In Praise of the Great Good Movie
This one goes out to all the wonderful 3 out of 4 star movies, beloved by all. This does not go out to crap.
Not every film is going to change the world. Some movies change our entire outlook on certain issues, shaping our viewpoint in a bold, new way. Some affect us on such a deep and emotional level that we hesitate to ever watch them again, for fear of being rendered a slobbering, tear-stained blob once more.
But there are some films (rare though they may be) that simply aim to entertain. They aim to tell you a story, complete that story, and most likely make you laugh as you marvel at just how many famous people got paid to be in this thing.
I am one of those avid film-watchers that gets slammed because I “just don’t like fun movies. Why are you being so critical? It’s just there to have a good time.” So let me clarify something: I don’t hate fun. Like most people, I enjoy fun. Sometimes, when I’m not debating within myself whether every choice in Citizen Kane was the correct one, I like to just pop in a flick and have a good time. However, fun movies are not precluded from criticism.
The idea that a movie is good because it wasn’t trying for much to begin with is shameful, and is doing nobody any favors (that includes both the filmmaker and the filmgoer). Enjoying lowbrow entertainment because it didn’t set its brows very high and managed to meet those brows only encourages a lack of challenging brows, and is partly responsible for the paltry movie wasteland we’re usually treated to before October happens.
I dare those who like “fun” to aim just a little bit higher. Expect a movie that tells a decent story, or has some really strong jokes, or even has Ben Stiller running around in tight pants. Anything is preferable to giving something a free pass just because it’s asking you to.
Don’t be pacified by what’s handed to you, encouraging mediocrity and refusing to challenge yourself. Again, I’m not “anti-fun,” but give yourself a little credit. You’re probably an intelligent gal. You’re reading a post on a blog named after an obscure literary device. You can do better than Man of Steel. Hell, a baby can do better than Man of Steel.
A truly great good movie will do some of the following:
–Tell an interesting and compelling story
–Have some fun and unique characters
–Feature a talented cast hamming it up
–Be really, really funny
–Have one or more iron men
–Probably be the first in a series of movies starring Mike Myers doing a funny voice
Now, making movies is not a checklist. There isn’t a magic formula or sheet of boxes to check off that can ensure you’ve made a good movie. If that were true, we’d probably have a half-decent Transformers movie by now. The Lone Ranger checked off quite a few boxes of its own (be based on an established property, star Johnny Depp, cost lots of money, be directed by the guy who made us a ton of money from movies about pirates of all damn things) and managed to both be really bad and make no money. But a good movie will have most if not all of these on full display.
I am a huge fan of the movie Galaxy Quest, and while that film lacks a lot of great moments of philosophy or existentialism, it also features a phenomenal cast and makes me laugh every single time I see it. Fun movies don’t have to rank in the best of the year, but when they fail on pillars of moviemaking as big as action construction or basic goddamn storytelling, it’s impossible for me to get behind them or cut them any slack. And that’s what separates Galaxy Quest from Man of Steel. While Galaxy Quest managed to tell us a unique story with memorable characters and lines you can laugh about while quoting on Facebook, Man of Steel is something you instantly forget about after leaving the theatre, despite it being really pretty.
So here’s to you, Good Movies. You’ve made us laugh. You’ve added to our DVD collection. You’ve made us like Tim Allen again. And we’ll always love you for that.
A list of some of my favorite good movies:
–Back to the Future
–Catch Me If You Can
–I Love You, Man
–Forgetting Sarah Marshall
–Pirates of the Caribbean
Chekhov’s Gunman is a film and television blog moderated by Kevin Lanigan, a future writer of movies and TV and current writer of really inflammatory blog posts about Man of Steel. Be sure to follow or subscribe above, and be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments.
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Never give up, never surrender…