As a kid I had high expectations for movies. These were easily met by the combination of my 12 year old brain and classic cinema such as Jaws, Urban Cowboy, The Pink Panther, Spies Like Us, and Ferris Buller's Day Off. A box of popcorn sealed the deal. Those movies may not merit more than two stars from my cable TV info rating, but their lines are burned indefinitely somewhere on the back of my brain- and they bring me both joy and comfort.
Sadly, I have accepted that I have to wise up. The majority of celluloid out there is an environmental hazard and nothing more than an OBVIOUS scam to take your money. Every time you pay to see crap like You've Got Mail, Serendipity, Jacob's Ladder, O, Titanic, Star Wars: Episode 1 and What Lies Beneath you are being anally raped- and some of you are liking it. These movies are violations against all that is decent in the world yet each year more and more of them are made and grosses grow higher and higher.
I have never been to war, but because I've sat through these flicks**, I think I am actually more empathetic to veterans.
For several years, I have sworn off movies that I believe may linger in the middle of mediocrity. I can appreciate a really bad film that just fails on every level (anybody ever see Happy Hour? Shocker?) and I can marvel at a really great movie- or even one that's just "ok" but at least is entertaining or interesting or different or has Luke Wilson in it. It's those hybrid romantic-teen-comedy-dramas that the Oprah and/or pre-Oprah audience cream over that I don't get.
Case in point: 40 Days and 40 Nights.
This is NOT a movie I want to watch. Once I learned that the whole plot is about a guy that SWEARS OFF SEX FOR 40 DAYS I knew it was going to be ridiculously unfunny. If I thought that there was ONE shot that the movie might be a Dumb and Dumber waiting to happen, I would be all over it. Old School? Billy Madison? Even Jackass. I'd be in. Instead, I am avoiding it like it's a cold sore. I'm sure it's one of those movies that comes in right at an hour and 36 minutes and the whole idea is to showcase Josh Hartnet- maybe with his shirt off, maybe wrapped in a towel, maybe being hilarious as he goes 40 days without 'tang. Whatever. Definitely a prime example of a movie I will not watch.
But, now I've gone 22 days without a cigarette. 22 days is just over half of the 40 Josh Hartnet suffered in that movie. I think I've been too much of a critic. 40 days is a long freakin' time! And some people do this EVERY YEAR at Lent. No WONDER they had to invent Madi Gras!
I think there is something powerful to this self-denial gig. It is very difficult, but, according to Catholics and Episcopalians, a test to get into heaven. You really do have to search and stretch and suffer when you are denying yourself something that you want. These past 22 days are the closest I've ever come to S&M. In a way, I like it. In a stronger, much more prominent way, it's driving me crazy.
That I can recall, I've NEVER done this before. I have never said, "No" to something that I really, really, really, really wanted. If I said no, it was because I didn't see the good out weighing the bad- or I was scared I'd get caught. It's like maturity has met the bitchy librarian that lives inside me and they've started getting it on- in a very sterile and soundless environment. I can't help but think how DIFFERENT of a person I would be if I adopted this as my new "thing".
"Hey Liz, want to borrow this umbrella?" "No. I'll go without."
"Hey Liz, are you going anywhere over the holiday?" "No. I'll be voluntarily working without pay."
"Hey Liz, it's creme brulee. Want some?" "No. You have it."
"Hey Liz, let me fix you a vodka tonic!" "No. I'll have a milk."
Puleeze.... Who am I kidding? That would SUCK.
Wish me luck. If I can make it 40 days, I'll have this cigarette thing behind me. Then I can move on to trying to go 40 days without sex. Yeah, like THAT could happen!
**Equally dangerous are trailers for any movie prominently featuring Kevin Costner.