Friday, 21 August 2009

Complaint Department: Let's Agree to Agree

My roommate and I.

Not too long ago, my roommate and I went to the movies. On the way there we had a talk about our likes and dislikes. My roommies and I generally like the same kinds of movies, but we don't always agree on what's good and what's crap. In the car, I mentioned Snakes on a Plane and how I thought it was pretty good. Donny loudly disagreed. He thought it was so stupid that someone could put all those motherfucking snakes on that motherfucking plane. This kind of pissed me off--not that he didn't share my point of view, but that he objected to the premise and yet sat down to watch the film.

I make this face on a regular basis.

When you buy a ticket for a movie (or rent the DVD, or tune in, etc.) it's like you're signing a contract with the film. You've agreed to buy into the concept that, for example, a lot of snakes could be hidden in the cargo hold of an airplane and set loose on the passengers. Nowhere in the contract does it say that you have to like the rest of the movie, but you are, at the very least, willing to suspend your disbelief so far as the premise goes. If you find yourself balking at the possibility of such a thing happening, then why are you watching the movie in the first place?

If you'll just sign here, I'll take possession of your self-respect, sense of decency, and good taste.

Donny followed his Snakes on a Plane rant with an equally loud and disparaging comment about the motocross scene in Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle. Again, Donny argued the action depicted in that scene could never happen. "It defies the laws of physics!", he exclaimed. "It's a fucking movie," was my brilliant retort. Donny explained that he had no problem accepting that three women made up an elite crime fighting team backed by anonymous millionaire, but he simply would not abide a film set in the real world that didn't adhere to the physical laws that govern this world. I explained that highly stylized movies like Charlie's Angels aren't really of this world and action movies in general routinely bend the rules in order to deliver a lot of action.

As if Drew Barrymore would ever sport a mullet!

This is what I call the action clause. Like the premise agreement, the action clause requires an initial willing suspension of disbelief. And if you can't buy Cameron Diaz starting up a helicopter while in freefall, then you're not likely to believe that Randy Emmers can fly his bike and shoot while inverted in midair. The action clause is usually backed up by the film's trailer--this is what made you want to see the movie to begin with. I, for example, refuse to watch The Final Destination. Not because I don't like the premise, but because I cannot for one moment believe that so many electronic and mechanical devices can fail on such a massive scale that it would lead to death by carwash or escalator.

I believe we need to be held accountable for our film-watching decisions. Watching a movie you know you're not going to enjoy and then complaining about it later just shouldn't be allowed.

Unless you're forced to.

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