By Amanda Whitaker
I have always prided myself on the fact that I can watch any movie, no matter how awful it is, to the end. I don’t know whether it’s because I am determined to finish what I have started or that I’m just curious about the ending, but there aren’t many movies I will just stop watching. But there are just some movies that I can’t last through. Some of the time, they aren’t even bad movies (I watched both “The Happening” and “Kazaam” in their entireties), there’s just something about them that doesn’t sit well.
This past weekend, realizing I needed a serious break from end-of-the-semester papers and projects, I decided to watch a movie. There was nothing of interest playing at the Chester 5 that I hadn’t already seen, so I decided to watch “The International” on Netflix Instant Streaming. I’m not sure why I picked it; I guess it was just something to do on a Sunday.
“The International” stars the promising Clive Owen and Naomi Watts, who are attempting to take down an evil worldwide bank trying to take over the world or something like that. The film seemed to have potential at first, with a creepy opening scene of a whodunit assassination, but it all went downhill from there. It’s probably mostly my fault; I have absolutely no idea how the banking system works. So when the smart economics guy gives a speech about the IBBC’s controlling of debts fundamental to the plot of the entire movie, I was a bit perplexed, yet interested. But as the movie continued, and I still had no idea what was going on and why it was going on, I eventually gave in to the fact that I am money-stupid and will probably never get anything out of this film. I remember exactly when I turned it off—right after Naomi Watts got hit by a car driven by someone working for some bank person who was mad at her for some reason that had to do with money. My understanding of the plot was doomed from the beginning.
In my defense, however, the lead characters were extremely contrived and flat. Watt’s Eleanor Whitman had less depth than a Bond girl, and Owen’s scruffy Louis Salinger was never revealed to be anything other than someone who hates conspiracies. He wants justice, and he wants it now. Yawn.
This horrible experience got me thinking about other movies I have recently walked out on. There aren’t many, but a handful do come to mind:
Brad Pitt usually picks hit or miss movies, but “Meet Joe Black” was one of his awkward in-between films. It’s a romantic drama in which Pitt stars as Death. The scene at the beginning in which Brad Pitt gets hit by not one, but two cars is one of the most unintentionally funny scenes in recent movie history. I thought that the trailer had tricked everybody and I was in for a romantic comedy. But that was not the case at all, because what followed was over three hours of a lecture on the idea that less is, in fact, more. Had it been an hour shorter, I most likely would have forgiven the preposterous car accident scene and watched more. It was just too long, which is a shame, because while the film does have its annoyances, there is much done right in “Meet Joe Black.”
“The English Patient” is the perfect example of a movie that isn’t bad in the slightest, but I couldn’t sit through it. “The English Patient” is based on a novel by Michael Ondaatje about a horribly burned pilot who recounts a tale of doomed romance to the nurse tending him. The film is set against the backdrop of World War II and stars Ralph Fiennes, Juliette Binoche, and Kristin Scott Thomas. It won almost every single Oscar category in existence, so why have I still not been able to finish it?
“The English Patient” is about 18 hours long. Okay, maybe it’s only two hours and 42 minutes long, but it felt as if I would be watching Fiennes flashbacks forever. Sure, the cinematography was breathtaking, the acting was relatively decent, and there was a nice little built-in history lesson; it’s a great movie, but it’s boring, and I’m sad that I cannot sit through its entirety. In the spirit of “Out of Africa” and “Ghandi,” it is a critically and self-acclaimed important movie that won Best Picture, yet collects dust on the shelves of movie buffs simply because the people of America have lives.
I have walked out of a movie theater one time in my life. The movie that was playing on the screen when my mom and I hastily made way to the exit sign was the disgrace known as “Yours, Mine & Ours.” From the debut of the cheesy movie poster to its spotlight in Roger Ebert’s respected anthology, “Your Movie Sucks,” there was just never any hope for this movie.
A remake of the Henry Fonda/Lucille Ball film of the same name, “Yours, Mind & Ours” is about a guy and a girl who impulsively wed, only to find out that they each have around a million kids. Chaos ensues. End. Complete with obnoxious kid gags and soupy mom’s kids vs. dad’s kids schemes, this is slapstick at its worst. The fact is that when you have a film with 22 main characters, there is simply no room for any kind of development, and therefore, no room for any kind of worth. I suppose it’s not completely worthless though; it could always be used along with “Jon and Kate Plus Eight” as birth control.
If April showers bring May flowers, then Jennifer Lopez romantic comedies bring guilty pleasures; I once watched “The Wedding Planner” twice in the same day. But there are some J. Lo rom-coms that cannot be saved by the fact that they are J. Lo rom-coms. Joining “Yours, Mine & Ours,” is another movie that I walked out on just because it was bad: “Monster-in-Law.”
J. Lo is Charlie the bride, and Jane Fonda is Viola, her evil mother-in-law in this travesty. After Viola’s son, Kevin, impulsively proposes to Charlie, Viola starts cooking up ways to separate the couple before the wedding. Most of her antics amount to light, sophomoric slapstick routines such as secretly feeding Charlie almonds, knowing full well that she’s allergic to them. Oh, the horror.
The film fails mostly because of the strange characterization of Fonda’s villain as a fragile, sensitive mom. There is not enough of a conflict; just an unhappy mom playing silly pranks on her daughter-in-law. I didn’t stick around to see if the so-called war ever resolved between monster-in-law and hypersensitive newlywed, but I have a feeling that it did, and that the apology included a hug and a batch of cookies—without almonds.