Yes, You Loved That Movie

My old writing professor (yes, the one who wouldn’t shut up about his Oscar) told my class a story–

I was at a dinner party. I knew some people, didn’t know others. You know how it is.

No, we didn’t know how it is, because we were fucking 19 and had never been to a dinner party. Anyway…

My movie had just opened, and it wasn’t doing very well. So, my buddy was ribbing me about it. Finally, I said, “Yeah, well, at least it was better than that piece of shit Rambo III.”

Which was out at the time; my professor was old.

The room goes totally silent, I have no idea why. Suddenly, a guy at the other end of the table slams his fists down, stands up, and says, “Fuck. You.”

Then he storms out. I don’t know what’s going on. So I turn to my buddy, and he goes, “Why did you say that? That’s ________. He produced Rambo III.”

I didn’t mean to insult the guy. I didn’t even know who he was! I was just trying to think of a movie that we can all agree was pretty awful.

Which is why you should never badmouth a movie. No matter how bad you think it is, somebody is very proud of the work they did on it.

Like Thomas Lennon said: “Nobody in Hollywood ever sets out to make a bad movie ever but about 99% of the time, that’s what happens.”

There are a lot of good reasons to not hate a movie, but the fact that you work in Hollywood just adds another. You might hurt someone’s feelings; you might even cost yourself a job in the future.

I’m sure your grandma told you, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” But at some point, someone is going to ask, “What’d you think of _______?” You can’t just avoid the question.

You definitely shouldn’t give a non-answer, like, “I wasn’t really the target audience” or “Congratulations on completing the movie!” Everyone can see through your transparent act; they know you hated it.

But here’s the thing– there’s (almost) always something good about every movie or TV show that actually made it to your screen. Maybe there were impressive effects, maybe a good performance, maybe even just a single funny line. Whatever it is, say that.

Even if you haven’t seen the movie in question, mention something in the trailer that looked appealing. “I haven’t gotten a chance to see it, yet, but man, that scene with the bees looks awesome.”

And it is awesome.

I’m not telling you to lie. Just look on the positive side.

Or, y’know, you could lie. This is Hollywood, after all.

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2 Responses

  1. Hollywood has changed significantly since Rambo III. It has become far more corporate, more focus grouped, more dissected. Despite the historic ego and money involved, it used to be a “family business.” Now the chain of command goes up so far you’ll end up in a boardroom at Viacom staring down dozens of executives, along with the toy companies and marketing team and you’ll completely lose sight of what it is you set out to create. Because you didn’t create it. Someone else did… Stan Lee or Eastman and Laird. Or perhaps a filmmaker from the 70s like, oh I don’t know, George friggen Lucas? You no longer have creative ownership over the movie at all. You are a hired shill, whose job it is to maximize the entertainment value for ONE weekend, so the numbers look good to the shareholders. And then there’s China… let’s not even get into that. My point is, if you want to be a brown-nosing suck-up, then take that old professor’s advice. But if you want to be a person of integrity, it’s perfectly acceptable to say a movie sucks. Because it probably does… and frankly, if someone’s ego is bruised because their Marvel sequel reboot wasn’t great, they should look in the mirror and ask themselves why they even want to make movies in the first place. If the answer is MONEY, then they should grow a thick skin and expect harsh criticism. If the answer is ART then they should maybe think about leaving Hollywood.

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