October 31, 2009

When do you turn off / walk out of a movie?

I have only walked out of a movie once in my entire life that I can remember. My dad, distraught that he had two daughters and no sons after growing up with three sisters, tried to interest my sister and I in all things manly - particularly sports and violent movies. This didn't quite take. Somehow, though, he convinced me to see Blade II with him in theaters, and at the time of its release I was 14. I didn't really like scary or bloody movies, but for some unknown reason I got really excited and spent the whole day bragging about it at school. Pumped up like some badass I wasn't, we strode into the theater.

Within the first ten minutes, some vampire got his brains splattered on a wall and I screamed and demanded that we leave. We did.

I'm not really sure what the problem was exactly. I'm not averse to violence, so I guess the supernatural/scary elements were too much for me. And yes, it's probably not even that bad, but I'm a wimp.

Nowadays it's different, because I pay for my own entertainment. If I paid to see a movie that actually turned out to be just a filmed blank wall for two hours, I would stay because I paid for it, god dammit, and I am very poor.

But on DVD, it's a different story. I used to be a lot more trigger-happy with the stop button, but I've developed more patience. There are three main reasons I will stop a movie:

1. Averse physical reaction
I had to stop Waking Life because the squiggly animation was actually making me nauseous. Then again, so was the pretentious dialogue.
2. It does not seem like at any point it will get better
The most recent movie I stopped was Happy-Go-Lucky. I had really wanted to see it for a while, and I got about an hour in, and realized two things: 1) This movie has absolutely no plot, and one's enjoyment of it is completely contingent on how much you like the main character 2) I did not like the character. I couldn't tell if you were supposed to like her or not. Maybe in the second half she gets kidnapped by a gang of pessimists who convert her or something, I don't know, but from the way the wheels had been set in motion there were only so many places the train could go.
3. I get interrupted, by a lengthy phone call for example, and then...well...don't quite get back around to the rest...
Pretty straightforward. If I like where a movie's heading, I'll return to it after the interruption. If I don't, well, I guess I was just looking for a way out.

The exception, what makes a movie basically unstoppable, is importance. If I'm watching Welles or Fellini, I'm gonna stick with it, because there's something in these films that makes people promote them to the pillars on which they reside. I haven't seen Seven Samurai yet, but when I do, I'm going to hang in there even if I hate every single minute out of the 200-plus because it's just too important. But, ya know, I'm really not gonna be a bad person if I can't finish Happy-Go-Lucky.

The one exception is that several years ago, I stopped M about 30-45 minutes in. I knew that made me a bad person, and when I watched the whole thing recently it was of course great. I guess I've just gotten more patient in my old age.

What does it take for you to stop / walk out of a movie?

1 comment:

Jordan Troublefield said...

The only time I can remember ever walking out of a movie was the midnight release of The Strangers -not because it was terrifying or horrible but simply bc I was/am a wimp and was violently angry with myself for spending 10 bucks to stare at the back of my hand and kiiiinda catch what's going on out my deepest peripherals. Caught it on HBO and realized what a wuss I was: the whole film is scary, off-screen noises.