You should know why Movie Rules are important. Mine, in no particular order of importance:
1. No Precocious/Cute/Sassy Kids.
No kids at all would be preferable, but I can tolerate them as long as they are not the film’s central focus. Or worse yet, they might be sidekicks. I loved Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, but I still shudder every time Short Round opens his mouth. It’s true that I don’t like kids. Hell, I barely liked myself until I hit the mid-teen mark. There is an allowance for movies intended for kids, but having them as an overly mature or endearingly cute awww-inducer in an adult movie is annoying. They should be used sparingly lest they grate (ala Jonathon Lipnicki in Jerry Maguire) and they should never, ever impart warm fuzzy life-lessons to the adults.
2. No Intentional Misspellings/Grammatical Errors in the Title.
I don’t need to go by these rules to know that The Pursuit of Happyness will suck. But it does save me the time of having to think about it. This rule has a subsection that applies to shows and movies that insert numbers as words or letters. I’m looking in your direction, 2 Fast 2 Furious. I suppose it would be technically possible to make a film with a title like that which didn’t induce vomiting in the audience, but I don’t see how. Se7en gets a special dispensation, since to the best of my knowledge, it was the first film to use this technique.
3. No Remakes.
Cinema today is by and large a creatively bankrupt. Nostalgia and repetition are the norm. Is it so hard to come up with an original idea? This reflects a larger trend than just Hollywood, but I’m tired of watching pop culture eat itself. There are exceptions to this rule. If there is a compelling reason for the remake and the filmmakers bring something fresh that may have been lacking in the original. Case in point: The Departed was much different than the Hong Kong flick that preceded it, and by changing the setting and language, Scorsese was able to bring the film to many who wouldn’t even think of watching Internal Affairs. He also put his distinctive stylistic stamp on it and created something new. King Kong was another example. The state of special effects of today is light years ahead of what was possible in the 1933 original, or even the Jeff Bridges version. This enabled Peter Jackson to do something new, even if it was an hour too long. But why did we need a new version of The Wicker Man? How much has film changed since the first Omen was released, that we need a new version? Gus Van Sant’s scene-by-scene Psycho reconstruction is the most puzzling example.
This does not apply to cross-media adaptations, although as a rule of thumb they are best avoided as it rarely makes for a good movie. For every Miami Vice, there are five Dukes of Hazzards.
4. No Video Game Movies.
I am a video game fan, so it’s tough to fight my nerdish tendencies long enough to say that. But it is my love for video games that makes me want to protect them and keep people from subjecting themselves to BloodRayne (which also fails on Rule 3).To varying degrees, they have all sucked. With the possible exception of the first Mortal Kombat, video games have been uniformly awful on the big screen. Doom. Super Mario Brothers. Alone in the Dark. Double Dragon. And then there’s this:
5. No Michael Bay/Jerry Bruckheimer.
Either one by himself? Maybe. But together? Never. Period. Under any circumstances.
6. No American Remakes of Japanese Horror Films.
Although there might be a compelling reason, they have done so many that the law of diminishing returns has set in. Yes, the world is approximately 73% scarier when seen through a blue filter, and kids are inherently creepy. But that’s no excuse to center so many movies on them. The Ring? Okay. The Grudge? I guess. Dark Water? Pulse? The Ring 2? The Grudge 2? No thank you.
7. No Comedies Revolving Around Men in Drag.
Its creepy and unsetlling, as well as not funny. This is especially true of Lawrencian drag/fat suit combos, but applies equally to Tootsie, Mrs. Doubtfire, and White Chicks.
8. No Computer Generated Talking Animals.
(Except for those falling under the aforementioned Adolescent Genetically Aberrant Stealthy Amphibian proviso). Madagascar. Finding Nemo. Over the Hedge. The Wild. Flushed Away. Barnyard. Antz. Happy Feet. Ice Age. Shark Tale. I realize that CGI is better at depicting animal movement than it is with humans. But The Incredibles proved it was possible. How many wacky animals can have fish out of water adventures before I get sick of it? Not very many.
More to come…