Monday, September 18, 2006

Monday - Random Madness

I think movies are overrated.

What I mean is, I've seen a couple of movies lately (which you probably saw long, long ago) that I was very disappointed in. When you have small children, movies are, for the most part, a thing of the past. It's hard to hold a child's attention long enough to see a movie, for one thing; for another, it's expensive for four people to see a movie, even when you do the matinee showing; and finally, it's just not the same as it used to be.

When I was a kid, there were drive-in theaters; remember those? You could pile a bunch of people in a car and pay a flat fee to park, pull the tinny, heavy speaker to your car and honk at people who didn't turn their lights off when parking, obscuring the screen. The kids could get as loud as they wanted, have a conversation with their carmates, have screaming, crying fits, and nobody cared. It was in your car, and the only one missing the movie you paid to see was you.

Now, however, it's a whole other world. Teens haven't been taught how to sit down and shut up, so they don't. They raise all manner of racket and ruckus, so that everyone is disturbed except them. People answer their phones (which they didn't have when I was a kid) and go ahead and talk while others are trying to watch a movie. It doesn't matter what impact that has on your movie-going experience -- it's all about selfishness. It's a "me" generation after all -- and I don't just mean the kids. There are adults that are just as rude and inconsiderate as the teens. They don't care about you; they're focused on themselves. They can't be bothered to be courteous enough to shut off the cell phones, shut off their mouths, and get up politely and quietly to leave the theater if an important call they just can't live two hours without comes along. No, that would be antiquated, this thinking about the other people in the world. It flies in the face of the way things ought to be.

Each and every person thinks that YOU should be considering THEM and THEIR needs, so there's no one around you thinking about anyone but themselves. That's a switch; we're one of the only generations that was taught to be that way, and it's only going to get worse, because no one's teaching the youth of our world anything differently. Think about the rain forests, the whales, dolphins, elephants, rhinos, snail darters, spotted owls, pandas, the ozone, the climate, the ice caps, SUVs, gas prices, food prices, insurance rates, healthcare, terrorism, nuclear threats, whether or not the Ice Man was murdered ... think about anything except the people immediately around you in your day-to-day life. Ah, the irony of tree-hugging liberalism!

Wow, it's amazing, isn't it? We can't figure out why the world is in the state it's in, while we stare at the death of basic human freedoms and common courtesy. Manners are passe, and not in vogue any longer. It's not fashionable to be nice, and everyone knows where nice guys finish, right?

Okay, okay ... so anyway, even though I don't go to the movies for all the reasons listed above and the $9 ticket price, I still think movies are overrated. I wanted for the longest time to see The Fantastic Four. I wasn't ever a huge fan, but I thought that the technology was finally in place to make a very good movie about an iconic comic book staple.

What I forgot about, however, is that movies are formulaic and predictable, for the most part badly written and acted, and visually beautiful. But, the one doesn't make up for the other elements missing. You can't make a good movie out of a crappy story and dialog by dressing it in stunning visual effects. You just can't; The Fantastic Four was a testament to that fact.

The Chronicles of Narnia -- ditto. I could't believe it was so bad; it was beautiful artistically, but lacked in every other way, I thought. (I haven't read the books, and probably won't, but I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and just assume they're better than the movie turned out.)

I recently watched Flightplan with Jody Foster, too; that was disappointing, which surprised me, since most of her movies have been well-done and fairly interesting to me. (You must know me to understand that statement; I don't suspend disbelief, which makes enjoying a movie very, very difficult. Ask my wife; she hasn't been able to enjoy one since we've been married.) But it was bad, and worse, predictable. I watched things like The Grudge, and was left without satisfaction, despite the fact that I love the horror/sci-fi/thriller genre movies. I've tried watching some animated things recently, but nothing sticks in my mind about them (including titles and stories), and that sort of says it all.

So, what's the problem here? Is it me, or are movies just plain ol' not as good as they used to be? Despite the technological capability to make some of the most amazing movies of all time, are there just no more great stories, writers and ideas out there?

I'm looking forward to seeing The Wicker Man, a new take on an old story that I've always liked. Lord knows how that will be butchered. But I'll see it anyway -- either on premium cable or Pay-Per-View, depending on my mood.

Movies, at least at this point, are overrated. Seen anything you liked lately? What did you like about it? What were the weak spots? Recommend anything highly? Something I should stay away from completely?

I still think I should be in charge. Movies would have to be good or they'd never be allowed to be made.