Monday, June 18, 2012

The On/Off Romance of Films

(This was originally part of the below post on Adam Sandler but I thought it deserved it's own entry)

I like to call it the "it's not you, it's me" effect. As in a relationship, you go in with doe eyes and high hopes. Too high even, and end up being a little disappointed. What do you do? You go on a break. Take a little you time, try and find yourself, get to know you some more. Then in a couple months try it again and see if it sticks. The first time you see a movie or show, you want the best outcome. But then what happens? You're in a bad mood, you thought it'd be more funny and less serious, people are talking, your friends don't like it. Alright cool, just back off, wait a little while, and give it another go in a couple months. That second viewing is probably where you'll find whether you actually hated it or whether you really love it. As the saying goes, if you love it, set it free, if it comes back, it's meant to be.

Here are some films that I hated the first time I saw them in theaters:

Darjeeling Limited: WHAT?!? I hated this??? Ugh, fuck, Ila, come on. I expect more from you. Well, at least you love it now. And the soundtrack.

Talladega Nights: I think the entire audience hated it. Now I love catching it on TBS.

Waiting for Guffman and A Mighty Wind: Didn't see either in theaters but I thought it was necessary to include because of the disproportionate amount that I hated it when I first saw it and absolutely loved them starting at the second viewing.

Futurama on Comedy Central: I watched it every week when CC brought the show back from the dead and thought it was awful. "They've lost it! The magic's gone," I would think to myself. A year later I watched them all again on Netflix...spectacular.

In addition to the multiple viewings is the frequency you catch something. The more you watch, the more familiar something becomes. Guffman was on HBO for two straight weeks so everyday I managed to turn it on at the exact same spot (why does that always happen??). Gilmore and Madison were both flops originally and Arrested Development was cancelled. Some things just take time to get under your skin.

An example that stands out the most is Funny People and Get Him to the Greek. I went into the theater knowing that People was actually meant to be a very serious film even though it stars Seth Rogan, Sandler, and Lesley Mann, and was directed by Judd Apatow. Knowing this, I thought the movie was phenomenal. Every person I've talked to since then that hasn't liked it had the same thing to say: I thought it was going to be funnier/I didn't know it was so serious. Going in expecting to laugh and dealing with death instead is a disorienting feeling. When I went to see Greek, I was expecting a laugh riot and instead was thrown off by how upsetting a lot of the details were. The whole audience seemed to be this way, too, as there was a palpable awkwardness that prevented anyone from laughing because no one knew whether something was meant to be funny or serious. I hated Greek and admittedly haven't watched it again, so that feeling remains.

Anyway, I think it's important to just be cognizant of the variables that are effecting how you feel about a film. You don't have to give it multiple shots, and if you do, it's not guaranteed you'll like it. But when discussing a film or describing it to others, maybe mention what your expectations were going in so that others can benefit from it.

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