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Best Worst Movies

Courtney Eckerle | Wednesday, May 2, 2012

For my farewell Best Worst column, I had to go back to the very beginning of my obsessive love for fantastically terrible movies – Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen’s straight-to-video guides for a lifetime of disappointment.
I’ve been to London, Paris, Rome and the Bahamas, just like in their movies. While they were amazing trips, they did not live up to the MK&A promise. There’s always this nagging feeling, even if you’re in the middle of an amazing trip, that somehow the Olsen twins would be doing it better.
My friends and I were not chased through foreign cities by an adorable group of guys, one for each of us of course, with accents and mopeds. We did not unearth a large Bohemian antiquities smuggling ring or produce a multi-million dollar fashion line while bringing down a Roman fashion thief (I’m beginning to question if those even exist). We didn’t solve issues of national diplomacy while preaching the gospel of a McDonald’s hamburger.
No worries Olsen fans, I won’t be ragging on “Winning London” because as we all know, that is a legitimately awesome movie. I’m still waiting to fall in love with a young Lord while in a competition with my Model UN team.
I embarked on this journey back through the Olsen repertoire after my friend ran into Tom Amandes, aka Billboard Dad, at a bar in Chicago. She was the coolest girl at the lunch table with that story for at least a week. I mean, the man knew the Olsens in the 90s for goodness’ sake. “Billboard Dad,” the first of their movies (not counting the “Adventures” or “Sleepover” series) immediately went to the top of the Netflix queue. Good news: it totally holds up, but not the way your seven-year-old self remembers.
First off, when you’re that age it seems totally plausible that you could sneak out in the middle of the night and somehow paint a legitimate looking billboard over Sunset Boulevard – without the police and child services being called. You begin to wonder why your parents don’t let you surf and rollerblade alone through Venice Beach.
This is only the beginning of the unsettling feeling that your life is unfair.
For those poor souls who haven’t seen “Billboard Dad,” the premise is this: two twin girls, Tess and Taylor, are living in Venice Beach, Calif., with their widowed, famous artist father. In between sad scenes where Dad suddenly trails sadly off while talking about the girls’ mother, they can be seen wandering around Venice, specifically the local pool where they are a part of the local diving team.
A mysterious bad boy comes onto the scene, recognizable by his cutoff jean shorts and peroxide hair – and he totally splashes them with a cannonball. Not cool. Oh yeah, and he skateboards on the pool deck which is totally against the rules.
The girls decide that a year is long enough for their father to mourn their mother, and put up the billboard which reads:
“He’s single, he’s handsome. He’s cool to the Max! Interested? Write to Max Tyler at 10 Surf, St. Venice.”
So, putting their home address down doesn’t have any scary side effects, except for several bad dates. After these, Max decides he is finished indulging his daughters – not after they climbed scaled a billboard on Sunset above the Chateau Marmont. Fate, however, sends him on one last date.
Max begins dating Brooke, a single mother who owns a glasses shop. Her dream is to put an end to the idea that, “boys don’t make passes at girls who wear glasses.” After they fall in love, Tess and Taylor find out that her son is the bad boy from the pool! It’s all good, though, because the kids are soon working together to bring down Nigel, Max’s evil British manager who is trying to break him and Brooke up. Also, he’s selling knock offs of Max’s art. After that’s done, the only thing left to do is land the high dive at the local diving competition. So ends the straight-to-video adventure that started it all.
The moral of this Olsen tirade is that best worst movies can change your life. If it hadn’t been for the unrealistic expectations those movies instilled in me, I wouldn’t be retracing their global footsteps. I wouldn’t be planning on Mexico, the winter Olympics and Australia for the future and hoping that one or all of those trips will be while I’m in the witness protection program or competing on a reality show.
True to form in my Olsen tour of the world, I will still fully expect everything they promised me out of life.
Fingers crossed, in this future my name will be something like Charlie or Riley. I will accomplish the Briana Wallace/Megan Fox “Holiday in the Sun” walk through a bar: “What’s up?” some poor dude in a Hawaiian t-shirt and frosted tips will say to me. “Um, not my temperature,” I will haughtily reply through overly glossed lips.
That’s the stuff all best worst dreams are made of.

Contact Courtney Eckerle at [email protected]
The views in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.