What is it about movies shown on TV that entrance us, even if it is bad or we have seen it over and over? This crazy phenomenon usually occurs on a weekend afternoon or late at night when, inevitably, there is a pressing task needing attention or the bed is awaiting warm and inviting. After flipping through the channels, frustrated by lack of good programming, suddenly you happen upon a movie that catches your eye. Perhaps you have seen it a handful of times or one of the actors is a favorite, maybe the dialogue caused your ears to perk up. You stop to watch for a few moments.
Suddenly, it is two hours later and you ask yourself how you just suffered through the terrible acting or why you just watched a movie you saw last weekend under the same circumstances. My movie viewing black holes fall into two categories, the familiar movie watched multiple times or movies I have not seen before but are so bad I question how I am still watching, commercials and all, as I view the train wreck until the credits role.
The appeal of watching a movie on TV is the ability to turn it off without the guilt of having paid an entrance fee. Yet, we get trapped into the world of the characters, even if we know the outcome from multiple viewings. I have a list of movies that I have seen too many times to count, but, if it is on the tube, I will watch it and probably, enjoy it! I admit, most are romantic comedies (aka chick flicks), a totally under-rated and over-made fun of genre. How can you not grin when watching When Harry Met Sally for the 18th time? Here are some of my other favorites: The Princess Bride, Music and Lyrics, Two Weeks Notice, Pretty Woman, You’ve Got Mail, Roman Holiday (so old it is black and white) and both Men in Black movies (a TBS favorite, I bet it is on sometime this week). Yes, I can recite the words to most of these movies, but there is something comforting about watching a movie so recognizable, seen throughout the years in a variety of circumstances. No matter how grumpy my mood, I can’t help but smile when Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride says to Vizzini “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means” or laugh at the memory of a dial up connection when watching You’ve Got Mail. Viewing a familiar movie transports us back to the time we first saw the movie, to the people we were with, the juncture in our lives. I recall vividly watching The Princess Bride on Betamax tapes with my swimming buddies in high school which is technologically light years behind the viewings I had of Music and Lyrics with my mom on transatlantic flights on our personal screens.
The reasons for watching an oldie or an all-time favorite are seemingly clear cut. The motives for sticking out a stinker are vaguer. Just this weekend I caught a bad movie, Con-Air (if you loved it, I do not mean to offend), not once, but twice! I winced at the dialogue while trying to distinguish the origin of the bad accents through the first half before leaving for a run; and after dinner the movie was on again right at the part where I left off. I figured it was fate and I had to finish watching right until the cringe-worthy, sentimental ending with an inappropriately sappy song playing the background. Upon consideration, I watched because observing stuff getting blown up is cathartic, even if I did not pull the trigger. And, generally, bad movies make us feel better about our own lives. No matter the predicaments we find ourselves, it is usually better than the shenanigans portrayed in the movies. The characters are dumber, the families stranger, the bosses more infuriating, the kids more menacing. All of which are image boosting. And, nothing catches our attention more than a hot actor or actress – this can save almost any sinking movie. My friend Lara recently stated that she would watch George Clooney or Robert Downey Jr. eat breakfast. I would too and probably DVR it for future viewing.
What’s your favorite movie that you watch over and over? Is there a stinker you’ve recently tolerated? Do you have a movie line you love to cite? Please share it.