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Stylistic Suck / Film

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Stylistic Suck in movies.


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Animated

  • In Coraline, the scenes in the Other World are done with slightly worse animation, some missing frames here or there, just to make it feel unsettling to the audience even before the the big reveal.
  • Despicable Me has Gru being forced to read a bedtime story called "Sleepy Kittens" to put his adoptive daughters to sleep. It's as saccharine as kid's books get, complete with finger puppets for the three little kittens, with Gru getting increasingly annoyed at the story as he reads on. Also, its now available for purchase on Amazon.
  • Despicable Me 3 has a Show Within The Show that the villain starred in as a child actor in the 80s. Not only is it clear that in-universe it was a low-budget live action show, it's even got less definition than the rest of the movie.
  • In Frozen, during "Love is an Open Door" Hans' movements don't match Anna's and his singing is out of sync, showing how mismatched they are.
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  • One of the extras on the DVD of The Incredibles is "Mr. Incredible and Pals", an in-universe cartoon starring Mr. Incredible, Frozone... and a rabbit-thing named Mr. Skipperdoo. The animation is not animated (a la Clutch Cargo), Frozone is portrayed as a tan-skinned beatnik, and the plot was clearly written for an audience of morons. There's also a commentary track, in which Mr. Incredible and Frozone — watching the cartoon fifteen years later — decide that it's a good thing the cartoon never aired.
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse:
    • The film has a Running Gag about an in-universe Christmas album Spider-Man made called A Very Spidey Christmas; while the one song featured in the film, "Spidey Bells", has Chris Pine's Spider-Man starting off strong, he ends up having a breakdown about halfway through when he starts regretting ever recording the album in the first place, becoming audibly on the verge of breaking into tears. The real-life version includes two more tracks that fit this trope; in "Deck The Halls", Jake Johnson's Spider-Man is horribly off-key and keeps interrupting the music to make awkward jokes that fall flat, and the reading of "The Night Before Christmas" by 60s cartoon Spider-Man (Jorma Taccone) has random Spidey-themed verses inserted awkwardly within the original text and Spider-Man deciding halfway through the poem to skip right to the last two lines. The latter track even ends with 60s Spidey talking about how he got drunk at the previous night's Christmas party and then threw up in front of a bunch of kids without realizing that he's still being recorded.
    • In The Stinger, everything on Earth-67 is rendered in the low-budget Limited Animation of the Spider-Man (1967) cartoon.
  • Zootopia: The opening play by school children is as cheesy and hammy as you'd expect from something written by an ambitious 9-year-old.

Live-Action

  • "It Must Be June" from 42nd Street is an example of intentionally bad songwriting.
  • In Adaptation., Charlie Kaufman's (fictional) twin brother Donald writes a script for a film called "The Three", which is a murder-mystery in which the murderer, detective and victim are all the same person. Charlie proceeds to point out the Plot Holes and Fridge Logic that would result from all of this, but everyone else loves it.
  • The 2009 independent film After Last Season features some of the most shockingly boring, awfully rendered CGI visuals you've ever seen in your life...but it's okay, because the CGI sequences are supposed to represent a machine that converts thoughts into images, and the thoughts are unclear at first, so it's supposed to look like crap!
  • The entirety of Fourth Wall obliterating Amazon Women on the Moon consists of unstated Framing Device of someone in the audience randomly switching channels from one Stylistic Suck parody to another, while nominally watching the eponymous movie. There isn't a single second of the film that isn't this trope.
  • America's Sweethearts opens with segments from the title characters' previous movies together. They are scenes that are just so completely generic, they would have no appeal whatsoever in the real world.
  • Moonquake Lake from Annie has a ridiculous premise, clichéd dialogue and overacting.
  • Used to disquieting effect in The Annunciation, in which a cast made up entirely of prepubescent children attempt to tackle a production of The Tragedy Of Man, a very serious and not-at-all child-friendly play. The sight of children playing at scenes of simulated sexuality and violence in cheap, improvised costumes and sets that consist of old ruins in the Hungarian countryside actually makes the whole play much more disturbing than it might have been with a professional cast and crew.
  • According the DVD commentary of Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, they actually went out of their way to make their scenes shot in Southern California look like they were shot from Southern California when they were supposed to be in England, so Austin's joke about England looking nothing like Southern California would be funny.
    • In the same scene, the characters pass a sign that just says "English Countryside".
  • The Band Wagon, a musical about the making of a musical, showcases the rehearsal of a overblown, pretentious dance number that contributes to the show's total failure on opening night.
  • The writing of the title character of Barton Fink isn't so much sucky as completely nonsensical. The "wrestling movie" Barton watches fits the trope well, though.
    Wrestler: [repeatedly] I WILL DESTROY YOU!
  • Done on purpose and out of (in-story) necessity in Be Kind Rewind. This movie is, after all, about the main characters' efforts to replace the entire lost stock of a video rental store via amateur recreations of the lost movies.
  • Much of the humor of Black Dynamite is in presenting the film as a shoddy blaxploitation film filled with 70s-era Values Dissonance and low production value.
  • Yet another climactic battle, in Blazing Saddles, interrupts what looks to be an intensely stupid Busby Berkeley-style musical number.
    "Throw out your hands, stick out your tush/hands on your hips, give 'em a push!/Don't be surprised, you're doing the French Mistake, VOILA!"
  • The samples we get of the 'acting' in the adult entertainment movies in Boogie Nights are of course hilariously bad.
  • Bowfinger concerns the production of a really stupid Alien Invasion movie called Chubby Rain. Its success leads to the making of Fake Purse Ninjas, which appears to be just as ridiculous.
  • Captain America: The First Avenger: Captain America's brief career as a USO mascot is shown via a montage of his cheesy propaganda musical number, complete with high-kicking Chorus Girls, fake punching Hitler over a hundred times, and a completely over-the-top Ear Worm of a song "The Star-Spangled Man". And it is glorious!
  • The entirety of Casa De Mi Padre, as it fashions itself after telenovelas.
  • Cloud Atlas: The film that Sonmi~451 watches based on Cavendish's life is campy, over-acted (by an obviously made-up Tom Hanks) and bears only the loosest resemblance to the actual Cavendish we see in the film.
  • Clue has Jane Wiedlin's cameo as the singing telegram girl, from the opening Minsky Pickup and clumsy tapping to her Captain Obvious song. She gets shot before she can go any farther.
  • The theatrical cut of Death Proof included a fake "missing reel", with the implication that the projectionist had taken it home for "personal use", which was known to happen in the kind of 70s exploitation films that Death Proof was a pastiche of. The DVD version included fake VHS artifacting, as people who saw that kind of exploitation film outside of theaters likely watched on a rented VHS tape. Notably, the artifacting was more severe during the same lap dance scene that was missing from the theatrical version to create the impression that it had been watched a few more times than the rest of the movie.
  • In The Decoy Bride, James is the author of a novel called The Ornithologist's Wife. It's set on the tiny Scottish island of Hegg, but James has never even set foot on Hegg, so the novel is riddled with inaccuracies. It's also full of Purple Prose and Katie describes it as soulless with an unsatisfactory Romance Arc. It's also very heavy. Every single inhabitant of Hegg has read it, because it's the only book ever written about the island, but they all mock it rather relentlessly.
  • In Detention, what we see of the Cinderhella movies plays out like every teen slasher and Torture Porn cliche come to life. The eponymous killer appears to be some sort of spurned high school girl (we're never given any details of the films' plot) who, in the second film, is torturing one of her classmates, forcing her to perform a Saw-style act of self-mutilation in order to avoid getting her head blown off by a device that a teenage girl really shouldn't have the resources or technical know-how to build. The bootleg work print for the third film likewise depicts a group of teens (who are conspicuously like the main characters of Detention, who are watching the work print) engaging in such immoral behaviors as premarital sex and digital piracy before Cinderhella walks in and murders them all.
  • In A Dogs Breakfast, the space opera Starcrossed is intentionally melodramatic, over-acted and revoltingly soppy.
  • In Donnie Darko, the title character's teacher uses a series of instructional videos by a self-help guru who advocates a simplistic form of morality centered on Fear vs. Love. The film is set in The '80s, and so they replicate the cheesy video editing and rock-bottom production values common to such low-budget fringe productions of the time. The videos can also be viewed in the Deleted Scenes of the DVD with commentary by the host and their fictional director, who are convinced that they made a masterpiece.
  • Don't Think Twice: The episode of Weekend Live (a Saturday Night Live Expy that the Commune watches together is... mediocre at best, up to an including the weird 80's throwback band that is the episode's musical guest.
    • The two sketches of Jack's that we never see are titled "Scooby-Doo Gets Put Down" and "Kim-Jong Un on the Bachelorette". He asserts (apparently correctly) that these sketches will not make it to the final show.
  • All the clips of the Show Within a Show "Crime Scene" from Forgetting Sarah Marshall fall under this. So does Aldous Snow's song "We Gotta Do Something" and its music video, in which Russell Brand does things like glower accusingly at the camera while holding up signs that say, "HOW CAN YOU READ/WHEN YOU ARE BLIND," then simulate sex with a passing nun.
  • Galaxy Quest: The cheapo aesthetic of the "real-life" Galaxy Quest show. It's very fun to watch the special features, in which the filmmakers discuss the cutting-edge special effects technology used to film the movie, and then show how they made the in-universe television show look cheaply-made on purpose - complete with a red cyclorama and papier-mâché rocks. Director Dean Parisot explains that he put sand on the dolly tracks to make the camerawork look rough.
  • Gentlemen Broncos - the main character Benjamin's SF novella Yeast Lords is spectacularly awful from a Real Life perspective; in-universe, it's treated as a work of staggering genius.
  • The songs "African Child" and "I Am Jesus" from Get Him to the Greek are almost certainly Stylistic Suck; the rest range from Affectionate Parody to simple Pastiche.
  • The movie adaptation of Ghost World has a lot of this, most notably Roberta Allsworth's incomprehensible art film Mirror Father Mirror and abysmal blues-rock band Blueshammer.
  • In Werner Herzog's Heart of Glass, almost all roles were played by untrained actors who were hypnotized for shooting. As a result, they move around like sleepwalkers and deliver their lines with essentially no acting at all.
  • In Home Alone, Angels with Filthy Souls and its sequel Angels with Even Filthier Souls are cheesy, clichéd 1930s gangster movies.
  • In the movie House (no connection to the similarly-named show), the main character's wife is an actress on a cheesy soap opera called Resort, filled with melodramatic and nonsensical lines like "My sister was an only child, and you abused that!"
  • In & Out features a double Stylistic Suck: the film opens with extracts from a "serious" drama about gay men in the army, parodying every gay movie trope known to mankind. These extracts are being shown at a parody of the Academy Awards broadcast, which includes such nominations as "Steven Seagal for Snowball in Hell".
  • The song "Please Mr. Kennedy", from Inside Llewyn Davis, is a silly, stupid novelty song that is quite the opposite of the soulful folk music that Llewyn wants to create.
  • At the start of Josie and the Pussycats, Boy Band DuJour are selling an absurdly bad song called "Backdoor Lover" which is basically a list of increasingly filthy Double Entendres about anal sex disguised as a Silly Love Song about a lover who uses the back door of his girlfriend's house.
    You know that I won't hurt you so open up and let me in
    We love each other way too much for it to be a sin
    Some people use the front door but that's never been my way
    Just 'cause I slip in backwards, well, that doesn't make me - hey.
  • In a Deleted Scene from Kill Bill, Michael Jai White plays a kung fu warrior seeking revenge for Bill killing his master. As befits the Kung Fu movies the movie is homaging, White deliberately over-acts the role, as if he was cast for his fighting skills instead of his acting ability.
  • Ironically, King Kong (2005) used dialogue from the original film to fit this trope.
  • Living in Oblivion has three movies-within-the-movie. The second movie looks like a terrible soap-opera, with actors stiffly delivering over-wrought lines in black tie outfits. The third is a pseudo-Twin Peaks-esque Dream Sequence that looks silly. One of the actors calls the director out on the fact that the film indulges meaninglessly in Little People Are Surreal.
  • Love Actually gives us "Christmas Is All Around". This is an odd example because the original song wasn't original to the film; it was a Troggs song, famously covered by Wet Wet Wet. The obnoxiousness of the Christmas version is in the blatant commercialism; according to writer Richard Curtis, "I couldn't think of a funnier way to start the film than by actually making [the British public] listen to the same song again."
  • In Meet the Feebles the corrupt producer will never - under any circumstances - allow a certain musical number that the camp gay director thinks of as his magnum opus. When it finally does get performed... well, let's just say the subject matter isn't appropriate for a family variety show.
    Director, singing: Sodomy! You must think it really odd o' me / that I'm really into sodomy...
  • Mortal Kombat has a brief scene where Johnny Cage fights off some bad guys in a cheap fighting movie.
  • In Mr. Bean's Holiday, Carson Clay makes an absurdly ham-fisted "personal statement" for Cannes Film Festival. The film shown to the festival-goers uses footage filmed by Bean paired with Clay's navel-gazing dialogue. Hilarity Ensues.
  • No: The film is about an ad man running the TV campaign to vote Augusto Pinochet out of office in 1988. So instead of being shot on film, the movie was shot on old-timey video cameras which evoke the look of live television in the 1980s. It's also shot in the 4:3 Aspect Ratio that was standard for TV of that era.
  • In the Ronstadt/Kline film production of Gilbert and Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance, the climactic battle interrupts a stilted, badly-played and sung version of G.&S.'s H.M.S. Pinafore; their way of saying, "Yes, there are many, many things wrong with this production, most of them Linda Ronstadt, but see how much worse it could have been in an old-fashioned, fuddy-duddy sort of way."
  • Poolboy Drowning Out The Fury is presented as if it were a unreleased 1990s action movie that was written, produced and directed by a 10-year-old boy, then reedited with newly filmed footage starring the now-grown up director. Intentionally sucky elements include onscreen crew members, bad dubbing, poor writing and intentionally racist content.
  • An early scene in The President's Analyst (that's been absent since early tv broadcasts) has James Coburn's character watching an art movie that's disgusting the audience (one shot dwells on an overfilled garbage can), which is walking out in a steady stream. As he points out funny details to a similarly disgusted girl, they end up the only viewers left, having a great time - the movie's auteur then angrily tells them they were supposed to hate it.
  • In The Princess Bride, some of the lines the grandfather reads from his book are deliberately cheesy, but it's all part of the charm.
    Narrator: A wave of love swept over them.
  • This is the point of The Producers, which has the main characters trying to make pure suck and accidentally ending up with So Bad, It's Good hilarity instead... which is bad because success is exactly how their attempt to pull off a scam will get them caught.
  • Saved! - at one point, the protagonist and her mother watch a TV movie about ovarian/uterine cancer starring Valerie Bertinelli, and it's even worse than you'd expect. Leads to the hilarious scene with the character praying for cancer (instead of pregnancy).
  • Stab, the film within the film of Scream 2 based on the events of the first movie, is deliberately made to look like a cheap slasher flick as part of the franchise's self-aware parody of the horror genre.
  • Seven Psychopaths features a Movie Within A Movie that the main character, Marty, is writing. Over the course of the film, we see multiple interpretations of his script by different people, each of which qualifies in its own way:
  • The Dueling Cavaliers, the first "talkie" movie made by silent stars Don Lockwood and Lina Lamont in the classic musical Singin' in the Rain, is awful thanks to an unfortunate conjunction of many many small (and not-so-small) problems, not the least of which are Don throwing out lines he doesn't like, and Lina having a voice like fingernails on a blackboard. This is largely inspired by the real silent film star John Gilbert, who was completely unable to adjust to sound films (Don replacing his romantic speech in favor of just saying "I love you" over and over is directly based on something Gilbert actually did).
  • Soapdish has two: The Sun Also Sets, the soap opera that makes up the film's setting, and a crappy dinner-theater production of Death of a Salesman that Jeffrey Anderson (Kevin Kline) is stuck in before he's hired back to the soap. Later, the main villain ends up in the same production.
  • Spice World: the scene where the screenwriter describes the frantic journey the Spice Girls are making through London as they're doing it. At one point, they're about to jump the rising platform of Tower Bridge in a double decker bus. The executive this is being described to comments that this would be pretty expensive. Cue the scene being rendered using a scale toy bus bumping over a rather shoddy replica of Tower Bridge. "Not necessarily."
  • Early in Synecdoche, New York we find Caden presenting an unconvincing version of Death of a Salesman using a very young cast. Result? Caden is awarded a Macarthur Fellowship "genius grant".
  • In The Tall Guy, Jeff Goldblum stars in a musical adaptation of The Elephant Man, which includes such song-and-dance numbers as "He's Packing His Trunk". The few clips of the production the film audience is subjected to are every bit as bad as one would expect.
  • The puppets in Team America: World Police, particularly the opening puppet show. This was done to freak out the financers (the story goes that one of them yelled "My god, they fucked us!")... but then the camera pans back to show the crude puppet and backdrop are part of a rather more sophisticated puppet's performance. Some of the DVD extras reveal that the puppeteers were actually capable of even more complex and realistic puppetry than is seen in the movie, though at times it is deliberately done overly simply, partly because it was simply funnier, and partly because overly realistic puppets slam deep into the Uncanny Valley, which they wanted to avoid.
  • Teen Wolf: We see two performances in the school play, and they're both awful. One is an extremely overwrought speech of a Southern belle begging the Union army to spare her plantation. The second is the main character as a stilted and awkward soldier. "Sergeant! Burn... the fields! And... when you're done with that... burn the house!"
  • The protagonist of Throw Momma from the Train is a creative writing instructor, leading to a lot of fun with this. The work he has to grade includes a Cliché Storm war story whose author didn't bother to learn the name of a certain piece of equipment and just calls it "the thing," a three-page murder mystery with only two characters, and the coffee table book 100 Women I'd Like to Pork.
  • Pretty much anything the characters on Tropic Thunder are shown being part of. A good deal of it is based on actual bad movies. The dialogue in the film they're currently making is filled with clichés. One of Ben Stiller's character's previous movie Simple Jack is repeatedly mocked in-story.
  • The short film "US vs. HK" by the ZeroGravity stunt team is the same fight scene twice. The overwrought American version falls wonderfully into this trope. (The Hong Kong one gets more over towards pure awesome.)
  • In Wag the Dog, the President's re-election ads are absolutely atrocious. In the end, the film producer who helped put on the fake war is unable to remain silent if it means that the people who made the ads get to take credit for the President's re-election, and so he is Killed to Uphold the Masquerade.
  • Wayne's World used in-universe with the Show Within a Show, a cable-access program featuring two metalheads goofing around in their basement. When the show gets picked up by a major network and given a polished, professional veneer, the hosts rebel.
  • Early in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, studio executives watch scenes from Jane's films, and note that she's an awful actress. However, those were real scenes from the early movies of Bette Davis (who plays Jane).
  • What's New Pussycat?: Michael picks up exotic dancer Liz, who takes him home and reads him her poems - one, titled "Ode to a Pacifist Junkie", she described as "a plea for better housing".
    UNGH - Two-Three-Four!
    Who killed Charlie Parker?
    You did. You rat!
  • Why Don't You Play in Hell?: The amateur filmmakers create a trailer for the film they want to make. It's obviously got No Budget.
  • In a real-life example, Mel Brooks had a terrible time trying to get the crew of Young Frankenstein to understand that he wanted them to intentionally make the production mistakes that had been normal when the famous Boris Karloff Frankenstein was released in 1931. He had to repeatedly talk to the lighting crew about making sure there were lighting hot-spots in the background, and had all the camera cart rails removed as they made the camera work too smooth.


Alternative Title(s): Films

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