In the past few months, I have spent a few evenings with friends, and agreed to watch some movies which I later regretted having watched. I won’t offend anyone’s personal tastes by giving the names of these movies, let us just say that one was a sci-fi botch-up job, another was a cookie-cut slapstick comedy, and the last was a teenage alien fantasy flic. They were all terrible. What struck me, however, was the predictability of the elements of each movie. I couldn’t predict each joke in the comedy, or each turn of event in the sci-fi film (almost, though…), but I could predict what “typical movie element” they would include. I compare these elements to pizza ingredients.
Movie makers (whether they are producers, writers or directors) seem to feel that every movie must have the same ingredients, perhaps in different varieties or quantities, but nevertheless the same ingredients. For example, each comedy must have:
- notoriously goofy actors
- references to pop culture
- slapstick humour
- toilet humour
- sexual references
- strong language
- really bad special effects (because that’s very funny, you must admit…)
Each sci-fi movie must have:
- techno-babble (strings of techie-sounding buzzwords that always get explained in a few words by someone afterwards anyway)
- lots of little lights that flash on and off
- very impressive visual special effects
- obvious blue/green screen sets
- something ripped off from star wars or star trek
I could go on like this for every movie genre out there. My conclusion is that, no matter the quantity and variety of each ingredient, we’re still being served the same dish, every time. No matter what you put on your pizza, it’s still a pizza. And if the chef is bad, every pizza he makes will be bad, no matter the choice of toppings.
There is so little imagination put into the vast majority of movies out there, it’s well past the obvious that they are only made for money. Who cares about good entertainment anymore? Pop culture is like a fungus that grows out of older generations of fungi, only getting more and more ugly and tasteless every time. Movies just re-hash the same ideas, re-use the same material, re-play the same old cliche lines over and over again. The only variety is the choice of actors, who seem doomed to participate in the progressive dilution of an already insipid entertainment medium.
Why eat pizza every time you get together with friends? Because no effort is required on your part to prepare it, or to think of what’s on it? Why not get together and actually cook something original together? Why not try dishes from other cultures, discover new tastes and flavours? Unfortunately this is becoming more and more difficult, because the movie industry produces so few of these “non-pizza” movies.
I’m talking of movies like Big Fish, the Princess Bride, the Neverending story, Ratatouille, or even the annoyingly funny “Thoroughly modern Millie”. New material, imaginative stuff that makes you think and gives you a sense of wonder, and can be funny without being crude.
I’m really annoyed when I hear people (especially teenagers) who say they loved a movie because “it has funny bits in it”! ARGH! So what? It’s like saying you loved the pizza because it had two slices of pepperoni on it! What about the anchovies, oysters and other disgusting things that were all over it? (no offense to lovers of anchovies and oysters…).
The trouble is, with movies, you can’t take some ingredients out and just eat the ones you like…