Almost every movie asks its audience to suspend disbelief on some level – whether for the fact that a superhero jacked up on fancy steroids can single-handedly save the world from apocalyptic disaster, or just that an average schlub could really win the heart of a supermodel girlfriend. Some films have a lot more disbelief that requires suspension than others. In today’s Roundtable, we call out some popular movies that cross a line we just can’t get past.
Please keep in mind that the purpose of this topic is to highlight popular, successful or acclaimed films that the majority of viewers see no problem with. Nevertheless, some aspect of their premise doesn’t make sense, enough so that we can’t get behind them. Outright flops or movies that are widely hated (even despite making money) do not qualify. For example, ‘Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen’ may have grossed $800 million, but do you know anyone who actually liked it? No, of course you don’t. Therefore, it’s off limits here.
On the other hand, why is it that nobody ever questions why Iron Man doesn’t roast in his metallic suit as soon as he fires up those rockets in his boots? Does that really not bother anyone?
Where do you draw the line at suspending disbelief for movies that other people think are great?
Forgetting how much I hated the film in every other conceivable way, the whole “cut and paste the face but leave the rest the same” aspect of ‘Face/Off‘ was completely stupid. Moronic even. 17 years later, I still can’t get over how ridiculous this movie was. And almost 2.5 hours long at that! I still get impatient just remembering sitting in the theater waiting for it to end.
I had the hardest time accepting the premise of ‘Her‘. Plenty of critics praised the film for being groundbreaking and original, but I simply couldn’t get beyond its absurd concept: a man falls in love with Artificial Intelligence. The reality in which ‘Her’ is set is much too contrived for me to emotionally connect with. A new operating system is released and a dude falls in love with the manipulative Siri behind it. The fact that not a single person questions his actions was just too much for me. Chris Pratt asking hipster Joaquin Phoenix and his iPhone on a double date was simply stupid. Prior to watching it, I expected ‘Her’ to be the best film of 2013, but it quickly became one that I disliked the most.
Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)
The cult classic ‘Battle Royale‘ is set in a mildly futuristic version of Japan where society is on the brink of ruin. This is due in no small part to the wildly out-of-control youth of the nation, culminating in 800,000 students simultaneously storming out of their schools. The Japanese government swiftly responds with the BR Act, which requires that, ever year, a handful of classes of students slaughter one another on a remote island until a single child is left standing.
The idea is that this is supposed to be some kind of deterrent. How does that work? The games don’t significantly reduce the number of untamed youth. We’re talking about a few dozen kids a year, after all. The students are snatched out of school, meaning that the targets are kids who on some level are doing what they’re supposed to be doing. It’s an arbitrarily selected group, mixing the kindhearted and studious along with the troublemakers.
There’s media coverage, yeah, but the Battle Royale isn’t televised, so parents can’t waggle their fingers at their kids and say, “Behave, or you’ll wind up like Mitsuko there…!” Most of the students in the first Battle Royale don’t even seem to know what the BR Act even is before seeing the orientation video, making it that much more pointless. The chances of a kid being in a class that’s selected is small enough that they could wreak havoc and almost certainly not be punished for it. Why would parents subject their children to the possibility of Battle Royale, though? How could lawmakers push legislation like this through without massive opposition?
I really do like ‘Battle Royale’ as a movie, but that’s a whole lot of disbelief to have to suspend.
Can we talk about ‘Tootsie‘? Or ‘Mrs. Doubtfire? I just don’t get how anyone can suspend their disbelief to confuse Dustin Hoffman or Robin Williams for a woman. If you’re going to beat on one gag for an entire movie, you’ve got to go completely over the top farce to make it work. The problem with these movies is they have some heavy plot points and want you to take the characters too seriously. It completely breaks the suspension. ‘The Birdcage’ came closer to pulling this off, though still, I think it’s time to retire this plot line.
Having watched two of the ‘Bourne‘ movies, there’s little doubt that they work as action movies, and in fact have been very influential in a lot respects (for better and worse). Still, for me, the premise, which I’m sure makes all kinds sense in the books, not only ruins the films for me but basically any number of rogue secret agent pictures. You have a deadly operator/assassin character who has amnesia or just wants live an anonymous life away from the machinations of government agencies. Instead of leaving him alone, they send wave after wave of lesser agents after him, antagonizing him to recall whatever he’s forgotten and cause him to attack the heart of the shadow organization that spawned him. This to me is roughly analogous to a zoo administrator sending flocks of ducks after a grumpy lion.
Although ‘Gattaca‘ didn’t make any great amount of money at the box office during its original release, it became a cult item on home video. I know people, a lot of people, who swear by it as a science fiction classic, but I had some major problems with its premise. The lengths that the lead character has to go to in order to conceal his identity – including scrubbing literally every single stray hair or flake of skin that his body may shed in a day from everything he touches – seem far too improbable to me. Surely you’ve tried to clean your computer keyboard at some point, right? It’s a major pain in the ass and virtually impossible to get as thoroughly spotless as the character would require. Yet we’re to believe that he never misses even the tiniest speck of dander or biological residue? Wouldn’t the fact that he never leaves any molecular trace of himself behind be enough to make the employers spying on him suspicious in itself? I kept thinking about questions like these the whole movie.
What popular movies were you unable to suspend your disbelief for? Tell us in the Comments.