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Everything Wrong With Pointing Out Everything Wrong In Popular Movies: Learning to Choose Your Battles.

By Jodi Clager | Think Pieces | August 21, 2013 | Comments ()


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I watch television and movies because I’m expecting to be entertained, or at least placated, for a couple of hours. I don’t watch movies to pick them apart, piece by piece, pointing out that a plate moves from one scene to the next or that Batman’s utility belt would need to be able to handle x amount of weight in order to blah blah math scientist blah.

Where in the hell is the fun in that? Yet, here we are. Pick a popular movie and Google it with “Everything Wrong With” and see what happens. I’ll wait.

Did you get pages of results? YouTube videos pointing out various mistakes, errors in continuity that don’t actually handicap the story in any way, and lists gloating about the keen eye of the author? If you deign to watch one of the videos or read one of the lists, be ready to enjoy the film that much less the next time you view it. It’s just been ruined. Your reasonable suspension of disbelief and your immersion in the film has just morphed into a wariness concerning the story being presented to you and a loss of trust for the people responsible. Why would the filmmakers do this to you? Why would they leave that glass half full when it was empty only a moment ago? WHY CAN YOU SEE THE REFLECTION OF A CREW MEMBER IN THAT DUDE’S VISOR?? IS HE REALLY EVEN A PSYCHOTIC KILLER AT ALL?

Please, don’t misunderstand what I’m telling you. I’m all for tearing apart cringe-inducing, bowel-evacuating, severely idiotic movies. In fact, I encourage it and I monetarily support it.

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I’m also not referring to the picking apart of a movie based on established characters and stories. If you’re doing something with Deadpool and you sew the Merc with a Mouth’s mouth shut? We’re going to have a problem up in the motherf*cker and you’re damn right I’m going to pick your wet turd of a movie apart.

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I am also not talking about fair-minded critiques of movies based on content, execution, ability to entertain, appeal, direction, acting, or basically anything else you would find in a review of a movie. Eviscerating Grown Ups 2 is fine. Eviscerating Mean Girls because a character had a manicure that disappeared during a fight scene is stupid.

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I am talking about the purposeful dissection of an entertaining, generally free of horrendous flaws, fun, non-threatening movie. The IMDB Goofs section for every movie is full of the type of nitpicking grievances that people continually air for no reason other than feeling superior. It’s the equivalent of walking into a new house, pointing to a minuscule dot of paint on the wood trim, declaring the entire house unfit for human habitation, and then posting forty different YouTube videos, blog diatribes, and comments inflating that paint’s importance in the grand scheme of things. It’s utterly inane.

I am unable to comprehend the mindset of a person that enjoys watching films frame by frame, taking copious notes and screenshots, and then disseminating that insignificant information in order to feel superior. It just seems like a lonely, joyless, time-consuming labor of self-loathing and regret. Why take all of the fun out of an industry whose sole purpose is to entertain? Why generate so much annoyance over a work of fiction when you can lose yourself in it instead?

If a movie can move along at a reasonable pace while keeping me entertained and immersed in the imagined world, why break that spell? I’d rather enjoy the ride.


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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not


  • Rophiandis

    "I am unable to comprehend the mindset of a person that enjoy..."

    And herein lies the problem: people really do not understand the motivations going into this sort of thing. Certainly, some people do only pick these things apart to appear superior, but, as someone who's been guilty of this sort of thing, I think that for most, it's just a matter of differing expectations. If an actor's hair color changes from blonde to brown in the middle of the scene with no explanation, just about everybody is going to notice and most likely have a negative reaction. Significant, but comparatively minor changes like hair style or eye color will likely still be noticed by fewer, but still many people. Everybody's threshold for this is somewhere different, and, for some, the side of a plate a fork is on or the color of the cars on a street corner are just as glaring issues.

    It's the same issue with many "grammar nazis." These people aren't always trying to one-up others, but rather people for whom the misuse of to/too sticks out like a sore thumb. Just because this isn't the reaction that YOU personally have, does not make it an invalid one.

  • Jo 'Mama' Besser

    Is that what makes Fan Corrections so...?

    But I admit, I cackled like a goon at the two week old stalker of the also two week old Prince George.

  • e jerry powell

    But Jodi, where would the Mythbusters be if they didn't have Hollywood Physics to pick apart every week?

  • BWeaves

    It still drives me nuts when when Pretty Woman Hooker (shit, can't remember her name, big star, whatevers) takes off Richard Gere's tie, and two seconds later he's wearing it again, and two seconds later it's gone.

  • Natalie

    Two things drive me insane with this kind of stuff.

    A movie/series contradicting it's own mythology/storyline. Although if you have a 6' 5" tall blond naked Swede doing the contradicting, I'm willing to forgive.

    And the next thing, and this is the engineer in me, is SCIENTIFIC ACCURACY! I don't expect people to get the correct constellation in the sky in 1914, but laws of physics! That's all I ask! At least PRETEND they exist, if only for a little while?

    Breaking Bad consults with a chemistry professor, and she does it for free. Sometimes it's more interesting when it's closer to reality, like how neat was it that the ships in Firefly made no sound when in space?

  • MarTeaNi

    I gave Fringe such the piercing side-eye when they took 2 minutes to construct a "Faraday vest" to walk through a "time bubble." That's not how science works.

  • Natalie

    Right, the Eureka moment. Because research can be done in 5 minutes, or a montage covering a week.

    GOD.

    Sometimes, it takes me a week just to figure out how to calibrate something properly, let alone start taking measurements.

  • Gavin Smith

    There's a scene from Goodfellas that always bothered me. When they are on the way to dump Billy Batt's body and stop by Tommy's mom's house. When they're sitting at the dining table and the topic of her painting comes up. There's an edit where she apparently was going to go get the picture and it was decided that should be cut and it appears as if she had that picture under the table all the while and she just whips it out. Otherwise, it's an okay movie. ;)

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Here's the thing. People love the details in movies - whether they be clues or easter eggs or just great detail in set-dressing. And if a discerning movie audience is rewarded for looking super closely at movies, no one should be surprised that the pendulum also swings in a different direction.

    I don't think everyone is bothered minor errors. But everyone has a different standard for carelessness.

  • MarTeaNi

    Or, you know, it's possible to pick a movie apart and still completely enjoy it. Being able to laugh at jumping chocolates doesn't mean the movie is ruined. Examining a movie and finding small errors in it isn't a problem, being a smug dick about those errors is a problem.

  • Uriah_Creep

    being a smug dick about those errors is a problem.

    So true. Unfortunately, I can't just "turn off my brain" (the resulting drooling and lack of respiration is quite distressing), so I tend to notice many innaccuracies in movies and TV shows. The thing is, I don't go back and analyze them endlessly, and I sure as hell don't tell everyone on the Internet how they should ruin the entertainment for them.

  • bleujayone

    Little jumps of discontinuity don't completely ruin a movie for me. I mean they can be annoying and distracting depending on what it is, but I accept that the editing process involves piecing together various takes an footage shot days, weeks and even months apart and trying to make it all look seamless. I know there are always going to be little flaws in everything. And for many of these "mistakes" to be called out tells me that some people must be watching multiple screenings of each of these movies and then sifting through them like a prospector with OCD trying to pan for gold nuggets in a litter box. In other words, if I have to stop and pull myself out of moviegoer mode to find the mistakes, they are largely forgivable.

    For me if the error is in the dialog or storyline, then there is little
    excuse for someone not catching it ahead of time and reworking it. It's
    like a construction foreman who finds a staircase in his blueprints
    that goes nowhere and building it without question anyway. Scripts have to go through many hands and readings and if something manages to make it through that kind of scrutiny even before the cameras roll, one wonders if they weren't spotted and just ignored.

    What really bothers me is when the story in and of itself is so flawed and buggered up that it looks like the producers must have hired a team of out-of-work Cavity Creeps for their writing staff and script editors. "WE MAKE HOLES IN PLOTS!"

  • ,

    I rather enjoy seeing where the continuity errors are, because it points up how difficult a job that is for the people making the movie. There are probably a hundred things to keep track of in every shot and some of them are going to be missed. The movies that miss the fewest, however, show that somebody good at his/her job is really paying attention to detail. That's good quality control for at least one aspect.

  • Return of Santitas

    I agree, I like reading the "goofs" on imdb because it makes me think about the movie magic that went on behind the scenes. Like, how many times did Reese Witherspoon have to lie there and eat chocolates? I love that kind of shit. But not in a superiority kind of way...more in a "wow" kind of way.

  • Tinkerville

    Thank you. I don't think people realize the insane amount of work that goes into continuity, straight down to making note of the make-up department's placements of an actresses hair strands. If a piece of white chocolate jumping forward a square is the only thing different when there were likely dozens of takes of that one shot, that's pretty damn incredible.

  • Less Lee Moore

    THANK YOU. I hate fuckers that do that. "Everything That's Wrong With [Name of Movie}." More like Everything That's Wrong With The Asshole That Wrote This Everything That's Wrong Article. UGH.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    I blame Highlights magazine.

  • But which is Goofus and which is Gallant?

  • Sara_Tonin00

    My family has appropriated Goofus as a term of endearment. It's a word that makes me smile.

  • It totally should be. Gallant always struck me as kind of a prick, anyway.

  • ,

    Eddie Haskell always struck me as more fun than Wally. Beaver WAS a little twerp.

  • There's definitely a fine line. I worked with a guy we less-than-affectionately nicknamed "Eddie". If you were someone he needed something from or needed to impress, he seriously couldn't have a conversation with you without trying to crawl up your ass. Soooo punchable.

  • F'mal DeHyde

    Whoever found that horrible candy mistake in the photo deserves a medal for pointing it out. And then a long relaxing time out at a sanitarium.

  • The Kitastrophe

    Damn, the Rifftrax Starship Troopers was fun.

    Lt. Rasczak: I need a new corporal. You're it untill you're dead or I find someone better.
    Kevin Murphy: That last part was the same as my wedding vows!

  • manting

    it it online anywhere?

  • The Kitastrophe

    There might be a bootleg somewhere, but the planned video got nuked due to licensing rights - they raised enough to screen the movie, but only for the one performance. I imagine they'll release the Rifftraxxed version of it at some point.

  • manting

    I used to watch the original MST3K with Joel - it is what made Comedy Central worth watching in its beginings.

  • DataAngel

    I do like it when people pick things apart to show the easter eggs or little clues to things, or things that highlight what an actor and/or director has chosen to include a tiny detail that I might have missed otherwise (like Martin Freeman as Watson maintaining military habits). But the mistakes? Ain nobody got time for that. Unless it's blatant. But if it's blatant it doesn't really need to be pointed out.

  • ,

    Me too. I was up until the wee hours once or twice reading the blog by the guy who took "The Shining" apart scene by scene, finding little tricks and hidden meanings in virtually everything. (The one that ended up as its own docu, "Room 237.") I can't fathom Kubrick actually intended all those double and triple meanings, because there are far too many for all but the most intensive, culturally aware viewer to pick up on. But maybe Kubrick was just (literally) insane that way.

    Or the guy with the blog is.

  • Giovanni's Roomba

    The problem isn't that there are too many references in "The Shining" to pick up on: it's that the theorists use those references to concoct mutually incompatible meanings for the film. It could be an allegory of Native American genocide, or the treatment of the Jews in World War II, or the moon landings, or the legend of Theseus and the minotaur: but it can't possibly be all these things at the same time.

    As you're watching "Room 237", the first couple of fully explicated theories sound plausible enough, but as they stack up and conflict with one another, it becomes obvious that the theorists are all at least a little bit nuts. (It reminded me of Errol Morris' "Tabloid": the main character's version of the story sounds entirely plausible as she's telling it, but eventually, as the external facts pile up, it becomes clear that she's unhinged.)

    The "Room 237" theories are kind of like religions: at best, one of them is correct, but the smart money is on none of them being true.

  • Uriah_Creep

    My only question to you is the following: as a Roomba, don't you find it fucking boring to just ride along on the same floor all day?

  • Giovanni's Roomba

    As a Roomba, I have the long-term memory of a mealworm, so every day is a new adventure.

  • ,

    Well said.

  • I kinda like the "Everything Wrong With: XXX" YouTube videos by CinemaSins. They're pretty funny... you know, if you have a sense of humor. I mean, they mostly are picking on SF and Comic films, and as many of the 'Sins' are either personal taste or egregious trope usage as they are actual cinematographic errors.

    And the 'Bella Noises' bonus round on the end of the Twilight video is one of the funnier minutes on YouTube.

  • Fabius_Maximus

    The guys behind CinemaSins are trolls. Most of the stuff they point out are either common storytelling techniques, explainable by applying basic logic or completely meaningless. There is nothing funny about it. They do it to rile the fans up. It is, as Sara_Tonin pointed out, very boring.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    I started watching one the other day (The Hobbit) thinking it was going to be funny, but I was bored instead.

    The video that led me to it though - HISHE Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade - was brilliant.

  • raeraefred

    HISHE: sometimes we're more entertaining than the original.

  • Xikar

    Starship Troopers however, is brilliant. So poor pic choice. Other than that, good piece. Screenshot scientists are the worst.

  • Even Stevens

    She screencapped that one because it was recently a live Rifftrax, aka those guys from Mystery Science Theater 3K, event that she paid to go see... hence the monetarily supporting goofing on movies.

  • Fabius_Maximus

    If by "brilliant" you mean "hilariously hammy", you are right.

  • The king of these people wrote a book. It was called Ready Player One.

  • The Kitastrophe

    YES. THIS. Less a book than a bundle of events designed to trigger nostalgic overload with the sappiest, BS ending ever.

  • manting

    For me it was all about the references - Zork Motherfucker!

  • You must have been very pleased, the book was entirely composed of weakly-linked references to 80s creative properties.

  • manting

    Yes. 80's nerd properties. So I enjoyed the book in the way a spinster cat lady enjoys a book with Fabio on the cover. It was simple pleasure reading, with giant robots and 80's movie and video game references.

  • $65530708

    Isn't this one of the pillars Pajiba (and the INTERNET) was built on?

    Cat videos (and porn) only appeal to so many after all.

  • ,

    But everybody likes cat porn.

  • Poor writing, cringe-worthy dialogue, terrible art direction, insultingly bad casting, the existence of Taylor Llamautner - those are Pajiba's pillars.
    Not inconsequential details noticed only by those looking for them in order to 'one up' people who have priorities.

  • $65530708

    You forgot undeserved misguided love for actors and actresses *Cough Olivia Munn Cough*.

    But that about covers Pajiba's and the INTERNET's core pillars.

  • Well, you got me there

  • NateMan

    Well said! Blatant screw-ups drive me nuts, like the fact on the Matrix DVD or Blu-Ray you can see the wires still attached to Keanu when he flips up out of the way of the train. But the little ones... Just don't pay attention, dammit!

  • Wrestling Fan

    Matrix 2, the big highway chase / fight on the truck, they drove by the same power plant at least twice.

    Not sure if it was meant to be a glitch in the matrix, or if they used the old Hanna-Barbera method of recycling the same background for chase scenes.

  • NateMan

    I think it'd be kind've brilliant if it was on purpose...

  • marigi

    Ahem. It's Matrix...

  • NateMan

    And so it is. Damned lazy fingers!

  • Jay Pausner

    Does this happen with books or music or other forms of entertainment? Or is it only TV and movies?

  • Berry

    My guess is that it's probably mostly movies and TV. But a few years ago I did read an article in a local newspaper about people who "correct" grammar and spelling in library books by crossing out the supposed mistake and writing their own version in the margin, so it happens.

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