Friday, December 24, 2010

Why can the movies get away with it?

Every now and again, you watch a movie that makes you want to throw something at the TV like you throw a book at the wall. Such was the case last night when I watched When in Rome.

Now don't get me wrong, the movie was cute. It was your standard romantic comedy, though the acting could have been better. I almost gave up a couple times, but I wanted to see how it all played out (and kept hoping it would get better). Plus Josh Duhamel is a cutie. However, even his fine butt (not that I ever got to see it *pout*) wasn't enough to distract me from some serious flaws in the plot of the story. Flaws neither I, or you, or any writer could ever hope to get away with.

The premise of the story is, bitter that she's once again failed at finding a chance to love, the heroine steals coins from the Fountain of Love in hopes of saving other lost souls her pain. Thus starts a crazy and hilarious journey of men falling helplessly in love with her, because she stole their coins. Sounds like a neat and fun idea, right? The problem? She picked up five seemingly random coins from a fountain in ITALY! Yet all these men somehow reside in her city of New York, or close enough that they can stalk her with ease... Really? Five coins all belong to men, who all live in the same city, but she was in another country when she picked them up? You would never get away with that in writing. Ever.

Another movie that does this to me, is Moonstruck. Our very young hero, Nicolas Cage, falls in love within an hour of meeting the heroine. And not just "I want to sleep with you" love, but "I want to spend the rest of my life with you" love. No way! It's so romantic though, and he's such a lost soul in the movie, you have to root for him, even if you're rolling your eyes and your inner editor is screaming "Impossible!"

Or what about the movies where the heroine is completely unlikable until the end, when some life shattering event makes her have the much needed epiphany? As was the case in Carolina, with the lovely Julia Stiles. If I'd written a character this self-centered and unlikable, NO ONE would have bothered to read even half way through. Yet, I watched the entire movie, in the hopes that this young woman would get her happily-ever-after, even if I didn't really like her. We'd have been told, as authors, our heroine was too unlikable and she needed some redeeming quality, but the movie industry doesn't have those same standards. Or is not so much standards as expectations?

This leaves me wondering, why can movies get away with it? Because we're fed TV/Movies, but we're not fed books? Our minds create images and our imagination fills in the gaps the author purposefully leaves to make stories our own... is this why we, as writers, can't get away with things like horrific plot holes, instant love and unlikable characters? What do you think? And what movies completely drive you crazy with rules YOU can't break?


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