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Thinking About Awful Movies

Originally I was thinking I would write a list for this blog post, but I don't know that I can do that.  Writing lists isn't really my thing, even if that is pretty much all the Internet wants to write and read.

My gut instinct was that I should write a list of "Ten Movies I Hate" and "Ten Movie I Love," but that's boring.  I'll get that stuff out eventually for those who insist on seeing them.  Today I wanted to write about a different concept - not just a list of things I hate, but why and how I come to hate movies.

Initial reactions to a movie are not a good indicator of whether or not you like it.  It sounds like a stupid thing to say - if you like the movie, then wouldn't you enjoy watching it?  Maybe, but there's a lot of confounding variables at play.  Did you see the movie in a theater, or at home on DVD?  Did you stream the movie?  If so, what service did you use, and how reliable were they?  Did you watch it with friends or alone?  On a date?  Drunk or sober?  And so on.

If you take the time to analyze the movies you've seen, you'll realize that you really have to break out your lists of bad movies into different groups.  There are movies that were bad when you saw them, but you may want to give them another chance.  There are movies that were flawed, but fun.  There were movies that were bad on a technical level and so you didn't have the patience to sit through them.  There are bad movies that you never actually saw because you turned them off after half an hour.  And so on.

Today I'm focusing on the worst kind of Bad Movie imaginable:  the bad movie that gets worse the more you think about it.

These are movies that fully exemplify why the initial viewing doesn't really give you an idea of your opinion.  You may have actually liked this movie when you first sat down in your favorite chair and booted up Netflix.  It might not have even been that long ago that you saw it.  And it might even be the case where nobody actually said anything about the movie that made you change your mind.

No, what happens is that you'll be off doing some mundane task, like folding the laundry.  And your mind starts to drift off, and you think to yourself, "Hey, remember that time we watched Rent?  That was kind of a bleah movie, huh?"

Then the shit rainbow starts to fade into existence.  Some small detail will pull you back into the movie.  Maybe you remember a particularly bad line read from an actor.  Or maybe you think of the scene where a character dies and then comes back to life literally just because people really wanted her to.  Then this reminds you of another detail from the same movie.  "The protest scene was pretty bad, too, right?  Like, it wasn't actually a protest, it was just some really lame performance art, but they thought they had a message, so that would... uh... subvert capitalism somehow and make the mayor give everybody ten million dollars?  I'm not sure what that was all about.  Kinda weird, huh?"

You think a little more and you start to realize that the movie was bad on a higher level.  "Wait, this is a movie about a bunch of people who specifically don't want to get jobs, and they're somehow surprised that they can't afford to pay their rent?  And that's supposed to be a problem we sympathize with because... why?  Now that I'm thinking about it, that's actually a really screwed-up premise.  These kids aren't heroes - they're goddamn losers."

Suddenly, you find yourself feeling upset.  All you were doing was folding your laundry, and now Rent has to come in and ruin your day just by existing in your memory.  You actually start to get angry a little bit.  How did they even make that movie?  You're not even on the wrong side of the movie's politics - you're both socially and economically liberal, but this movie is still pissing you off.  Now you're starting to think you need to change your party affiliation.

Oh, well.  You finish putting away the laundry and move on to something else.  But.... a week later, it comes up again.

This time you're washing the dishes.  Something clicks, and you imagine what the protagonists of Rent would do if they had to do the dishes.  "Probably they would just break all their plates in a public park, then wave some signs around and scream at other people to clean it up.  Then they'd go to their rich friend's house - you know, the kid that actually got a job and tried to do something with his life instead of sitting around in a warehouse bitching about how everybody's being mean to him?  And they'd smash in his windows and take his dishes instead."

A month later, you're sitting on the can, going about your daily morning routine, and then you think to yourself, "Is this how old people view our generation?  A bunch of free-loading dickheads with AIDS who sit around and pout all day about their problems?  Wow, Rent isn't just a bad movie - it's downright evil.  It needs to be stopped."

Congratulations - you just found a way to make yourself angry while taking a dump.  All you had to do was think about Rent.  And you didn't even know that you hated this movie until you just started to randomly think about it.

These are the worst movies.  They take you by surprise because, by definition, you don't necessarily hate them as much as you do until you think about them after the fact.  And you don't even need to watch them to be annoyed or disgusted.  You just have to think and remember.  The more you think and remember, the more you hate them.  The more you hate them, the more you think and remember.  They are a self-sustaining block of anger that is now part of your brain-space.  You don't want this kind of pain clinging around in your head - you are usually a happy person with work to do.  But now, you are a worse person simply for having seen this movie.

You get that?  These movies actually make you a worse human being.

I'm curious to know what other movies are like this for everybody else.  Again - not to harp on this point - these are not just "bad movies you saw once."  These are specifically movies that enrage you whenever you think about them.

In the meantime, here's a quick list of the ones I can think of for me.  Yes, it turns out that after all of that, this is just going to be some goddamn list.
  • Rent - You probably guessed this from the above semi-rant.
  • Crash - (The race-relations movie, not the other one about accident fetishists.)  I'll probably have to revisit this one some day because I think I may have misremembered some things about it, but I remember that after seeing it, I felt like I had just been trapped in a room with my hypocritical uncle on some Thanksgiving and he decided to condescend to me for two hours.
  • Waking Life - Words fail me at how annoying this movie is.  In fact, I think I need to write a separate blog post about it.  A bunch of dumbasses who think they're a lot more clever than they actually are spew garbage for an hour and a half.  Ever meet somebody who has a froo-froo job where they don't actually do any real work, but they get all kinds of time off and they get paid six figures and then you hear them bitch about, I don't know, the lack of low-sodium snack choices in the vending machine at their office, and you just want to strangle them and slap them silly because they insist on blathering about this while you have to postpone an overdue appointment to fill a cavity because you couldn't afford to pay your dental insurance this month?  That's like this movie and life.  Outlaw Vern summed it up pretty well in his review.
  • Date Movie - You could probably swap out any Seltzerberg movie with this one, but it just so happens that Date Movie is the only one I've ever actually watched.  For the sake of being fair, I can't actually comment on the others.
  • All of the Star Wars Prequels - I'm not a Star Wars fan.  I could almost just lump all of them together, except that the original trilogy didn't ever make me mad.  But you know, I don't think I really need to beat this particular dead horse.  Do not expect any rants about the prequels beyond what you're reading in this paragraph.
  • The Ugly Truth - Romantic comedies should probably not be on this list because you sorta know going into them that they'll be crap.  Even so, I can't get this one out of my head.  So vile and misogynistic.  (Honorable mention:  Made of Honor, which also hated women, but which was slightly less offensive.)
  • Alice in Wonderland (2010) - This is like everything I hate about Waking Life, except sub out "empty philosophy" with "soulless whimsy."  Watching this movie is like sitting in a room with four otaku who are trying to out-do one another with their Jack Skellington impersonations for three hours, and then they got paid a billion dollars for it.
  • Transformers 2 - You probably also could've guessed this if you've read some of my past posts.  At the time of this writing, I still consider this to be the worst movie I've ever seen.
 Have at it, invisible commenters.  What movies are eating away at you right now?