I Don’t Want to See These Things in Movies

I wish Netflix had a feature to block this stuff, or at least warn about it.

Original post here.

1. A man and a woman getting in an argument about whether she’s coming with him or not.

2. A decent-hearted guy committing crimes with a great excuse for committing them, like for example his daughter is being held captive by some super-duper bad guy who wants him to commit the crimes.

3. A Doofus Dad smacking himself in the forehead at the end of the movie and confessing that he’s been working too much, or that he hasn’t spent enough time with his kids, or breaks his promises too often, or expects too much out of his kids.

4. Any scene with “Matrix” style slow-mo.

5. Any scene with John Woo pigeons.

6. Any movie ending in which the momma and the daughter live happily-ever-after when her daddy dies at the end.

7. The “Juno Effect,” in which some fresh-faced smartass pixie girl spews out nonsensical, clumsy, awkward, but oh-so-original cliches that, in real life, she would be asked to repeat a second time assuming anyone had the slightest bit of interest in what she was saying.

8. Supernatural movies in which someone opens a medicine cabinet, with a mirror on the door, as if we don’t know what’s coming.

9. Vampire movies that spend odious amounts of time exploring the emotional angst of the vampires.

10. Slasher movies in which someone wanders through the dark murmuring “Is that you? It’s not funny anymore!”

11. This is really huge for me: Once you’ve defined that a character is brave, or intelligent, or charming, or angst-ridden, or a badass — I don’t ever again want to see time spent defining that the character is brave, intelligent, charming, angst-ridden or badass. Build your story, please!

12. If two guys are going to be screwing the same woman, or simply getting into a fight over her, I don’t want them to have the same haircut, body build or skull shape. There’s no reason for it. If one’s clean cut, the other one can look like a gorilla. If one’s 6’2″, the other one can be 5’8″. If one’s got a runner’s body physique, the other can look like the Michelin Man. I can’t follow the story if I can’t tell these guys apart.

13. Get rid of this “clean break” in which Mister Sexy can drive or fly any vehicle, civilian or military, ever invented; he knows all the martial arts moves; he can operate gadgets that peek into windows and unlock safes. But when the time comes to crack a password in computer software, he “offloads” this to some geeky overweight guy with poor skin hygiene in a lab somewhere who overdoses all day long on doughnut holes and energy drinks. Let’s face it, cracking a safe has a lot more to do with cracking a password than with a flying-scissor-kick.

14. “Masculine” stars whose faces have been selected, shaved, made-up, and tweezed to appear non-threatening to twelve-year-old girls.

15. The “Nicholas Cage Effect” in which the same character finds, and figures out, each and every single clue while everybody else watches.

16. Helicopter performs some daring rescue that benefits the good guys…because it’s being flown by a bad guy…who is being held at gunpoint by another good guy. Stop this insanity. Stop it now. Stop it for good.

17. Plucky sidekicks. I don’t understand how or why this ever got started.

18. “Han Solo Ewok” effect. There are adorable muppet-like creatures straight out of Jim Henson’s shop. There are badass, hard-drinking pirates who spend all their spare time in wretched hives of scum and villainy. These two should never come in contact with each other no matter what.

19. The “Humans Are Bastards” trope.

20. The worn-out, threadbare “La Femme Nikita” plotline in which some badass is “recruited” to work for a super-secret government agency in atonement for some kind of crime that I’m supposed to think was somehow undeserving of the punishment that was handed down but is now being suspended.

21. The President of the United States getting in a fist fight with a terrorist, or piloting a jet fighter.

The Ring22. Really hot women figuring out where a ghost came from, throughout an entire movie, remaining fully clothed.

23. 1) Man and woman in a committed relationship 2) Woman sleeps with another guy 3) Something else happens 4) Man ends up apologizing to slutty woman and begging her forgiveness. I don’t care what happens in #3, it’s all bullshit. We’re not buying. Stop it.

24. The “Fried Green Tomatoes Effect” in which the wife decides they’re going to adopt a child…or raise a puppy…or knock down a wall…or sell their house and move to the country…and the husband says “oh, okay, alright.”

25. The momma laying a guilt trip on the daddy because junior’s heart was broken that he didn’t show up to the big soccer game, or was late to it.

26. A young girl or woman who has been killing people, receiving her come-uppins at the end by way of some moment of social awkwardness and/or humiliation. Humiliation is not on the same level as homicide, sorry. I don’t want to see anymore of this.

27. Smartass kids foiling an alien invasion or solving a murder case, while their parents are completely absent and/or clueless about everything that’s going on.

28. Husbands cheating on wives, who are gorgeous enough to model lingerie and achieve supermodel-goddess stature doing so, with mistresses who are relatively homely and ordinary-looking. Maybe that’s reflective of what happens in real life, I don’t care. It makes it really hard to follow what’s going on in the movie.

29. “Crouching Tiger Hidden Warrior Princess” wire work. And, while we’re at it, the Quantum-of-Delerium-Tremens shaky-camera gimmick. Who likes this?

30. Southern accents being used as a dramatic manifestation of ignorance, pig-headedness or arrogance. I have no further patience for this. I can’t speak for the experience of everyone who happens to live in Hollywood, but the southerners I’ve met have been pretty nice.

Update 12/20/09:
Holy crap has this post ever hit a nerve. Welcome to The Other McCain readers, and thanks Smitty again for the link. Welcome also to fans of Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler. Misha, you are da bomb. Just because we don’t comment over there much doesn’t mean we don’t read you and love ya all to pieces.

Readers are being directly questioned for their additions to this list, and some of the offerings are more than adequate for consideration. We especially loved Comment #2.

I could do without every GI or ex-GI being a ticking time bomb. As the Emperor said, if we were really that way you would already be dead.

I hate where the GIs go rogue and the kindly Professor is the only calm one. The EXACT FUCKING REVERSE OF REAL LIFE!

I will stop with that!

Yeah well, I kinda wish you didn’t.

It’s a funny thing about creativity. People get into the business of providing it, and the first thing they want to do is skimp on it. It’s a weak corollary trying to connect software applications development to Hollyweird…but I think it works, and if it does work, then I’ve seen more than my share of this.

It’s sad watching people throw everything away to chase off after a livelihood, and then betray that livelihood. People, generally, sacrifice an awful lot to stay un-creative.

Update 12/22/09: The thread under Misha’s linky-love just grows and grows, 63 comments now, do check ’em out. New ideas I get from this are as follows:

31. Just in general, lack of respect for guns and what they are. Someone offered up the issue with silencers on revolvers. Another one mentioned 99 bullets coming out of a 9-shot with no reloading.

32. Lack of respect for what guns do. Depiction of gun owners as being wild-eyed, crazed zealots who don’t bathe. Lack of respect for how a gun changes the dynamics of a situation. Laws-of-physics regarding guns. Hiding behind a car door to make oneself practically invulnerable to antagonistic gunfire, particularly large-caliber gunfire.

33. This one I’ve been bitching about for a long time, I can’t believe I forgot to add it. Impact to the face…culminating in any injury that falls short of what this impact would leave behind in real life. It is very hard to give someone a whack in the face, during a real fight, that doesn’t leave permanent damage. If someone absorbs a kick from a steel-toed boot to the nose, and then another, and then another, and kinda shakes his head back & forth to get his bearings back so he can get ready to throw the next punch, I’m offended. No, a trickle of blood is not what I have in mind here. Yes, Rocky Balboa gets an exemption from this rule for dramatic purposes.

34. The opposite of #33. Good guy’s prison cell is being guarded by a mook, so he sneaks up behind the mook and gives him — a KARATE CHOP BETWEEN THE SHOULDER BLADES! Mook instantly collapses and starts snoozing. This is intolerable. Crowbar to the face makes a guy slightly startled, karate chop gets him a six-hour nap. Wise up.

35. Lack of motive for the bad guy. Zorg from The Fifth Element, I’m looking at you. Also, mega-industrialists from Captain Planet cartoons because dumping toxic sludge into rivers does not make you an overnight zillionaire all by itself. Motivation doesn’t have to be a complex thing. In the original Star Wars movie it was a single line: “Fear will keep the local systems in line.” But you have to have it. Just making the guy 45 years old or more, dressing him in a nice suit with a silk tie late at night, thus giving me a signal he’s a “businessman” — will not suffice. Make him bad. Have him do bad stuff. Explain what he is trying to do. Noah Cross. Old Man Potter. Wicked Witch of the West. Jerry Lundegaard. Khan Noonien Singh. Virgil Sollozzo. Every single James Bond villain, and for that matter, every single villain from Monk. Make ’em like that. Not hard. Capiche?

Update 5/5/10: This is a permanent page now, that will go into the “Items of Interest” section under the sidebar of The Blog That Nobody Reads. And also because I want to add some things. Among those things are these:

36. “Samus is a girl“. A guy gets in a fight with a badass, whose face is concealed. The badass completely puts him to shame. Or…the guy is menaced by a monster, and the badass comes in to take care of the monster — with the badass’ face concealed. At any rate, somehow the badass is established as possessing tactical abilities superior to the hero; the headgear comes off and — Oh My GAWD!!! It’s a WOMAN!!! Aaaaiiiieeee!

The hour is late, guys. This has been done for awhile, and quite a few times by now. It’s old, tattered, tiresome, and we can let it go. Besides, it’s cowardly. If you’ve got something to say, say it.

37. Speaking of women. Good-looking, petite, bony, “need-a-samrich” types. They give a three hundred pound man a swift chop in the chest and he falls backward through a brick wall, leaving a gaping hole in it roughly his size & shape because she hit him so hard.

There is disrespect to the laws of physics, and then there’s not-even-tryin’.

38. “You’re right. I tend to push people away when they get too close. I guess I’m just afraid.” I’d like to see some actual punishment come down if this line is ever used again.

39. Another forbidden movie line: “(I think) I’m/we’re (getting) too old for this (shit).” More useless, and worn-out, than a velvet brake pad. I mean it. Hunt down the sonofabitch who wrote this line and ask him what he’s trying to say, I’ll bet he doesn’t know.

40. Meetings. If I want to see bored-looking people sitting around a conference table, I’ll go to work.

Extra demerits if it’s a science-fiction movie. And even more if some of the people sitting around the table are wearing foam rubber masks. What’s the point of this scene, something’s gonna get decided right? You’ll make the goddamn scene ten minutes or more, won’t you. Ten minutes for one thing happening. I don’t think so pal. Spend fifteen seconds, and have someone mention to someone else what was decided in the meeting. Much better that way.

Rambo41. People belting out these throaty yells while firing machine guns, to make the machine guns fire better.

If you want to have them screaming to show me how scared they are, that’s fine. That’s probably what goes on in real life. Or they can be chillingly stoic too. But you’re going to show me how tough they are, with “Aaaaaaaiiiiiirrrrrggggghhhhh!!!!!”? All that tells me is, your intended audience is about twelve years old. Pass.

42. Women who are all decked out for a mission, including bungee jumping and hand-to-hand combat, with a skin-tight catsuit and…long, silky, flowing hair. No, no, a thousand times no.

43. “(Relax,) If I/they wanted to kill us/you, I/they’d have done it by now.”

Update 8/29/10: Just thought of another one.

44. The trail of clues leads to a cemetery plot, so the shovels come out. One, two or three diggers toil away at the patch of earth, and eventually there is an audible clunking sound followed by “here it is!” or some such. And the coffin lid is swung open, revealing…

It doesn’t matter. The space of time between the lid-swing-open, and the clunking sound, is fifteen seconds. Or five. Or two. Unlike the movie-makers, when I was a boy I had to actually use a shovel for planting and transplanting stuff; this has always bugged me. Seriously, unearthing enough to swing open the lid of a coffin buried six feet deep — how much effort is that? And you wouldn’t go…++clunk++ “I’ve hit something!” “Okay, stand back, let’s pull it open!” Jerks.