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January 24, 2005

Ways to tell a movie is bad continued

Matt Elkind was kind enough to remind me that Elektra was guilty of the last item on the first list (the one about being blind), but the fact that all the blind guy does is make a good pool shot made me decide not to harp on it. And now that I think about it, Elektra spends a lot of time flashing back to her dead parents too, but that movie is so mediocre, I've given it more credit than it deserves just by talking about it as much as I have. On with the list.

6) Fart!

I'm not above laughing at bathroom humor. Behind this dry, intellectual veneer lies the mind of an eight year old. (Did I already give myself away by using Scooby-Doo as an example of a good mystery?) But for Christ's sake, a fart by itself is not a fart joke. A bodily function alone is not a joke. If it were, I would be laughing myself silly every time I went to the bathroom. There are certain modern day toilet savants, like the Farrelly brothers and the South Park guys, who can actually come up with jokes to go along with the farts, but most people will just put them in the movie, feature the hilarious function in the trailer, and then expect us to line up to pay ten bucks to see the hour and a half wrapped around that brief moment of hilarity.

7) Mercy, pretty woman

I declare a moratorium on movies about strippers and/or hookers that are written by men. The most recent addition to this long line of masturbatory filmmaking was Closer, where Natalie Portman played a sensitive, but tough, but sexy, but mysterious, but loving, but cold, but sensitive stripper. Seriously guys, you don't understand women, and you're not going to by writing some happy hooker fantasy. Don't try. It's embarrassing for all of us. Save it for the soft core porn.

8) It was Mister Carruthers!

People love surprise endings. Ever since The Sixth Sense came out, it's almost a requirement for a movie to have one, even if it doesn't make sense. And the easiest way to do that is to have a mystery thrown into the plot and have the murderer/villain/scofflaw revealed to be the very person you least suspected.

I like mysteries. I'm an avid Holmes fan, in case the domain names didn't tip you off , but I'm only going to accept so many mysteries where a character who was in one or two scenes ends up being the killer. It's not clever if the only reason I don't suspect someone is because I've forgotten about them.

I read somewhere that there's a rule for Scooby-Doo villains: Whichever character they meet first, as long as it's not Don Knotts, is the ghost. Now, I'm sure that's not true for every episode (although I know there are a handful of episodes where they only meet one guy and he's the ghost), but at least Scooby-Doo had the balls to throw the answer in your face. Movies like Enigma, I Robot, one of the 48 Hours movies, I can't remember which, and countless cops and robbers shows have a surprise bad guy revealed at the end, and it's only surprising because the villain was so forgettable. Some writers might think this is clever obfuscation, but it's not, it's a cheap cop out.

Anyone can write a character with a few lines that shows up in the beginning and then come up with an explanation at the end as to why they're evil and crazy. Take a good Agatha Christie story, even the Scream movies. They keep you guessing by throwing red herrings in to distract attention away from the real killers, all the while keeping them in the foreground of the story. Most movies and tv shows seem to pick day players at random to be the killer.

I had a couple more, but they're not that good now that I'm looking at them. I might throw them in when I'm low on ideas someday.

Posted by Will at January 24, 2005 11:07 PM


Why you be dissin on my movie iRobot. Like you really forgot about that super smart computer! Damned straight!

Posted by: Will Smith at January 25, 2005 3:42 PM

Your blog is so wonderful and I mean it.

Posted by: angela at January 26, 2005 10:19 PM

You're too kind, Angela, thank you. I wish Will Smith felt the same way.

Posted by: Will at January 27, 2005 6:28 AM