3

"So bad it's good" is an expression used to describe something that is of poor quality or low standards, yet is enjoyable or entertaining because of its badness. This often refers to movies, TV shows, music, or other forms of entertainment that are unintentionally funny or absurd due to their poor production values, acting, or writing. It's a kind of ironic appreciation for something that might be considered objectively bad, but still manages to be enjoyable in a different way. For example:

Samurai Cop is the paradigm of a so bad it's good film. It defies logic; its amateur execution makes it an unintentional laugh riot from beginning to end, as it did next to nothing correctly

Does 'C'est tellement mauvais que c'est bon !' sound natural in native ears? Are there other French turns to convey the meaning?

2
  • 1
    Oui, ça passe très bien. Peut-être un calque, mais aucun problème. Aussi: C'est tellement nul que c'est bon!.
    – Frank
    Feb 19 at 20:34
  • Often I wonder why people drag foreign languages into SE Questions but not here. This Questions seems to be so purely about French nuance, it seems to me pointless to even attempt to discuss it in English alone. Please, what am I missing? Feb 21 at 22:20

3 Answers 3

5

French taste in culture tends to be more elitist and judgmental than the average, so I'm not sure the feeling happens that much or the phrase will go without head scratches if you translate it literally. By any means, "tellement mauvais que c'est bon" is not a set expression in popular culture and definitely not one you can adjectivize to make it a proper type of film like in your example.

To get that notion across, you will often admit an element of guilty pleasure or a personal soft spot. It will also help if you are a bit more specific than just "bad/good".

Something like

Un film délicieusement kitsch/vieillot/amateur

Un nanar attachant

Or you can emphasize the unintentional aspect, but specify what makes it a good experience regardless:

Un film tellement médiocre qu'il en devient drôle

3
  • Thanks for this great answer.
    – Dimitris
    Feb 20 at 13:42
  • Mais pour qu'un mauvais film devienne "bon", il faut qu'on puisse y percevoir un deuxième degré. Sinon c'est juste... un mauvais film. Tous les mauvais films ne deviennent pas automatiquement "bons" :-)
    – Frank
    Feb 20 at 14:49
  • 1
    French taste in culture tends to be more elitist and judgmental than the average - this is a bold statement. The France I know likes Avengers as much as the rest of the world and has a generic idea about culture.
    – WoJ
    Feb 20 at 16:49
3

One way of saying this that you sometimes see on forums is “tellement mauvais qu'il en est bon”, as in the below comment from a user on allocine.fr.

Chez Sushi Typhoon ils ont réussi à nous sortir de bons nanards comme Ninja vs. Alien qui est tellement mauvais qu'il en est bon (et j'espère que c'est voulu) alors j'ai bon espoir pour celui-là aussi.

1
  • Thanks a lot for the answer.
    – Dimitris
    Feb 20 at 13:43
3

It‘s not an adjective but a noun, but the word nanar is commonly used to refer specifically to a film that is so bad it's good.

Further watching ;)

As user @Vallahga points out in the comments, the specific feature that distinguishes a nanar from, say, a navet is that the nanar is enjoyable to watch (despite being objectively a bad film). A navet is just a flop.

6
  • 5
    Calling a film a nanar doesn't really imply it is enjoyable, does it? Maybe if you add positive adjectives like bon vieux nanar, but even then... Feb 20 at 12:16
  • Welcome to FSE. Thanks for the answer.
    – Dimitris
    Feb 20 at 13:44
  • 2
    @guillaume31 --- I think it depends on whom you're talking to. I've I think exclusively heard nanar used for films so bad they're good, but I can imagine not everyons means that by it. Feb 20 at 22:38
  • @confusedandbemused But again, I don't think just being very bad makes you a good movie. We say that, but there has to be something that redeems the movie. Otherwise, it's just a bad movie.
    – Frank
    Feb 21 at 0:06
  • 1
    @Vallahga apparently not according to dictionaries e.g. Larousse. That there are nanar lovers is of course real and totally fine but maybe more of a niche cinephile thing? Feb 21 at 10:26

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.