Tuesday, January 11, 2005

#4 - How to Enjoy Movies Everyone Else Hates

and vice versa

I readily admit that I don't get out much. At this stage of my life, I have very little motivation to hit the social scene. I get all of my socialization at home, work, or church. My wife and I love our date nights, but babysitting is a problem (cost and availability) so most of our dates are "in house."

Occasionally we get to sneak off and go see a movie together. Here again it's a question of cost and availability. Tight budgets generally demand a matinee if we wish to see a first-run film, but then there's the question of selection. I guess I need to explain where I'm coming from.

If I had my way, the current movie rating system would be thrown out in favor of three ratings:

G - Completely family friendly. No sex, no real violence, no questionable language. Take the kids and enjoy. Or, send the kids and stand waiting at the theater entrance packing a sidearm (strictly for security).

PG - G-rated as long as Mom and Dad are there to explain the few questionable elements that may appear. Still no sex, although romance is acceptable. Still no real violence, but it can be implied. Still no questionable language, although an occasional "damn" can sneak in to show human weakness, and if the story really, really needs it. The Harry Potter films cross the line every time Ron mutters "bloody 'ell," which he appears to have to do under contract at least two or three times in every film. I stretch my own standards for Harry Potter.

E - Everything else. Don't even bother advertising it. I don't wanna see it.

You may have guessed that I have never been consulted as to how movies should be rated.

Some of the movies I've seen recently came perilously close to my "E" rating, but would be (and are) considered quite tame by most standards. For example, I've been reading with some amusement the general consensus of Shyamalan's "Village." I actually enjoyed the movie because I allowed myself to be entertained by the story. Predictable or not, I allowed myself to be held in suspense to the end, and was even surprised at the end. Not in hindsight, of course. No, in hindsight I really should have seen it coming. But I didn't, and I'll probably add the film to my library. Ditto "Signs," which is already in my possession.

Mrs. Woody and I had the opportunity over Christmas (cost AND availability!) to go to a movie sans Woodyettes. We really wanted to see "National Treasure," because Mrs. Woody and I both happen to be suckers for intrigue, or, in my case especially, historical intrigue. I'm sure most of my blog friends (and perhaps even family) thought the film too pedestrian, completely predictable, or just plain boring.

We didn't, though. We thought it was great fun, and I thoroughly enjoyed Cage's characterization. I also enjoyed the plot line which tied the history of the U. S. to the Knights Templar and the Masons. No inappropriate language that I recall. No sex. Implied violence. PG on the Woody Scale. Another addition to our library in a few months.

This brings me to my point. My esteemed brother at Way Off Bass opines that academia produces English Lit grads who want to transform well told stories into political agendas or social metaphors. He wishes they would instead produce scholars who appreciate a well-constructed yarn for its ability to both entertain as well as teach. This is how I feel about movies.

I go to the movies to be entertained. I am not generally looking for films that are "cutting edge" in any given discipline, simply because any film that happens to be done well can be entertaining. If I want it to be. You can see by my rating system that not many films today qualify as entertaining for my family. Stories should be interesting, production quality should be evident, characters should make me care. Foul language does absolutely nothing for me. Violence is typically over-emphasized these days. Sex needs to be taboo. In-your-face attitudes make me want to throw the film in the nearest receptacle.

I would never qualify as a film critic by any measurable standard. But neither do I need to be.

UPDATE: Sheesh. Even Maltin panned "The Village." Just heard it on his radio commentary this afternoon. "I really wanted to like this movie," he said. Then, later, "I must confess I'm getting discouraged." *sigh* Lone-voice-in-the-wilderness time.

1 comment:

Peggy Snow Cahill said...

Hey, is the Way Off Bass guy really your brother? Or just in spirit? Love your stuff, great writing style...passionate, funny, just wonderful!