Movie Pet Peeves

I did some concert pet peeves recently. I thought it was time to take it to the movies.

But I've griped before about talking and cell phones in a theatre. Or children sitting behind me during a hard-core R rated movie.

I want to focus on pet peeves IN the actual movie.

Roger Ebert wrote a great book I read as a teenager, that had a lot of these things. He had more fun with the topic, as he talked about how if you see a fruit stand on the side of the road, you can be guaranteed that a car will run into it at some point (that was later played nicely in a Mike Myers movie, when people were walking across the street for no reason, with a big piece of glass).

I saw a movie recently that will start the pet peeves off. It was on cable, something like The Fugitive. Whatever movie it was, it was going along well. Until the phone call came in to police. It was this deep voice, saying "I just wanted to call to report some suspicious activity going on..."

The caller talked for a minute or two and the problem was...he sounded like someone that does voice over work! People that call the police aren't the same people that do the movie trailers. They're regular sounding people. Yet in movies, any time a person is on the phone (that isn't a regular character in the movie), they either have a deep, perfect sounding voice. Or they do the complete opposite. It's a woman that sounds way more nervous then she should. And she's pronouncing each and every word clearly.

Okay, the other pet peeves:

-- Phone numbers with 555. Nothing takes you out of the story as much as being on the edge of your seat, and the drug kingpin is telling the undercover cop "Call me on this number. Nobody has it. It's 555..." Or you see a guy trying to be smooth and romantic as he slips his number to a woman. She glances down at the cute drawing he made, with the number 555-1212 beneath it.

and speaking of romance...

-- Romantic stuff that isn't romantic. For example, The Notebook. What an overrated piece of crap! Sure, it had its moments. But the character courting this woman...there was nothing romantic about it. They went and laid down in the street. Who cares?! Or, a movie like Top Gun. It did the classic, over-played non-romantic move. The main character says a line at the end of the movie, that was said in the beginning, right before they kiss. It's been done to death. Screen writers need to change it up.

-- Cameos from famous people. And, they work even less when they're shown in the commercial for the movie (The Hangover and Mike Tyson comes to mind). And if the commercials don't ruin the cameo, critics do. What does it add to a review to talk about the various cameo appearances? All you did was ruin the moment when the person is in the film. Or, you have the person sitting there wondering "When and how are they possibly going to work Eminem into this thing?"

-- Characters that have the most wicked fight, where the nastiest things are said or done, and when they sit down to talk about it...they make-up in a few seconds, and are back to being buddy-buddy. There's no awkward period or anything. Mostly because the movie is an hour and a half, and they gotta keep the story moving. A perfect example of this is done twice in the latest movie Funny People (a good movie, go see it).

-- Precocious kids. The movie (500) Days of Summer was good. But having a smart character that has relationship problems, constantly going to his 10-year-old sister for advice, and having her spout off pearls of wisdom. It's cute...but very unrealistic. And this thing has been done to death. In fact, it almost sunk Juno. The fact that her character was slightly older, I give it a pass. Having characters like that take away from the realistic aspect the movie strives for.

I remember a movie John Hughes did in the 80s. It was called "Some Kind of Wonderful." And they had a girl that played Eric Stoltz' little sister. She was smart, hip, and funny. And she gave her brother advice. But it was all believable and wasn't over-the-top.

In "Beautiful Girls", Natalie Portman pulled off playing a kid wise beyond her age. And it worked. Yet so many movies get this wrong.

-- Fist fights and gun shots. Eddie Murphy did a funny routine about how in a movie you get shot, and you stagger on down the street, chasing the bad guy. Or holding the wound, telling your partner to "go on without me." He said he was in a nightclub when someone was shot, and they peed their pants and screamed for their mom. Appaloosa did a great gun fight. It lasted about three seconds, tops.

With fist fights, people will go at each other for the longest period of time. In real life, that first punch would probably knock the guy out. Or break your hand when it makes contact with their skull.

One movie that had a few realistic fights was "An Officer and a Gentleman." In one, Richard Gere fights some drunk red-necks in a bar. He quickly kicks one guy that goes down. He punches another one in the nose. And that's it. They see he knows martial arts and they don't want to mess with him.

Later, when he fights Lou Gossett, Jr., the first punch Gossett throws shocks Gere, who drops to his knee. And so do the next couple.

When Gere kicks Gossett, he drops, holding his ribs and looking a bit scared. It ends soon after that, with Gossett kicking him in the "privates."

-- Music in movies. I'm a huge music lover. And nothing is more enjoyable than when a movie gets it right. Pulp Fiction comes to mind. I'm hearing Dick Dale, Ricky Nelson, Link Wray, and the songs all fit perfectly in the scenes they're used. What I hate? Any motorcycle scene that uses "Born to be Wild"? I mean, really? I give a pass to any Disney movies that are trying to be cute.

In (500) Days of Summer...they play the Hall & Oates song "You Make My Dreams", one of their worst songs. But what makes it bad that they used it here, is that it was used so nicely in Step Brothers, when the two characters that hate each other, finally bond. Once a song is used well in another movie, that's it. So, Lust for Life was Trainspotting. Born to Be Wild was Easy Rider. Yet, so many films that come out want to use those same tunes (and on another music pet peeve: characters that like obscure indie bands, so we think they're cool; they just come off as idiotic and snobby. Besides, nothing looked hotter and hipper than seeing Eva Mendez in Hitch, wearing a Beatles shirt underneath a blazer).

-- Cars exploding when they crash.

Now, this one doesn't really bother me all that much. I understand why they want to do it. I just find it so much more powerful and realistic, when they sometimes don't. For example, I rented Vanilla Sky the other day (an underrated film). Cameron Diaz drives her car over a bridge, with Tom Cruise in the passenger seat. They land, hitting a wall at 80 miles per hour. No explosion. Just the sounds of shattering glass and bending metal. Followed by some silence, and a scene of nearby people running over to help. It worked so much better than an explosion. Although, now that I type that, I realize an explosion wouldn't work, as characters in that scene weren't supposed to die. But still...

-- Bad special effects. The reason this bothers me a kid, I remember watching Clash of the Titans on HBO. My older brother loved it. And I couldn't help thinking how lame the big cyclopse looked coming out of the water. And the person that made that was considered a special effects wiz.

Yet, I'll see a commercial for something like "I, Robot" with Will Smith, and a thousand robots are chasing him. That should be scary, but the problem is, they look fake. Why? Years earlier in Terminator, robots are chasing people and they looked real. And you were on the edge of your seat, when one changed forms.

Even these big blockbuster, comic book movies like Spiderman. You'll be enjoying most of the special effects, and having a great time. It reminds you of being at the popcorn movies you loved as a kid. Then, the character will swing from a web off a skyscrapper, and it looks fake. Couldn't they just edit that one swing out of there if it was hard to create? I read in the paper a stuntman died during the filming. If that happens, there better be some bad-ass looking stuff on screen!

-- Background people. Now, in the scheme of things, this is a relatively small complaint. I only notice background characters because I see so many movies in the theatre, that if I'm with a group that rents movies I've already seen...I glance at things I may not have noticed the first time around.

And in every restaurant, the people behind the main characters, are having what looks like the most interesting conversation. They're animated, with eyebrows up, lots of laughter, hand's almost distracting. Why can't the director say, "Listen...when you're at Applebee's, you probably don't even talk to your spouse. So just keep it light. One of you pretend to talk, the other pretend to listen. Enough with all the crazy gestures." They joke about extras trying to do things to get noticed in the very overrated show "Extras" (with the very talented Ricky Gervais).

I understand if they're doing a scene where they run through the streets of New York, you can't do anything about all the people on the sidewalk looking over. And that usually doesn't matter, because if someone is running from the police, a lot of people would be watching.

I'm curious to hear what other peoples pet peeves are regarding to things they see in movies.


I agree about that, regarding Superbad, but those cops (Seth Roger and the SNL guy)...they were so funny, I give them a pass. I do hate when Pineapple Express went down this route. Near the end of the movie, it just became so bizarre. And it ends with them sitting in a Denny' guy with his ear hanging off, another with bullet woulds all thru his body. And they discuss whether they should go to the hospital or not. Yeah, right.

I agree with Pete. The remakes are never as good. I rarely go to the movies anymore, because I fall asleep. Pulp Fiction was great. I must have played the soundtrack a million times.

My pet peeve is that I hate seeing the same stars over and over, even if they aren't suited for a part. I know it's all about money, but I just do not see the allure of Jennifer Aniston. And Joan Collins wanted the part of the evil woaman in 101 Dalmations, but it went to Glenn Close because according to Joan, she had the bigger name. Joan would have been perfect for it. The movie stunk with Glenn in it.

Whew - good read, long read, but good read.

I hear you on all of this stuff, loud and clear. I can still think a movie is good when they have a couple of these flaws but I still can't overlook them.

I'll throw out just a few I can think of -

-Juno - this will fall under your "Precious Kids" section. Ellen Page's character was just a bit too over the top for me with her wordplay and verbiage. Every time I'd bring this up to my friends, especially the gals, they'd all quickly interject with "well, I was just like that in high school too". We'd then start debating about that, since most of them I knew in high school and sure, a lot of them were a quick witted and funny but come on - line after line coming out of that girls mouth is shtick.

-Transformers 2 - talk about special effects overload. Michael Bay went extreme overboard with this one, ruining something that could have been a summer blockbuster. "Overload" is another good one. Sometimes too much is being crammed into something, leaving a lot of things unanswered. I don't need an answer to everything and I can roll with a lot, but when you try to get so intense about everything your throwing at me, I want answers.

I recently saw Rocky V for the first time. The fight scenes in that were pretty realistic. Turns out they were real. The directors had to keep telling Stone to take it easy because he was taking hits that were leaving some heavy duty physical marks on his face. Although, with a mug like that there really isn't much of a difference, eh? I know the old Rocky fight scenes don't look so hot, but that was 20 something plus years ago too, right?

Star Wars is a series that has always blown my mind with how good everything in it still looks. I applaud you Star Wars nerd fans, you're justified and keep on keeping on.

Copland - Another Stone flick. This one I just can't get with. Stallone's character is the Sheriff of some Jersey town (I think) and he's just such a sad freakin sap. I mean, just waaaaay too over the top. I like when they don't make the cop character a total prick or whatever it is that can fall under movie stereotypical. However, you can't just go to the extreme opposite of that and expect it to be any better. He literally was a real life Eeyore (Winnie The Pooh). I think Eeyore maybe even was a bit more less sad sackish this Sly's character in this one.

Pete I hope you copyrighted those game ideas, or some Hollywood type is going to run with them.

Storyteller totally agree. It's so obvious when there's some big name in a part that totally doesn't suit them, and you know they only got it for big-name appeal.

Yea and Domino was just a real bad movie not a game either. Pretty bad, i know. In Phelam 123 the most recent Travolta movie, He was wearing 2 different watches and that really bugs me that the person who is supposed to make sure all that stuff is consistent doesn't.

rickeysays:Those are actual live action movies due out either in '09 or '10. A live action Chutes & Ladders? WHOOOOOPEE! At least I'm pretty sure it was Chutes & Ladders. I know Where's Waldo?,Monopoly & Battleship are right. I'm almost positive I saw that on one of sxephil's vids on YT a few weeks ago. I'll check in the morning.

dfhnnsvil sorry, my jaw just hit the keyboard when it dropped!

um, i think you have just about covered it all, josh lol :)

Maybe it is just me, but too many action flicks now have the "shaky camera" thing going on and too many cut away shots. I think it started after Blair Witch or Cloverfield....YES, I know those were camcorder flicks and supposed to be that way.

Just watched Borne Supremacy last night on HBO...the car chase was almost unwatchable. What is up with all the cut angles, switching back and forth with 5 camera angles, jiggly cameras, etc. I commented to my wife that if that scene was done more like the car chase from The French Connection it would have been 100% better. Maybe I am getting old, but that gives me a headache and I can't follow the action.

I thought they made a movie of everyones favorite party game: Twister. I went to see it, and there was no colorful cloth board late out anywhere. Just a bunch of tornadoes and bad acting.

I don't watch all that many movies but from the ones I do watch, I hate it when there's a meal scene and the actors aren't really eating. Actually usually it's only the women that aren't doing much more than taking little fake nibbles. It just looks so posed. Heaven forbid an actress ingest an actual carb while filming, even in the name of art!!!

The physics-defying stunts are the worst. Nothing ruins a movie for me like an obviously impossible stunt. The bus jumping over the freeway gap in Speed is the notorious example, but I could go on and on.

Another thing that bugs me is when a movie loses track of it's tone. Is it a realistic movie, or is it a crazy comedy? It can't be both. Half of Superbad was good, but the crazy half with the cops was unrealistic and dumb. Either make the whole movie like that, or, if you want to make a good movie, make a whole movie like the other half, but you can't mix up the tone.

Sorry it was so long (if I had a dime for every time...)

I don't remember Rocky V much. Oh that the Russian? No, that's IV. The Russian episode was horrible, but Stallone insisted on doing real punches, and had to go to the hospital when he almost choked on his mouth piece. Also, he got hit so hard in the chest, it gave him a mild heart attack (I believe I read that in one of the movie trade papers).

Never saw Transformers, as I'm over the age of 10.

Some people have the pet peeve of James Bond never getting shot by bullets. I don't mind that. He's kind of like a super hero, and you just go with it. It's the same way the bad guys tell him all their plans, right before they plan to torture and kill him. Only to have him escape, and now...walla! he knows all their plans.

I did have a problem with Liam Neeson dodging all the bullets in a recent action picture. Because, he would just burst into this drug den or something, and they'd all be shooting at him. And he never once even got grazed by a bullet. But my friends liked that movie, so...maybe I'm just nitpicking.

It's funny you say that, harvest (by the of Neil Youngs best albums). I always felt the exact opposite. Early on, I dunno...maybe when I was 12, I heard some actor say how he hates that they aren't allowed to eat the food. So I started paying attention to that. And, to me, it always looks like they're scarfing it down. Sometimes to the point of it grossing me out. The thing to keep in mind is...if the scene involves dialog, it's hard to eat and talk at the same time.

But movies that immediately pop into mind where they did both, and looked like they were really eating: Pulp Fiction (Travolta and Jackson talking about pigs, as they scarfed down breakfast), Sideways (one character is eating, and angry, while the other tells of the plans for the day), and I'm guessing the new movie Julia/Julie, about Julia Child, will have lots and lots of eating that looks realistic.

rickey...bringing up Speed made me think of something. I have a pet peeve with watching movies with a person that's an expert in a certain field. Some mechanic that tells you the flaws of a race car movie. Or when I played basketball with these pilots at Miramar, they always complained about how unrealistic Top Gun was, as it was being filmed there.

When Back Draft came out, firefighters talking about how this and that, wasn't accurate.

Don't get me wrong...I think filmmakers should do some research and get the stuff right. But it doesn't mean I need a pilot two rows in front of me, telling his girlfriend "There's no way an F-14 can do an inverted dive like that. It's impossible."

Although, watching Jarheads, or Leathernecks...or whatever that Jamie Foxx movie stepbrother made the mistake of saying how dumb the boot camp scenes were. Typical stuff with drill sergeants beating the crap out of the privates. And really...that just doesn't happen any more. And he said so. Well, a military guy nearby went nuts, saying "How do you know!? You've never served a day in the service or in a fox hole, fighting for your life!!" The dude almost burst a blood vessel screaming so much. I was about to say, "Cool it, soldier! Down and give me 25! Now!!!"

Just to see if his instincts would kick in.

Well card...I might've agreed with you, at first. As you say, Cloverfield and Blair Witch, were based around people finding kids video cam-corders, and then watching what videos they took. But, I remember going to see the Blair Witch Project, with signs in the theatre warning people. Apparently, movie goers were puking because of all the movement of the cameras.

When NYPD Blue first came out, it annoyed me as much as that red-heads goofy facial expressions. But, I was surprised that after a few movies went with this new approach, they quickly dropped it (the last time I remember seeing it, was the latest James Bond film...and many critics criticized the use of it, calling it "The Bond Identity").

The French Connection is a classic. And, when you think about those classic car chase scenes (Bullitt also comes to mind), I also think about how many times, car chases can also be so cliche and uninteresting. Nothing takes me out of a picture more, than watching some great David Mamet film, where characters are saying and doing such interesting things...and a car chase is thrown in, making me think it went from a Mamet film to a Mann film!

joshb, back to the expert thing...I also hate when people are experts when you're watching a movie. Has everyone forgotten about suspension of disbelief? If the movie is entertaining enough or funny enough or I just like it, I'll let the logistics go and sit back. Was Revenge of the Nerds an accurate portrayal of nerds and their adventures? Could Harold and Kumar really smoke all that weed and then hanglide to White Castle? Overboard as a film starring Goldie Hawn? Perhaps a few cocktails would help the experts forget their expertise and enjoy the escape or.... more likely, the cocktails would help me drown out thier detail chatter.

P.S. I loved the Notebook and could not watch it for weeks after my boyfriend and I broke up. I know this is pathetic, but oh well!

My only beef with Hollywood right now is their lack of originality. I'm tired of really sty re-makes. Halloween was a classic. Is the next generation so brain dead that hey Rob Zombie to re-tell it in his style. Yeah Rob,we get it. You love gore and you're a great musician. Good fin' job. Now get back in the recording studio where you belong.

I heard that they're doing a re-make of The Warriors with none of the original character's names and it's set in L.A. O_o Be on the lookout for live action movies of Battleship,Monopoly,Chutes & Ladders and Where's Waldo?. LAME-O!!!! The last decent movie I saw in the theatre was Miami Vice and that's only because I'm a huge fan of the TV show.

single: you mentioned all these movies I had such a fun time watching, and then you pull out the Notebook. The movie wasn't horrible, but it really wasn't very good. I actually guessed it early on. But that being said, I did find that aspect emotional and very sweet. For him to be reading that notebook to her, was so wonderful. It was just the flashbacks that were all so damn lame!!

Yeah, Joan Collins would've been so much better. Glenn Close was great in Fatal Attraction, and the studio wanted someone "sexier" for that part. She's a great actress, but Joan so has the better look for that part. I seriously doubt, though, that it was a name thing. Actors always try to play that card, and I rarely buy it. I mean, if it was a no-name actress, and they went with Glenn Close, okay. But Joan Collins is a big enough name, and someone the studio could've gotten a lot cheaper than Glenn Close. So I just don't buy that.

--Poor research into basic military customs and courtesies, uniforms, etc. like you with music, I love it when they get it right. But I can barely watch if they get it wrong. I've noticed that there are no bad movies that have perfect military stuff. It seems like if they've taken the time to get this small element right, they've taken the time to write a good, plausible story. All they need to do is hire a good technical consultant or do some basic research.

"A Few Good Men" is a good example. There's a scene where a Marine salutes indoors uncovered (without a hat). Just doesn't happen. The rest of the movie is outlandish too but I don't expect them to make a movie about the banalities of military investigations and courtroom procedure. I just want them to get the easy stuff right.

--Background (Also). I was an extra in the movie Pearl Harbor. It was shot in Rosarito in the same huge tank as Titanic. It was a great gig. 100 bucks a day (sometimes for just a few hours), plus free hotel room. I was in the military at the time, so this was like having somebody pay me to go on vacation. Anyway, the funny thing was how eager everyone was to be in the movie. The Assistant Director would call for 6 guys and about 20 would jockey for position to get in. The water was cold and many were in full costume. My costume was underwear. I laid on a beach chair and got a tan. They would tell them "ok your getting shot" and these guys would WAY overdo it. You can't even see them in the movie though. Some shots were probably ruined because of it. If it got hot or they needed everybody, I'd get in so I got killed in 3 or 4 different scenes.

Which leads to another point that I agree with you on, and that's romance. When we were doing this movie, Michael Bay (cursed be his name) told us that this film was about honoring us and telling the true story of Pearl Harbor. We spent about 2 weeks doing this. There were so many scenes and explosions and stunts shot, we thought it would be the bulk of the movie. I would have walked out of the theater if I hadn't kept looking for myself. I've only seen part of it 1 time since. He absolutely destroyed that movie with the romance. That movie wasn't even about Pearl Harbor. I won't ever pay to see another Michael Bay movie.

Domino -- A great Van Morrison song. A great pizza. A great 60s pianist. A great Kiss song. A bad movie!

Funny that Travolta wore two watches. Didn't he wear two faces in a movie, too?

Dang, I hate hearing that about A Few Good Men, as I liked that film. I guess, technically, I couldn't handle hearing the truth about it.

I remember seeing the commercial for Pearl Harbor, and thinking how powerful it was watching children playing baseball in Hawaii, with those planes flying over for the attack. The sound, the visual. Awesome stuff. Until I read in the paper, that the attack was at 6 a.m., and a group of kids probably wouldn't be up playing ball at that time. That was enough for me.

Ron Howard, although he makes some entertaining movies, also makes a lot of crap. And every movie based on a real event or person, has so much garbage written into it.

MOVIE PET PEEVE UPDATE: I saw this the other day when Minority Report was on. Tom Cruise gets video up that shows his boss committing a murder that was pinned on someone else. Everyone at this dinner party sees the boss put on the mask (to kill the lady). And they all gasp and scream really loud.

I hate that!!!

I like it better in a movie like 6th Sense. They watch the video of the mom poisoning her daughter. And nobody else in the room says anything. You see some of them look at each other. You see the fathers face drop. And the same happens when he confronts his wife about keeping the girl sick. People are in the background, but they aren't screaming and carrying on.

Another movie pet peeve: A character walks in the door, and the TV is on, showing a news story involving that character. Now, two things happen that annoy me. Either the character shuts the TV off. Yeah, right. A story about you on the news, and you don't want to hear the details. Or...they shut the TV off as soon as that news segment finishes. Nobody does that.

But, in movieland, they probably don't want to have to film another few minutes of "fake news". Not to mention, it could be a distraction for other things the characters in the room might be saying.

Oh, and that reminds me of another one. Characters getting into their cars. Their windows are always rolled down, so it's easier for them to talk to other people. Or so the camera doesn't show a reflection. Who knows, maybe it's just so we can see the actor better. But, nobody I know leaves their windows down in a parking lot.

And, even if it means you have to film an extra few seconds, sometimes it works better. In "Election" when Tracy Flick needs to talk to Matthew Broderick as he's pulling out of the school parking lot, we see him roll down the window. Way more realistic.

One of my major pet peeves is computers that make the clicks and beeps as words and numbers stream across. Computers realy haven't made much noise in the past 10 years. I remember my old 386 with the 20meg hard drive that sounded like someone was clearing their throat, but these annoying beeps, clicks need to stop.

Another is when someone is holding a gun, when they move it, its sounds like a hand fulls of nails on a granite counter top. Guns don't make noise by moving them around, oh and the guys that are constantly pumping their shotgun before they even fire a round.

Any movie Paul Walker stars in except Varsity Blues.

Cops that drive around with their sirens wailing for no reason.

Things blowing up when you shoot them.

Wire Fighting, its getting old.

Matrix 2 & 3

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