I don’t just watch movies, I commit to them. When I sit down in front of a film, I give it my full, undivided attention. It doesn’t matter if it’s something I paid good money to see in a theatre, or something I’m watching on cable for free on my sofa. I’m a film buff, so I pay attention, I focus, and I don’t multitask. Most importantly, if I deem a movie is worth starting, then goddammit I’m going to see if through to the bitter end – every second of it, right down to the very last credit.
Yes, it can be a hard policy to adhere to. People ask me how I sit through thousands of movies when so many of them turn out to be bad. It ain’t easy. Particularly since nine times out of ten I know when it’s going to be a bad movie before I even turn it on. But bad or not, there are plenty of notable crap films I need to see – because I have to know. I can’t properly shit all over them unless I’ve actually experienced them first hand.
Sometimes, to get through a particularly bad or crushingly mediocre experience, I have to make up games to amuse myself. Rather than simply watch the disposable junk before me, I do a bit of mental editing on the fly so I can appreciate it as some completely different film no one ever intended it to be. Actors do this themselves sometimes when they know they’re in a stinker. For example, Richard Dreyfuss and Teri Garr once reunited for a forgettable 1989 horse-race comedy called Let It Ride. They knew right off the bat that it was just a payday gig for them, and nobody would ever give a crap about this movie. So they made a pact. They secretly agreed that they were playing their characters from Close Encounters of the Third Kind in an unofficial sequel about how Roy and Ronnie Neary got back together again, changed their names, ditched their kids, and went on a gambling spree. Knowing that makes it a much better film.
Recently I watched White House Down, one of the biggest box office flops of the year. Going in, I knew it was another paint-by-number Die Hard knockoff, this time set in the White House. But I also knew who some of the supporting cast were, namely former Montrealers Nicolas Wright and Rachelle Lefevre. I can’t vouch for the movie most people saw (those few who bothered to see it), but the movie I was watching was called Hatley High II. It was all about how a grown-up Tommy Linklater secured a job as a White House tour guide, only to be unexpectedly reunited with his high school sweetheart following her failed marriage to Channing Tatum. After lots of shenanigans and property destruction (typical of high-school comedies, only with more brutal gun fights and deaths by fiery explosions) the two reconcile and pick up their romance where they it left, only now with a precocious first-marriage soon-to-be-stepchild in tow.
That particular interpretation saw me through the entire 131-minute running time with hardly any brain damage. Now I need to figure out an angle that will get me through the other Die Hard knockoff flop of the year, A Good Day to Die Hard.
Maybe if I pretend Bruce Willis is playing the ghost of John McClane, but he doesn’t realize he’s dead and only his son Jack can see him… Well, it certainly couldn’t make the movie any less plausible.