Ever since I started reading Michael Crichton books I have been making fun of them. Not really for anything he did, but simple because although I like the story and the science, I would get to the end and be very disappointed. I always felt like he rushed the ending. I had this vision in my head of him lounging about watching a football game or scratching himself when he suddenly realized that the book he was writing was due to the publisher. So he races upstairs, sits down at his old style typewriter and pumps out some horrible ending just so he can get his book in on time. The horrible ending: he has a giant gorilla come out and kill everyone. So anytime I see a book, movie or TV show start off great but end horribly I unfairly summarize it as having a Michael Crichton type ending where a giant gorilla comes out and kills everyone.
Some movies out there are just supposed to be eye candy. They have no substance. The writing is poor. The acting is weak. But the action is good, or the cheap laughs are there and you have a good time watching it. This movie is like a wet tissue. You can hold it up gently, look at it, enjoy it, but don’t touch it because the moment you touch it, it will fall apart. The wet tissue does not have substance or strength, it will not withstand scrutiny. Under the poking finger of a critical mind the wet tissue movie crumbles and shreds and all the horrible plot holes and poor writing are exposed. The enjoyment you got from watching is now gone and you have nothing left but a sticky wet mess.
The 5 Minutes from Greatness Theory:
I have theorize that many of the bad movies we sit through are actually 5 minutes worth of deleted, reworked, rewritten or re-acted scenes away from being great. The movie has so much potential but makes just a few mistakes that are so glaring that we just can’t get past them, but if we could change them. Change that one scene, delete that one line, then maybe we would have something truly great or at least not so mediocre.
Henceforth known as Mistake #1:
This isn’t a theory as much as it is a statement. When watching a movie that seems to start off good but then does something that causes it to start its downward slid, that is mistake #1 and thus the statement is made to point out the flaw. It indicates the point when things took a turn for the worse and indicates that while this was the first, there are probably many more to come. In TV shows this is known as the Jump the Shark moment.
This is not my theory but since I referenced it, I will explain it. A Jump the Shark moment is the identifiable point in time when a TV series once thought of as good does something so horrible that it begins a downward trend to mediocrity. The actual jump the shark moment is in reference to an episode of Happy Days where Fonzie while water skiing literally jumped over a shark. For most that signaled the downward spiral for Happy Days which oddly enough continued on for 7 years.
The Roland Emmerich Theory:
This theory revolves around what I believe Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich built their careers on, a great special effect idea. Envision a movie that is completely built around an idea for a great special effect. Instead of writing a movie that happens to include some great action sequences and special effect, Devlin and Emmerich chose to come up with a great special effect and then spend about 30 minutes developing a plot line to surround it. This theory first came into practice with their special effects idea of a giant alien ship blowing up major cities around the world became the hit summer movie Independence Day. Since then they continued to produce humongous piles of money-making crap piled on top of some wild special effect shot. Remember 2012, 10,000BC, The Day After Tomorrow… shall I even waste my breath on Godzilla (1998)? Emmerich’s only major production where perhaps he did not do this was The Patriot.
The Perfect Guy Movie Theory:
So what do you need to get a guy to watch a movie? It certainly isn’t Ryan Gosling pouring his heart out to Rachel McAdams in the rain. No guy needs are simple, special effects, explosions, a good punch, big breasted women and a car chase. So while producing a script targeted towards guys, movie studies know they have to hit on 3 of the 4 leaving the big breasted women out as that is up to the director and casting agent. If the film is written with only two of the four, such as it has a car chase and explosions but no other special effects or heavy handed brawl, then the director is obligated to throw in a really hot chick, make her wear skimpy things and bend over a lot. The number of men and subsequently the gross profitability of your film is directly proportional to the number of these five items you fit into your film and the quantity in which you provide it. Let’s take Transformers for instance. Would you have seen it just based on car chases, robot fighting, explosions and wild special effects? Of course you would, but Michael Bay being the shrewd misogynistic director he is decided to toss in Megan Fox, a woman who is not believable as herself in the Megan Fox Story, and there you go, the biggest money maker of 2007. All you needed was to stir in the sexy Megan Fox and you have the perfect guy movie. If you build this movie, they will come (please note the correct spelling of come and hold back on the innuendo). Now if you somehow figure out how to make the hot chick wear a bikini, get into a ninja like fist fight with another bikini clad chick, while blowing up half of New York with missile launchers affixed to her Lamborghini … oh my, I better copy write that movie right now!
The Screaming Girl Theory:
In the South Park episode Fingerbang, Cartman was actually referring to the success of boy bands when he proposed the Screaming Girl Theory, but it applies to movies as well. If you can get one girl to scream with excitement, then soon all girls will be screaming. Even if they don’t know why or what for, they will all scream and whatever money they can pull from their father’s wallets will be yours. This must be true, how else could Titanic make 50 trillion dollars.
The Horror Movie Jackass Theory:
In truth this theory can apply to almost any genre of film but it is most used and most effective in guy centric action, disaster and horror movies. The genre that uses it most is the horror movie. The theory is simple, present the audience with a jerk. A jackass of epic proportions that the audience will actually want dead, they will root for the death of this character. The horror genre writers wants this character as he will enhance the audience participation level and draw them deeper into the story. Make it a jerk getting killed by a monster and you really have something. Take a look at Jurrasic Park. Try to remember when you watched that in the theater. Did the audience hoot and holler when the lawyer got eaten by the T-Rex? I know mine did. What about Nightmare on Elm Street when the jerk boyfriend dies.. not Johnny Depp the other guy. It happens over and over. Both the writer and director want this character and they will force him in and over load the jerk factor just to make sure they have him al la Quarantine 2: Terminal.
The Key to Sequel Success
This is actually very simple. The key to making a sequel successful is to take whatever made the original good and then add “ier” to the end of it. If the original was funny then make the sequel funnier. If the original was scary then make the sequel scarier. And if the original was raunchy then make the sequel raunchier. There is not a movie studio out there that does not follow this theory when making a sequel, unfortunately it seldom works. The list of sequels as good or better than the original is very short, examples include Aliens, Empire Strikes Back and….. Well its one short list. Most of the time while the studio is making the sequel ier’er it fails at making the sequel original, but they don’t care because the sequel makes them tons of money. That is why I call this the Key to Sequel Success instead of good.