When I was a kid, going to see a movie in a theater was the pinnacle of entertainment.
Buying my ticket, stopping at the concession stand for popcorn and candy-coated Jordan almonds, and plopping down in that musty red velvet seat were glorious to me.
As my life and technology have progressed and I began buying my own VHS tapes and DVDs and players, I reveled in watching newly-released movies from the comfort of my own home. Snuggling down in bed with all lights off in the middle of the night, I was free to stay up until dawn and binge on action flicks and stand-up comedy to my little heart’s delight.
The dawn of media streaming has revolutionized the accessibility of infinite television shows, documentaries, black and white classic films, and news from anywhere in the world.
Though I enjoy having the ability to select from so many options, I find there are many that are of little interest to me. The advent of “reality television” was an unmitigated mistake that has now broken all barriers and runs amuck. It triggers my gag reflex. It is proof positive that any moron with a camera and – unfortunately – a huge, misdirected audience can be a t.v. or YouTube “star”.
The Toronto-based band Our Lady Peace said it best in their new song, “Stop Making Stupid People Famous”. They warn, “We keep making stupid people famous and now we’re paying for that”.
Boy, no truer words have been spoken.
What saddens me more is how little I go to see movies anymore in theaters. The astronomically-high ticket prices, the first-born you have to give up to be able to afford snacks, and the downright rude people who insist upon watching their cell phones in the theaters during the movies have sickened me to the entire event.
Though I have marveled at the comfy leather recliners, having wine and pub grub served directly to me, and even having a little blanket and pillow to snuggle with in a public place, the exorbitant price is that which isn’t worth paying all too frequently. The simple act of watching any movie in any theater nowadays has become a needless luxury. Forget taking an entire family for a movie night out – you’ll break your bank.
I suspect there are many individuals who have experienced this dynamic. That leaves us to our living rooms and to our own tastes when choosing our in-home nightly entertainment ritual.
There have been few movies made – dare I say – in the last decade or so that have even remotely intrigued me. Overwhelmingly, there are a great many movie remakes and those that are alarmingly dull bastardizations of once-proven blockbusters.
It would seem that movie companies have dropped off of a ledge into a blackened abyss and the writers, actors, and actresses have followed them directly off the cliff.
By watching a bit of a trailer, I can tell if a movie is one that I am curious to see or it is one that I will avoid like the plague. I am almost always dead on in my assumptions based upon the story line and the movies’ players.
Recently, I have been on the fence as to whether or not a new movie being advertised is worth my time and attention. In taking a leap of faith, I have been not only let down by having wasted two or more hours of my life that I’ll never get back by having permitted myself to endure such fluff, but I have been downright incensed by the lack of imagination and talent.
Worse yet, movies being churned out to the public reflect – nay, scream – common attitudes and perceptions of the world today. Societal norms that I have watched evolve, those that used to exist as just a wisp when I truly enjoyed movie theaters, have now become F5 tornados of our daily lives.
The pacification of language and action, the “softening”, if you will, of situational realness, and the political correction made to anything perceived as offensive in every movie I’ve watched recently have become all too real to me.
Perhaps all generations experience this epiphany; the “it’s just not like the old days anymore” lamentation that awaits us all with age.
Case in point – The Addams Family. Originally created as a cartoon strip by Charles Addams in 1938, this group of characters was deliciously cracked with their gothesque black clothing, dilapidated dreary mansion, brooding personalities, and morbid appetites.
These creepies were further brought to life in their own black and white television series in 1964, and then into a movie with sequels in the early 1990s. Their nonconformity was their charm and nothing was more attractively macabre than how far removed and odd they were from every run-of-the-mill typical family.
It was also award-winning and compelling enough to put on the Broadway stage, a production I enjoyed seeing more than any other musical in my life, hands down.
Every single character was brilliantly disturbed, exactly the way that Charles Addams had designed them to be. This weirdness was intentional, cultish, and entertaining enough to withstand decades.
In 2019, Hollywood – in their infinite and delusional wisdom (or lack thereof) – determined that it would be a great idea to do ANOTHER Addams Family movie; this time in animation.
Being a disciple of the Addams Family obscurity, I bit. And, heaven help me, it bit back.
I was so mad after having paid Amazon Prime to watch that piece of junk, I could have spit nails.
Folks, if you love the Addams Family as much as I do, do yourself a favor and skip this movie completely, as well as the (ick) sequel to it that is planned for 2021.
Wednesday’s snide one-lined digs, Gomez’s and Morticia’s disturbing and perverse clawing at one another, and Uncle Fester’s bizarre scientific acumen were all gone. All of it swallowed up by the “let’s all be happy, kind to one another, we can’t say anything bad, we have to do this so not to scare anyone, Brady Brunch harmony, we have to shelter them from what originally made them entertaining” crap.
It was horrible, completely benign, and not at all the Addams Family that we devotees have come to know, love, and cringe at.
It marks the undeniable end of an era.
That’s just one example. Additional movies easily added to that “do not bother” list are the latest Star Wars installation (let it die in peace already), Will Smith’s animated “Spies In Disguise”, and most recently, the 10,000th remake of “Dr. Doolittle” (bad, bad, bad).
I love Robert Downey, Jr., but new movies’ scripts are so worthless, not even a full cast of Hollywood’s biggest names can save them from this level of shame anymore.
All that being said, here is my message to Hollywood and film makers everywhere: PLEASE STOP. For the sake of our IQ points and the love of all things holy – stop pandering, stop traipsing the more-traveled road because it’s easy and safe, and stop exhausting these horses that have long ago been beaten to death.
Invent something new, film something of substance, make us – the audience – teeter on the edges of our seats again.
Here’s a suggestion:
There are an INFINITE number of indie authors out there, myself included. Take our books, our scripts, our thoughts and help us turn them into something the world hasn’t seen yet. Bring the words on a page to life on a big screen.
I don’t think my books are too bad. In fact, I think they’re quite exciting. I suspect that many authors feel the same way about their work. There is nothing I would like more – the ultimate goal of my career as a writer – than to see my novels turned into screenplays. There would be no greater reward or acknowledgement for the courage it takes indie writers to put their heart and soul out into the pages of a book.
Why not take a chance? Give it a shot to seek out that which is original, hungry, and appealing.
I don’t think I have to ask: “What have you got to lose?”.