Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Movies & Me: Entertainment

I'm noticing a trend in movie reviews among normal people, like on Rotten Tomatoes and some of the movie review blogs and podcasts that I listen to. It's always been the case with critics I think, but now normal people are pretending to be critics and that's an annoying trend. Here's the thing about movies. Mostly they're for entertainment. Not all movies are made for the edification of the viewer. Not all movies are high-art to be critiqued as if they were going against some amazing work of art intended to provoke deep thought, or create a catharsis of emotion in the viewer. A movie can exist for the purpose of the viewer to sit in their seat in a darkened theater and have a rollicking good time with no attention paid to deeper meaning or whether or not the acting is even spot on. I know. Acting should be good. But do all roles need to be amazing? No, not really. Not for me. I'm willing to lower the bar a little if I'm going to something where I want to see things blow up or people get into, and then out of ridiculous situations.

I just went to see Drive Angry with Nicholas Cage and I really had a good time. The acting was OK. Will it win awards? Nope. Were the special effects outstanding? I don't remember most of them so that, to me, means they were neither particularly wonderful or particularly bad. I notice bad special effects. One would hope I wouldn't notice amazing special effects. My guess is there were more special effects in Drive Angry than I realized. That means, to me, that they were well used. Things blew up convincingly. It wasn't the horrible Star Wars explosions that even in the newer digitally remastered versions still look profoundly fake.

What I want in an entertaining movie, a movie I'd describe as brain candy, is acting that is good enough. They can phone it in as long as they don't look like they're reading. Johnny Mnemonic the acting was too terrible to stand so I don't want the acting to get in the way of the movie. Sometimes the dialog is just that bad. The acting in The Adjustment Bureau was OK. It didn't take me out of the movie, but there was a missing chemistry between the two leads, Matt Damon and that lady whose name I don't remember and can't be bothered to look up. She's good and all, but they never seemed to really "click" as people destined to be together. I can't even get my head around how it didn't work, but in retrospect it didn't. While I was watching the movie it wasn't jarring enough to take me out of the movie. It would impact the movie's re-watchability though. The concept was cool, snatched right out of a Twilight Zone episode but instead of everyone wearing blue as they did in the Twilight Zone, here they wore hats.

I'm willing to be entertained by something fun and meaningless. I don't need it to stay in my head days later making me think. I like that kind of movie too. Matrix did that to me. It was a fun concept. The Hangover also did it, but because it was so funny, not because it very deep or meaningful or thought provoking. Shutter Island and Inception stuck with me with really cool ideas and a story that was interesting enough to leave me wondering what happened next. Tron 2 didn't do anything for me. It had characters that didn't seem to fit. It had decent effects, but the story was too shallow to hold my interest and the characters weren't likable enough and there were too many things left out there, just mentioned and then thrown away. I don't even know how I'd fix that one. It was one I most wanted to like but I don't think my anticipation raised the bar too high... I've already established I have a low bar for movies I want to entertain me. It just didn't work. First thing I'd do? Trash the hippy Nick Nolte and unhippy him. You can't just have a guy walk around barefoot and let that be how you know someone is all zen and stuff. It's a stupid trope and it didn't work. It didn't work at any level. The movie didn't either. I wouldn't watch it if it came on as an inflight movie and the other option were to listen to a soap salesman who won't tell me about the fight club he's in because the first rule of fight club is... well... you know.

So, next time you go to a movie. Realize that there's a better than small chance the movie was made to entertain you so you can have fun. You don't have to show off how cool you are by tearing it apart. Relax. Let go and just watch the movie and try to have fun harder than you try to poke holes in things. Now. If the way you have fun is to tell how bad something is or point out all its flaws I'd love to see the movie you made that you did it better. Yeah. I know. We're all able to have opinions on things we haven't done but if you're going to wreck my fun by pointing out how stupid I am for enjoying something you found fault with allow me to have fun by asking for your magnum opus... the thing you did where you did it better. You'll say at some point, "anybody could have done it better" or "I could have done better." Put your money where your mouth is. Make a better movie, put it on youtube and let me enjoy it. I'm an easy audience to impress. If you can't, then please, shut the front door and let me enjoy my mindless entertainment would you? You're not impressing me. You're distracting me.

(I am aware there are movies designed to be thought provoking and artistic and make me think. I'm not talking about those movies. I realize they exist. Schindler's List isn't one I would say was made for entertainment value for example.)
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