Thursday, July 10, 2008

Why I Don't Recommend Movies

Waaaay back in 1985, Pee Wee's Big Adventure hit the theaters. And I, along with most of America, I think, thought it looked really, well, bizarre. And not bizarre in a fun, wacky way, but more like a freakish-is-this-guy-for-real? sort of way, as only Pee Wee pulls off so well.

And might I add, this was BEFORE all that other unpleasant business. You know, when we only suspected - based totally on, well, how he looked and acted, that he was headed for having his life summarized on a misdemeanor rap sheet.

But anyway, my dad and I were talking to my cousin, who had recently seen the Big Adventure, and who could NOT say enough about how funny the movie was. Really completely hilarious! Apparently my (deranged) cousin started laughing at the beginning of the movie, and did not stop until well after the credits had gone to bed for the night.

And somehow, he convinced us to go pay REAL MONEY to see that movie. In the theaters. Not even at the matinée price. And so our whole family sat there in the darkness and we waited for the funny.

You guessed it.

The funny never arrived. But I don't need to tell you that, because no doubt you saw it too. Only I'm sure you were smarter than me and you waited until it was on tv on a Saturday afternoon and you were just hanging around folding laundry and had absolutely nothing more interesting to occupy your brain.

And most people I talk to about that movie enjoyed it about 48 times more than we did. In fact, right now you might be saying to yourself, "Well, it wasn't On The Waterfront or anything, but it was a cute little unusual adventure." Right? Aren't you saying that?

And I attribute the difference in our opinions here completely to the fact that I expected to love the movie, and you expected nothing more than a short diversion to keep you from having to match socks, other than on the commercials.

And that, my friends, is why I have completely stopped recommending any movies or books. If I liked it, the best you'll get from me is a short, "Well, it was pretty good."

The secret is, it's all in the expectations.

I was thinking about it this morning reading over at Sue's blog, where she's been busy stirring up trouble... polarizing the blogging community... having an interesting discussion about her less than stellar review of the Twilight series. (Love ya, Sue!) I think Sue was a victim of all the hype about Twilight. She expected it to rock her world, and who could blame her?

I've noticed that the people who like the book the best are those who read it before most of the hype and excitement started. I mean, it wasn't Anna Karanina or anything, but I thought it was an entertaining premise, and really, I never expected it to be anything but a quick summer read of a young adult fantasy book. I really enjoyed it.

Pee Wee vs Twilight. Now there's a comparison you won't see on any other blog. But you totally get the connection, right?


TheDillon6 said...

FIRST! Totally never thought that would happen. ;)

I liked the Twilight books. But I liked them because I felt 16 all over again. And since that's the audience for which they were written, I totally see no harm. Too bad Sue was disappointed.

And as far as Pee Wee goes -- I NEVER got it. Ever. Not even a teensy-tiny bit. Still don't.

Yvonne said...

I never saw Pee Wee's Big Adventure--not even when it's been on TV (had no desire).

I enjoyed the Twilight books--I really liked what thedillon6 said. I couldn't put my finger on why I enjoyed them, but perhaps that's why. I was taken back to feeling like a teenager when I read it. I am looking forward to the movie.

I recognize that our taste in movies, books, etc., are all personal--we are all different and don't always enjoy the same things. That's o.k. with me.

Heather said...

I've never seen pee-wee...

Twilight was ok for me, but only because I'm like you. I get my expectations WAY up there and then it all comes crashing down.

Janell said...

I heard about the "Twlight" hype, so I subjected it to my usual, "Should I buy this book?" flip-through. It failed simply because I found three grammar errors and a sloppy use of the first person - all on a single page. I never read it beyond that. My expectations had already been crushed.

For the record I absolutely detested, "Eragon." I tried to read that one, but I gave it up as a waste of time. (I very, very rarely give up on a book.) It's a good introduction to Fantasy for those who've never read the genre, but as a widely read Fantasy person I found only 10% creativity among loads of writing which cried for a stronger-handed editor.

If you enjoy the genre that Buffy the Vampire Slayer falls under and don't mind putting a smidgen of intelligence into reading, check out "City of Bones" by Cassandra Clare. I t was a very enjoyable, light, youth-Sci-Fi read ^_^ I'd give it a 75% on creativity, and it's pretty well written.

Annette Lyon said...

Expectations certainly play a bit part. But when one of my best writing buddies--whose opinion I trust implicity said flat out that Meyer deserves her millions, that Twilight is THAT good--I believed her. To say I was disappointed would be a major understatement.

And for all those ladies who felt they were teens again reading it, that's great for you. But me? Um, I don't think you could pay me to be a teen again. I certainly don't want to FEEL like I'm living the teen drama again when I'm reading a book (spare me!), unless it's something I can laugh along with, like Janette Rallison's YA.

Tori :) said...

"Well honey, there's no basement in the Alamo!" Yeah- dumbest movie evah!

I read Twilight before the hype and Jacob is still oh, so hot.

Lisa R.D. said...

I just found your blog and have been reading some past entries, you are great. I love your perspective on things and your voice seems to come through your blog posts. It's been very refreshing to read your thoughts!

The thing that is most funny about recommendations is that they can be so polarizing... we've had a few heated discussions in our book club between Twilight lovers and non-lovers (and it wasn't even a book for our book club!) and everyone goes home feeling picked on for their opinions. I think your position is good, take a pretty neutral, "yeah, I liked it okay" stand and you're good to go.

Lisa R.D. said...

Randi... just saw your comments on my blog (thanks for stopping by!). I did like Twilight... not in an obsessive I'm counting down the minutes until the next book way, just in a "that was a really fun and engaging read" kind of way. I laughed when I read that you gave up Real Simple for blogs... because I just did the same thing too (I still have 5 or 6 issues that I haven't gotten to probably because I was busy reading/writing blog posts, so the magazines are still new for me). Looking forward to more of your posts!

Melissa said...

Well, I didn't even finish watching Pee-Wee. So, I am officially in the no opinion camp on that one.
I always worry about reccommending something to someone... what if they hate it? What if they think I'm a horrible person because I ACTUALLY READ THAT BOOK???
As for Twilight... well, I went into it with lowered expectations. And so, I thought it was okay... but I did NOT like Bella. Grow up and get a backbone girl!!

Sara and Family said...

my mother so kindly let my 4 year old watch pee wee at her house many times over and then gave it to him for christmas. yeah, thanks!
but i'll have to agree with you on the expectations issue. if there's a movie that i want to see, i'll generally avoid any reviews or opinions because i'd like to form my own thank you very much. it happens all too often that a movie will be hyped hyped hyped and then falls flat.
BTW i too enjoyed twilight because it was a light, fun read.

"Vern" said...

I'm embarrassed to say that I actually loved that movie in High School. I don't know what I was thinking. I suppose it's 'cuz I had braces and was a big dork without any love interests and I had to get my entertainment somewhere. Will you still be my friend?


My girls read the Twilight series first and I followed suit last summer to see what all the fuss was about. It's nothing earth-shattering but it is fluff.....nice vampiric stalker/werewolfy stalker/lame teenage love triangle fluff.

I like having something to talk about with my girls too on the literature front. Usually we don't like the same books.


And, here's the big announcement....I LOVED PEE WEE HERMAN'S BIG ADVENTURE!!!

I loved the Large Marge part....I lvoed the Alamo part.....I loved movie set part. Yeah, I really loved it! I let my kids watch it. They really loved it! (Papi hated it and left the room)

Now, if someone could only explain the appeal of Napoleon Dynamite to me because that was one movie I just didn't get the popularity of at all.

No Cool Story said...

Never seen it, never will.

Weird huh. It's like people raving about "My big fat greek wedding", DH and I were like "meh".
And then I'm all crazy about "donnie Drako" and people are like "huh?"

Paint comes in many colors i guess.

TheDillon6 said...

Hey -- elasticwaistbandlady -- I was thinking the same thing about Napoleon Dynamite. We heard so many amazing things about it that we borrowed it from a friend. My husband and I sat there through the whole thing...we chuckled NOT EVEN ONCE. We discussed it only briefly afterwards and decided that they hype was way overrated.

BUT, the next day, it was ALL we could think about. We would start giggling at the oddest moments as aprts of the movie drifted in and out of our memories.

And I'm glad paint comes in all colors because the world would be SO BORING if were all exactly alike. ;)

AND THEN we showed it to our young children and THEY LOVED IT.

I still think it was a BIZARRE movie, but not awful.

ganelle said...

I read Twilight on nothing more than the recommendation of my 13 yr. old niece. Expectations were low, but I was pleansantly surprised. Pee Wee? Well, I think I was disappointed - even without the hype. (Really, WAS there Pee Wee hype?)

Totally get the connection.

Judi said...

This has been a very interesting topic to read. I tell people that want to read Twilight, you will either love it or hate it!
And I loved Pee Wee the movie-not the tv show. and I love Napoleone Dynamite too!
What I don't get is why people get mad at others for their opinions.
And for the record, I totally loved Twilight and all the others too.
I have just learned not to have too many expectations!!

Paul said...

Okay, so the worst experience I have ever had in recommending a movie, ironically, involved your dad.

Before my mission, I went down to Houston to work with your dad, uncle, cousin-in-law, etc. I had seen the movie Bull Durham with a bunch of friends before we went, and I loved it. So, back to Texas, we're all trying to figure out which movie we're going to go see one night, and I giddily suggest Bull Durham.

Well, it turns out that Bull Durham is kind of racy. Actually, it's really racy. It's a lot more racy than it seemed when I had watched it with a bunch of my buddies. It's so racy that about twenty minutes into it, your uncle got up and went out to sit in the car. By the end of the movie, my arm pits were like faucets (TMI?). What was I thinking? I felt like such a boob!

Movies I've seen that I've recommended that completely bombed to those whom I recommended them (that sentence is all messed up, but I'm too lazy to fix it):

Pulp Fiction (an all-time favorite)

The Big Lebowski (another all-time favorite)


Boogie Nights (in my top five, I'm embarrassed to say)

I know - they're all R rated - I'm working on it. Those four would have to be in my top-five all-time. said...

hi randi ~ i expected pee wee's to be totally stupid and when i saw parts of it on saturday at home while doing other stuff, it confirmed for me that it was totally stupid. sorry you paid to go see it. urgh.

i know what you mean about expections. sometimes i am so looking forward to one that i am disappointed. and sometimes something i had no idea of pleasantly surprised me.

"music and lyrics" .. i didn't have any expectations of. and i was amused and it was fun .. not earth shattering and i wouldn't buy it, but i did enjoy seeing it. and i also liked how they imitated and poked a little fun at 80s style music. i'm 39, so enjoy how 80s music takes me back to that period of time.

happy friday, kathleen

ps. thanks for the praise about my "good friends are like..." post. i had so much fun writing that :)

Heffalump said...

Expectations do play a big role in how much we like things I think. We heard a lot of hype about the first Shrek movie, and then we were disappointed in it. Same with Napoleon Dynamite, and practically everyone we know loves that movie (including many family members).
To each his own, I say...we all enjoy different things.
Thanks for the compliments on the firework pics. My husband actually took them. He read a tutorial on what settings to use on the camera (although I sent him the tutorial in an email, so I get some credit I guess). I was busy holding the baby while he took the pictures.

Kimberly said...

I totally get the connection. I haven't read Twilight yet and I'm not sure I'll enjoy simply -because- of all the hype.

Nancy Face said...

Never saw Pee Wee, never wanted to.

I love the Twilight books! I love sharing the fun with my cute daughter and daughter-in-law. I'm going with them to the midnight party and getting my pre-ordered book...and the three of us will be dressed in our matchy Twilight t-shirts! :)

Oh, how I hated My Big Fat Greek Wedding after all the hype!

I loved Napoleon the second time around...even more the third time...and it gets better each time! :D

NG said...

I feel the same way about Harry Potter.

Jill said...

I loved Pee Wee's big adventure. (What can I say, apparently I haven't grown up yet) I bought the DVD, and now my kids love it too. It's a fun movie, because you don't have to think very hard while watching it. I didn't like Napoleon Dynamite the first time I watched it, but the more I see it, the more it grows on me. Again, a film that you don't need to to use very much brain power to watch.

I haven't read the Twilight books. I probably won't.

Maraiya said...

Here, here! All of the movies that I have seen (alright, maybe not all but a big most) when I had high expectations bombed. The ones that I went in with low or no expectations were at least mediocre if not great.

It hasn't stopped me from recommending movies though. If people like them less, there's more popcorn for me. I'm selfless like that.

Salt H2O said...

Twilight was creepy- I mean any guy that sits and watches you while you sleep? Come on- it doesn't matter how hot you are- that's just plain psycho.

Skin that sparkles like diamonds? Would you really be interested in a guy that when he comes into the light looks like he should be hooking up with tinkerbell?

However, I can't fathom how someone could not love Large Marge.

Anonymous said...

I know what you mean about the hype. I'd never heard of Stephanie (I can't remember her last name) until I saw an article in TIME magazine about the 100 Most Influential People, I noticed she was LDS and so I went to Barnes & Noble to get her book. I hunted around for awhile and finally went to ask an employee. She immediately knew who I was talking about and lead me to a big display that somehow I had overlooked. I'd been looking in the stacks.

As I left the building I finally noticed a huge display in the window advertising her new book about to be released. Did they put that all up while I was inside? Seriously, I swear it wasn't there when I went in.

Anyway, I enjoyed the books because I didn't know how big she was and I had no expectations. Except, of course, that she was "one of the most 100 influential".

I also think that I was in withdrawal from missing Harry Potter. I needed something to fill the void and Stephanie (still can't remember her last name) was it. Lucky her.