Monday, December 3, 2012

Deceptive Movie Titles


I will readily admit, I judge books by their cover. I have long since learned that I don't have the time to give every book, movie, and album a fair shot.  I would be backlogged for years and never get out of it.  So, I have to judge things by my immediate reaction (quick aside, you should read the book Blink by Malcom Gladwell about that subject. Great stuff.).  This inevitably leads to me missing the boat on some great stuff, but it also leads me to finding things that I thought weren't going to be great and turn out to be fantastic.

One of the great differences between me and my wife is that she will watch anything.  We give Redbox way too much business because she will watch pretty much every DVD that they put out because she just doesn't care.  She just wants to watch something for 2 hours and be done with it.  Movie watching for me is much more personal.  I need to feel involved, like I am part of an experience.  I don't watch movies for watching's sake.  I want to be invested in the experience.  So, I am pretty picky about what I watch.

Both of these points lead up to the next bullet, which is how movie titles can drastically affect which movies I watch.  A great example of this was the movie "Dinner for Schmucks" with Paul Rudd and Steve Carrell.  I knew the basic premise of the movie (rich guys bring morons to dinner and pick a winner) but not much else.  After watching the movie, I was actually a bit upset because the title was flat out wrong for the movie.  The film was about Paul Rudd finding one of these "morons" for the dinner and how he kind of ruined his life.  The "dinner" was the last 20 minutes of the movie.  I felt a bit betrayed.  I truly believe the movie would have been a bigger success if it had been called "A Week with Barry" or something similar.  I judged the movie by its title, and it betrayed me a bit.

Ok, so final point:  One of the movies that has snuck past me for several years is the movie "Donnie Darko". The reason that it got by my finely honed filters is that it sounds like an Italian gangster movie (to me).  I thought it was just another movie like Goodfellas or Carlito's Way, and I can't stand gangster movies.  Seriously, I don't think I have enjoyed one movie like that, save for The Usual Suspects.  So I never watched it.

When I travel, I like to load up on movies, and I often can't think of movies to load up on, so I go online and look for lists.  100 MOVIES EVERY GUY SHOULD SEE,  or 10 BEST MOVIES ABOUT GIANT BUNNY RABBITS...you get the idea.  One site mentioned Donnie Darko, but it had one element I hadn't seen before...and it was the picture above.  "Wait a minute!  Italian gangsters don't have demented bunny rabbits with them!"  Turns out, the movie is about a high school boy (Jake Gyllenhal) with some pretty severe dementia, and it has to do with time travel, fate, destiny, insane private school teachers, and the like.  It was a great, great movie.  I really, really enjoyed it. I highly recommend it.  I won't say that it changed my life (there are a lot of people online who say this...just check the IMDB comments), but I was very happy to have found one that slipped through the cracks.

I am a firm believer that movies find you.  If I haven't had some sort of inkling that a movie is going to be good, I usually end up not liking it.  A good example is "Abe Lincoln: Vampire Hunter".  That movie was terrible, and I should have known.  If no one has recommended a movie to me, or I haven't had my interest piqued by something online or on the radio/tv, I almost never like it.  But movies like Donnie Darko will keep that fire alive that tells me to watch a movie in spite of my best efforts to not like it.
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