CXXVII – At the Movies

The election is over; thankfully 2020 is over as well. I need a “go vote” and “coronavirus” cleanse. I need something other than the ubiquitous, incessant political and electoral bullshit. We need to lighten the mood and think of something completely unrelated to politics.

We all need a post-election political cleanse. Enough is too much!

I was watching some videos on YouTube recently (sometimes I’ll check out clips from “Family Feud” or Transformers), and I got to thinking about movies. Sure, the movie industry right now is practically at a standstill due to the pandemic, and the theater right by my house has been playing bunches of old movies in order to keep their income flowing.

I got to thinking about movies I’ve enjoyed watching. Most who know me know that I am a huge homebody, and that I don’t get out to the movie theater that much. I’m also not the kind that will sit and binge a whole season or series of this or that show. The problem is that most of the movies that have come out recently just don’t interest me.

What kind of movies do I like? I enjoy a good comedy movie. Many of those 80s movies were just absolutely corny compared to now, but I think that’s part of the allure: a simpler time when cruder comedy could be watched without someone getting offended and butt-hurt. I once watched a clip of a Dean Martin’s Celebrity Roast featuring Mr. T. Don Rickles (the voice of Mr. Potato Head in the Toy Story franchise) was spewing some rather irreverent jokes—jokes that would never fly today—and Mr. T was there laughing his ass off. Comedians like Don Rickles and Rodney Dangerfield would never obtain an audience today, as their form of comedy would be today considered offensive and distasteful. Goes to show you how much has changed over the years. Along the lines of irreverent humor was the Police Academy series, but only up to about the fourth one. The fifth and sixth movies just seemed like desperation to me.

Title screenshot from the first Police Academy movie

Additionally, some of those corny comedies from the 1980s, like The Naked Gun and Airplane! are great for nostalgia. Both of those movie series had Leslie Nielsen in them. He was a decent serious actor, but he played the bumbling Frank Drebin, and he was awesome with the deadpan, “I am serious, and don’t call me Shirley”.

Leslie Nielsen from Airplane! uttering his famous line about Shirley

I enjoy some science fiction. I saw most of the original Star Trek movies, up to and including First Contact. I have also seen the original three Star Wars movies—the ones now known as Episodes 4 – 6, back when there was a movie simply entitled Star Wars, rather than A New Hope. I’m kinda glad I never really got into the whole Star Wars universe and all its programs. I’ve heard that they could have stopped with Star Wars VII, or even leave Return of the Jedi as the last one. The one good thing that came out of the extended Star Wars thing was “The Mandalorian”, and the ever-popular cute little formerly unnamed guy that is colloquially known as “Baby Yoda”. I don’t care that Disney gave him the stupid name “Grogu”, I’m still going to call him Baby Yoda. I think that name will forever be etched in the universe as well, no matter how much Disney will try to fight it. Seriously, though. Grogu? I really, really hope that everyone sticks to calling him Baby Yoda. I could never get into the franchises of Harry Potter, The Hobbit or Lord of the Rings. I don’t know; they just seemed too slow and uninteresting for me. Twilight, you ask? Forget it! If you want a real vampire, go find Dracula from the 1930s Bela Lugosi movies. Vampires don’t sparkle or have red irises!

Movie poster for Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
Baby Yoda does not approve of Disney naming him Grogu. It really is a stupid name.

Of course, how could this list not include anything from the Transformers? I was a fan of that series since its inception in 1984. A bit of trivia: the very first episode aired on 17 Sept 1984, and ran for 3 seasons, totaling 92 episodes. The final three episodes, collectively known as “The Rebirth” I don’t count as a 4th season, and in the Japanese continuity, were ignored completely. In Japan, Transformers continued on where the US show ended. Transformers: The Movie in 1986 was a box-office bomb, and many kids cried, left the theaters, or, in one extreme case, locked himself in the bathroom for two weeks, when they saw their favorite character, Optimus Prime, die in the movie. For Hasbro, the whole cartoon series was just a bunch of 22-minute toy commercials (as were GI Joe, He-Man, Voltron and all the other similar 80s cartoons), and they were just killing off one toy line and introducing a new one. Shortly afterwards, they realized what they did was a huge mistake and resurrected the character. I also have seen all six live-action movies (of which, I feel Bumblebee was the one that remained truest to the original characters of the 80s). The five Michael Bay-helmed movies, to me, were okay. Unfortunately, it seems like each one degraded in quality, favoring explosions and expletives. In the progression of the live-action movies, it seemed like more of a human story with some robots as helpers, rather than focusing on the titular robots.

The “Transformers” franchise began in 1984, waned in popularity in the 1990s and early 2000s, but returned to relevancy with the live-action Transformers movies in 2007. Most Transformers fans remain true to the 1980s animated series, nicknamed “G1”, or Generation One. A screenshot from one scene is pictured here.

Another category of movies I enjoy: disaster movies. I don’t know why, but I love seeing cities be destroyed by something. Wouldn’t it be a great prank, in around 2050, to show 2012 to kids then, and tell them you survived that? One of my favorite scenes from Independence Day was when the aliens blew up the White House and most of New York, Washington DC and Los Angeles. A disaster movie doesn’t even require total annihilation. I enjoyed watching Day After Tomorrow, with the world plummeting into a new ice age.

Movie poster for the movie 2012. Honestly, couldn’t this movie be placed in the comedy section? It really was quite crazy in retrospect.

Who doesn’t love a good horror movie? Unfortunately, the Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th franchises were just bad horror movies from the 1980s. No real violence or gore. Of course, what can we expect from movies nearly 40 years old? I’d rather watch the Saw movies, anyway. Those psychological horror movies are much more fascinating to me; I also like how each film builds upon the previous ones. I have not seen the seventh movie yet, but I will say that one of my favorite scenes is at the end of Saw V, when Agent Strahm gets smooshed by the walls closing in on him (human pancakes, anyone?🥞😱🤮). The biggest lesson from Saw I can see is to appreciate your life, because you never know when your time on this Earth will run out.

Screenshot from the ending scene of Saw V. Pictured is FBI Agent Peter Strahm, caught in one of the franchise’s many traps. The walls are closing in on him, and moments after this, he becomes a human pancake. Yummy.

What kind of movies do you like? Feel free to share in comments. With the whole pandemic and its associated closures and lockdowns, there’s no telling when anyone will be able to go back to the movie theaters. Until then, there is online streaming and some movie rentals.

Enjoy your time in life while you can. There are thousands in the world who, due to the coronavirus, will not be able to again. Remember to wash those hands, wear your face masks where required, keep an eye out on your families, and of course, be safe and be well.

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