Movies require logic in order to succeed. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri lacked that logic.

The thing that upsets me most about a film is a failure of logic. 

A movie is supposed to transport the audience to another world. At its best, it should make us almost forget our own world. I brought Charlie to Paddington 2 a month ago. In the middle of the movie, he bolted upright in his seat and shouted, "Wo! I almost forgot who I was!" 

I loved this moment so much. What he really meant was that he forgot where he was. In his mind, he was existing within the movie. 

That is magic.

This is why we cry at scenes that our objective minds know never happened. Two people - actors who we've already seen pretending to be other people in other movies -are pretending to be two people in a moment that never actually happened.

We know all this, yet still we weep. 

This is what makes stories great. It's what makes movies great. It's magic.

A failure of logic destroys that magic. When something illogical happens in a movie, you find yourself wondering questions like:

Why did that happen?
Why did she do that?
Isn't anyone in this movie going to notice this?
Why don't they just do that?

The magic is broken. I don't get to almost forget who I am. Instead, I find myself wondering what is wrong with these people.  

I watched Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri last night with Elysha. A film that scored a number of Academy Award nominations and a handful of victories. 

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Boy did I love the performances in that movie. Woody Harrelson the most.

Boy did I hate that movie.

Why? Logic. Or a lack thereof. 

Without giving away any spoilers, below is a list of fallacies of logic that ruined the possible magic of the movie for me. They are the fallacies of logic that I believe should've ruined the movie for everyone.

  1. Police stations have back doors. All buildings have back doors. This is a basic fire safety requirement. No building in the world has a single exit. Especially a public building. 
  2. People who commit assault - in some cases multiple times - are prosecuted for their crimes. This includes assault against dentists, teenagers, salespeople, secretaries, and former police officers. You don't get to walk through the world unscathed and unfettered after brutally assaulting other human beings repeatedly. 
  3. Crime victims and their assailants are not placed in the same hospital room during their recovery.  
  4. Police officers whose employment has been terminated are not encouraged to return to station late at night after everyone has gone home in order to retrieve their mail using keys that no one has bothered to collect. Also, do police stations ever really close? Even in a small town, doesn't someone answer calls at all hours?
  5. People who are dying and leaving behind a beloved wife and small children don't spend large sums of money on amusing acts of petty revenge. They leave that money for their family.  

For all of these reasons, I never believed this movie. At every turn, I found myself saying:

"What? This makes no sense?"

At that point, I was no longer captivated by the magic of the film. I was distracted by the obvious fallacies of logic. 

Movies also are permitted a coincidence, but they only get one. One coincidence per film. More than one coincidence causes the audience to wonder what the hell kind of world these characters are inhabiting. More than one coincidence reminds the audience that this story isn't real. It was written by human beings who chose to manipulate events in a way that feels unreal and dishonest.

More than one coincidence makes it feel like the writers cheated, because they did.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri relies on a hell of a lot of coincidence. More than the permitted one. 

The movie was also nominated for best screenplay.

That makes no sense to me.  

The performances were brilliant. The cinematography was top notch. I loved the score.

But the screenplay? No. You don't get to put a police station in your movie with no back door and be nominated for an Academy Award. You don't get to create a world where assault goes ignored again and again and be considered great. 

Movies require logic. This movie did not have any. 

Just one writers opinion. 

7 things that we all agree should exist but still don't. Unless you're four years old.

Seven things that we all agree should exist and are within our power to bring into existence but still don't.

  1. A vacation from a vacation
  2. The four day work week
  3. The elimination of all dress codes
  4. Cellular telephone jamming technology in every movie theater
  5. Decent rest areas along the Saw Mill and Taconic Parkway
  6. Five more seasons of The Office
  7. A national holiday on the Monday following the Super Bowl

We all yearn for these things that seem within our reach and are yet so far away. 

Except for my son.

This was the start of his vacation after a vacation. 
He also has a zero day work week, and he doesn't work on the Monday following the Super Bowl.

Being four years-old is amazing. 

My son is starting to like Star Wars. Also, he calls it Star Whores, which led me to Ken and his dad.

Charlie is starting to come around to Star Wars. His sister is not a fan (only because the boys at school love Star Wars), so he has assumed the same position out of blind loyalty. But he is beginning to crack. 

  • He likes R2-D2 a lot. 
  • We are constantly battling with our faux lightsabers. 
  • He recently saw a photograph of Chewbacca and asked me lots of questions about him.  

Eventually we'll watch the films together and enjoy them.

Another thing that will sadly change in regards to Charlie  and Star Wars (but hopefully not too soon): He doesn't call the movie Star Wars. 

He calls it Star Whores. It's hilarious.

Out of curiosity, I looked to see if there is a movie called Star Whores.

Of course there is. Actually, it was the an adult sci-fi comedy pilot that never went beyond a pilot. The IMDB description of the show goes like this:

Follows the adventures of Commander Nymphette and her droid, Six-of-Niner, aboard the SS Deep Thruster.

Reading the IMDB page for this TV series is quite entertaining. I won't share all of the amusing tidbits found on the page except for these two:

  • The producer of the film is listed as "Big Jim."
  • Special effects on the film are credited to "Ken and his dad."

Strikes me as a tad informal.

For the record, I also have an IMDB page (which I rate as one of my greatest accomplishments ever). I'm listed as a writer for the film Unexpectedly, Milo, which is currently under development. 

I'm hoping that someday soon, we will move past development and into production. And with people other than Big Jim and Ken and his dad.

It's better to love because it makes you better than other people, which is extremely satisfying.

I have friends who didn't like the new Star Wars film. Despite admitting that there were moments of enjoyment while watching the movie, they nitpicked it to death after the fact and declared the whole thing a failure.

I think they're crazy. 

I embraced my inner child (which is admittedly a sizable part of my interior) and adored every bit of the film. It made me feel like a boy again. It brought back memories of sitting in the carpeted aisle at The Stadium in Woonsocket, Rhode Island in 1977 and seeing Star Wars for the first time. My heart soared at the appearance of Han Solo. I felt absolute joy upon seeing the X-Wing fighters fly into battle for the first time. I experienced genuine heartbreak at moments that will go unmentioned here in case you haven't seen the film yet.

But I didn't try to argue with my friends about the greatness of the movie. I didn't attempt to convince them that they were wrong. I didn't defend my opinion in any way. 

Why?     

I'm always extra happy to discover that I love something that someone else cannot.

Never be embarrassed about the things that you love. If you adore the music of Justin Bieber, then the world is a little brighter for you than it is for me. If you think Taco Bell makes the best tacos in the world, then you have inexpensive, readily-available, world class food available at thousands of locations across America. 

Lucky you. 

It's a wonderful feeling to know that you're living in a bigger, brighter, more beautiful world than the next person. 

 

One of the greatest sources of disagreement in my marriage centers on Kevin Bacon and a questionable dance number.

My wife and I don’t fight, and we disagree on very few things.

One of the sources of our greatest disagreements centers on a moment in the movie Footloose.

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My contention is that the ending of the movie, with its choreographed dance number and strategically-timed glitter bomb (which looks ridiculous), is also  ridiculous. It’s a scene written for a bad musical and inserted into a non-musical.

Elysha, on the other hand, loves the ending of the film. She loves the whole movie, in fact.

I don’t think the movie holds up, but that’s beside the point. I also didn’t see the film when it was released, which can often kill a movie for me,

Regardless, it’s not the true source of our disagreement. It’s the ending that is the issue.

And it’s terrible. Right?

Wes Anderson loves yellow, orange and brown. I do not.

I am not a fan of Wes Anderson’s films.

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I suspect that it’s because I’m an auditory learner who remembers almost everything he hears but almost nothing he sees.

My wife says that if she were placed in a lineup with other brunettes, I might have a difficult time picking her out. Not true, but she illustrates the point well. Oftentimes, I can’t tell you what clothing I am wearing unless I look down.

My visual receptive skills are lacking, and Anderson’s films are visual masterpieces. Though I know this empirically, his skill and expertise are often lost on me.

Either that or I am not a fan or yellow, orange and brown, which are essentially the only colors that Anderson uses in his films.

If you think I’m exaggerating, watch this video on the themes in Anderson’s films. It’s actually quite interesting, but it fails to note his obsessive use of these three colors, which are on full display in the video itself.

Pixar’s bathroom. Eddie Van Halen’s M&Ms. Enough. We got it.

I’ve heard the story of Pixar's bathrooms about a thousand times now. Enough. I get it. People peeing together make for great collaboration and great film.

I’ve also heard the Van Halen brown M&M story a thousand times, too. Brown M&M’s equal contract accountability. I got it.

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Last week I heard the M&M story told on a business podcast as if it were something new and enlightening.

I also heard the Pixar bathroom story on a similar podcast and read about it on a science blog. In both cases, the story was told in its entirety.  

I’d like to officially propose a five year moratorium on both these stories.

I don’t want to read about them in any social science, business or behavioral economics books. I don’t want to find them in any journal articles or magazine pieces or science blogs. I don’t want to hear them discussed on television or on a podcast.

Can we all agree that everyone has either heard these two stories by now or don’t read or watch or listen to the kind of material that would ever expose them to these two stories?

Find some new stories. Please?

Ninjas to the rescue. Seriously.

I enjoy the movies a lot, but I have begun to enter movie theaters with great trepidation, knowing that it takes just one moron to ruin the experience.

The idiots who text during the movie are bad enough, and the people who actually make and receive calls on their cell phones make the experience untenable.

Then there are the extreme, albeit seemingly common, cases:

On Valentines Day this year, I found myself sitting next to a couple and their infant. The baby was noisy, cried at least twice, and at one point the couple changed the baby’s diaper while still sitting in their seats.

I don’t care what anyone says. Infants do not belong in movie theaters.

Then there was the toddler sitting in the front row for Cloverfield until the parents finally decided to act responsibly and remove their terrified child from the theater. 

There was the roving band of teenagers who I had to threaten in order to convince them to leave and the time I rallied an entire theater of moviegoers against two women who would not shut up.

All I ask is to watch a movie in peace and quiet, but people seem so willing and capable of screwing this up.

Unfortunately, movie theaters do little to prevent these distractions even as they watch their ticket sales decrease year after year. They have no policy against bringing a baby into a theater and they rarely monitor the behavior of their patrons as they are watching the film. And even if a person wants to complain, it means missing a significant portion of the movie to do so.

I’m happy to report that someone is finally doing something about this problem, and the solution is almost too good to be true:

Ninjas defending your right to a quiet, distraction-free theater.

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The Prince Charles Cinema in Leicester Square has joined forces with Morphsuits — a manufacturer of skin-tight zentai suits — to launch an army of volunteer "cinema ninjas" who get to watch the movie for free in exchange for donning a black body suit and pouncing on misbehaving moviegoers from behind the cinema's shadows.

The "ninja taskforce" stunt has been met with critical acclaim, and was recently picked up by two other British movie theaters.

While I would prefer that the ninjas be professionals, capable of actually removing unwanted patrons from the theater (and inflicting a modicum of  pain in the process), this is at least a step in the right direction.  

It’s also the only step I’ve ever seen any movie theater to ensure that their customers enjoy a disturbance-free experience.

I have a few suggestions as well:

  1. Install cellphone jamming devices in a designated number of theaters in the establishment and declare them phone-free zones. Even though people went to movies, plays, concerts, sporting events and monster truck shows for decades without the benefit of immediate access to the outside world, I understand that some people feel the need to be connected to babysitters and other outside entities at all times in the event of an emergency. I think it’s a little crazy, but I’m willing to accommodate their need. Place jamming devices in half of the theaters and make the rest jammer-free.

  2. Prohibit infants from all movie theaters except for those showing rated G films.

  3. Prohibit all children 5 years old and younger from all movie theaters after 6:00 PM except for those showing rate G films.     

I think these three suggestions are reasonable in scope and would be fairly simple to enact and would be greeted with near-universal appreciation.

Most important, these three steps (in addition to heavily armed ninjas) would go a long way in providing movie theater patrons the kind of experience that the high cost of a movie ticket should guarantee.