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Bad Movies and Those Who Make them

I have a system for rating movies that reflects probably more about my age than anything else. It’s simple: both eyes wide open (great), both eyes open (good), one eye open (fair), both eyes closed (poor), and both eyes shut tight (terrible). It is all based on whether or not I fall asleep. Dismissing for this purpose the movie Hostel (a body part festival that received the unique rating “both eyes shut so tight you’d need a crow bar to open them”), I have seen three movies that put me to sleep faster than a mouth full of Ambien.

The movies I’m referring to are: I Love Trouble (1994; Julia Roberts, Nick Nolte), I Heart Huckabee (2004; Dustin Hoffman, Jude Law, Naomi Watts), and most recently, Must Love Dogs (2005; Diane Lane, John Cusack). Of the three, ‘I Love Trouble’ has the distinct recognition of being the only movie I had to leave before it ended because I was snoring too loudly. Given that I probably see three movies in a theater a year, I have amassed an incredible track record for picking real gems.

The reason I am talking about this at all is because many years ago I wrote two movie scripts, both mediocre, both better than these three produced scripts, none of the bunch worthy of production and release. I am under the delusion that somehow that qualifies me to speak about such matters knowledgeably. Believe me, it is a delusion, one that years of psychoanalysis will soon eradicate.

When one considers only 208 movies were released in 1994 (558/2004, 579/2005), reflects on the inflated budgets required to pay the top tier actors to act interested, and contemplates the tens of thousands of scripts available, one has to ask why are these movies ever dumped on us? Within each film’s first ten minutes, the standard industry time allowed to set the hook, it is clear that the scripts are baitless, the actors bored, the directors inebriated, and the producers heavily sedated.

In every case, the lifeless action, drifting directionless along an undetectable plot line on a swirling sea of incoherent dialogue among improbable characters, plods ahead for ninety minutes–eighty if you are lucky. The only thoughts that keep me awake are about the insane minds of those who proclaimed these flicks were ready for public consumption. The idea that two months into production someone in charge actually concluded ‘hey, we’ve got something here’ always baffles me, preventing me, for awhile longer anyway, from dozing off. Then I start to think of the taglines, hype, interviews and trailers that fooled me into paying to see the piece of crap, and I begin to feel anger. Soon my eyes glaze over, my lids slowly shut, and my head tilts, rolls and lifts suddenly in a useless attempt to stay awake. I imagine my own movie in which I play a jackal hired by a group of ripped off theater goers to assassinate those responsible. I drift off to sleep, my clients’ last demand ‘and use your imagination’ lingering in my final thoughts. Before I succumb to peace, an ounce of drool leaks from the corner of my grin as I dream of car batteries, golden copper wires and shiny steel prods.

The last such movie, “Must Love Dogs”, I must confess I viewed the DVD version at home, paying top dollar for the privilege. When I woke from a particularly satisfying dream in which I was ripping John Cusack’s toenails off using the corner of the DVD case dipped Tabasco Chipotle Sauce, I turned off the silent blue menu screen. The word ‘menu’ burned into the plasma panel. I must have been out for hours.

Once my senses returned, I grabbed the case and read the back panel to double check that I had read the review correctly.

“… Must Love Dogs has the affable, cuddly charm that its title so hopefully invokes.” – Ann Hornaday, WASHINGTON POST

Apparently Ann saw a different movie, possibly one by a different title. Maybe she saw ‘Must Love Getting Paid to Write Good Things About Movies That Are Dogs’, yeah that one. She certainly didn’t see the one I saw. The one I saw was unwatchable.

I just don’t get it. It even made money. It cost $35,000,000 to make and has brought in more than $59,000,000 at the box office (add in the DVD take and it really borders on a crime).

How does that happen?

I don’t know. I must be thinking all wrong about this stuff. On the other hand, I can’t help but think that my movie dream about the jackal hired to rub out these crooks isn’t such a bad idea. Maybe the guy who played Napoleon Dynamite could play the lead. I already have a long list of targets.

Source by Robert Crane

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