Other than a foray out to see Frozen last year, I can’t remember the last time I was in a movie theatre. I don’t generally watch a lot of movies, possibly due to a short attention span and/or a long to-do list, even when they’re right there on the television screen.
This past weekend, with its inclement weather, seemed a good time to remedy that. A scan through the hundreds of cable TV channels that too often have nothing to catch my interest resulted in a trio of movies to keep me entertained while I worked my way through household cleaning, laundry, and random goofing off.
First up was Valentine’s Day, a 2010 romantic comedy with an all-star ensemble cast that included Patrick Dempsey, Jennifer Garner, Ashton Kutcher, and Julia Roberts. Referred to by some bloggers as “an American copycat version of Love Actually,” the story followed a number of characters as they struggled with love on, you guessed it, Valentine’s Day. Though a few reviews claimed the movie suffered from an abundance of romantic clichés and squandered its all-star cast, I found it entertaining and a delightful distraction from an afternoon of housework. It was sweet without being cloying and the characters were endearing (though part of that may be attributable to the actors, rather than the characters themselves). Honesty compels me to mention that I may have missed small bits of the movie here and there due to my multi-tasking ways. Pretty sure I got the general idea though. 🙂
Next up, as I waded through the stack of paperwork that congregated on my desk while my back was turned, was You Again, a comedy from 2010 (I’m sensing a trend here). I might not have given this one a view, if not for the fact that Kristen Bell and Betty White were among the cast members. The movie was the story of a successful young woman who went home to celebrate the upcoming marriage of her brother, only to find out he was marrying her high-school arch nemesis. She set out to expose the fiancées true colours and, as one would expect, trouble ensued. As coincidence would have it (*cough, cough* plot device), both the mother-of-the-groom/aunt-of-the-bride and the two grandmothers (played by Betty White and Cloris Leachman) also were also rival pairs. The movie had a little more slapstick, cat-fighting, and silly situations than I generally prefer, but it ended in typical happily-ever-after fashion, and included a performance by Hall and Oates as the credits rolled on the wedding reception. I may have missed a few bits of this movie as well, more out of embarrassment for the characters than due to wandering attention.
Last up, and the only movie I actually sat down and watched without doing anything else (well, okay, maybe I did some web surfing), was Pitch Perfect, a musical comedy from 2012 with an ensemble cast that included Anna Kendrick and Brittany Snow. The main character was a detached college freshman, more interested in a career making music than schoolwork. Her father made a deal with her: join a school club and stick with it for a year and I’ll let you leave school and pursue a music career, if that’s what you still want. So, she joined the school’s all-girls a cappella group and singing, conflict, and plot devices ensued. The most appealing part of the movie for me (and the reason I sat down to watch it) was the singing. A close second though, were the characters. They were a charming combination of strong, grounded, funny, empathetic, awkward, crazy, and sympathetic. Though I’m pretty sure I’m not the target audience for this movie, I really liked it and would watch it again.
Purely by accident I managed to select three different types of comedies for my movie marathon. All, however, were strong character driven stories with engaging, interesting characters. While I was watching them for entertainment, I spent some time analyzing as I watched to figure out what did and didn’t work for me in each of the stories. My main takeaway is that great characters can make even weak stories appealing.
Although I may have been goofing-off by watching movies instead of spending time writing, I like to think I picked up some additional knowledge that will help me in my own story-telling. Plus, I heard some really good songs. Definitely a win.
So, seen any interesting movies lately?