Many of our favorite movies feature quiet, introspective moments or deep philosophical discussions in between the scenes where everything is exploding and everyone is running in every possible direction. And that's great. But sometimes, you just want a movie that hits the ground running, and keeps running at top speed, until the credits.
Here are 12 movies that are basically just pure nonstop fun, from beginning to end. With pretty much no slow parts.
To create the most authoritative and serious list of movies that are pure fun, we asked you for your input, via our Facebook page. And then we applied some discretion, taking out any film that we felt had more than a certain amount of slow scenes. We also tried not to make this list all 80s movies, because it easily could have been. And we also threw in a couple films that people hadn't mentioned. Here are the dozen selections we ended up with:
1. Raiders of the Lost Ark
Steven Spielberg and George Lucas set out to make a tribute to the adventure serials of their youth, and they succeeded beyond anyone's wildest dreams. This movie is so fast and energetic, they Travel by Map. Like the Muppets! Character is established by drinking-games scenes and boulder chases. What is not to love?
2. Time Bandits
Terry Gilliam's story of a boy who encounters a crew of time-traveling larcenists does actually have some creepy moments and moments of heart-breaking emotion where Kevin bonds with Sean Connery or learns about his new friends. But a ton of people voted for it, and we decided it does fit because of its propulsive episodic structure. Like the Bandits themselves, this movie just keeps jumping from place to place, and time to time.
3. Escape from New York
This story of a tough, eyepatch-wearing grunt-turned-criminal who is sent into the Maximum Security hellhole that New York has become to rescue the President is basically just a ridiculously zippy ride, propelled by the charisma of Kurt Russell. (We'll be seeing more of Kurt Russell on this list.) "You can't get much more fun than good ol' Snake," says Shawnee.
4. The Princess Bride
William Goldman's book version claims (in the title, no less) that this is the story with only "the good parts" left in. And it really does live up to that billing, even if you aren't one of those people who quotes every line from this film obsessively. Says James, "The Princess Bride is the greatest movie ever."
5. Big Trouble in Little China
Another John Carpenter/Kurt Russell collaboration. But we had no choice, really. Truck driver Jack Burton gets caught in the middle of a battle between two Chinese gangs that use supernatural powers, and then goes up the ultimate final boss: sorcerer David Lo Pan. Who's so insane, he inspired the ultimate Gangnam Style parody.
6. The Fifth Element
Luc Besson's futuristic action-adventure movie throws a ton of elements at the wall in its opening moments — including aliens who are coming to destroy Earth, a flying taxi driver, and a mysterious red-haired woman who may hold the key to saving everybody. Says Jason, "The Fifth Element is the only non-stop roller coaster sci fi movie out of any of the films mentioned so far." The Fifth Element "always makes me happy," adds Christopher.
7. Galaxy Quest
This movie has the kind of premise that could easily lend itself to lots of introspection or self-torture — a group of washed up actors from a cult classic space opera TV series have hit rock bottom, when they get recruited by aliens to be the space heroes they only ever pretended to be. But instead, this comedy is just relentless fun, getting Tim Allen and his crew onto the spaceship pretty early and then running through a succession of zany science fiction cliches with a lot of heart.
8. Total Recall (original)
The original Arnold Schwarzenegger version of this Philip K. Dick adaptation takes Dick's paranoia and reality-melting weirdness, and converts it into a spy adventure that mixes a lot of humor with some genuinely clever set pieces. Quite possibly Arnie's most bonkers film, this film keeps you guessing about what's real and what's fantasy, partly by throwing so much stuff at you at such high speed.
We just recently watched this film, and it holds up amazingly well. It zips through the process of discovering a mysterious Egyptian gateway, and figuring out how to use it to travel to another planet, at pretty amazing speed — and soon enough, our heroes are on the desert planet, meeting weird creatures and getting mistaken for divinity by the natives, and so on. James Spader figures out how to speak the language of the people on the other planet in five minutes — although admittedly, that's after an hour of not speaking it. Also, chalk up another win for the charisma of Kurt Russell.
10. The Crow
We tend to think of this gothy "avenging spirit" film as a slow, brooding angstfest about a guy who's dead, along with his girlfriend. But actually, it's pretty amazingly zippy, and often super funny. Brandon Lee is basically playing the Joker crossed with Batman, full of quips and wisecracks and dealing out wacky ironic deaths to the gangsters who killed him and his loved one.
Speaking of Escape from New York, we wanted to give a shout-out to this "Escape from New York in Space" movie, which moves at a crazy speed and includes Guy Pearce doing his absolute best to be Snake Plissken. This film keeps throwing ridiculous incident after ridiculous incident at you, taking full advantage of the "in space" portion of the title.
And finally... the comic-book adaptation that got none of the love that The Avengers or The Dark Knight Rises enjoyed. And yet, as many people pointed out over on Facebook, this film has an amazingly fast pace despite its somewhat grim premise. Karl Urban does a great job of bringing the swagger and grim humor as Judge Joe Dredd, and Lena Headey is just as great as you'd expect, as the gangster Ma-Ma. The video-game-y "moving upwards through a giant building" format keeps the action zipping along.