There are a few reoccurring issues that come up in film which really grind my gears. I’m aware that directors/producers/screenwriters have their reasons for many of these factors, but just for fun, I have compiled a selection below:
Romantic comedies where cheating is acceptable
I’m talking about the films where the male romantic lead starts off in a relationship with a woman who is usually portrayed as either a bit of a snob e.g. The Wedding Planner (Adam Shankman, 2001), a one-dimensional bitch e.g. It Takes Two (Andy Tennant, 1995), or one who is barely shown at all e.g. Burlesque (Steve Antin, 2010). In all of the examples above they are also engaged. Then he meets the female protagonist and flirts with her, goes out with her, and then kisses her (or, as is often the case NEARLY kisses her before he is interrupted by something and so: not cheating YET but not for lack of trying), all whilst still in his current relationship. Usually he breaks it off with the snob/bitch/nobody before actually sleeping with the new woman, because you wouldn’t want the audience to have to morally disengage TOO much. But sometimes he does (Burlesque again! But he was drunk so that’s a get-out-of-jail-free card, clearly!) The same goes for the opposite gender, where the man being cheated on is often portrayed as a bit of a dick, so we’re meant to be cool with it. Or the guy that the woman is cheating WITH is Ryan Gosling so we’re just meant to accept that anyone would do the same in her situation: Hello, The Notebook (Nick Cassavetes, 2004). There are also films where someone cheats and feels a little guilty but then finds out they were being cheated on TOO and so YAY it’s all okay now because we’re BOTH adulterers! Nawww. (I’m looking at you Woody Allen). I know that people who cheat aren’t necessarily terrible human beings but in some films they seem to get off a bit too lightly – especially if they’re hot. Thankfully, I think we are seeing less and less of this these days, and cheating is usually presented, at the very least, as questionable behaviour open to criticism.
Bad Australian accents
Oh maaaaaaan, do some people SUCK at Australian accents. I had just assumed that Jude Law was meant to be South African in Contagion (Steven Soderbergh, 2011). Months later I discovered that no, he was actually meant to be Australian. WHAT. THE. HELL. That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. And then there was Quentin Tarantino in Django Unchained (2012) pronouncing the word “black” as “blick”. WE’RE NOT SOUTH AFRICAN! I should mention that Robin Wright nailed it in Adoration (Anne Fontaine, 2013) and should be commended on a job well done. Also, I would never have guessed that Rhiannon Fish from Home and Away was actually Canadian. Yes, Home and Away. If they can do it convincingly, big film studios have no excuse.
When villains are killed off simply because they’re obstructing the protagonist’s happiness
Nicholas Sparks is a prime offender here. And I know he’s the author of the books so it isn’t really the film’s fault, but bear with me – it’s the most recent example I can think of. For those of you unfamiliar with Sparks he is a romance novelist whose books have often been adapted to film, including Message in a Bottle (Luis Mandoki, 1999), The Notebook, and Dear John (Lasse Hallström, 2010). I recently watched The Lucky One (Scott Hicks, 2012) and was so angry when —-spoiler alert—- the arsehole ex-husband finally redeems himself by risking his life to save his son, and then drowns, simply because he was a threat to Zac Efron and Taylor Schilling’s relationship. Never mind the fact that his son will be scarred for life over the fact that it was his actions that led to his Dad’s death. Post-traumatic stress disorder is far less of an issue than having a less than perfect romance, obviously. In Safe Haven (Lasse Hallström, 2013), the villainous ex-boyfriend out to destroy Julianne Hough and Josh Duhamel’s relationship meets a similar fate. What kind of message does this send? – If someone hassles you, just kill them? YOU CAN’T JUST KILL PEOPLE, NICHOLAS! USE YOUR WORDS! Your beautiful, romantic words.
Adaptations that don’t respect the source material
I know, the film is rarely going to be as good as the book, and it’s inevitable that some stuff has to be cut due to time constraints. But could you not RUIN it?! The amazing, poignant ending to Jodi Picoult’s My Sister’s Keeper (Nick Cassavetes, 2009) was completely bastardised for some Lifetime TV movie-type (except astoundingly it was actually a cinematic feature) ending that SUCKED. It made me so angry. Way to just miss the entire point of the book. (Erin Strecker sums up exactly how I felt about in it in her article here: http://popwatch.ew.com/2013/12/16/im-still-not-over-my-sisters-keeper/ – beware, contains spoilers). I also loved Bryce Courtney’s The Power of One (John G. Avildsen, 1992) but the film changed so many things, including cutting out the whole reason why PK became a boxer in the first place. On the bright side, the American version (rather than the Swedish version, surprisingly) of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (David Fincher, 2011) stayed very true to the book and was excellent. Sometimes I figure it’s just better to never read the book, so you can remain ignorant about how much the film actually sucked.
Films where nothing happens
Some people call these types of films “masterpieces”. I call them snooze fests. I remember watching About Schmidt (Alexander Payne, 2002) years ago and the only interesting bits were 1) — spoiler alert but not really— when Jack Nicholson’s wife drops dead at the start, and 2) when we see Kathy Bates’ arse. At the end he stands up to give a speech at his daughter’s wedding and given that he doesn’t like the groom, I thought finally, this is going to get interesting. Instead he just gives some boring arse speech and sits down. THAT’S NOT INTERESTING! To be fair I saw this when I was about 16 and I may not have appreciated the “nuances”. But I’m pretty sure it was boring.
Cliques in American teen movies
Sometimes I wonder if maybe it’s just different in America, but I’m pretty sure high school students don’t all sit in separate designated groups in the lunchroom/yard as “The Jocks”, “The Goths”, “The Computer Geeks”, “The Art Club”, “The Preppies”, “The Stoners” and “The Popular Girls Who Are Bitches But For Some Reason They’re Still Popular Because They’re Hot”. They’re such stupid annoying stereotypes and I don’t understand why teen movies insist on perpetuating them. There were maybe three vague groups at my school, which consisted of the sporty and ‘cool’ group (in the sense that they were the ones who had parties that involved alcohol and hooking up), the guys who were into ‘nerdy’ stuff like computers and science fiction (but were certainly not viewed as ‘losers’ by any stretch), and my group who were just kind of in between the two (we thought sport and computers were both just OK). But there was always some cross-over and there were no strict boundaries between who you could and couldn’t associate with. I just don’t buy into the idea that any school is like that. Maybe I’m wrong.
When a movie has three (or more) different titles
WHY? Just why. Last year I saw a sweet film called A Place For Me (Josh Boone, 2012). Although if I’d seen it in America it would have been called Stuck in Love and if I’d seen it in England it would have been called Writers. Then the Australian DVD was released with the US title. THIS IS SO CONFUSING AND DUMB. Also, I find it sad that American audiences are considered too dumb to understand the meaning of the word ‘philosopher’.
Trailers that give too much away
I hate when you see a trailer, think the film looks really good, and then see it, only to find that all the best bits/jokes were in the trailer, and that the extra 118 minutes were a waste of your time. Case in point: The Rum Diary (Bruce Robinson, 2011). Don’t even get me started on the trailers that blatantly show you the beginning, the middle, and the end (often the case with rom-coms). I believe a good trailer should a) just involve one good scene that doesn’t spoil anything, b) only include clips from the first 20 minutes of the film, or c) be a montage set to music with no dialogue and no obvious spoilers. Don’t show the entire plot, don’t show all the best jokes, and don’t show the best part of the film. Simple.
When Matt Damon dies
I don’t think there’s much to explain here. It’s Matt Damon. He can’t die! He’s a superhuman! I won’t give examples because that would obviously spoil the movie. Let’s just say that I found it hard to accept he had really died when the credits rolled – “when is he going to wake up?!”
What are your pet hates in film?