From Zoolander to Pootie Tang: The Glorious Cult Classics of 2001-2002
I love the cult classics that were released between 2001 and 2002. They were an odd lot that featured mustache rides, frozen turds and Robin Williams going on safari. They were released when I was a freshmen/sophomore in college and working in an AMC movie theater. I remember watching Super Troopers, Zoolander, Out Cold, Joe Dirt and Kung Pow: Enter the Fist in close to empty theaters on my work break and wondering why some of them were even made. There were so many strange movies like Pootie Tang, Death to Smoochy, Freddy Got Fingered and Bubba Ho-Tep that left me confused and wanting a new belt.
Many of these films played ad nauseum in my college apartment and I will never forget the moment when my cinephile buddy Zach busted out a DVD copy of Wet Hot American Summer. I’d never heard of it and the experience was an absolute revelation. The following post covers 10 of my favorite (but not the best) comedy cult classics that were released between 2001-2002. Some of them are by no means good but they represent a lot of time spent watching movies and not studying, enjoying the outdoors practicing my poses.
Here are some 2001/2002 cult classics that didn’t make this list. Some of them are incredible films but when you are a teenager with teenage roommates you don’t casually put on Punch Drunk Love. Secretary, Ghost World, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Made, Bubble Boy, 24-Hour Party People, How High, Freddy got Fingered and Jay and Bob Strike Back.
Here is the list!
Pootie Tang – (2001)
“Sa da tay!” – Pootie Tang
Scott Tobias of the A.V. Club writes a fantastic monthly column called The New Cult Canon. Every month (or so) he writes about a new cult film that audiences didn’t appreciate enough. I love reading his stuff and was excited to see that he wrote about Pootie Tang. I don’t think I’ve ever been able to actually talk about Pootie Tang with anything else. It is so odd that the majority of the populace could never be on its wavelength. I love this quote by Tobias in regards to Pootie Tang existing:
Pootie Tang is, in fact, an actual movie that got made, not something you hallucinated while watching a Rudy Ray Moore vehicle on ‘shrooms. It’s easily one of the strangest and most inexplicable projects green-lit by a studio in the last decade, yet it happened, and I doubt any killer Louis C.K. pitch had much to do with it.
Watching Pootie Tang for the first time can be a weird experience. If you are able to roll with it you will love every second of the weirdness. Watch the clip below so I can finally say “It’s hot too” and have people get it. Love the clip.
Super Troopers – (2001)
When Super Troopers was released I don’t think I ever saw a trailer for it. The film was dumped into our theater and maybe 50 people watched it during the two week run. I went to the screening the night before it opened, and the four of us who turned up loved every second of it. I didn’t know who Broken Lizard was, but they immediately were put on my radar and I hunted down their film Puddle Cruiser and remember being incredibly excited for Club Dread (underrated).
Thanks to Super Troopers I want to chug maple syrup, go to Mexico and say “meow” to random motorists. My fingers are crossed for the crowd-funded sequel, and I hope the Broken Lizard can surprise without the element of surprise.
Kung Pow: Enter the Fist – (2002)
I love Kung Pow. It is a weird little film that was too weird for the mainstream. It featured no familiar names and featured director Steve Oedekerk inserting himself into the old old kung-fu film Tiger Crane and Fist. The result was very random and very funny. For years I’ve quoted it (we trained him wrong) and kept it on whenever it randomly appeared on TV. I can 100% understand why the critics tore it to shreds and it only made $17 million worldwide. However, I am a big fan of how different and insane it is.
I’ve quoted this line for years. Nobody knows what I am talking about.
Out Cold – (2001)
Out Cold went in and out of the theater I worked at in about two-hours. I remember being confused as to how a little movie like Out Cold actually received a wide releases. It seemed perfect for video consumption and not ready to be put under the big lights. It was critically derided and only about 20 people went to watch it during its run. However, I liked it a lot and appreciated the zippy soundtrack, snowy hi-jinks and Victoria Silvstedt (I was 19).
The DVD was very popular in my apartment complex and I’d always have to go looking for it because somebody “borrowed” it without telling me.
Joe Dirt – (2001)
Joe Dirt is a comedic breathe of fresh air that features a very optimistic and mulletted lead. The film works because of David Spade’s likable and positive performance. The guy just keeps on keeping on and David Spade won me over despite my justifiable concerns. It was always on Comedy Central and whenever it was on I let it play. It is infinitely quotable (Life’s a garden, dig it) and features a whole lot of heart which is weird for a Happy Madison production.
Too bad the sequel was a meteoric frozen turd.
Zoolander – (2001)
Everybody knows the Zoolander story. It was released after 9/11 and was derided for featuring a subplot about assassination. The film was harmless but the bad buzz crushed any hope for box office glory. However, it became a cult classic due to the massive popularity of the DVD Zoolander became really really ridiculously popular. It’s too bad the sequel was soul crushing and forgot why people liked Zoolander in the first place.
Wet Hot American Summer – (2001)
Whenever somebody says they haven’t watched Wet Hot American Summer this is my reaction.
Wet Hot American Summer is a beautifully weird creation that gets better with age. Director/writer and David Wain and writer Michael Showalter somehow managed to collect an amazing cast and make a film that is anarchic yet controlled. Words can’t describe Wet Hot because it is insane. I love that The A.V. Club voted it as the best comedy of the 21st century. You need to see it. The Netflix television show is pretty great too.
Not Another Teen Movie
Not Another Teen Movie is much more than Chris Evan’s with a banana in his butt. It is a rewatchable spoof that features the oddest spelling of secret ever (s-e-c-r-a-p-t). I’ve quoted it endlessly (Let’s make like a tree and branch) and was very happy to learn that it still holds up. It ain’t shakespeare, but there are so many jokes you are bound to find yourself laughing.
Bubba Ho-Tep (2002)
Bubba Ho-Tep tells the true story of what happens when Elvis and JFK are harassed by an ancient mummy. I’ve never had a better time in a theater and Bruce Campbell does solid gold work as Elvis. The best thing about Bubba Ho-Tep is the Elvis commentary on the DVD. Bruce Campbell plays Elvis watching the film and commenting on Bruce Campbell’s work. It is weird, amazing and hilarious.
Death to Smoochy – (2002)
“Only enormously talented people could have made Death to Smoochy. Those with lesser gifts would have lacked the nerve to make a film so bad, so miscalculated, so lacking any connection with any possible audience.” Roger Ebert
I had a very tough decision to make in 2002. Would I watch Death to Smoochy or Panic Room the Thursday before they were released? I was a huge fan of Edward Norton and David Fincher and I didn’t know which film to watch. I ended up picking Death to Smoochy and the experience was really weird. If you’ve watched Death to Smoochy you know that it is a vulgar little thing that is mean, ugly and very funny. Director Danny DeVito made a pitch black comedy that made everyone scratch their head.
What are your favorite 2001-2002 cult classic comedies? Let me know in the comments.