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Stuck at Twilight: A Call to Arms Against Bad Movies

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It just doesn’t make any sense. We have the ability to walk on the moon. We can perform surgery in utero. We can even make believe the country is going in the right direction finally. And yet. And yet Hollywood is still giving us plates of heaping, steaming turds.

This weekend I had the opportunity to watch the hormonal Twilight at a dollar theater. (I know I am hopelessly behind the times. I just couldn’t bring myself to auction off part of my liver to spend the cash to watch this hideous tween orgasm.) On the whole the movie is sad, ridiculous, and a complete waste of… well, red lipstick and pancake make up. (I’m sure there are more deserving clowns out there who could use the "Data from Star Trek get-up" that these “vampires” deployed.) I’m still trying to decide if I should be angry or if I should pity all involved who brought this to the screen (that includes cast, crew, and that lovable writer of all things dark and smoldering, Miss Stephenie Meyer). I think I’ll go with anger. Rage is powerful!

Recently I also happened to catch a dark little thriller called Stuck. Stuck tells the quasi-true story of a woman driving home. En route she plows into a man and he gets stuck in her windshield. She then drives around, wrings her hands, gets pissed, gets laid, and decides to park her car in her garage while this man is pleading and bleeding. The guy makes as much of a mess out of her car with his blood and guts as the director, the writers, and the actors do of the story.

They say this is something of a dark comedy. I must admit I tried to laugh but it ended in more of a grimace. The whole premise, while based on a true story, seems so sadly pointless and utterly unreal. I know this is something of the point but honestly, aren’t there better stories to make? Aren’t there better films?

Stuck and Twilight are the perfect storms of what movies should not be. Obnoxious, unsettling, and callous, these are perfect and adequate descriptions of what these movies represent.

Mena Suvari, of American Beauty, has never looked worse than she does in Stuck. With her cornrow braids and awkward sex scene, she comes off as more of… well, an unhinged bitch rather than some poor lass hopped up on ecstasy with a guy jutting from her windshield. Suvari portrays gutter trash in a way that seems shockingly detached and only slightly unreal. This is edgy? Being pounded while some guy is stuck in your windshield and then pounding that poor guy in the noggin with a two by four because he has the audacity to ask for help? Then swearing and back-handing her boyfriend after she discovers he has another sex buddy? Come on.

I know the situation is unbelievable but let’s try to manage a semblance of reality here. It doesn’t make sense for Suvari’s character to go into badass mode and wallop on the naked girl, ignore the boyfriend (well, she DID call him a few names and swore more than I ever did when I was in the Army) then calm herself in a Zen-like fashion and ask for help with the dead/dying guy in her windshield. What can you expect, though, from a director like Stuart Gordon? Gracing the cinematic landscape with such classics as Re-Animator and Space Truckers, Gordon is riding high on a wave of absolute garbage.

Twilight follows the vein of striking while the iron is hot (along with a myriad of others — Pirates of the Caribbean, anyone?). Gone are the days when a film would take years to put together. Now it seems the film industry has devolved into a kid with a Mac that throws movies to us poor schlubs and rakes in the millions. (And we’ll watch it, too!) Twilight is one of those "if you touch it, it will climax" movies. It doesn’t matter that the performances are so outlandish (not to mention the facial expressions), the story so disjointed, and the premise so obvious. The studio says thar be gold in them thar hills! And gold thar be, to the tune of almost two hundred million dollars (plus my two bucks). Incredible.

In a culture that worships larger-than-life filmmakers like Francis Ford Coppola and Steven Spielberg, who can criticize the trend toward movies like Twilight? The actors and the director can do no wrong. Never mind the main character Robert Pattison (of Harry Potter fame) has more of a deer-in-the-headlights look while trying to generate electricity (next time try one of those potato clock science kits — I hear they can generate electricity too) with co-star Kristen Stewart (of Zathura and The Messengers fame). Never mind Miss Stewart is stand-offish and unapproachable with character and audience alike. Never mind the vampires fly like people in harnesses that aren’t properly rigged. What we have here, folks, is a failure to execute!

That is the crux of this. As a consumer I expect more. I demand more. I don’t want some retread of a film. I don’t want the perverse “dark comedy” that the film industry revels in. I don’t want to see how creative and how grisly a director can be. And for the love of all that is a movie, I do not want another remake of Friday the Halloweenth! Enough already. It is not cute bringing old '70s sitcoms to the screen. It is not cute remaking every single movie into a gag fest like Not Another Disaster Movie. It is not cute mangling a movie with more digital graphics than Bill Gates ever intended and calling it artful, edgy, or powerful. Want to show me some power? Write a good story and film it well. Want something edgy? Give me something real. Don’t give me the trash that is Indiana Jones and the Refrigerator of All Hallowedness or the gushing that is Twilight. We don’t need it and it is embarrassing that as a society we flock to it.

Here is what I propose. As a consumer I have rights. I have the right not to breathe your cigarette smoke. I have the right to wear a helmet when I ride my motorcycle and avoid Gary Busey syndrome (that of being against helmets then smacking his melon on the asphalt and suddenly seeing the light in favor of helmets). I have the right to not eat at McDonalds because I will get fat and die. I propose we band together and demand that the film industry make better movies and stop wasting our time. I have the right to better movies and if filmmakers insist on slopping out the rancid gravy then I will sue the industry on behalf of America, the World, and those poor Martians who happen to catch the signal a la Galaxy Quest. (Though it occurs to me this is probably video piracy and Hollywood doesn’t sit well with that. Come to think of it, they don’t sit well with me talking on the phone when their movie is playing either. They don’t seem to mind that I am so thoroughly disgusted and bored that I cannot contain myself and I am actually talking to my shrink and attorney on a conference call because I can’t decide between a breakdown or how big this lawsuit will be, but that is for another day.)

I figure my time is worth about $125,000 a minute. If the average move is 110 minutes long then I will be suing Hollywood collectively for $13,750,000 per movie that sucks. I happen to watch a lot of movies, so lets’ say I go with about four a month. My lawsuit for movies that suck would be… well, it would be a lot. America, now is the time for us to dig in and demand better! Now is the time I leap about on my horse and proclaim our victory against such hellish odds! Now is the time I leap into the air heroically and snarl at the cloud of arrows! Now is the time! To arms! To arms! Hollywood, you unclean spirit, I demand you make a better product! In the name of the Mighty Dollar I command you. If that doesn’t work, then in the name of the Holy Lawsuit I will crush your head.

In the age of Hope that is the Obama presidency I say, my fellow Americans, that we stand up for our rights! Let us boycott the trash that is Brangelina, Octomom, and really, really lame movies. Let us take back our movie lives! Let us unite under this banner of Movies, You Suck. Our rally cry shall be No more! No more! I hope you are listening.

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About Tim Girard

  • Sherry

    If you want to know what movies should not be based on a franchise you just need to go looking toward “The Watchmen”. That movie is just an inch from being a pornography and unsuspecting parents who watched the trailers and thought it would be anything like “X-Men” were completely caught off guard when the steamy sex scenes were thrown right in the faces of their teens and preteens. It was a travasty, that could have been an excellent movie without the sex scene. These scenes weren’t just kissing or induendo, but full blown sexual exploitation. The rating should have been NC17, instead of R. I walked out of the movie after tolerating the first hint of what was to come with the rape scene of a Silk Specture. The movie would have been far better without those sex scenes. Romance is one thing, all out porn is a whole other thing. I understood the parts that showed Dr. Manhattan nude it wasn’t presented in a rude way. The filming and style of the movie was good and I really wanted to see what happened to Horshack, and the other Watchmen as well as how Dr. Manhattan handled the spurning by humans based on their fear instead of what was fact. I and my family left early because it just got too rank to continue watching. Too bad that you couldn’t make a movie that America could actually watch.

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    A bare minimum of research would have revealed it’s a movie for adults and not children. If you want to see what’s going to happen to Horshack, you are going to have to wait until “Welcome Back, Kotter: The Movie” gets made. What’s too bad is your attitude that adults aren’t allowed stories that deal with adult material. For future notice, Last Tango in Paris is not about dancing.

  • Tim Girard

    El Bicho, just a thought: “adult” movies don’t have to include wanton sex and violence. I promise. It’s okay for an “adult” movie to simply be complicated. We don’t need rape scenes, beheadings, and all manner of blood and guts and more hoochy than you can throw a condom at. What we need are good decent stories. Can they be about sex? Sure. Can they be violent? Why not. Should they be gratuitous. Nope. Not on my dime. If you want that kind of smut fine. If you want to accept substandard work (honestly, anyone can make a smut movie with boobage and bullets) then be my guest. As for me I’m stickin’ to the lawsuit.

    -Tim (the author of this article)

  • Jordan Richardson

    We don’t need rape scenes, beheadings, and all manner of blood and guts and more hoochy than you can throw a condom at.

    Hey hey hey! Speak for yourself, man.

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    Tim, considering I never claimed that adult movies had to have wanton sex and violence, I am not sure what you are responding to.

    In regards to your piece, I am not clear what you base some of your positions on. How did “Pirates of the Caribbean” show Hollywood was striking while the iron was hot? I don’t remember pirates or movies based on Disney rides being in demand at the time.

    Mentioned in the comments, Watchmen dispels your theory that “Gone are the days when a film would take years to put together” when you consider they’ve been trying to make it for twenty years. Besides plenty of others take years to make as well.

    What culture is it that worships Coppola? His last film, “Youth Without Youth,” didn’t even make $250K at the box office?

    Lastly, the comment made by you (the author) causes me to have even less faith that you know what is good for me in a movie.

    btw, considering your dime is spent at the $2 theatre on movies geared for teenage girls, I am not sure Hollywood is going to listen to you. Good luck with the lawsuit

  • Tim Girard

    El Bicho:

    Point by point:
    Pirates of the Caribbean, At World’s End was my specific reference point. I should have made that more clear. This is a prime example of striking while the iron is hot. Did anyone take into consideration the story? Or did the writers simply throw out whatever nonsense they could and hope the audience would accept it? (We did. We accepted it and came back for more.)

    Taking years to make: Watchmen does nothing to dispel this “theory.” Simply because companies get their underwear tied up in knots by no means illustrates the movie making process. Visually (an important element to the storytelling process) movies spend far less time in production these days and they suffer because of it.

    Giants such as Coppola and Spielberg are icons. That Coppola’s movie didn’t clear 250k really is irrelevant to your point. How was it received by critics? How was the story itself? I don’t know. I am not a fan of Coppola.

    Basing your faith on my last comment. . .not sure what you mean about that.

    Spending my dime at the dollar theatre. Yeah, thing is I know this was geared for teenage girls. That fact was kind of obvious with the promos that came out as the movie emerged. My point is the movie shamelessly pandered to those poor unfortunate girls and manipulated them out of their money. The very least they could was give them a decent movie. But hey, if girls want lame movies that totally suck, then, like, well that’s okay with me lol. They can go be BFFs with each other and totally, like, love Edward and wanna be like Bella and all that.

    You follow? The movie was a train wreck and it is sad that it was so well received.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/elvira-black Elvira Black

    Tim:

    Bravo! Viva la cultural revolucion!

    But here’s my personal solution:
    Cable. “Freedom” of choice.
    Not HBO, Cinemax, and Showtime cable. Bah.
    But IFC, Sundance, and good old Turner Classic Movies.

    And if you get the Optimum Triple Play, you get two free tickets every Tuesday at Clearview Cinemas. I’ve never seen a theater so jam packed on a Tuesday afternoon.

    As for the rest, I guess we get the trash we “deserve.” But the blockbusters (box office wise) are not always the movies that stand the test of time. And I’ve learned that you can’t always trust movie reviewers either.

    Though if I do buy a used DVD, I at the minimum require a “two thumbs up yer ass” or “brilliant” or “spine tingling” or some other (perhaps taken out of context) soundbite before I’ll plunk down my paltry cash. I live in NYC, and shelf space for stuff of any kind, including my DVDs, is at a premium.

    As for tweens, teens, and twenty somethings? They’re culturally doomed.