a pro script reader ponders movies, reading, writing and the occasional personal flashback

Friday, August 04, 2006

Why We Pick Particular Movies To See

This is a riff on a discussion in the comments two posts below, where there was a mini-debate over who decides what movie that a couple is going to see, the man or the woman.

The wife and I see maybe 2 movies a month, and we tend to see more big stuff than obscure stuff. So we saw Superman Returns, and Dead Man's Chest, and X-Men 3, and Mission Impossible 3. Yeah, we're pretty much sequel whores. Oh, and we saw Cars. And the Da Vinci Code.

Because of work and writing demands, I rarely go out and see movies on my own any more, unless I really want to see it and she refuses to. She passed on The Lady in the Water, because she doesn't like scary movies (turns out it isn't scary, but she doesn't like bad movies either, so I guess it evened out) and I saw it on my own opening day while she was at work.

But generally we see what we both want to see, though we're lucky in that we have similar tastes, and I don't mind going out to see what are thought of as "chick flicks". Generally I just ask her to rate movies from 1-10 on whether she wants to see them, and whatever she rates highly that I want to see, we see.

Still, it's that elusive "want to see" that Hollywood is always chasing.

And that's why so many movies are made for kids and teens. Because they see more, so the movies that only rate a 5 on their "want to see" list will still get play.

This weekend, for instance, we'll probably see something, but it's an odd group of movies. The wife has no interest in seeing Talladega Nights, so that's out. Barnyard looks like it skews young, while the review in today's LA Times is dire.

The Night Listener looks interesting, but I haven't seen a single trailer or commercial for it, so I'm not even sure what it's about, other than that it has Robin Williams in it. Say what you will about Robin Williams, but his non-comedies tend to be better than his comedies -- but they just aren't doing a very good job of selling me this movie. The Descent is supposed to be pretty good, but again the wife won't see scary.

So it's back to the holdovers. So far, there's nothing about Miami Vice that makes me want to see it in a theater. John Tucker Must Die is too teen, Ant Bully looks too young, the wife wasn't enthused about Monster House. My Super-Ex Girlfriend, You, Me and Dupree and Little Man have the see on cable/avoid completely feel about them. Little Miss Sunshine hasn't hit my neighborhood yet. Scoop doesn't look good enough.

What's left? Clerks II, which my wife wants to see, and which could be dumb fun. And The Devil Wears Prada, which I guess I should see, given that it has made $110 million.

And that's how somehow, despite some 30-odd movies in theaters, those are our two main choices.

And completely different versions of this same debate are going on in tens of millions of households.

And that's Hollywood. Figuring out how their movie can be the one that rises to the top of the most what-shall-we-see discussions that takes place in families, and couples, and in your own head.

And that's why we get sequels, and Miami Vice, and other safe fallback choices.

What is the movie you are most likely to see this weekend?


At 10:09 AM, Blogger citygirl said...

I'm also lucky in that my boyfriend and I have almost identical movie tastes. We've seen all the big stuff plus Cars too, and just saw World Trade Center last night. That was so good I think I'll count it as my official weekend movie, and watch whatever I just got from Netflix at home.

At 10:58 AM, Anonymous Joseph said...

Little Miss Sunshine is playing in my neighborhood so I'll check that out. Might go see Talladega Nights if I get bored enough, although I thought Anchorman was only ok, so I might wait for next weekend or DVD for that.

At 11:30 AM, Blogger Philip Morton said...

'should see' kind of nails the problem. The films out there are the ones so marketed, pre-planned and pre-packaged that there's very little inspiration to go see much of it. Hollywood's become fearful of a good story without a) underlying material b) built in recognition c) connected third market ancillary media d) and on and on. I've taken four meetings this week and learned a bit on the gossip mill...

At 11:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Drive as far as you have to go in order to see Little Miss's laugh out loud funny, quirky, original, well written and tugs at the heart just enough, without being syrupy. Just the thing to satisfy both husband and wife -- at least in my experience.

At 11:43 AM, Blogger Not A Winner said...

My wife and I are most likely to see indie flicks at art house cinemas. Favorite movie of the summer may have been Thank You For Smoking. If Wes Anderson makes it, or David Russell, we'll be there. Just saw Sympathy For Lady Vengeance, which was good, but not as good as Oldboy.

But we see all sorts of movies, since we live across the street from a theater and our friend (the manager) lets us in for free. We both really liked Mission Impossible 3 and Superman Returns. We hated The Lake House and Da Vinci Code.

At 12:16 PM, Blogger Scribe LA said...

Hey Scott,
I love your blog. Congrats on the Nicholl nod. Thanks for the link.
I thought I had kinda tamed my rhyme and reason in picking which flicks to see, but it really all depends on too many factors, though I almost never go for horror/slasher, sci-fi, or western. I like to look at who the screenwriter is and if I like any of the actors. But, as an example I recently rented "The Ice Harvest." Disaster of a movie, and it's got John Cusack and Billy Bob Thornton, who usually give something good in everything. And it's directed by Harold Ramis. It's a dud with exactly one good line of dialogue, where Billy Bob says this to John: "Drive a Mercedes for one day, already you're an asshole." hahahahahahahaha.

At 12:16 PM, Blogger D. B. Holden said...

Going to see "Descent". Not really a horror fan, but any movie thay gets a 90%+ on rotten tomatoes deserves a look. It will probably lick balls anyway.

At 1:03 PM, Blogger Thomas Crymes said...

Talladega Nights all the way. I loved Anchorman and hope to see more quirky antics with Will Farrel.

Well, it you're on the fence about Monster House, I high reccomend seeing it in Digital 3-D. Amazing. The movie is actually good as well. Don't know why they didn't wait for Halloween. This new 3-D is rock solid and I'd say 99% there. Only a matter of time before the majority of movies are shot and presented this way.

At 2:10 PM, Blogger Formerly, The Dude Spoke said...

I want to see The DDescent this weekend. I met Neil Marshall at a film festival a few years ago (he was there with Dog Soldiers) and he's a really cool guy, so I figure I'd support him. It helps that I liked his previous film, to boot.

Clerks 2 I can honestly say is worth it. More than just dumb fun.

My ex girlfriend used to have amazing taste in movies, and going to the movies with her was a treat. Good taste. She's gone now, sadly. Too bad. She was a keeper

At 3:04 PM, Blogger Chesher Cat said...

Go see Little Miss Sunshine!!!

It's playing at the Sherman Oaks Galleria:
4:40pm | 7:35pm | 10:20pm

That is in your neighborhood. I guarantee you both will love it.

Since I've already seen it, I may be in the theater next door at The Night Listener. I have no idea if it's any good but I believe it's a psychological thriller. Love the genre when it pays off.

At 3:57 PM, Blogger EllieTee said...

Little Miss Sunshine, The Night Listener and World Trade Center are in my near future, Scott. And since I'm decidedly boyfriendless at the moment, the decision to see these movies is based upon what I/the friends haven't yet seen. In past relationships, I remember it being a 50/50 thing. I was never made to see anything I didn't want to see, just as I've never made anyone see something they didn't want to see.

At 4:22 PM, Anonymous mariano said...

You have to see The Descent. Sell it to your wife as a "chick flick" (well, it's got an all female cast and they don't take their top off so they're not there to titillate a male audience)

At 5:51 PM, Anonymous Joe Valdez said...

Miami Vice. I missed it last weekend, and the girl I'm dating digs Michael Mann almost as much as I do. She doesn't really do horror or eerie sci-fi at all.

This post reminds me why women who love horror movies are such a beautiful find. Guys, if you know a woman who is looking forward to The Descent, marry her. Listening to Scott reminds me how much fun I have trying to decide on a movie with someone whose tastes completely contradict mine. You typically end up either seeing nothing, or something terrible.

I was lucky enough to catch The Descent a few weeks ago at the L.A. Film Festival, and it's absolutely bananas, the best horror movie I've seen since 28 Days Later. I highly recommend it.

At 6:35 PM, Blogger Spanish Prisoner said...

I basically don't care. I just watch what I want and when my gf or my friends want to see it they come with me. My first choice is Miami Vice. Second choice is Black Dahlia (I know it's coming in autumn). The rest of the movies I just go watch. Time and money is a factor. Otherwise I just chose my movies.

At 10:33 PM, Anonymous kristen said...

The Descent pretty much rocked it. One of the best things about living in L.A. is getting to see a movie like that at 11:15 in the morning. Nuts. I staggered out of there so jumpy I freaked out when a leaf fell off a tree next to me.

At 10:36 PM, Anonymous kristen said...

The Night Listener is based on a really cool true story about an abused kid who may or may not have existed. Really eerie, weird stuff. But I hear the film doesn't do justice to the reality. Probably better off reading the book...

At 10:56 PM, Blogger Chris said...

Little Miss Sunshine (despite my loathing of the ArcLight's assigned seating and usurious ticket prices -- did you know you pay more for a matinee there on Sundays than an evening show?). I'm seeing because all my friends who caught the advance screenings say it's the best film of the year thus far. Other than word of mouth such as this, I usually select movies from directors/writers that I admire and whose previous work I've enjoyed. Occasionally an actor/actress that I really like might be enough to get me in the theaters without knowing much more about the film. Other than that, the reviews have to be outstanding for a big studio "event" picture for me to spend $10-14 dollars on it.

At 6:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We almost never go to the movies. Unless we take the kids.

As for who decides - it's a case of the golden rule - "he who brings in the gold, makes the rules". Not because he insists, but out of respect for all his hard work.

So mostly we see kid features. At home, it's mostly action/detective/police kind of stuff. Most of which I like anyway. I'm not into 'chick flicks' or soppy shows and never have been. Since he's happy enough to watch the sci-fi/supernatural stuff I favour, it's fair.


At 8:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

John Tucker Must Die doesn't skew teen. It skews pre-teen (aka tweens). Hollywood doesn't even know what a teen is anymore (neither does MTV). Had John Tucker been set in a college and cast with good young actors rather than pop stars and WB leftovers, it would have attracted actual teenagers and a fair share of adults. Probably even you, Scott. Where's Say Anything and Pretty in Pink when you need it?

At 12:44 PM, Blogger Eric said...

Its apparent by everyone's posts that there is no discretion, that the masses in america will see any shit they put out because you have nothing better to do.

Don't complain about Hollywood if you're gonna fork out money to see the kind of "television style" moving making.

Has nothing to do with being a purist, but please, don't act like a dam cow and eat any piece of shit that's being fed to you. There's nothing out there that should require your attention, conceptually, with any sense of originality or intellect.

Those producers and executives simply slide their hands together back and forth, when they know the likes of you will see anything.

Don't ask why movies suck.

Find something else to do.

Just a thought.


At 1:04 PM, Blogger MaryAn Batchellor said...

Monster House is (IMHO) really great if you haven't seen it yet. It's not for young kids.

At 1:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Steady on, Eric. That's a bit blunt, even for Yanks.

Joking aside, what he says has a morsel of truth. If you continue to go to movies as means of killing two hours and spending $20 (or whatever it is these days), then you just end up feeding the delusions.



At 2:15 PM, Anonymous mariano said...

I don't think anyone here was suggesting they go to the movies just to waste 2 hours of their lives and throw money out of the window.

It's a discussion about how and why we choose to see some movies and not others with a few recommendations for movies which are worth seeing thrown in.

Eric, I am sorry you think that every single movie that comes out is crap. That's your opinion and you're entitled to it. But some of us still like going to the movies and we still like some of the movies Hollywood executives greenlight in between "sliding their hands back and forth" (do you mean rub their hands together?)

I am glad you're not part of the "masses in America". It must be a wonderful thing to be so intellectually superior to the masses.

May I suggest you visit a couple of museums and a Jazz club instead, and leave the discussion about going to the movies to us intellectually challanged morons? :)

At 5:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, I think Hollywood makes very good "serious" movies. I just wish their "fun" movies didn't all feel the same. It seems like Hollywood is willing to take a risk with serious subject matters to win those coveted Oscars but when it comes to the fun stuff, it's formula all the way.

At 10:31 PM, Blogger Cathy Krasnianski said...

We just got home from our "Saturday night date". As usual, my husband asks me what I'd like to see. I say, "The Descent". He says, "okay".

So, we went to see "SCOOP" instead.

Feh. It was awful. Woody Allen completely sacrificed story for one-liners. And while that may have worked 30 years ago, it just doesn't today. It felt old, stale, and the movie dragged on forever.

Next time, we will go see "The Descent". I'm pretty sure that one won't have any lame any one-liners in it.

At 12:18 PM, Blogger Emily Blake said...

When I had a significant other we went to see action movies all the time. At least twice a month we'd see what ever superhero movie was playing because that's what we both loved.

Now that I'm single I haven't actually paid to see a movie in months. I see whatever I can get invited to screen for free. Nothing has inspired me lately to get up the effort to invite somebody or go see it myself.

The only movie that may get me out of my house is Snakes on a Plane, and that's because it looks like such a blast to watch.

It's just so weird going to see a movie and having nobody to talk to about it afterwards.

At 12:25 PM, Anonymous Nervous said...

I saw Talladega Nights.

Anchorman bored me to tears, and there is no way I'm going to see Kicking & Screaming. And when I heard about Ferrell doing a NASCAR movie, I thought it was going to be worse than his previous attempts. But after seeing the trailer, I decided to give it a chance.

And I loved it.

From the first scene I was hooked. This film went from something I had no intention on seeing to something I can't wait to own on DVD.

I assure you, you won't regret seeing this film.

At 9:02 AM, Anonymous Laura Reyna said...

We rent DVDs thru Netflix. It seems i end up picking & arranging the movies. I think it's mostly cuz i keep up w/ the DVD releases more than he does.

He likes more typical guy things: sci fi, horror, action.

I'll watch those genres, esp if i've heard the movie is decent. To me, the quality is more important than the genre.

But i also like foreign, rom coms, & historical dramas. We both like a good comedy.

I make sure to mix it up. One for him, one for me.

If a movie has gotten generally good reviews, i'll put it in the queue... except for kids' movies. We don't do Kids' or 'family' movies. We stopped renting animated family movies a while ago. We finally had to admit we really don't like them. (We found the Incredibles only so-so.)

It's funny, my husband likes certain sub-genre movies, so i keep an eye out for them. For some reason he really likes zombie movies(he has all the Romeros), post-Apocalyptic movies, chic action hero movies, sword fighting movies, & shark movies.


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