“Turn off your brain and enjoy it.”
This is advice that I quite regularly find amazingly irritating. Watching a movie is already a passive entertainment… being told “stop thinking during the movie” is, effectively, telling me that the movie is going to insult me BUT! if I make myself passive *ENOUGH*, it won’t occur to me. “Don’t notice things. Not even to notice that you’re not noticing things.”
All too often, this doesn’t result in making a movie more pleasant for me. Now, of course, the first movie that comes to mind is something like, oh, Transformers. A chunk of the special effects budget was devoted to the scene where Optimus Prime was playing hide and seek with the kid’s parents. There is a lot more ranting that is possible to be done about the Transformers movie, of course… but that’s the one that pretty much sums up my entire experience of the movie. (Also see: Pretty much anything with Jason Statham. Sober, anyway. The Cranks are pretty good if you’re throwing some glasses back.)
To be sure, there are movies that come out, pretty much, and *ask* you nicely to “run with me here”. The first to come to mind was one that came out around the same time as Transformers, if I recall correctly: Live Free or Die Hard.
This movie was nuts. If you worked in IT, you noticed problems from the first minute. “Why is he pressing ‘delete’ all by itself? If his computer was having a problem, he might press control/alt/delete… and unix doesn’t do anything with the delete key all by itself… and it’s not a Mac (well, *HE* is a Mac… never mind)… So… what?” The problems don’t even stop there, particularly. When they’re hacking into each other’s computers, I got the distinct “It’s a unix system, I know this” sensation… but, you know what? That was just fine. I’d compare to the current/modern origin of Spider-Man. It’s not a radioactive spider that bit him but a genetically engineered spider.
“Look, a wizard did it. You want to run with me on this or what?”
Okay, fine. Let’s run with it. You know what? Live Free or Die Hard did do everything it possibly could to be a movie that could, theoretically, have been ruined by thinking too much about it but even as you’re thinking “Bruce Willis is having his butt kicked in an SUV that is dangling precariously in an elevator shaft and the butt kicker is a female ninja who can move around the outside of the SUV at will”, you realize that, yeah, you know what? That’s actually kinda cool. (Not to get into too many details but the recent A-Team movie did a magnificent job of making you feel okay about not thinking as well.)
Which brings us to this: Maribou took me to go see The Avengers.
This was a movie that made you feel okay about turning your brain off. If you really started thinking about things like the physics of Thor’s Hammer or Hawkeye’s change of heart, you’d find yourself distracted by the fact that, hey, they’re trying to tell a story here. We can run with it or not run with it. Even if you found yourself saying “I’m not going to run with it”, you’d quickly find yourself watching The Hulk get hit with the hammer (awesome) or a theological discussion between Loki and The Hulk (awesome) or Bruce Banner explain the secret to his success controlling The Hulk (REAAAAALY awesome) and then picked up and you’re running with the movie despite yourself (note to self: get Joss Whedon to remake first two Hulk movies with that Mark Ruffalo guy).
Sadly, it wasn’t the best kind of action flick… one where you’re actually rewarded for paying attention and thinking about things (see, for example, Memento). That said, those seem to be fewer and farther between anymore… but, and here’s the point, we can certainly start suggesting them in the comments.
(Note: there are a few jokes in the comments from when the placeholder for this post got prematurely posted to the page. The post’s original content was only: “Maribou took me to go see The Avengers.”)