do happen to get bored of the on-screen action, not to worry, there's plenty of architectural chemistry to feast your eyes on. Birdee's mom's house, for example, is a historic mansion with something called a "double wide porch" that looks as wonderful as it sounds. When life gets you down, a sweet retreat like Hope Floats might be just what the doctor ordered.

Pretty Woman (1990)(L) Richard Gere and Julia Roberts
Credit: Ron Batzdorff

Pretty Woman (1990)

We thought it might be difficult to top Overboard in the "problematic" category, but then we remembered this little miracle. Straight out of the guilty pleasure playbook, this should-be-troubling tale of a hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold (and strawberry seeds in her teeth) should not work. And yet it still holds a special place in the hearts of us slightly-damaged '80s babies. 

Interestingly enough, the convoluted background story almost helps make sense of the thing, because Pretty Woman was originally written as a dark, gritty tale about a streetwalker's life. That premise is what appealed to a young and then-little unknown actress named Julia Roberts. But then things got shuffled around and the project changed hands, landing on director Garry Marshall's plate. And the rest is history: Marshall waved his sitcom-ic magic wand over the whole thing and turned into a Disney princess story while also keeping the prostitute part. Would it have worked with anyone but Roberts, who convinces us that the whole thing is a wacky adventure, complete with I Love Lucy reruns and fun shopping sprees? Would it have worked today? Nope on both counts.

Credit: Courtesy Everett Collection

Miss Congeniality (2000)

We honestly could've made this list 100% Sandra Bullock — AKA Queen of the Guilty Pleasure Movies — and called it a day. Not only did she star in Miss Congeniality, she produced it, too (along with a slew of others, including Hope Floats). The best (and perhaps most surprising) thing about this little number is how freaking funny it is. And even though it's dated, it's timeless, too, because watching Bullock go from fashion-challenged tough gal (which includes, apparently, walking like a dude) to believable pageant contestant, skewering stereotypes along the way, never gets old. The best line from the movie makes a nod to the infamous "backwards and in heels" quote:  "I am in a dress, I have gel in my hair, I haven't slept all night, I'm starved, and I'm armed. Don't mess with me!"

THE HOLIDAY, Jude Law, Cameron Diaz, 2006. ©Columbia Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection
Credit: Everett Collection

The Holiday (2006)

Quintessentially Nancy Meyers in every way, this is a movie about real estate with some meet-cute thrown in. Starring Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz, The Holiday really does feel like one: the film basically hands you a cashmere throw, a big cup of cocoa, and an invitation to shut off your brain and sink into Meyerworld. It was probably pitched as a "guilty pleasure" feature right off the bat, and we're here for every minute of it, unless we fall asleep on the couch, which is another nice thing about this movie — it's predictable enough for you to understand the plot, even if you wake up in act three.

TOMMY BOY (1985) Chris Farley, 1995
Credit: Everett Collection

Tommy Boy (1995)

Like the slapstick infamy of its "fat guy in a little coat" bit, Tommy Boy is basically an extended inside joke between icons Chris Farley and David Spade, full of hilarious, silly, and heartwarming vibes. This movie (and its 1996 follow-up, Black Sheep) is like a time capsule of the duo's real-life friendship, a palpable buddy chemistry visible in every frame. 

This movie does what it should, making you laugh for 97 minutes straight, which in our book means there's nothing guilty about it, though critics still looked down their noses at the "lowbrow" SNL vet comedy. But like many guilty pleasure films, time has been kind to Tommy Boy, as seen when former EW critic Chris Nashawaty penned a kind of "confession" in Esquire about how much he loved the movie even though he "wasn't supposed to," and adding how good it feels to "finally admit his true feelings." Whew! Guilty pleasures — the struggle is real.

THE LOST BOYS, Billy Wirth, Kiefer Sutherland, Brooke McCarter, Alex Winter, 1987. ©Warner Bros./cou
Credit: Everett Collection

The Lost Boys (1987)

Let us count the ways that our beloved Lost Boys is a guilty pleasure of the highest order… or let's just gaze upon Michael (Jason Patric) gazing upon Star (Jami Gertz doing what can only be described as an "'80s rock dance" in a bustier) gazing upon…a buff saxophone player rocking a beachside concert — because this is a Joel Schumacher movie (see: St. Elmo's Fire). Hey Grandma, were kids actually headbanging at saxophone concerts in the '80s? No, my child, they were not. 

But of course there's more to The Lost Boys than sexy cheese — while it's silly, it's also sincere and filled with Big Feelings, complete with eternal teen themes of freedom, love, family ties, and flying over the ocean. Bonus: this movie literally kickstarted the teen vampire genre as we know it, which means, without this Santa Carla (Santa Cruz in real life) gang of undead bikers, we wouldn't have Buffy or Twilight.

ST. ELMO'S FIRE, Ally Sheedy, Judd Nelson, Emilio Estevez, Demi Moore, Mare Winningham, Rob Lowe, An
Credit: Getty

St. Elmo's Fire (1985)

It's just not a Joel Schumacher production without a buff dude wailing away on a saxophone in front of a live audience, and in St. Elmo's Fire, the honor goes to Rob Lowe as the bad boy Billy Hicks. Schumacher, a man seemingly incapable of making anything but guilty pleasures, outdoes himself with this, the bed-hopping, chain-smoking, angsty story of a friend group freshly graduated from college and stumbling toward adulthood. 

Honestly, we'd watch this as an '80s cool-kid time capsule alone (Demi Moore, Emilio Estevez, Judd Nelson, et al.), but the overly-dramatic soapy plot makes it that much more fun. Set in and inspired by Schumacher's own experiences at Georgetown, he wrote, directed, and had a hand in casting St. Elmo's Fire, too, which means he gets partial credit for inventing the Brat Pack (alongside the far better-received 1985 flick The Breakfast Club).

Monster In-Law Jane Fonda (L) and Jennifer Lopez
Credit: Melissa Moseley/New Line

Monster-in-Law (2005)

JLo + Jane (Fonda) = rom com with edge. Ideal airplane viewing (as long as no one catches you watching it) Monster-in-Law lands solidly in the Isle of the Guilty Pleasures. Yes, the story may be rote, but it's really just an excuse to see two fierce women like Fonda and Lopez (make that three, Wanda Sykes in the house!) sparring. 

The look is pure, soothing, beachy Nancy Meyers vibes — all white sofas and porches and truckloads of roses — making it a nice diversion from reality. As for the ladies' vicious moves (including sorta trying to kill each other), the spats make it all the sweeter when they finally (spoiler alert…kidding!) become besties. Plus, anything with an 18% critics score and a 55% audience one makes it an automatic shoo-in for permanent guilty pleasure status.

POINT BREAK, Keanu Reeves, Patrick Swayze, 1991. TM and Copyright (c) 20th Century Fox Film Corp. Al
Credit: Everett Collection

Point Break (1991)

Two words: surfing cops. Two more: skydive fighting. Add to this: Keanu Reeves, Patrick Swayze, bank robbers in ex-president halloween masks, at least one Red Hot Chili Pepper, and a meatball sub-chomping Gary Busey. This movie's wackadoodle energy never lets up, and the credit must be given to bad-ass director Kathryn Bigelow for flipping a traditional alpha-male movie on its head. 

Grounded by Keanu's quiet focus and Swayze's sun-baked sincerity, Point Break is, in the words of Swayze's Bodhi character, "100% pure adrenaline." For those who need a big cup of action with their escapism, nothing compares. PS, Swayze did his own stunts, and to see his expression as he free falls, backwards, out of an airplane, is pure unfettered Swayze-ing.

THE MUMMY, John Hannah, Rachel Weisz, Brendan Fraser, 1999. (c) Universal Pictures/ Courtesy: Everett Collection.
Credit: Everett Collection

The Mummy (1999)

The Mummy is Indiana Jones, boiled down into a sauce, and drizzled on top of a giant ice cream sundae (served in a wheelbarrow and topped with lit sparklers). In other words, this film is a testament to excess, a good old-fashioned adventure flick in an updated package. Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz give it all they've got, and then some, dealing with curses, camel races, creepy bugs, creepier sand faces, and, of course, that pesky Mummy dude who wants to destroy the world. Roger Ebert called it "good trash," which is high praise, but we call it "one of the only movies we can watch with our entire family," which is even higher.

Credit: Everett Collection

Con Air (1997)

Adaptation, the Spike Jonze film about twin screenwriting brothers, both played by Nicolas Cage, portrayed one Nic as a dumb Hollywood blockbuster writer and the other as a smart, tortured intellectual esoteric. It's easy to imagine how Dumb Nic would've written a screenplay like Con Air and laughed all the way to the bank as Smart Nic rolled his eyes. But Dumb Nic knew what the people wanted — an action-packed, character-driven plot you could describe in a single elevator ride. 

Cage, as the good guy stuck on a plane with a bunch of bad guys (played by an amazing array of scene-chewers), never stops having fun…and neither will you. Some might say that the writers and producers meant for this to be some sort of self-aware "parody" of action flicks, but we ain't buying it. No need to feel ashamed, boys, this is solid, if silly, storytelling in a world that could always use more of it.

COBRA, Sylvester Stallone, 1986
Credit: Everett Collection

Cobra (1986)

Rocky. Rambo. Cobra. Ah, the '80s…when Sylvester Stallone excelled at playing singularly-titled, super-buff action heroes with five-letter names. A top contender for the "least likely to be based on a novel" award (though it was!) Cobra presents Stallone in ripped, droopy-eyed glory, playing a guy named Marion "Cobra" Cobretti who says stuff like "You're a disease and I'm the cure." 

Surprisingly stylish, the film demonstrates that brand of vigilante justice beloved by audiences of that time — how else are you gonna "clean up" LA? Co-starring the cyborgian beauty, his real-life girlfriend (at the time) Brigitte Nielsen, who looks just as tough as he does, this film maintains a cheap, slick, retro-cool quality helped by a driving synth soundtrack that never lets up.

FLASHDANCE, Jennifer Beals
Credit: Everett Collection

Flashdance (1983)

An MTV video extended into a full movie, Flashdance is an uncharacteristically upbeat note in director Adrian Lyne's dark catalog (Jacob's Ladder, Fatal Attraction). Yet this audacious piece of '80s eye candy is full of improbabilities that exist only because they look cool, notably with Alex Owens' (Jennifer Beals) choice of profession (welder, with a mask that says "Alex" in cutesy script). But welding is just her day job… her true calling is dance, which she does whenever she can — in her industrial apartment, at night in a club that is not a strip club — but hey, suspension of reality is essential to the enjoyment of this film. 

And Alex does have a goal to get into a fancy dance school, which leads to the amazing final dance sequence that gets even the stuffed-shirts tapping their toes. As a time capsule, too, Flashdance is a highly valuable document. It's tempting to imagine this film remade as the gritty drama that it could be, but then again, the fact that it's a music video fantasy with a plot thinner than a torn, off-the shoulder sweatshirt is what makes it so deliciously guilty.

Practical Magic, Nicole Kidman, Goran Visnjic, Sandra Bullock
Credit: Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock

Practical Magic (1998)

In the book world, there's something called a "cozy mystery," focusing more on the curling-up-by-the-fire-sipping-from-enormous-mugs component of who-done-its. The tale of the Owens sisters (Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock) is kinda like that — a cozy mystery with a witchy twist. Our two leads have amazing hair, cute kitchens, daffy aunts, and…oh yeah, some sort of curse to deal with. (Something about the men in their lives dying?) 

But honestly, it doesn't really matter, because this is most of all a movie about sisterhood, fall leaves, book clubs (where they do spells) and a darling little East coast town. Practical Magic is as comforting as a pumpkin spice latte, plus a Stevie Nicks soundtrack and scenes of women gathering in attics. The story, the acting, the logic, none of it is quite there…but we love it anyway, making it, you guessed it, a true guilty pleasure.

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