Picky Patrons Pick Positions in Particularly Partisan Patterns
So I Married An Axe Murderer is one of my favorite underseen ‘90s comedies, for a bunch of reasons. Mike Myers finally found the sweet spot between playing himself and playing over-the-top heavy-makeup characters… by doing both. It’s a gem.
Early on, we learn his character breaks up with perfectly normal girls for radically stupid reasons. “She smelled like soup,” he says about one. (For fun, you can find the same kind of behavior in Chandler on Friends, specifically in the episode where their cantankerous neighbor dies, The One Where Mr. Heckles Dies.).
Breaking up with girls because of stupid reasons is a fairly universal theme that most men can relate to.
In college, I lucked out when my best friend Josh began dating Charlotte (fake name). Charlotte was best friends with the HOTTEST GIRL I’D EVER SEEN, Andrea (fake name). Within a few weeks, I was dating Andrea as well, and double-dates were becoming frequent. One night, after a dinner date, the four of us settled down in the lobby of the girls’ dorm to watch Candyman, the ‘90s horror flick that somehow combines Bloody Mary lore, slum housing, and bees.
During the film, Andrea began rubbing and caressing my back. Soon her hand moved inside my shirt, scratching my back up and down. I was loving it. Until I realized… after a few minutes… that she was less “scratching my back” and more “picking at every scab, mole, zit, & skin abnormality” she could find. She was “cleaning me,” like monkey mothers pick bugs off their children’s head. I was a project. I was… in need of bettering.
Yes, these are all huge leaps. But I still made them. From that moment forward, I was unable to find this girl hot. And this girl was universally hot. 99 out of 100 guys at school would have not only said she was hot, but given up their existing girlfriends to date her. She was a goddess. And I couldn’t stand her. I was three—maybe four times above my dating pool with her. And yet… I couldn’t get past the one tiny single flaw… the picking. We never dated again.
Most movie fans have had similar experiences with films. There’s a lot to love… everyone else loves it and says it’s great… but that one small detail really bugged you… and bugged you so much it kept you from enjoying the film at all.
I could argue Emo Peter in Spider-Man 3 is just such a trigger point for many viewers. I think that movie plays a lot better, and a lot of viewers are more on the fence, if there’s no Emo Peter dance scene. The movie still has problems, but that scene was a tipping point for many.
Lucy lost me right out of the gate with its premise. I’m so over the whole “we only use 10% of our brains” thing I just couldn’t force myself to care about any of the admittedly neat action sequences.
Gravity is a stellar achievement of visual storytelling that left me in awe… but mostly I remember how silly it seemed when that George Clooney ghost showed up to motivate the main character back into action. In fact, I’ve only ever seen this movie the one time because of this. And I still claim to like it. But… that scene, man.
Brokeback Mountain is another one that sort of does this for me. I ADORE this movie… the acting, the soundtrack, the cinematography… right up until about the last 25 minutes, after one character dies and the other goes to visit the parents. That part… while, thematically, is likely necessary… always gets me to change the channel. I’ve been plenty depressed throughout the film, thank you very much… I don’t need that final scene combining mourning, bigotry, & thoughtful gestures.
Snowpiercer is fantastic. It is inventive futuristic action like we haven’t seen before. Right up until it decides to slam on the brakes for the last 20 minutes and have Ed Harris lecture Chris Evans. Perhaps most egregious is the monologue just before Evans meets Ed Harris’s character, wherein he bemoans knowing what baby tastes like. It’s goofier than anything else in an admittedly goofy movie. It’s delivered so sincerely the only genuine human reaction is to laugh. And it happens RIGHT BEFORE a super-talky final 15 minutes. I do re-watch this film, but most of the time I stop it right when he gets to the engine.
Castaway is a movie that I think is actually brilliant and perfect… right up until he gets rescued. The movie SHOULD end with the ship at sea clearly seeing him and he knows he’s rescued. Instead, we get 30 more minutes of “she thought you were dead so she remarried but now you’re alive and she’s conflicted” bulls*it… territory arguably covered better by Pearl Harbor of all movies. It takes the tale of one man’s will to survive and turns it into a tale of the world repeatedly face-f*cking one poor sap over and over for no apparent reason.
S*it… on the island… I can’t think of ONE moment where the memory of Helen Hunt was what kept him going. It wasn’t love that aided his survival… it was… INSTINCT to survive! Getting rescued is the end of that arc. Hell, the movie doesn’t even need to START with him having a girlfriend at all!
Sorry. That movie pisses me off… despite so much greatness.
And that’s what I’m talking about… movies where you can acknowledge the greatness, but one small aspect keeps you from getting on board completely. What are your movies like this? Hit me up on Twitter at @cinemasins and let me know what you think.