My friend Fred wrote in his IGN column last week that he liked the largely poorly-reviewed Fantastic Four movie, and that didn’t bother me; I haven’t even seen it yet. But when he said the movie The Incredibles, my FAVORITE movie last year in what was an admittedly limited selection, was ONLY OK, I was shocked, SHOCKED! until I remembered Roger’s Rules of Cinema Watching.
1. Some movies require the big screen for initial viewing. This has been the contention of others about the special-effects movies such as Star Wars or The Matrix, but I discovered that it’s important in some other films as well.
My first personal example: Coming Home, with Jane Fonda and Kris Kristofferson. I saw it at the movies, enjoyed it. I saw it again on HBO and liked it not quite so much. I figured that it wasn’t a movie that could bear a second viewing. But then, I happened to see it a third time at a second-run theater, anf I enjoyed it nearly as much as I did the first time.
I’m convinced that, unless you have a large screen TV in a darkened room, with no access to the pause button, it’s not nearly the same viewing experience. But…
2. Some movies are actually better on the small screen. I recall reading about, and subsequently seeing, a movie called Cold Turkey with Dick van Dyke, which was a bomb of a movie in its limited theatrical run, but actually found its niche as the prototype of the TV movie. I’m sure I saw it in the early 1970s on TV, when it ran SEVERAL times. BTW, it was about quitting tobacco, not something else.
3. Some movies are so good, it doesn’t matter how you see them. Carol and I saw the DVD of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, starring Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet, earlier this year. We stopped the disc halfway through and went to bed! That’s no way to see a film! Yet we still enjoyed it thoroughly.
4. High expectations will alter how you see a movie. My girlfriend at the time, her son, and I went to see Chariots of Fire the week after it had won best picture of 1981 at the Oscars. We all thought: “THAT was the best picture last year?” Likewise, I had rented a video of Citizen Kane, triumphed as “the greatest film ever made”, and (HORRORS!) fell asleep. Conversely, as Fred noted HERE (July 20), low expectations may aid your viewing of a film.
5. Revealed plot points will alter how, or whether, you see a movie. The movie-going public kept the secrets of The Crying Game, The Sixth Sense, and The Usual Suspects. But unfortunately, I found out about the secret in Million Dollar Baby from some folks with a political agenda, so if I ever do see it, I’m going to try to forget what I know and let the movie surprise me.
6. Fatigue, a bad day, life’s distractions will also alter your viewing enjoyment.
In Fred’s case with the Incredibles, I believe #1, #4, and maybe #6 apply. Fred, I really think it is as good as you had heard, and I’m sorry your viewing didn’t relect that. Now, I’ve got to go rent Citizen Kane, and try to watch it again, preferably NOT late at night.