George Mason Law School

Sampling the joys of genre-bending

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April 8, 2008

9:23 AM

There are a few genres of movies I innately despise: romance, horror and documentary, to name a few. It isn’t so much that I hate them; they just tend to bore me. But even I have to admit I can enjoy a good love story every now and then. I’m still not yet ready to support the whole genre, though.

p. Over the weekend a few friends and I had a discussion about movies that we were surprised we liked. The conversation slowly shifted to what movies nearly everyone in our age group might enjoy. While we each had different tastes, we unanimously approved of a small list, including anything with James Bond, “Wedding Crashers,” “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” and the Star Wars Trilogy.

p. My realization was that flicks that entertain the largest chunk of the masses tend to have a little something of everything in them. They’re not straight-up action, drama or even comedy.

p. I’m aware this epiphany isn’t among my greatest (like that time I realized Ron Jeremy wasn’t a country music star while using Google Image Search), but it needs to be said because eight out of every 10 movies seem to ignore this trend.

p. If you’re a junkie of a particular genre, this saturation isn’t a problem. But take my word for it: It can lead to problems, especially when corralling a group of friends together for movie night or when finding a good date movie.

p. Take “Wedding Crashers,” for example. The first 15 minutes led the audience to believe it would be yet another notch in the belt of the male-oriented party genre, destined to be remembered as masturbatory drivel targeted at a niche of men who recently figured out girls don’t have cooties.

p. After that mark though, the film takes a decidedly unexpected twist, showcasing some amazing improvisational comedy by its leading men, a surprisingly touching romantic plot and more memorable quotes than a George Dubya speech.

p. At no point does the movie fail to connect with the audience, be they the male hooligans who came for some skin, the folks looking for a good laugh or the gals who were hooked by the promise of on-screen romance with a happy ending.

p. On the other end of the spectrum, at first glance, “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” is usually the kind of movie I avoid like the plague. At the risk of emasculation, I’m willing to admit that I think it’s a great movie. A good balance of mushy romantic scenes and hilariously realistic dialogue made it the kind of movie to remember.

p. The Brangelina mash-up “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” seems like a great idea on paper. With a solid cast, a great premise and a good director, what could possibly go wrong? Just about everything, apparently.

p. The on-screen chemistry between our leading man and woman looked forced, despite the fact that Brangelina was swapping spit in both the reel and real world. Even Vince Vaughn’s comedic talents failed to entertain, as if they were duct-taped onto the film as an afterthought. By trying to be all things for all fans, the movie ultimately failed to satisfy in any respect.

p. I’m not trying to slam the films that are unashamedly made for just one audience. I’m guilty of loving mindless action films as much as anyone — perhaps too much. Genre-defying gems keep me willing to see a movie outside of my normal spectrum, for which I’m thankful. Seeing “Bloodbath IV: This Time It’s Bloody Personal” on a first date rarely goes well.

p. __Matthew Falwell is a Critical Condition columnist. He still thinks Jenna Jameson is a world famous fashion designer.__

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