We all have them: distractions that completely take us out of a film. Those clichéd tendencies that cause our eyes to roll, our attitudes to shift, our breath to exhale forcefully. We all have movie pet peeves that annoy us to no end, no matter how common they may be.
But look, I’m not trying to be a hater here. Seriously. To watch a movie (any movie) is to suspend disbelief. Even documentaries (as “real” as some of them claim to be) manipulate truth through editing, narration, and so on. I don’t expect any move to be a perfect representation of real life, I’m just calmly point out a few flick gimmicks that irritate me.I actually enjoy most of the movies listed below. Some more than others, but by and large, they’re quality films. This post isn’t meant to bash the obvious, but rather, to draw attention to “faults” in the greats. Presented in no discernible order…
Conducting a Secret Meeting on Top of a Parking Garage
What are the chances that some office worker is staring out of their window at the exact moment a group of crooked cops are going over, in detail, their next illegal job? Slim to none. I get it, but it still pisses me off. If I was going to partake in an illegal activity, I sure as shit wouldn’t talk about it in the wide open, within eyesight of anyone who happens to be (or wants to be…) looking. I’ll never understand the benefit of having movie characters doing this. Isn’t it more eerie to shoot inside a parking garage, anyway?
Cinematic offenders: Training Day, Fargo, most every cop thriller I’ve seen
Character Narration Treated as the Voice of God
I once had a roommate who loved the television show How I Met Your Mother. Loved it. So, as a gesture of good faith, I watched a few old seasons with plans to view the new season with him. Want to know why I hate it? Because it is all told in flashback, from the point of view of one guy, even though 50 percent of the scenes in the show don’t feature that guy. How exactly does one person know everything about a situation, when they weren’t there?
How I Met Your Mother is a lame example, but plenty of really good movies do this too. The first one that comes to mind is Million Dollar Baby (a film that I love), which is told from the perspective of a letter Morgan Freeman is writing, even though Freeman’s character isn’t in many of the scenes in the movie. How, for example, does Freeman’s character know about the conversations Clint Eastwood has with his priest? Or are some of the scenes in the movie actually not in the letter Freeman was writing? I don’t get it.
Cinematic offenders: Million Dollar Baby, The Shawshank Redemption, plenty other movies not narrated by Morgan Freeman
Opening and/or Closing Bow-Wrapped Narration
I love An Education, but its final scene, in which Carey Mulligan’s Jenny randomly tells the audience how she met a new boy after going to college, is completely unnecessary. Moreover, if the scene Jenny describes was actually filmed, it would’ve made for a lovely ending to the film.
Cinematic offenders: An Education,Match Point, Spider-Man
Talking Loudly in a Restaurant with No One Noticing
This is one I accepted long ago, but occasionally, a movie sets a scene in a crowded restaurant in which a character is yelling so loudly that I become distracted by the fact that people don’t notice. The best (or is worst…?) example I can think of is in Keith Gordon’s mesmerizing little flick, Waking the Dead. There’s a scene in which Billy Crudup’s character flips the fuck out in a restaurant, and he Just. Keeps. Going. I mean… for a long time. And loud. Crudup’s acting is solid throughout the scene, but the whole time, I was simply wondering when someone else was going to ask him to keep it down.
Cinematic offenders: Waking the Dead, Hannah and Her Sisters, nearly every movie that has a scene in a restaurant
Falling in Love After Having Sex Once
If I had ranked this list, then two characters falling in love after balling once would easily be number one. I’m not a particular fan of the way movies glorify sex to begin with, but the fact that so many flicks think it’s okay to assume a direct and immediate correlation between sex and love is simply baffling. Look, I’m not saying it can’t happen, but, well, does it?
Cinematic offenders: Every romantic comedy ever made
Fights in Which People Don’t Get Hurt
You may notice that I don’t mention guns in this post. And that’s because I have no problem with how laughably guns are misused in pretty much every film in which a gun is featured. Call it over saturation, call it desensitization, but I’m used to it. Same goes for movie fights. They’re too long, too rough and the repercussions are too tame. In real life, one solid, bare knuckle punch to the temple can kill somebody, and a swift kick to the head can render a man paralyzed for the rest of his life. But does that level of realism make for good cinema? No, I suppose not.
So, my problem isn’t with the hyperbolic nature of movie fights, but rather, with the audience’s disdain for movies that actually do depict violence accurately. A perfect example of this can be found in Robert Duvall’s The Apostle. Early in the film, Duvall hits his wife’s lover in the head with a small baseball bat. The hit puts the man in a coma, and he dies some time later. A few years ago, I was discussing this film with someone who admittedly did not like it. I asked why, and he said it was unrealistic that one hit with a baseball bat could kill you. “Are you kidding me?” I asked him. “Shit could kill you easily, within seconds.”
And what I realized is, because we’re raised on movies in which characters beat each other senseless and then carry on with their days, many of us assume that real violence is fake violence. No, not at all.
Cinematic offenders: Every action film ever made, and/or most any film with a fight scene
Empty Beer Bottles on the Bar
I’ve enjoyed many a beer at many a bar, and never has a waitress failed to clear my empty bottles. Letting empty bottles (or any empty alcoholic drink, for that matter) sit on top of a bar never happens. But I get it, the director wants to convey that the character is drunk. Okay, but Billy Wilder did that with martini olives. In 1960. So maybe it’s time to get more creative…?
Cinematic offenders: Fargo, Wild at Heart, Zodiac, nearly any movie scene in a bar
Abandoning Your Own Unique Narrative
I dig on gimmicky narratives. Non-linear, shifting, hyperlink – whatever you want to call it, I can vibe with a movie that doesn’t go in order. Or chooses to show the same thing from several different perspectives. What I can’t forgive is when, midway through the film, a movie completely abandons its own narrative, and not-so-subtly asks us to “forget” its structure leading up to that point. One tragic example is Doug Liman’s terrific Go, which is essentially three different stories of how an interconnected group of people spend a few days around Christmas. First, we see things from Sarah Polley’s point of view. Then Desmond Askew’s. Then, finally Scott Wolf and Jay Mohr’s. That should be it, but once the Wolf/Mohr segment is over, the movie just starts cutting to anyone it wants, leaving its Pulp Fiction style of story telling (which Liman said he blatantly borrowed) in the dark. Huh?
Cinematic offenders: Go, Vantage Point
Curse Words That are Dubbed to Secure a PG-13 Rating
David Fincher is a digital effects genius. There’s no debating that. Why then is it so obvious that Cameron Winklevoss telling his brother, “Let’s gut the friggin’ nerd,” was shot and recorded as “Let’s gut the fuckin’ nerd”? Fincher shoots an insane number of takes, so I find it implausible that he didn’t have enough coverage to cut away from that specific delivery. If it was just the audio, I wouldn’t have noticed, but the fact that we can see the character giving the line delivery… it’s just silly.
Cinematic offenders: The Social Network, The Ghost Writer (mostly Pierce Brosnan’s lines)
Horribly Obvious ADR
Speaking of bad dubbing, it really burns my ass when movies implore obvious instances of ADR. ADR (or additional dialogue recording) is when an actor rerecords a line of dialogue in post-production, to improve the quality of the delivery. Maybe their initial line was ruined by noisy natural sound, maybe the mic cut off for a split second – no matter the reason, ADR is done on most all movies, with the hope that the viewer can’t hear the difference.
Granted, you have to have a rather trained ear for bad ADR, but sometimes it’s so obvious that most anyone can spot it. You can hear it when Dennis Hopper is telling Keanu Reeves to “Get back real fast,” in Speed, or the exchange after Jay calls TS a “mad, fat chick killer” in Mallrats, and on and on.
Cinematic offenders: Speed, Jaws, Die Hard with a Vengeance, Mallrats – it’s never ending
Now tell me yours. What, if any, movie pet peeves do you have?
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When people slurp their soup.
People who talk on their cell phone at the movies.
When you ask two questions in your text message and the person answers only the second one.
People who stop at the top or bottom of an escalator.
How hard it is to open a new music CD.
People that fart in public.
People abbreviating words when they speak.
When a dish towel is used to dry dishes after the same towel was used to dry hands or wipe face.
People who grunt when they sit down and stand up.
People who ask "Can I ask you a question?"
People putting their feet out of car windows.
Chasing after a ping pong ball.
Chewing gum left on the sidewalk.
Obnoxious doorbell ringers.
When a utility sends you a letter about a rate increase that opens with: "In order to serve you better."
Water running while brushing teeth.
That a bag of potato chips cost as much as a 5 lb. bag of potatoes.
People who try to talk to you when you are going to the bathroom.
When a server comes to a table of all ladies and says, "What can I get you guys?" (instead of "ladies" or at least "gals")
The disgusting indentations/puncture marks made into fruit from people using their nails to test ripeness at the grocery store.
Celebrities claiming to be environmentalists.
When people ask me for advice and do the opposite of what I tell them.
Car passengers that throw their doors wide open without first checking to make sure it is safe to do so.
Someone opening a cabinet door or drawer and leaving it open.
Women who wear too much perfume.
If you pee on the seat, wipe it off.
Young girls carrying grown-up designer handbags.
People who make you take off your shoes when you go into their house.
People who talk, whistle or sing to themselves at work.
People who don't care what's going on in our country.
People who won't take their kid out of a restaurant when they are crying,
screaming, practicing their whistling
Waitors/waitresses with dirty fingernails.
Driveways that make cars bottom out.
People that cancel plans constantly.
When your eating something and a person will just steal a little bit of it.
People that cannot simply take their trash to the trash bin in places such as fast food restaurants, shopping malls etc.
People who don't listen when you are talking to them. How many times have you said a few sentences to someone only to have them suddenly say "what did you just say? I wasn't paying attention."
Hair strands left on shower walls.
People/kids who tap their pencil during a test.
Ice cream with freezer burn.
When people don't RSVP to an event.
The sound of too much spit in someone's mouth when they talk.
People who leave their children in their cars while they run into the store.
When people inturrupt you.
Water stains on the cutlery (from the dishwasher).
Pants on men that are too short.
Driving somewhere and having the sun in my eyes.
If you are able to drink everything but one little drop of milk or juice,
whatever...DON'T put it back in the fridge! Just finish it.
People who read over your shoulder on public transportation.
People who walk their dogs and let them poop indiscriminately (like on someone's lawn), and does not pick it up.
When the tracking system for delivery isn't up-to-date.
People who don't dress their age
When somebody tosses something toward a garbage can, like they think they're a basketball star, then leave it on the ground after they miss!
When someone starts to watch a show or movie in the middle of it and expect you to tell them what's happening.
When people don't pick up their feet to walk and you hear the scuff... scuff... scuff.
People who straddle multiple lines at the drug store.
You know when you ask someone a simple, straightforward question and they spend ten solid minutes rambling on about everything in the world EXCEPT the answer to your simple, straightforward question? I hate that.
People who leave farts in elevators that I subsequently enter. Then the next person thinks it's me.
People who blow their horn at you the nano-second the light changes to green.
People that don't return your phone calls.
Parents who bring their young kids to R rated films.
Dirty restaurant bathrooms. It makes me wonder how clean the kitchen is.
Hair on the soap.
The phrase: "it is what it is"
Elaborately produced commercials that have nothing to do with the advertised product
Forks whose tines don't stand up in a perfectly straight line
People who ignore yield signs.
When the waiter/waitress brings your soda or water to the table holding the top of the glass with their fingers, getting their germs all over the part of the glass you are about to drink out of.
People who are always negative.
People who can't seem to understand that " red eyes" are possible to remove in photos.
People who turn their stereos up full blast in their apartment building and
have no consideration of others.
The noise people make when they rub their fingers on balloons.
Getting stuck at red lights, while nobody is going the other direction.
When someone with a full cart of groceries gets into the 10 items or less line.
Restaurants that give you rolls, but never enough butter to go with them.
When people take 20 napkins, use one, then throw them all away.
The "yes but" people.
Going through the drive thru, then having to go back when they screw your order up.
People who bring their babies to the movies.
People who make up words.
People say "carmel" instead of "caramel". Is it really that hard to pronounce that extra letter?
When you're trying to walk in the mall and there's a kiosk and they hound you to try their cell phone service or whatever.
People who mumble.
Shopping carts with a broken wheel.
When somebody turns off the lights when you are still in the room.
Sitting in the movies and hearing someone eating popcorn.
When people say the word huge incorrectly by dropping the 'H' and
pronouncing it Uge.
When someone is writing on a chalkboard and then they erase it to write
something new, but they don't erase all of it, so you still see half of a
letter here and there.
People who use a calculator to figure out the tip at a restuarant.
How clothes hangers get all tangeled with each other.
Receiving a thank-you card for a gift-giving occasion gift stating: "You didn't have to do that"
Men on trains who insist on sitting with their legs spread wide apart.
Explanations that begin with the word "Again".
People who wear sunglasses indoors.
I hate people who have no idea what "personal space" is.
People talking on their newest iPhone in while using Food Stamps.
People who always insist on announcing when they have to go to the bathroom and which business they need to do.
People turn, but then forget to turn off their directional
When people insist on slamming a car door
People who hammer on a keyboard
When there is a detour sign, then there are no directional or signs after the initial sign, and everyone gets lost
When you loan someone money and they never pay you back. You end up in the awkward position of asking them to repay you.
People who park in Handicap spaces when they are not handicapped.
Clothes that are way too tight/short causing body parts that ought not to be exposed, to be exposed.
When you invite someone to come over at a certain time and they arrive 45 minutes early
When you loan someone your car and they change the radio stations, seat position, mirrors etc and you whack your knees getting back into the car
When people leave a message on the answering machine that says "I have a question...call me" but they don't just ask the question
When people ask if you are free to go out for a drink, and then when you say yes, you get trapped you into going to their kids dance recital, Pampered Chef etc.
People who pee in the pool
Getting stuck behind the school bus....every morning!
People who get spittle in the corners of their mouth when they talk.
People who leave soap on faucet knobs after washing their hands.
When mature men are called guys and mature women are called girls
When a toddler's smartphone is nicer than mine
Kitchens that no longer have a kitchen table
That a person won't answer "yes" or "no" to a yes or no question
When an elderly person is told: "You don't need that."
People that sort their dirty laundry in the cart that is supposed to be used for my clean clothes at laundromat.