Coming Soon to a theater near you. We apologize in advance.
Motion pictures. We want them to be funny, provocative (whatever that jargon means), thought-provoking, and containing no less than one (1) mandatory helicopter explosion. Or at least that’s what I gather from the movie reviewers. By that token, though, if you stare at a wall long enough, you’ll begin to see patterns emerging from the spackle, too. If you’re staring with someone, you’ll find yourself debating (read arguing) about those patterns.
Maybe this is why the bar keeps getting lower on movies. The experts have spent so long in the theater, the prolonged exposure to loud noises and popcorn dust finally got to them. Either that or their bloodstreams are now 70% Big Gulp sodas.
Of course, Hollywood claims to produce movies based on public interest, and it would seem that most of the public bases their interest on the reviews. The same reviews written by the same aforementioned reviewers.
I think one of the big tricks is that there won’t be any good films in one year, so the next year, when a movie comes out with some profound line audible above the constant roar of CGI explosions, the battle-weary critics are drawn to it like camels to an oasis. (Small oasis.)
The other half of the problem is that most of those ticket sales are going to impressionable young people: the same impressionable young people that put fifty pounds of metal in their faces to make them somehow attractive to the opposite sex…and simultaneously attracted to very large electromagnets. They wait in lines for six hours to buy tickets to the local premier of “Mindless Drivel: The Movie”. I have to give the movie-makers credit: they’ve managed to perform a miracle there, seeing as most young people have an attention span of roughly 2.98 milliseconds.
Now, don’t let my caffeine-infused cynicism give you the idea that there aren’t any good movies out there. I like a good film as much as the next guy. (“Oz the Great and Powerful” was phenomenal, in my opinion.) The problem is, for every gem you find, you have to hack through seven or eight layers of fossilized horse biscuits.
Case and point: “Gravity.” Some loved it, some hated it. In the words of one of my advisors: “It’s fantastic if your idea of a good movie is two hours of watching Sandra Bullock float around in space, grunting.”
Rumor has it, “Gravity” holds the world record for the largest density of monosyllabic lines in a major motion picture, though it is set to be rivaled by next year’s much-awaited upcoming film, “Old Men On A Back Porch Discussing The Weather.”
This is not a new observation, of course. I realized they were running out of movie plots when I stumbled across one that (quite literally) featured an abandoned car tire, rolling through the desert blowing things up with its psychic powers. He falls in love with some random woman, which I’m not sure how that exactly worked out, nor am I terribly interested in the misplaced affections of a petroleum product.
Said movie received mixed reviews. Some said it was brilliantly shot and executed. Others say it should have been shot and executed. One man, whom I assume has inhaled entirely too much popcorn dust in his life, said it was “an uber-cerebral spoof that is at once silly and smart, populist like a mildly trashy B-movie yet high brow like absurdist theater.” You know they’re reaching for it when they have to bring Noah Webster up via seance to write the review.
Most of the box-office sales seem go to films based on books, especially those books that came out of monkey-banging-on-typewriter experiments. (Hey, they’ve gotta fund the ongoing study somehow.)
One of the most popular examples of print-to-screen drivel would be “Twilight,” the much maligned story of a girl who falls in “love” with and eventually marries the kind of boyfriend that sucks the life right out of you. His whole family sucks. (Talk about your in-law problems.) In fact, the whole franchise sucked, at least according to nearly everyone that wasn’t planning to marry a part-time bat.
It could honestly be that the last twenty years of movies have simply been an experiment in surrealism, and we missed the memo. It is amazing that people are paying good money to sit in a dark room and watch a two-hour explosion.
“Popular culture is just a mirror of society,” say Hollywood advocates. We can trust them, of course. It isn’t like they have any vested interest in said pop culture.
I’d argue the opposite. We’ve allowed pop culture to define society for entirely too long. No person in their right mind would watch wall-to-wall blood, gore, and sleaze for two hours…unless they were conditioned for it. It started out as some guy getting shot in the Western, or some lady appearing in a short skirt for a moment. From there, it gradually descended into that disaster we call modern cinema.
Not so funny anymore. In fact, according to the numbers, PG and PG-13 films bring in the most box office sales. So why are every 8 out of 10 films at your local theater rated R? Popular culture is no mirror of society. We’re frogs, the theater (and our televisions) are the pot, and the film makers keep turning up the burner.
Sooner or later, we’re going to have to hop out of the pot.