I am extremely disenchanted whenever I go to the video store. There just isn’t anything decent to see.
Think about this: in the early 1960s, The Sound of Music won Picture of the Year. The vast majority of Americans had seen it.
Today, fewer than 15% go to a movie theatre at all.
And it’s not just because we have DVD players. It’s because most movies are awful.
Every now and then Keith and I say, “We’re just pessimistic. We’re being silly. There has be good stuff out there!” And so we rent a movie only to turn it off halfway.
It’s not that good movies don’t make kajillions. They do. Think Passion of the Christ, The Incredibles, or Finding Nemo. Movies for families, or with broad moral appeal, make money. Movies that are violent and degrading don’t make as much. It’s a simple fact.
And yet Hollywood streams out trash because Hollywood is trash. I don’t mean to be judgmental, but I truly believe that’s all most of them know. So, in order to help you when you go to rent movies, I would like to present to you my Movie Translator:
If a movie cover proclaims the movie is “edgy”
They mean: It was written by someone who was high on drugs at the time.
If it “probes the depths of human relationships”
They mean, it portrays really degrading sexual fantasies.
If it is “illuminating“,
They mean: it shows the perversion of the dark side of human nature.
If it is “insightful“, see above. It’s only insightful if you want to understand your whacked out sociology professor who has experimented with most recreational and hard-core drugs, and whose children are currently incarcerated.
If it is “biting“:
It bites. Leave it alone.
If it is “realistic“:
They mean: The person calling it that grew up in a crack house with a single mother and her fourteen lovers who were in and out of jail, and was in juvenile detention himself for most of his teenage life.
If it “exposes” something:
They mean: We believe all authority is corrupt, and only people with no education except indoctrination are able to see how evil all of government currently is. And you’re evil if you don’t agree! Oh, and Harry Truman was a war criminal. So was Abraham Lincoln. So get with the program, people!
If it shows “a mid-life crisis“:
They mean: some old guy is going to take advantage of some really young girl and make us think it’s okay.
So what are you allowed to get? Look only for these adjectives:
Heart-warming. Endearing. Classic. Family. Touching. Funny.
That’s it. Nothing else. If it shows anything “insightful, probing, or realistic”, run very fast out of the rental shop. Very, very fast.
For instance, recently we rented “Rachel Getting Married”. Here’s the tagline:
When KYM (Anne Hathaway) returns to the Buchman family home for the wedding of her sister RACHEL (Rosemarie Dewitt), she brings a long history of personal crisis and family conflict along with her.
For some reason the “personal crisis and family conflict” didn’t raise a red flag to me. It should have. The movie is garbage, whether or not Anne Hathaway acted well. We turned it off after 45 minutes. I kept thinking it was going to be funny, about a wedding, just like “Father of the Bride” that we rewatched last week. Wrong. Unless you find people just getting out of rehab and sleeping with someone they met five minutes ago and swearing at everyone is funny.
Here’s the thing: some of these movies may very well be insightful. Some of them may depict the reality of the American family. But who still wants to see them? I want to be inspired and entertained, not challenged and lectured at. So make movies to make me feel uplifted, not like I need a bath afterwards.
If you have any other tips you’d like to add, please do so! I’d love to add to this list. I might turn it into a column soon!