The ballots have been cast. The gentlemen at PriceWaterhouseCoopers have finished their tally. (Actually, we're far more low-tech. It was a lowly editor, yours truly, with a Bic pen.)
And the No. 1 guilty pleasure movie with a semi is "Big Trouble in Little China." Even its most ardent defenders admit that the plot makes no sense. But Joshua Rollins of Boston argues the tale of trucker Kurt Russell fighting off ninjas offers real-life parallels. "Like real life, there is no mythic hero, just a guy surrounded by chaos and uncertainty trying to do the right thing ... and get his truck back." Fair 'nuff.
Tied for second place was a three-time Oscar-winner and the ultimate surfer dude. America's favorite cinematic couple, Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, scored for their first outing together in "Joe vs. the Volcano." (Ryan in three roles AND the ultimate in luggage. What's not to like, you asked? Well, there are those orange-soda-swilling natives....) Also taking silver is "Point Break," with Keanu Reeves as a sky-diving, surfing undercover FBI agent.
In third, we have a tale of a young man's struggle to find self-confidence ... and master that blasted crane position. "The Karate Kid," also takes the "Rocky" award for guilt by association, in which the original movie, which actually got decent reviews, is almost irretrievably tainted by the increasingly cheesy sequels.
Jostling for fourth were, in alphabetical order: "Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension," "Goonies" (children seek pirate's treasure to save their development from being razed. Not only is this probably the only way to prevent gentrification, but the movie proved, once and for all, the utility of piano lessons). Also in fourth, "Ishtar," ("Telling the truth can be a dangerous business/ Honest and popular don't go hand in hand/ If you admit that you play the accordion/ No one will hire you in a rock 'n' roll band." Thanks to Sasha Stone of Santa Monica, Calif., for sending in those immortal lyrics), "Red Dawn," (Teens save US from the Soviets, or as Jim Smith puts it, "Ferris Bueller" meets "Green Beret"). Last, but not least, "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory." (All together: "Oompa, loompa, doompity, doo....")
Some of the entries made me suspect our film critic was trying to sneak in a ringer or two. How else to explain nods for "Destry Rides Again," with Jimmy Stewart and Marlene Dietrich? Or "The Trouble With Harry," by that hack, Alfred Hitchcock?
Other nominees ranged from the romantic "Ice Castles" and "Somewhere in Time" to the sublime "Babe" and "The Princess Bride." (Folks, you are hanging around with some seriously snooty people if these classic fairy tales elicit derision.)
But perhaps the ultimate defense was proffered by Nicole Benkert of West Chester, Pa. "My favorite guilty movie is 'If Looks Could Kill,' starring Richard Greico. I describe it as 'the best Richard Grieco spy comedy of 1991' and have yet to have anybody contradict me."