This is a cautionary tale, as well an idea forged out of boredom and frustration.
One particularly slow evening my co-worker Jordan and I got to talking about our movie watching habits. It was mid-July, well into summer blockbuster season, and we went on about what was coming out and what were on our lists of must-sees. We talked about the nature of summer movies in general, with all their hype and teasing. But we also dug into crappy films in specific. You know the ones. They tout big stars, huge budgets, massive special effects, all the bells and whistles you could stick up your ass. And leave you with a feeling of disappointment, confusion and wonder as to where the last 100 minutes/ten bucks went.
Face facts, you’d been had. Duped like the sucker you are.
We figured we’d both been snowed by Hollywood often. The conversation went deeper and we decided that there were a veritable metric sh*t-ton of questionable movies out there which a) tanked at the box office; b) were grossly undermined by the Hollywood hype machine, resulting in confusing reviews and reactions, and/or: c) perhaps a few diamonds in the rough stuck in the mine that needed polishing. I’m paraphrasing here.
The long and the short of it was that, for no particular reason other than having too much free time/late nights to myself, I’d abuse Netflix, sniff out these either misunderstood or underrated movies, critique them and post my findings on Facebook to get a dialogue going. Maybe get a few suggestions about what movies to check out in the process. Seemed like a good idea, and a nice tonic to the usual one-dimensional posts that so plague that social medium.
Turns out I wasn’t alone out there. A lot of folks felt ripped off more times than not. This wasn’t because they walked out of theatre pissed off, felt their time wasted and had a medium sized bucket of ‘corn stuck tight to their shoe. No. A lot of folks left the cinema muttering “…the f*ck?” What I heard from fellow movie-addicted friends was that quite often, they wandered, bleary-eyed out of the theater scratching their heads and not sure how to make out what they saw. Look, here’s a good example of the dialogue and coda:
“I dunno. It wasn’t bad…”
“Yeah. Wanna hit Chipotle?”
“Sounds good. I’ll drive.”
“Okay. First, lemme get this bucket off my shoe…”
Stuff like that.
I, for one, am just sick of the gobbledygook that has been rolled out of Tinsel Town at an alarming rate over the past few years. I mean, aren’t you? I feel like the angry shepherd, waving his fist in the air, cursing his flock and damning the absent rains. Where’s my entertainment? I mean the movies that stick to your skull, make your guts churn and laugh so hard you sh*t out Junior Mints?
Mostly absent since the turn of the century. I’ve asked other people the above questions. I usually get a shrug.
As movies for escapist sake, I think it’s really uncool for the powers that be in Hollywood to give us upchuck for entertainment lately. It’s like they’re spitting on our minds. Here’s your dumb media you dumbasses, you. C’mon. That’s just plain mean towards hard working folks who just want some escapism from their long, tiring, dreary routines. After all, going to the movies may be the only cultural enlightenment they can afford. Movies have their own cachet, single play stories on a stage (all right, screen), telling uninterrupted stories—provided you set your smartphone to mute—of comedy, drama, action, romance and horror porn. If you’re lucky, all five. Most people can’t visit Broadway, so the local multiplex, RedBox and/or Netflix queue will have to do. And after myself and others being bamboozled by Hollywood one too many times (and ticket prices growing astronomically high), it’s high time to vent.
So here I am and here we are. I’d be remiss for not thanking anybody for liking this, but I’m not expecting nor wanting praise. I just want to create and outlet to wax philosophical about sh*tty or not sh*tty movies. You know, the questionable stuff. About 200 movies are released every year in this country, and they all can’t be Oscar winners. Some want to shock. Some want to enthrall. Some want to make you laugh and some want to make you cry. And some fall short of the mark. Maybe all of that. Overall, movies want to do two things well: make a profit and entertain, in that order.
Movies will always entertain; that’s their job. Unfortunately there’s always a price tag involved. Hollywood is just as much a business as MicroSoft, Kraft Foods and Ford, and the bottom line is the bottom line. But what about Hollywood output that is just barely above the bottom line?
Here we enter limbo. And that’s what Rent It Or Relent It is all about: the nebulous middle ground.
This isn’t trying to be some soapbox where yet another goof with a blog rhapsodizes with anguish about crummy movies. Wide of the mark. I’m not a goof. I’m a dissatisfied customer. Bet some of you are, too. It’s best to know the difference. As you could probably tell from the frothing frenzy scrawled above, I’m kind of pissed about the stuff we’ve been subjected to. I’m going to try and be a consumer advocate. Like Ralph Nader, only my crash and burn studies will aim towards the cinematic. As I mentioned, all I’m looking for is a tonic. The possibility that all that junk that’s been thrown at us might have been misjudged and worth a better look. Have the critics proven wrong (or right). Fight for our right for good (or at least passable) movie entertainment. Point fingers and nudge the guy next to you and laugh and laugh and laugh most certainly aware you are the funniest guy in the room. Or just surrender to the stupidity and have a good time. RIORI is meant to be a sort of social study. That kinda stuff.
We were talking about movies, right?
Whatever. Enough bile for now. There’ll be plenty of that later.
Oh, and one more thing. About the whole “volume” business? RIORI originally began as a lark, Volume 1 of these installments—the first eighteen—were just FaceBook posts. Very long FaceBook posts. Here, and as lagniappe for both old readers and new ones alike, I’ve included all that raw, old stuff and cleaned up all their misspellings and most of the grammatical errors. I thought about revising the content (I did a little editing, but we’re not talking scorched earth here), but I’d rather have those early entires up there, warts and all, just as is. I didn’t really know what I was doing at first (and it shows), so there’s a general lack of consistency in how the installments are set up. There was more of a stream-of-consciousness dynamic going on, rather than the social commentary/synopsis/review standard that later evolved. Just warning you. Those were kinda like old scars that never healed. You grow as a writer, and the groaning of your joints can’t ever really be ignored. If this sounds pretentious, it is. I really just wanted to be a completeist. Enjoy sorting through the dross.
I’m always working out the kinks here. It’s going to be a terminal work in progress. A labor of love. A spittoon for my many, many sticky gobs. Bear with me. Things’ll hopefully improve as the weeks run into the next. And of course, comments, questions, recommendations, insults, accusations, recipes and threats are always welcome.
Thanks. Now, on with the show…
The movie in question must have, in no particular order:
• Been made/released between 2000 to the present,
• Had disappointing—not necessarily terrible—box office returns (domestic only as in first release),
• Had received mixed reviews (and therefore, possible indifference) from critics and/or audiences,
• Generated perhaps unwarranted notoriety based on said wobbly criticism, and/or;
• Suffered a general lack of “box office mojo.”
This weblog is dedicated to Jordan Harms, whom I am ever in his debt for the inspiration.