When I think of truly excellent cinema, I think of films that severely push me on an emotional or visceral level. Films that deeply make me laugh or deeply make me sad. Or just inform me in ways that are incredibly, truly wonderful to me.
The new Adam Sandler “comedy” THAT’S MY BOY has given me a reaction no other film has. Ever. It literally made me claw at the side of the theater chair I was sitting in. I didn’t laugh once. I didn’t move. My mouth was agape. I pained even more with each laugh heard in the audience I was with – twelve year olds sensationalized and enlightened by the proceedings on the screen. There were three different points in the film where I felt like crying. It was one of the most depressing, grueling movie-going experiences I’ve ever had. But I ask myself – why?
I love me a good dark comedy as much as I love myself a good, mindless American comedy. The films of Sandler himself, and Will Ferrell amongst others – I’ve got a respect for. Sometimes, their work can be escapist fun. Even when they get a bit ugly, at times. But THAT’S MY BOY was pure evil. Just pure, unadulterated EVIL.
So why is it because of this, I feel like I should respect it? For having given this kind of reaction to me? Why is it, while I want to give it a one-star and put it as one of the very worst films of all time, why do I also want to give it a five-star grade for its sheer visceral reaction it achieved from me?
I’m very conflicted as a cinemagoer.
It’s not unusual to have that kind of reaction. There’s a reason why many B-movies are considered classics/ cult favorite guilty-pleasures no matter how bad they were.
Yeah, I’m not speaking of the guilty B-movie type of respect, though. At all.
Oh, right I think I got your drift.
Dunno, I thought I had the same reaction watching Ferris Bueller’s Day Off recently, for the first time since the ’80s. I found it unfunny, painful to watch and wanted to punch that evil punk Ferris.
Now you just made me curious about this movie I may have to go and see it.
The OP makes me think of the adage that indifference is the worst reaction one could have toward art. In other words, revulsion is better than indifference, and, in some ways, a positive thing. Of course, if the intention of the artwork isn’t revulsion, then that may be a different matter. Still, I suspect this is the reason for you ambivalence.
Also, you might want to credit the film for making you feel something very rare, almost unique. When a film makes you feel something you’ve never felt before from a film—with great intensity to boot—then that seems, erm, special somehow. At least, this seems like plausible reasons for your ambivalence.
Finally, sometimes a film you really revile and hate can be interesting to discuss, certainly more interesting to discuss then an innocuous cookie-cutter type of film. I have several friends (from different circles) who think that Event Horizon is one the worst film of all time. And, yet, they speak about it with a certain kind of relish and zest (albeit negative). They would never want to see the film again, but talking about it seems “fun” in a way. In my experience, this is also true for some really difficult or terrible experiences you’ve had. They make for a great story, although one would never want to go through them again.
@ Jazz Some friends and i had something similar going on with Event Horizon but our main movie was Dagon. Wow is that a pice of crud, but we could never get over it or stop talking about it. I don’t think there was any respect tied to it though. I do agree with it being akin to a traumatic experience though.
I have very negative reactions to Lars Von Trier, consuming hatreds. I have heard the argument that if that is the intention then they succeeded but I have mixed feelings on that. I dislike (excluding Melancholia) all his movie for technical, story, and acting reasons. It isn’t his themes or anything of that nature that make me uncomfortable, I just greatly dislike the movies. So could one argue that he has succeeded by my reaction?
So could one argue that he has succeeded by my reaction?
I would think not. You’re saying that you despise the films for the filmmaking, right? That sounds like you just think the film utterly failed, which is interesting because I tend to think that when people hate a movie they hate the content. For example, my sense is that the people who hate von Trier’s films, do so because of the content (i.e., putative misogyny). I’d be interested in hearing why you hate von Trier’s films.
Maybe you have respect for it just becuase of it’s power. It’s power was to induce you to such a strong reaction that there is a power there. And power, real power, often produces respect.
Yeah, I think the reason why I should NOT give it praise for being so terrible and getting such a reaction from me is because I seriously don’t think that was its intention. I really do believe the intention was to be a harmless, dark-natured comedy fit for laughs – which it wasn’t. I mean, I respect it for what it managed to make me feel, but this movie is still, in the end, a worthless piece of ugly crap.
Well, with the notable exception of Melancholia (a film I greatly enjoyed and am excluding from this conversation for convenience) I find nothing to latch onto. No character or idea in his films ever really hold my attention or make me want to find out what happens next. I’ve never felt tension, anxiety, hope, or really anything from his films. They just seem like a collection of things that happen then an over all story. I think the problem I have with him is that he tends to have very interesting themes, and it seems like he works backwards from them. I want to make a movie about _____, how do I get there? His movies always have great ideas, but don’t seem to go anywhere or give the viewer much to care about.
I suppose I should note that i have not seen a great deal of his work, after Antichrist I had no real interest in seeing any of his other films, it took me a long time to come around and view Melancholia. I suppose I did like bits of The Idiots but I find the whole Dogma 95 thing soooo pretentious. I suppose I should look into more of his work, after liking one, though.
Surreal films, most of them are depressingly awful, but that’s what makes me keep watching
no, i respect merit, not a lack of it
Yeah, I think the reason why I should NOT give it praise for being so terrible and getting such a reaction from me is because I seriously don’t think that was its intention.
It’s like when someone does something amazing by accident. You have this urge to give respect and feel like it would be totally undeserving at the same time. It’s hard to separate the intentions from the result.
the only movies that are truly bad are the ones we are indifferent to
Jawbreaker comes to mind. It’s bad and there’s nothing good about it. Don’t think too much about stuff like this. Unless you think there’s really something interesting going on with this Sandler film ignore it. Otherwise you can find stuff that will make you want plot smash your tv all over the television. Is the Snooky show or My Sweet Sixteen interesting because it gets a rise out of someone? No, of course not. I think you’re barking up the wrong horse with this one. And that last sentence is not an interesting metaphor that takes risks, it’s just bad.
“So bad it’s good” comes with a little bit of responsibility. Hence:
“Cult cinema”: the audience is reacting to something in the movie that, though the movie failed to be a critical success, nevertheless spoke to the audience despite all odds. The idea is that they may be cheap and campy and muggy and awful, but something behind it they enjoy. Needn’t necessarily be Ed Wood low production value, as cult cinema is sometimes close to mainstream as well.
Cassavetes: purposefully attempts to put people through what Douglas describes. Hence, success.
Camp: Purposefully tries to put people through ‘cult cinema’. May not necessarily succeed. For instance, Southland Tales.
Excuses, excuses: The Room.
And finally, “So bad it’s past good and bad again.” This is the serious people who failed so miserably it hurts. Manos: The Hands of Fate. Unwatchable unless accompanied by MST3K.
Yup. It’s called enjoying something ironically.