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The 10 Best Movies From MTV Films, the Motion Picture Production Arm of MTV

By Dustin Rowles | Seriously Random Lists | October 28, 2013 | Comments ()


Election_625_082812.jpg

The MTV Studios produced Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa led the box-office this weekend, so I thought we’d take a look back at some of the better offerings from MTV SStudios over the years. It hasn’t all been Britney Spears’ feature films (Crossroad), Justin Beiber or Katy Perry concert movies, or even Save the Last Dance (NOT THAT THERE’S ANYTHING WRONG WITH THAT). The studio has actually produced and distributed a few really great movies, since it’s inception (with the awful Joe’s Apartment). Here’s a look at their ten best.

Election — The brilliance of the film is in telling the story from exactly the wrong angle. You think Tracy is manipulative? Election manages the feat of making the audience root against the unpopular, intelligent and hard working kid in favor of the popular idiot football player backed by a teacher rigging student elections and trying to screw around on his wife. The film is either a fantastic exercise in irony, or a propaganda salvo for idiocracy. Steven Lloyd Wilson

Murderball — Rubin and Shapiro have created one hell of a good ride and easily the best sports movie of the Aughts (except, of course, for Mighty Ducks 4: Emilio’s Revenge). The fact that it’s a documentary is going to scare some people off, and that’s a shame; it’s got the pacing, structure and immediacy of a feature. Murderball does what movies should do: it involves us in a story with interesting characters we care about and the complex issues they face. Their lives aren’t picnics, but they’re survivable; with time, most things are. — Daniel Carlson

Varsity Blues — A testosterone-addled guilty pleasure that does nothing but revel in cheap stereotypes for two hours while the Foo Fighters blast in the background. The mid- to late-’90s were a heyday of modern teen films to rival the Hughes-era 1980s, and just as before, it seemed that the same half-a-dozen kids were in every movie. Granted, having James Van Der Beek play a football hero was a bit of a stretch, but his anointing on Dawson’s Creek made him a natural fit for a film about an angsty teen. It instantly launched into the teen stratosphere by playing up horribly broad stereotypes and offering up moments of such inanity they were destined to become iconic. Who could forget Ali Larter’s whipped cream bikini? The high school sex-education teacher who moonlighted as a stripper? Jon Voight’s off-the-charts nutjob of a coach chewed scenery like there was no tomorrow, but it was Van Der Beek’s impassioned plea to his father that was seared into the hearts and minds of a generation: “I. Don’t want. Your life” became an automatic catchphrase. — Daniel Carlson

Beavis and Butthead Do America! — A hilariously dumb animated feature that remains faithful to the MTV series, Beavis managed to combine dumb humor with sharp satire and mix it better than you’d think with a genuine look at what it’s like to be a geeky teenager trapped in a hideous body trying to make the best of it. Underneath the masturbation jokes and the tastelessness, Beavis and Butthead were actually insightful cultural critics, and that burns through the idiocy of Beavis and Butthead.

Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa Consider this a catch-all for all the Jackass movies, but Bad Grandpa is actually the best, not because it attempts to stitch the Jackass pranks into a narrative, but because this installment brings a satirical element to the franchise and Johnny Knoxville puts on an Oscar-caliber performance. No, really.

Original Kings of Comedy — Spike Lee’s stand-up film documented the stand-up acts of Steve Harvey, D.L. Hughley, Bernie Mac, and Cedric The Entertainer in their heydays, and in addition to being flat-out hilarious, it was a smart, and politically incorrect look at race-relations in the late 90s.

Hustle and Flow — Craig Brewer has fashioned a modern-day tale about coming of age and taking charge of your life, cobbling together a mix of Death of a Salesman, the non-crappy parts of The Big Chill (there are a few in there, trust me), and everything I wanted 8 Mile to be. Eminem’s feature debut was a one-note trick meant to sell his latest album, but Brewer’s story of one man trying to overcome his fears and change his life carries far greater weight, mainly because Terrence Howard more than rises to the challenge of carrying the movie. — Daniel Carlson

Orange County — Not a particularly well-received film upon its release, the Colin Hanks/Jack Black stoner comedy has become something of a cult guilty pleasure that plays incredibly well on a Saturday afternoon on Comedy Central. It’s a mild, second-rate teen comedy, but director Jake Kasdan’s reins Jack Black in, and weaves through the formula with sure-footedness. There are even a few witty moments, and enough heart to make Orange County a thoroughly enjoyable layabout comedy.

Napoleon Dynamite — Though the film has not stood the test of time (at all), upon its release, Napoleon Dynamite was a charming and eccentric debut by 24-year-old Brigham Young University film grad Jared Hess, which was supplemented an already winning comedy with artistic sophistication. Combining the deadpan humor of Jim Jarmusch with the expositional nonchalance of Wes Anderson, the film works as a character study that’s so bent on accepting misfits that it doesn’t commit the sin of compromising their uniqueness. The completely indeterminate time in which the movie is set also helps to expand its accessibility; 90s technology combines with 80s popular culture amid a backdrop of 70s faux-fashion to create a microcosm of the American high school experience. — PS

Stop-Loss — As a political statement, Stop-Loss is a failure, reducing the bureaucratic manipulation of good men and women by an uncaring administration into a simple, knee-jerk moral outcry. The film wears its message, like its heart, proudly on its sleeve. But where the message may fail, the heart does not; Peirce finds an emotional resonance in this story that most films on the Iraqi imbroglio have not, depicting the terrible burden faced by the families of those serving there. Rather than championing a cause, Peirce discovered the real consequences of war — that the responsibility of taking lives, whether with your guns or your orders, is a weight one will carry forever. Stop-Loss shows just how monstrous the manipulation of the men and women who voluntarily shoulder this burden is; perhaps the film is a more impressive piece of agit-prop than I realize. — PS







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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not


  • e jerry powell

    ELECTION WINS.

    Not only that, but Election makes it incredibly difficult to stomach Legally Blonde, IMUO.

  • jblinco86

    Election is criminally underrated!

  • LizLemon

    Does Dead Man on Campus not qualify?? "You're not even British!!" was the original "she doesn't even go here!".

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

  • Jifaner

    Love Tom Everett Scott and I love this movie!

  • apsutter

    That movie is amazing! For the longest time it was my guilty pleasure/rainy day movie

  • Election is still an all-time favorite. Such delicious, amazing cringe-comedy. Possibly Reese Witherspoon's best.

  • apsutter

    Definitely her best. She so perfectly portrayed every little try hard idiot I've ever met in high school/college/work and it makes me want to punch her through the screen.

  • BendinIntheWind

    "Orange County" is one of my most consistent sick-on-the-couch-and-need-some-brain-numbing-giggles movies.

  • Me too! One of my favorite moments is from Lithgow "What do you have to write about? You're not oppressed! You're not gay!"

  • BendinIntheWind

    There are so many lines from that movie I still adore:

    "Shaunnnnn, you're my same height! THAT is neat!"

    "You know money can't buy happiness -- "
    "Oh grow up, yes it can!"

    "What am I sitting on?"
    "Relax, it's just urine."

  • PDamian

    I'll probably get nailed for saying this, but ... I never did get the "charm" of Napoleon Dynamite. I didn't see it when it was in theatres; since then, it's been on basic cable a number of time, and I've tried at least three times to sit through the entire thing. Somehow, I've always ended up finding something better to do with myself. I've seen bits and pieces when flipping through channels, but never saw anything that made me want to watch the whole thing.

    Murderball and Hustle and Flow are fantastic. The first was nominated for an Oscar (Best Documentary Feature), and the second one got a nomination for Best Actor for Terrence Howard, and a win for Best Song, "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp." Not too bad for the products of a relatively small and new(er) production company. And I still remember the joke Billy Crystal cracked after the Best Song win: "It's amazing that we live in a world where Three 6 Mafia has an Oscar and Martin Scorsese doesn't."

  • Aaron Schulz

    i love awkwardness as a comedy tool but good lord i hated that movie, i was just bored, im pretty sure the director wanted to trick you into thinking it was a wes anderson movie but had no idea how to do that so everyone is wearing uncomfortable clothing and breathing through their mouth.

  • LizLemon

    I'm with you on Napoleon Dynamite. I saw it in the theatres when it came out but thats the only time i've watched it. I remember being mildly amused by it but then shocked when it turned into what it did for people.

    But then i have unashamedly watched Crossroads probably 8 times, so what the fuck do i know?

  • Pinky McLadybits

    BANHAMMERED!
    Er, wait. Napoleon Dynamite isn't your bag? I'LL ALLOW IT.

  • Lala Jaymes

    No "200 Cigarettes"?!?!?!?!?!?!? The Paul Rudd/Courtney Love opus? Actually...I absolutely LOVE IT!!! Being set in the early 80s like it is...

  • pajiba

    Great cast, not so great film.

  • lowercase_ryan

    Murderball was an MTV film?? I own it and had no idea. Great documentary.

  • mcat_05

    Along with some of the other "i'm embarrassed to have watched and enjoyed that" movies on this list, what about 2GETHER... This line never got old in high school math class: "I know my calculus. it says U + Me = Us"

  • Siege

    I was beginning to think 2GETHER was a weird fever dream I had, but no, apparently that was real.

  • apsutter

    You and me both!! For some reason I randomly remembered them a couple months ago but couldnt remember the names of anything.

  • Pawesl

    So real I have about half a dozen of their songs on my itunes and i'm not ashamed to admit that.

    But the movie was a tv movie. not theatrically released.

  • Zirza

    I am slightly embarrassed about how much Beavis and Butthead do America cracks me up, but it does.

  • Guest

    I see what you did there. Or are you actually being serious?

    If you are then two noticeable missing additions:

    Zoolander* - 67% RT / 61 Metacritic

    *Not that I'm a fan but it's cult status must merit mention, no?

    And Better Luck Tomorrow. I know it was a bunch of Asian people so who cares right? But that fact it has an Asian cast alone in an American produced film (and an 81% rating on RT / 67 on Metacritic) should be enough to put it over at least a couple of the movies on this list.

  • ZbornakSyndrome

    I had no idea that Better Luck Tomorrow was an MTV film. That was a great movie that I haven't thought about in years.

  • pajiba

    Zoolander is actually not an MTV film (though it was co-produced by VH1), and I honestly don't know Better Luck Tomorrow.

  • Guest

    It was Justin Lin's (directed / co written) first film and worth a watch because while not stereotype free it portrayed Asian Americans with the emphasis on the latter and was not solely about ethnicity.

  • mairimba

    Joe's Apartment is in no way an awful movie, sir. You take that back.

  • Agreed. I did not WANT to laugh. BUT I LAUGHED. Rather a lot. I mean, the musical number...

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