You're not supposed to begin an article with a question. It's considered "bad writing."
So instead, I'm putting the question in the second paragraph: Do you ever go to the movies by yourself?
I read somewhere (and Google was unable to provide me the "where" from which I read this) that less than five percent of people will go to a movie by themselves. I find that interesting because it was one of the things I had to learn to do when I first started writing this column almost 11 years ago.
I had to shake off that stigma, that everyone was watching me thinking, "Poor guy, here alone."
C'mon, that's what most people think when they see someone alone at the movies or eating dinner by themselves in a restaurant. Like there's something deviant about going out in public alone.
Again, I do it every weekend. Normally, it doesn't bother me, though I wonder what the box office girls think about this dude who comes to the movies every Saturday and Sunday alone.
Last weekend, I actually felt awkward again, but mostly because I was going to The Proposal. You know, a date movie. Alone.
I always sit on the aisle, either the left or right side, depending on how early I get there and what's available. When I showed up for The Proposal, there was just one row left with an aisle seat, and it was on the left side (facing the back) about four rows from the top. I trucked up there with my bottle of water and a small popcorn and plopped into my seat.
There was about 12 minutes left until the movie was allegedly to start, so I ate my popcorn and watched the place fill up. That's when it happened again.
See, despite the fact I had two empty seats to my left, no one would sit by me. The theater ended up probably 95 percent full, with people filing in and sitting in the cheap seats down front, Still, no one would sit beside me.
I know I'm surly, but c'mon.
Actually, I have a theory. They all assume I'm not there alone, and that whoever I'm with will be back to claim their seat next to me, leaving just one available. I don't know that this is true, but I feel that it is.
Odd, don't you think?
Here's the rest of this story from that particular movie trip.
My film was scheduled to start at 7pm. At about seven after, they finally stopped the pre-movie slide show advertainment crap and started running the commercials. At about 20 after, the trailers began. At 7:30, my movie actually started.
What in the holy hell? By the time the film finished, it was pretty much 9:30, so it took better than two-and-a-half hours to see a 107-minute movie.
That's frickin ridiculous.
This isn't television. We're not getting the shows for free and suffering through advertising as a penance. We're paying for the movie, like it's a product. Movie advertising is an abomination, and we shouldn't have to sit through it.
So anyway, the solo date night.
Unlikely Situations for 500
Romantic comedies are among the most formulaic of all movies. Boy and girl meet or have already met. They get thrown into some odd circumstance. They realize they have feelings for each other. They get together. Roll credits.
Sometimes they're funny. Sometimes they try to be, but fail, often spectacularly.
But here's the thing they generally all do well: they sell hope. That's the thing about romantic comedies, why guys will watch them despite pretending they don't like them or would rather be doing anything else.
I'm sure there are exceptions; there always are. But generally, everyone wants to be loved. They want to be doted upon. They want to be attractive and desired by someone else. They want to get the girl or guy of their dreams and live happily ever after.
This is why romances and romantic comedies work. It's why they make money even though we've all seen the story a million times before. It's also why they're like pizza--even when they're bad, they're kinda good.
Such as it is with The Proposal.
Margaret Tate (Sandra Bullock) is a hotshot book editor who rules her employees with an iron fist. She expects everything done 10 minutes ago and has a zero tolerance policy for incompetence. She's basically a cold-hearted bitch.
Or so it would seem.
The person she's hardest on is Andrew Paxton (Ryan Reynolds), her assistant. He's very good at his job, but he can't stand her. He's only in it for his shot at becoming a book editor.
As it happens, she's Canadian and trying to immigrate to America. When her paperwork gets denied and she's about to be deported, she turns to Andrew to bail her out again. Actually, she blackmails him.
They end up being forced to spend the weekend in Alaska with Andrew's family (whom he hasn't seen in three years because Margaret hasn't let him take any vacation) and pretend like they are engaged. The penalty for being unconvincing is deportation for her, and a jail sentence for him.
You know where it goes from there. Or you should, anyway.
The first half of the movie is actually kinda funny, minus the parts where Betty White (playing the 90-year-old grandmother) has to deliver the typical tactless old person joke. Not funny. The laughs tail off in the end, and the "romance" just sort of happens, but it's not bad. Just not great.
If not for the comedic talent of Reynolds and Bullock, the movie wouldn't work at all. I know why she's a big star. She's funny and does it her way. I don't know why he's not a bigger star. He's been funny in everything I've seen him in.
Ah well. It's not a bad date flick. It's what you expect it to be on all counts.
Who Greenlit This?
When was the last time Harold Ramis made a good movie? I'm going to say it was 1993 with Groundhog Day.
Since then, it's been pretty much crap, particularly with his latest, Year One. Not to knock on the guy personally, but his funnier days are behind him and I don't have particularly high hopes for 2012's Ghostbusters III (yes, they're actually making another Ghostbusters movie).
I'm also not in the Jack Black fan club. I don't inherently dislike the guy, but he pretty much just plays himself in everything. I only like Jack in small amounts, such as in High Fidelity or Tropic Thunder. About the only starring role of his I've enjoyed was Kung Fu Panda.
As for Michael Cera, I think he plays the clueless twit/straight guy pretty well, but he's essentially doing the same thing in every movie as well. Superbad, Juno and now Year One. All the same character, if that's really a character.
Basically, the movie has nothing going for it. Nothing at all.
And you can tell that from the crappy trailer. If you were going to see this movie expecting a fantastic comedy, you might very well be delusional.
As it turns out, the movie is even worse than the trailer suggests. I had to fight the urge to walk out.
You know when you're running and you're about to give in and walk, if only for a little bit, but you start bargaining with yourself to go just a little longer? You know, okay, I'll just run to that fourth light pole, then I'll walk. Okay, two more light poles. And so on...
That's what I did with this movie. I kept talking myself into staying for 10 more minutes. I'm not sure why, really. Other than I've walked out of more movies in the last year and a half than I did in the first nine years on the job. Sometimes, you just have to suck it up and endure.
There's nothing redeeming about the movie. The jokes are stale. It looks like it was shot by a television crew. Jack Black's schtick is tired.
Basically, it's amateur hour.
The story? Two hunter/gatherers get ran out of their village and stumble into the early days of the bible.
That's it. That's the premise. How in the hell do movies like this get made?
That's an honest question. How can a film producer read a script like this and think, "Holy hell, that's funny! Make this sucka right now!"
There's not one thing this movie gets right. Not one.
I'm outta here. See you next week with Transformers.
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