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Various Authors 9:01 a.m., Feb. 26
I did some concert pet peeves recently. I thought it was time to take it to the movies.
But I've griped before about talking and cell phones in a theatre. Or children sitting behind me during a hard-core R rated movie.
I want to focus on pet peeves IN the actual movie.
Roger Ebert wrote a great book I read as a teenager, that had a lot of these things. He had more fun with the topic, as he talked about how if you see a fruit stand on the side of the road, you can be guaranteed that a car will run into it at some point (that was later played nicely in a Mike Myers movie, when people were walking across the street for no reason, with a big piece of glass).
I saw a movie recently that will start the pet peeves off. It was on cable, something like The Fugitive. Whatever movie it was, it was going along well. Until the phone call came in to police. It was this deep voice, saying "I just wanted to call to report some suspicious activity going on..."
The caller talked for a minute or two and the problem was...he sounded like someone that does voice over work! People that call the police aren't the same people that do the movie trailers. They're regular sounding people. Yet in movies, any time a person is on the phone (that isn't a regular character in the movie), they either have a deep, perfect sounding voice. Or they do the complete opposite. It's a woman that sounds way more nervous then she should. And she's pronouncing each and every word clearly.
Okay, the other pet peeves:
-- Phone numbers with 555. Nothing takes you out of the story as much as being on the edge of your seat, and the drug kingpin is telling the undercover cop "Call me on this number. Nobody has it. It's 555..." Or you see a guy trying to be smooth and romantic as he slips his number to a woman. She glances down at the cute drawing he made, with the number 555-1212 beneath it.
and speaking of romance...
-- Romantic stuff that isn't romantic. For example, The Notebook. What an overrated piece of crap! Sure, it had its moments. But the character courting this woman...there was nothing romantic about it. They went and laid down in the street. Who cares?! Or, a movie like Top Gun. It did the classic, over-played non-romantic move. The main character says a line at the end of the movie, that was said in the beginning, right before they kiss. It's been done to death. Screen writers need to change it up.
-- Cameos from famous people. And, they work even less when they're shown in the commercial for the movie (The Hangover and Mike Tyson comes to mind). And if the commercials don't ruin the cameo, critics do. What does it add to a review to talk about the various cameo appearances? All you did was ruin the moment when the person is in the film. Or, you have the person sitting there wondering "When and how are they possibly going to work Eminem into this thing?"
-- Characters that have the most wicked fight, where the nastiest things are said or done, and when they sit down to talk about it...they make-up in a few seconds, and are back to being buddy-buddy. There's no awkward period or anything. Mostly because the movie is an hour and a half, and they gotta keep the story moving. A perfect example of this is done twice in the latest movie Funny People (a good movie, go see it).
-- Precocious kids. The movie (500) Days of Summer was good. But having a smart character that has relationship problems, constantly going to his 10-year-old sister for advice, and having her spout off pearls of wisdom. It's cute...but very unrealistic. And this thing has been done to death. In fact, it almost sunk Juno. The fact that her character was slightly older, I give it a pass. Having characters like that take away from the realistic aspect the movie strives for.
I remember a movie John Hughes did in the 80s. It was called "Some Kind of Wonderful." And they had a girl that played Eric Stoltz' little sister. She was smart, hip, and funny. And she gave her brother advice. But it was all believable and wasn't over-the-top.
In "Beautiful Girls", Natalie Portman pulled off playing a kid wise beyond her age. And it worked. Yet so many movies get this wrong.
-- Fist fights and gun shots. Eddie Murphy did a funny routine about how in a movie you get shot, and you stagger on down the street, chasing the bad guy. Or holding the wound, telling your partner to "go on without me." He said he was in a nightclub when someone was shot, and they peed their pants and screamed for their mom. Appaloosa did a great gun fight. It lasted about three seconds, tops.
With fist fights, people will go at each other for the longest period of time. In real life, that first punch would probably knock the guy out. Or break your hand when it makes contact with their skull.
One movie that had a few realistic fights was "An Officer and a Gentleman." In one, Richard Gere fights some drunk red-necks in a bar. He quickly kicks one guy that goes down. He punches another one in the nose. And that's it. They see he knows martial arts and they don't want to mess with him.
Later, when he fights Lou Gossett, Jr., the first punch Gossett throws shocks Gere, who drops to his knee. And so do the next couple.
When Gere kicks Gossett, he drops, holding his ribs and looking a bit scared. It ends soon after that, with Gossett kicking him in the "privates."
-- Music in movies. I'm a huge music lover. And nothing is more enjoyable than when a movie gets it right. Pulp Fiction comes to mind. I'm hearing Dick Dale, Ricky Nelson, Link Wray, and the songs all fit perfectly in the scenes they're used. What I hate? Any motorcycle scene that uses "Born to be Wild"? I mean, really? I give a pass to any Disney movies that are trying to be cute.
In (500) Days of Summer...they play the Hall & Oates song "You Make My Dreams", one of their worst songs. But what makes it bad that they used it here, is that it was used so nicely in Step Brothers, when the two characters that hate each other, finally bond. Once a song is used well in another movie, that's it. So, Lust for Life was Trainspotting. Born to Be Wild was Easy Rider. Yet, so many films that come out want to use those same tunes (and on another music pet peeve: characters that like obscure indie bands, so we think they're cool; they just come off as idiotic and snobby. Besides, nothing looked hotter and hipper than seeing Eva Mendez in Hitch, wearing a Beatles shirt underneath a blazer).
-- Cars exploding when they crash.
Now, this one doesn't really bother me all that much. I understand why they want to do it. I just find it so much more powerful and realistic, when they sometimes don't. For example, I rented Vanilla Sky the other day (an underrated film). Cameron Diaz drives her car over a bridge, with Tom Cruise in the passenger seat. They land, hitting a wall at 80 miles per hour. No explosion. Just the sounds of shattering glass and bending metal. Followed by some silence, and a scene of nearby people running over to help. It worked so much better than an explosion. Although, now that I type that, I realize an explosion wouldn't work, as characters in that scene weren't supposed to die. But still...
-- Bad special effects. The reason this bothers me is...as a kid, I remember watching Clash of the Titans on HBO. My older brother loved it. And I couldn't help thinking how lame the big cyclopse looked coming out of the water. And the person that made that was considered a special effects wiz.
Yet, I'll see a commercial for something like "I, Robot" with Will Smith, and a thousand robots are chasing him. That should be scary, but the problem is, they look fake. Why? Years earlier in Terminator, robots are chasing people and they looked real. And you were on the edge of your seat, when one changed forms.
Even these big blockbuster, comic book movies like Spiderman. You'll be enjoying most of the special effects, and having a great time. It reminds you of being at the popcorn movies you loved as a kid. Then, the character will swing from a web off a skyscrapper, and it looks fake. Couldn't they just edit that one swing out of there if it was hard to create? I read in the paper a stuntman died during the filming. If that happens, there better be some bad-ass looking stuff on screen!
-- Background people. Now, in the scheme of things, this is a relatively small complaint. I only notice background characters because I see so many movies in the theatre, that if I'm with a group that rents movies I've already seen...I glance at things I may not have noticed the first time around.
And in every restaurant, the people behind the main characters, are having what looks like the most interesting conversation. They're animated, with eyebrows up, lots of laughter, hand gestures...it's almost distracting. Why can't the director say, "Listen...when you're at Applebee's, you probably don't even talk to your spouse. So just keep it light. One of you pretend to talk, the other pretend to listen. Enough with all the crazy gestures." They joke about extras trying to do things to get noticed in the very overrated show "Extras" (with the very talented Ricky Gervais).
I understand if they're doing a scene where they run through the streets of New York, you can't do anything about all the people on the sidewalk looking over. And that usually doesn't matter, because if someone is running from the police, a lot of people would be watching.
I'm curious to hear what other peoples pet peeves are regarding to things they see in movies.