Let’s face it, few movies are perfect. Even some of our favorite films have flaws. Some may be tiny, but others are really glaring. Perhaps it’s one particular scene that doesn’t work, or an actor who’s miscast, or even a single line of groan-worthy dialogue. This week’s Roundtable is all about nit-picking. What small detail do you wish you could change in a movie that you otherwise like?
Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)
‘Psycho‘ is such a flawless film in most every conceivable way, and as luck would have it, even its greatest misstep is placed where it can do the least damage. After ‘Psycho’ has drawn to a close, Hitchcock keeps the cameras rolling anyway, overindulging a psychiatrist who drones on and on about what’s running through Norman Bates’ deeply disturbed mind. There’s anticlimactic, and then there’s that. The pseudo-intellectual psychological rambling gives little meaningful insight into what makes Bates tick. Everything the audience needs to know is already on the screen. That meanderingly talky scene is jarringly out of place with the nervous energy that defines the rest of the film, and… well, the movie’s over! What’s the point? I dearly love that final, unnerving smile, but it’s hardly worth slogging through all that expository psychobabble to get there.
The big ones for me (and probably everyone else in this Roundtable) are all the stupid tweaks that George Lucas has made and continues to make to the original ‘Star Wars‘ trilogy. I cringe every time I see the so-called “Special Edition” scenes with Han getting a piece of tail (of the ugly CGI Jabba variety), Greedo shooting first, and the utterly painful alternate musical number in Jabba’s Palace, to name a few. Plus, after seeing his latest round of tinkering, I flat-out refuse to buy the Blu-rays.
Another nit-pick that stuck with me is from a 2010 foreign film called ‘Aftershock‘. If you haven’t heard of the movie, it’s a Chinese drama about a family that gets separated during the Great Tangshan Earthquake of 1976 (the year I was born). It’s an extremely powerful and emotional production that I enjoyed quite a bit. However, about two-thirds through the film, one of the main characters moves to Canada and marries a Canadian who is played by one of the worst actors I have ever witnessed. Even the friend I was watching the movie with said “That guy can’t act” out loud, and she rarely criticizes anything. I’m not sure if he was the only Caucasian they could find, or was chosen on purpose to make the Chinese stars look better, but whatever the reason, it certainly left a gaping wound on my viewing experience.
[Spoiler Alert] I really like the 1999 remake of ‘The Thomas Crown Affair‘, but I have always, always hated the ending. It’s stupid. It involves ridiculous behavior and high-pitched giggling that borders on squawking. If Rene Russo had simply accepted the handkerchief, then turned in her seat, seen who had handed it to her and smiled, maybe with a little music cue and a nod from loverboy before cutting to black, it would have been perfect. Instead, she screeches and cries/sobs/giggles, and climbs over the seat, jumping into his lap for the type of tickle-time absurdity that would be totally unacceptable in coach, let alone first class. Why in the hell couldn’t the scene have ended about ten seconds earlier? It’s just… sooooo…. STUPID!
Chris Boylan (Big Picture Big Sound)
‘The Fifth Element‘ is an awesome flick, but the bad guys (Mangalores) look like guys in rubber suits. I still love the movie, but would have loved it more if those guys looked more dangerous, or at least slightly less ridiculous.
‘Superman‘: Yeah, this one is a bit ironic, but when Superman flew around the Earth and turned back time, I had trouble buying that. The irony is that I had no trouble believing a man could fly. C’mon, he’s from Krypton and his powers come from the effects of our yellow sun, which is, like, a totally different color from his sun! Also, while we’re nit-picking that one, why does Kal El tell his son about Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity? Based on the actual relativity theory, Jor El’s ship would have blasted off Krypton a LONG time before Albert Einstein was even born. Still an awesome flick, though.
M. Enois Duarte
I suppose the one thing that has always bugged me or that I’ve found absolutely silly, no matter how many times I watch the movie, is an early scene in ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street‘. I’m referring to the original, of course, and I love it. But the one thing I’ve always found out-of-place is the moment when we first see Freddy Krueger’s face. After chasing Tina around for a while, the action and suspense weirdly stop to show Freddy jump out from behind a tree that’s probably no more than six inches in diameter. Out of nowhere, he decides to chop off his fingers, and they squirt green goo. That moment has no logic to the action sequence whatsoever. It’s done purely for the sake of special effects. It ruins the pace and momentum of everything preceding it. It makes me laugh every time I watch the movie, but it has managed to grow on me over the years. Still, the scene sticks out like a sore thumb (no pun intended).
I love ‘Pulp Fiction‘ as much as the next guy, but as soon as Tarantino plops his big head on scene for his cameo, I’m instantly taken out of the movie. Tarantino’s acting skills have always been subpar, but his part in ‘Pulp Fiction’ brings the up-until-then hilarious Jules and Vincent storyline to a screeching halt. Somehow, his hackneyed acting deflates both the ultra-coolness of Samuel L. Jackson and the silent machismo of John Travolta. Whenever I watch the movie, I honestly can’t wait for that scene to be over, because he’s just so bad in it. It’s like he’s reading cue cards off to the side. Maybe he’s just trying way too hard to meet the cool factor that had already been established by the movie up to that point, but he misses by a mile.
‘GoldenEye‘ is a flawed film in a lot of ways (Alan Cumming’s comic relief character grates on my nerves a little more each time I watch it, for one thing), but it’s also a tremendous amount of fun and is overall one of my favorite James Bond movies. However, there’s one scene that just kills me every time, and it’s the stupidest thing that most viewers probably never notice or even consider a flaw.
About an hour into the movie, Bond and his CIA contact Jack Wade (Joe Don Baker) drive to meet former Russian agent Zukovsky (Robbie Coltrane). On the way, we see an aerial shot of Wade’s car and can hear an (obviously studio-recorded) voiceover of their conversation. The way the scene plays makes it seem like the conversation took place earlier (likely before they even got in the car) and what we’re watching is a montage. But then, as the car arrives at the location, the conversation stops and Baker’s voiceover says, “OK, showtime,” as if to connect the conversation to the exact moment the car pulls up. It just sounds so obviously false, and was clearly not recorded in the car, nor does it sound like any of the following dialogue in the next few shots. The voiceover would be perfectly fine and I’d have no problem with it at all if not for that stupid “OK, showtime.” There’s no need for it, and it pulls me out of the scene every time. That’s the nit that I most need to pick.
Tell us about your movie nit-picks in the Comments.
Have a great Presidents’ Day long weekend, folks! We’ll see you back here on Tuesday.