Personally I rolled up to the front in my H1 (no underpowered substitutes for me), had a meal of Chilean Sea Bass delivered to me, and spent most of the movie talking on the phone to my commodites broker about the cost of oil. I didn’t really catch much of the movie–some kind of thriller starring Orson Welles or maybe that first officer guy from Star Trek, I think, though there were a heck of a lot of PowerPoint presentations–but I sure made a killing in petrol. I’m going to bleed those suckers until they bleed pennies at the pump!
Popcorn Movie: a big budget, exuberant movie with a relatively simple plot that doesn’t inspire much in the way of post-viewing analysis, a lot of action setpieces and F/X (preferably with periodic random explosions), cartoon villians who have no real hope of accomplishing their world-dominating plans, henchmen or disposable side characters whose death has little impact upon the main characters, and almost invariably a male hero for whom women will drop trou and attempt to become impregnated within thirty seconds of meeting him. Plausibility is not a significant criteria in evaluating a popcorm movie; continuity is only a moderately critical measure. The ability for the plot to pass quickly without your noting the flaws in these things (i.e. how did Indy get off the submarine, into the pen, out of the water, and dressed without being seen and before the sub was tied up?) is crucial. In a popcorn movie you accept the screenwriter’s ellipsis without thought and move on to the next setpiece.
A critical criteria is that they have little or no overreaching social message or deep, timeless themes; a movie like Rear Window or Goodfellas can’t really qualify as a Popcorn Movie because there’s just too much thematic density. (Besides, Goodfellas only has two explosions and Rear Window doesn’t even have a single shooting.)
Popcorn movies can be bad (The Island, Moonraker), very bad (Armegeddon, Die Another Day), decent and amusing (Lethal Weapon, For Your Eyes Only), or timeless classics (Raiders of the Lost Ark, Goldfinger) though, as with all films, only a small minority fit into the last category.
And if it isn’t utterly clear, all Bond movies are Popcorn Movie icons practically by default. Only On Her Majesty’s Secret Service even seeks to elevate itself beyond that with its tragic love story.
IMHO, the tragically underseen and underrated Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (written and directed by Lethal Weapon screenwriter Shane Black) is a great Popcorn Movie, all the moreso for deliberately confusing the plot (then having the main character explain it out for you in bite-size pieces) and for setting up powerful moments (the detective getting back at the abusive father) then showing you how he’s manipulating the audience (“See how he slapped the old guy around? That was harsh, right? Yeah, whatever, anyway…”) into getting invested into this totally fictional, button-pushing exchange. I guess it’s kind of the Meta-Popcorn Movie, where instead of just eating the popcorn you get to analyze it and figure out why it tastes so good.