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Wednesday, September 16, 2020

The Least Consequential Movie I've Ever Seen

Someone who has watched as many movies I have has encountered considerable inconsequential cinema in his time. In fact, I encountered a movie of little consequence a couple weeks ago, this movie called “The Sleepover” (review coming!). But then, “The Sleepover” is a Netflix movie, just grist for their content mill, meaning the whole point is to be inconsequential so I’m not sure that counts as the least consequential movie I’ve ever seen. And anyway, the question is, what’s the least consequential movie you’ve ever seen in a theater, not a virtual theater. (At one time I might have thought “Assassins” was among the least consequential movies I have seen but “Assassins” has inadvertently become significantly consequential given our brave new world of memes. Go figure.)

As some of our loyal frustrated followers may know, long, long ago, pre-Y2K, I was a movie projectionist/movie theater manager for a spell. And when you’re a movie projectionist, especially a movie projectionist at a freaking 16-plex, you see some inconsequential movies. Boy, do you. I spent hours putting movies together reel by reel and then would watch them to make sure I had not screwed those reels up. (I rarely did, aside from “The Mummy”, which suddenly started playing backwards late in the movie and caused me and the other theater manager watching with me to have to re-put “The Mummy”’ together at, like, 3 in the morning which was less than ideal.) Everything had to be screened, consequential or not.

I saw “Playing by Heart” which underlined its own inconsequentiality by changing its title from the from the striking “Dancing About Architecture” to that run-of-the-mill three words signifying nothing. (Good job, marketers!)

I saw “Sphere”, an experience crystallized in how the oft-frenzied Samuel L. Jackson spent most of that movie literally asleep. You and me both!

I saw “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” with that kid from “Home Improvement” during Thanksgiving week because I think it opened on Thanksgiving, or maybe the Wednesday preceding it, which was as transitory as a Lions game on Thanksgiving. 

I saw “Drive Me Crazy”, with Melissa Joan Hart, though now I wonder if I’m confusing that with “Down To You”, starring Freddie Prinze Jr. (Or possibly confusing both of them with “Get Over It”, starring Kirsten Dunst?) 

I saw “Random Hearts” where Harrison Ford’s performance approximated a weary husband on a Sunday at the department store with his wife who falls asleep outside the fitting room with a dozen shopping bags on his lap.

I saw that “Holy Man” movie with Eddie Murphy which, to paraphrase David Letterman’s classic crack about “Gigli”, was on cable television by the time I got home from the theater.

Possible fake Major League: Back to the Minors promo photo

I saw “Major League: Back to the Minors”, I know I did, though like our President believing one thing and then believing something else when Fox & Friends tells him something different, if you told me “Major League: Back to the Minors” was not actually a movie, just an IMDb entry masquerading as one, God, I might believe you.

I saw “Jack Frost” with Michael Keaton and- holy shit. I’d forgotten I’d seen “Jack Frost” until this exact second. It just popped in there.

Did I see “Dear God”? I think I did but now I’m honestly not sure. 

I saw “Inspector Gadget” with Matthew Broderick, I am sure about that, and now this whole thing has just become an exercise in reliving cinematic trauma. 

Ok. Where was I? Right. Least consequential movie I’ve ever seen. You know what movie honestly occurred to me when I began this post? “Forces of Nature”, the rom com with Sandra Bullock and Ben Affleck. And it occurred to me not because the experience of watching “Forces of Nature” was inconsequential but because, well, let the esteemed Roger Ebert explain: 

“So I'm sitting there, looking in disbelief at the ending of "Forces of Nature,'' and asking myself--if this is how the movie ends, then what was it about? We spend two endless hours slogging through a series of natural and man-made disasters with Sandra Bullock and Ben Affleck, and then ... that's it? Bronwen Hughes' "Forces of Nature'' is a romantic shaggy dog story, a movie that leads us down the garden path of romance, only to abandon us by the compost heap of uplifting endings. And it's not even clever enough to give us the right happy ending. It gives us the wrong happy ending.”

A lot of movies pass unnoticed or evaporate almost immediately from the mind but “Forces of Nature” itself is inconsequential. 

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