Saturday, 5 April 2014

33 types of film I never ever want to see again

I don’t visit the cinema more than once a year and our local DVD rental store closed down a while ago. This means that, ever since I gave up my BAFTA membership three years’ ago, I’ve been dependent on Sky Movies for my choice of films. Glancing at their listings would suggest a cornucopia of entertainment, but if you hit the “i” button for a brief description of the films on offer you soon realise that nine times out of ten watching back-to-back episodes of Allan Carr: Chatty Man might actually be preferable to sitting through 90 minutes of even more toxic, soul-shrivelling dreck. Here, in Sky’s own words, are some examples of what’s currently available:

A gang of ageing criminals reunite for one last crazy night in this gangster comedy. 
When three teens acquire superpowers, they have to learn how to handle the responsibility that comes with their gift.
A turtle and his best friend are captured and taken to an aquarium show, but meet a lively seahorse who promises to break them out.
Slacker Jackson Segal learns the meaning of life when mom Susan Sarandon sends him on an errand for wood glue.
Manhattan couple Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston get in touch with mother earth when they leave the rat race for a commune in rural Georgia.
A reformed con vows to act as a role model for his young nephew, but his hopes are dashed when he’s pulled back into a life of crime.
Smalltown divas Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton try to take their failing gospel choir all the way to the national championships.
A group of down-on-their-luck guys come up with the ultimate way to meet hot girls: cast a fake movie. Comedy. Contains strong language and some nudity. 

Well you wouldn’t, would you.

I don’t want to watch films that are about or involve any of the following themes, actors, situations or plot devices – i.e. well over 90% of everything produced by the American and British movie industries:

People being hooked up to machines that “read” their dreams – dreams are always boring, except to dreamers and therapists.

Body-swapping for dramatic or comic effect – this device hasn’t worked since Jamie Lee Curtis was surprisingly funny in Freaky Friday back in 2003.

Crappy sports teams full of fat kids and wimps being whipped into shape by a grizzled veteran or (worse) by a whacky, zany, life-embracing “fun” misfit.

Being asked to admire or sympathise with gangsters or thieves – they are all scum.

Torture porn masquerading as an exposé of the sins of slavery (which, mysteriously, is never modern-day slavery as practiced by Arabs or Africans, or about Africans selling their own people to traders in the past).

Anything involving a guardian angel: Frank Capra nailed this once and for all over half a century ago – leave well enough alone.

Sassy, foul-mouthed, ill-behaved American teenagers turning out to be wiser than Mom and Dad. (In fact, sassy, foul-mouthed, ill-behaved American teenagers - period.)

Sassy, cantankerous, foul-mouthed, sex-obsessed old coots who turn out to have hearts of gold and who forma deep bond with a sad grandchild whose uptight parents don’t understand them.

Being asked to believe that, beneath their sleazy veneer, prostitutes or drug-addicts are basically more decent and honest than supposedly respectable people.

Films where Christians turn out to be vicious, hypocritical, sexually incontinent and corrupt. Surely this particular seam has been mined out by now. (And yes, I know - don't call you Shirley.)

Any plot where a spate of murders turns out to be linked to the cover-up of a massacre of innocent Afghans or Iraqis by Western soldiers – ENOUGH ALREADY!

Transexuals or drag queens turning out to be lovable, sensitive, decent, misunderstood saints, as opposed to the moronic, blinkered straights who persecute the poor darlings.

Plots which rely on two strangers happening to look remarkably like each other.

Any film about “gangsta” youths on a British council estate which doesn't involve them being arrested and imprisoned for a very long time.

Any film about grown-up British gangsters made since Sexy Beast.

Any film featuring Alan Arkin, the Typhoid Mary of the movie business.

Lovable, zany, kookie, dysfunctional families somehow managing to muddle through a series of improbable challenges to prove that lurve is what really matters.

Plots where rogue members of Western intelligence agencies turn out to have been responsible for atrocities initially ascribed to terrorists.

I refuse ever again to watch a film set in an American high school – they seem to be spectacularly revolting places.

Gross-out, barf-tastic “comedies” in which groups of astonishingly stupid, socially inept male buddies commit chucklesome mayhem on holidays, stag-nights, or class reunions.

Any film involving superheroes banding together to defeat…whatever.

Comedies where the laughs depend on farting, vomiting or characters getting covered in excreta.

Anything involving soccer. It just never works.

Teen slasher movies.

Brooding, monosyllabic, violent heroes who attract women on a pre-verbal level: why would I want to spend two hours in the company of morons who can’t express themselves properly?

Any film involving fictional rock stars - their hair always looks ridiculous and the music always sucks.

Any film involving "slackers".

Inspirational teachers.

Movies where black stand-up comedians play cops or other authority figures who make supposedly hilarious racist comments about white people. Would this be acceptable the other way round?

Films involving love plots – e.g. the male lead devises a plan where the object of his lust is placed in danger so he can rescue her. Or something. Can we just grow up?

Film versions of American kiddie shows from the ‘60s, ‘70s or ‘80s: these are always and invariably dire.

Idiot savants – done to death.

People over 50 having sex. For God's sake, have some dignity.

Plucky "greens" saving the environment from evil, greedy corporations.

That list is, of course, just the tip of the ice-berg. This is a subject to which I will return.


  1. Before we go any further... When say you don't want to see a movie with slackers in it you are referring to all films except Slackers by Richard Linklater from 1991?

    1. I suspect the reason the sort of films described above get made over and over again is that at some stage in the past a successful example pioneering the particular plot device/format/genre was released. Those movies - the originals - I exempt from automatic criticism: the very fact they worked on some level explains why they keep getting ripped off.

  2. Well put.

    There is also the problem of re-makes of classic films which are invariably pretty crappy. Passing quickly over the new versions of "The Ladykillers", "Alfie", "Get Carter" and "The Italian Job" Sky's favourite son Adam Sandler stars in the re-made version of Mr Deeds [Radio Times: " Insulting remake of Mr Deeds Goes to Town." 2002] this week. I think production is about to begin on a new version of "It's a Wonderful Life" [probably featuring Sky's other favourite son, Will Ferrell].

    News Corporation owns the back catalogue of 20th Century Fox , but continually broadcasts rubbish films. Who is in charge of their selection? My money is on Alex Zane [he of the hair-style and tiny suit]. I wish Adam, Will and Alex would heed the advice of Rust to the serial child killer in "True Detective".

    1. As for remakes, I too just cannot see the point - what's the point of doing something that's already been done ten times better than the version you're going to produce? How dispiriting it must be to be involved in this sort of enterprise. I once saw five minutes of the shot-for-shot colour remake of Psycho and it just made me feel sad.

      The thing that confused me when I gave up BAFTA was that when we got sent all the DVDs of that year's films to judge, there were at least 20 worth watching - but several months can pass without an even vaguely interesting new film appearing on Sky. Where do all the good ones disappear to? (I suppose I should really give up the Sky Movies subscription and move over to Netflix or Lovefilm now our TV's hooked up the internet.)

  3. Amen to the 'pointless remakes' comment (Let The Right One In was the most recent example to give me the screaming abdabs).

    I wouldn't get too excited about Lovefilm, though. I've been subscribing to the postal DVD version for a few years and there are surprising gaps in what's available. I doubt if the streaming service will be any broader.

    Coincidentally, I was grumbling about Film4 on Freeview only today. Not a damn film worth watching - and the same is true across all the Freeview channels.

    1. Odd to think that they used to charge us to subscribe to Film4.

      Years ago, I watched a bit of The Vanishing, a Hollywood remake of a brilliant Dutch-French original, directed by the same director, George Sluizer - and it was dreadful (they'd even stuck on a happy ending, but I never got that far). I loved the Swedish Let the Right One In and wasn't going to let the US version sully my opinion of it. I've always loved Hollywood films, but there's a cultural strangeness, a difference of perspective, to great foreign films which disappears in the translation.

      We may have to subscribe to Netflix, then - when we've paid for our boiler which just went tits up after a mere 24 years (and probably quite a few before we moved into this house) - you can't rely on anything these days.

  4. GCooper. You are right about Lovefilm by post. I have about 45 titles which have congealed in the Reserve Box for a few years and trying to prize "Breaking Bad" out of them is proving fruitless. But they are still pretty good on British and American films from the 40/50s. I suspect that their streaming service will be a replication of all the rubbish on Sky Movies.

  5. For cinematic fulfilment I just watch: The Graduate; Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid; The Sting and if it's Christmas: Four Weddings and a Funeral and Love Actually. You can see the breadth of my sophistication. However, I did see The History Boys - broadcast in the cinema from the National Theatre, quite brilliant and I have had heard overwhelming endorsements for Twenty Feet from Stardom - all about backing singers - so I shall take myself to The Rialto....heady days. Oh, and I have a goldfinch in my garden - one of nature's jewels.

    1. I have actually never seen "Love Actually" and would rather boil and eat my own testicles than watch it - but each to his own.

      I saw The History Boys on stage at the National (we were given tickets - I'm not a big theatre man). I was in a filthy mood at the start and enormously cheerful at the end, despite the glossing over of the teacher's predatory paedophile behaviour.

      I was going to sneer at 20 ft From Stardom, but as it features Darlene Love and Merry Clayton (the great voice on "Gimme Shelter") I shall cut you some slack.

    2. Love Actually might be a load of bollocks but far, far better than boiling one's testicles. It's wistful, moving, good fun, witty and broadly pointless - rather good entertainment.
      Bond films, well you either like Ian Fleming or you don't but I agree much of it is complete tosh but there are little gems amongst the gravel.
      I'm pleased History Boys lifted your spirits and as to the teacher's paedophile behaviour - that was certainly of its time, don't you remember those years at King's?
      Twenty Feet from Stardom - as a determined and faithful devotee of Tamla Motown - I can barely contain myself...........break open the popcorn and roll out Pathe News.
      ...and now there is a great spotted woodpecker feeding on the peanuts - marvellous It looks a little like a national flag seen through a kaleidoscope.

    3. Don't get me wrong, Riley - I love Bond movies - just not the ones featuring Roger Moore (for proof, see my wildly adulatory review of "Skyfall": I like my Bonds to look as if they're actually capable of beating someone up.

      You might also enjoy my fiendishly difficult James Bond quiz:

  6. PS I forgot some of the Bond films. I am now watching For your Eyes Only with that fine thesp Roger Moore (how fortunate for him that there are so many roles available in which he can play himself). Such jolly sunday afternoon viewing: witty; frivolous; glamorous and exciting. Tip-top.


  7. Adorable, attractive but quirky female, unlucky in love bumps into her former partner and his new wife at some set piece event like a wedding, gets drunk to forget him in the company of her friends, who must include at least one fat unattractive one who imparts sensible advice based on her own far unhappier life, which causes the heroine to reflect that her lot is not so bad after all, at which point she makes eye contact with an honest, decent blue collar type like a fireman, whom she marries in the final scene.

    Anything involving couples struggling to make ends meet (although they live in a spacious, well furnished apartment in a fashionably chic part of a major US city), the female of which is probably a waitress who has unrealised ambitions to do something far more interesting like dress design for which she was unable to complete her qualifications through some traumatic family event like having to sort out her mother's Alzheimer's, but is persuaded to complete the course by her widowed father who explains it's what her mother would have wanted, after which she sets up her own business which is of course instantly successful.

    1. As with the great film critic Roger Ebert, your descriptions are far more entertaining than the sort of films you describe - and much, much shorter, which is a blessing. Why would any executive or director, faced with proposal for stories like this not just slap the writer's face and rip them up? I presume they think they'll have another job by the time they become smeared over actual multiplex screens.