Movies Haven’t Changed

Mack Sennett, one of the greatest directors ever (over 1,000 films!) believed that movies were just an excuse for a chase scene.  And if you look at the highest grossing films of the 21st century, you can see he wasn’t that far wrong.  Movies may have changed a lot in the last hundred plus years, but … for the most part, film makers still rely on a few blaring clichés.  Here are some serious film tropes that maybe – JUST MAYBE – have become overused. 

Policemen, private detectives, firemen, Special Forces personnel, Forest Rangers and Boy Scouts all have a sordid past.  This has left them cynical, sleepy, slightly constipated and world-weary.  They live alone (mainly in squalor) and even though they have maximum trouble relating to women (past, present and future) they still attract the hottest females on the planet.

Evil men are good looking, usually corporation rich, have impeccable taste, beautiful wives and/or girlfriends, but despite being highly intelligent, always surround themselves with some of the stupidest henchmen in history.

All Assistant District Attorneys, world-renowned scientists, cryptographers, pathologists and assorted assassins wear push-up bras.

When confronted with evil, men will have body armour, guns, knives, grenades, poison darts, a jousting lance, nunchucks, assorted landmines, two bazookas and a sword. Their female companions, however, will have a thong, high heels, that push-up bra again and a butter knife.

Contemporary push-up bras are so comfortable that women normally wear them during sex, whereas men generally find their shirts far too constraining.

Dumb-ass sidekicks will invariably do some dumb-ass stuff that puts everyone in danger – more than once.

Every older relative (over sixty) of policemen, private detectives, firemen, Special Forces personnel, Forest Rangers and Boy Scouts has Alzheimer’s.

The deadliest marksmen in the world will always miss the first shot and then go nuts, spraying bullets around as if they’re flinging pennies to the poor.

Speaking of which, bullets love plate glass windows.

High speed car chases always occur in congested urban areas where the average commute times are measured in hours, yet the chaser and the chasee will somehow manage to weave their way through traffic at speeds approaching Mach 1.

When fleeing an explosion, if you run as fast as you can, you will get flung into the air and bounced on the ground like a rag doll.  However, if you just calmly walk away (in slow motion) you will not be harmed.

Hand guns prefer to be just out of reach.

Villains never just kill the policemen, private detectives, firemen, Special Forces personnel, Forest Rangers or Boy Scouts as soon as they catch them, but always take a few quality moments to reveal and outline their nefarious plans.

When you hear subtle North African music, innocent North Americans are going to die.

When you hear a British accent, that’s the bad guy.

Like grouchy old men, petty thieves, prostitutes and crack addicts generally have a heart of gold.

Most criminal investigations, including parking tickets, will involve a strip club, a seedy bar, a scuzzy hotel or a crowded Techno-Rave nightclub before ending up at an abandoned warehouse, a deserted dock or an empty office building.  

Policemen, private detectives, firemen, Special Forces personnel, Forest Rangers or Boy Scouts can be hit by a train, dragged behind a speeding motorcycle, trampled by a herd of panicking wildebeests and beaten senseless by sixty blood-crazed Shaolin monks without ill effect, but will wince painfully when a female dabs their wounds with a Kleenex.

So, what have we learned?

As much as Hollywood likes to pat themselves on the back for its oh so-o-o-o sophisticated storylines and complex characterizations, not a whole lot has changed since the Keystone Cops were falling all over themselves on the silent screen.

7 Ways To Tell If A Movie Is Crap (plus one more)


I’ve walked out of only two movies in my life: Roman Polanski’s Macbeth and You’ve Got Mail.  (I’ll just let that sink in for a minute.)  Anyway, it’s not that I’ve endured that many bad movies; it’s just that, over the years, I’ve learned how to pick ’em.   So before you make the popcorn, settle into your ass groove on the sofa and let iTunes scam you for another $4.99, here are seven ways (plus one) to tell if a movie is going to be crap.
DISCLAIMER:  These are only guidelines.  They work most of the time, but there are some exceptions.

The 4th Movie In A Franchise — By the time the studios get to #4, the stories are lame, the actors are tired, the directors are bored (if they’re even still there) and the FX is gratuitous and over the top.  These are name recognition cash grabs; stay away from them! There are two notable exceptions: Star Trek: The Journey Home and Thunderball.  (FYI, Mad Max: Fury Road doesn’t count. It had a different cast.)

Movies Made From 60s/70s/80s TV Programs — Movie producers know Baby Boomers (and their adult children) have money, and they desperately want to get their mitts on it.  So, they tap into the nostalgia of an aging population who think they’re still cool.  They trot out a familiar name, rework the original story (with all the catch phrases) and hire some actors with little or no self respect.  These movies are unadulterated trash, but the studios don’t care ’cause they’re guaranteed a couple of million profit on name recognition alone.  (FYI, Star Trek doesn’t count.  It had the same cast.)

Movies Made From Video Games — This is just a dumbass idea.  The potential audience for these movies are gamers who — wait for it! — PLAY video games.  They don’t watch video games play themselves.  D’uh!  The rest of us, non-gamers, have heard of the title, but we have no idea what’s going on, who the Lizard People are, what everybody’s fighting about and why all the nuns have machine guns.

Classic Remakes — There ought to be a law against taking wonderful old movies and ruining them with CGI.

Old Men — If a movie features an old megastar trying to be funny, chances are good he won’t be.  What you’re going to get is Viagra jokes, some boobs, at least one reference to substance abuse and a weirdo relationship that’s a cross between necro- and pedo- philia.  NEWS FLASH — Hot 20-something chicks don’t normally go for old men.  Trust me! I know what I’m talking about.

Too Many Old Men — If the average age of your ensemble cast is over 70,  this is a bad movie. I don’t care if the old buggers want to rob a bank, go on a road trip, look for their lost youth, skydive, hunt for treasure, find the girl of their dreams, take down an evil dictator, save the world, go to space ….  God, just shoot me in the head!  Doesn’t anybody in Hollywood retire anymore?

Bad Actors — Some actors make bad movies — all the time.  For example, Ashton Kutcher has never made a good movie.  (He hasn’t even come close.)  Then there’s Kevin James, Megan Fox, Tyler Perry, Jai Courtney, Jessica Alba, etc., etc., etc.  I’m sure there’s a list of these losers somewhere.  Anyway, when you see any one of this worthless crew in a movie, save your money and go do a crossword puzzle.

And finally:

Adam Sandler, Nicholas Cage and Johnny Depp — Adam Sandler movies are so bad they’re actually in a class of their own.  Cage had his moments — ten years ago. And I have no idea what the hell happened to Johnny Depp.