Who doesn’t love settling in on a cold, rainy day to watch a movie? Or to spend a lazy Sunday glued to the TV for back-to-back episodes of that must-see show about the biker gang zombies who cook meth and sell it to dragons? I know I do. The problem for me though, is that I have an annoyingly hyperactive brain guarding the path to true immersion in whatever escapist fiction flickers on-screen. Perhaps I’m overly cynical, or perhaps it’s because I once trained myself to be resistant to hypnosis so as to prevent becoming a sleeper agent assassin for the KGB. In any case, it means I have an exhaustive list of Hollywood habits and clichés that will immediately snap my suspension of disbelief – which is already as brittle as Michael Bay’s New Year’s resolution to take it easy on the explosions.
Here are just some celluloid neuroses of mine:
1. People order drinks and food then never eat it – usually sticking someone with the bill
This is number one, because it’s most certainly the most irritating. If I were a café or bar owner in the film-world, I would lose my mind over the endless customers who saunter in, casually ask for something and then saunter back out again as soon as their order hits the grill-plate. Sometimes they might hang around until a drink arrives, but will exit immediately after they’ve indolently picked it up and waved it about a few times in conversation. Just think of the ruinous expenses of all that wastage and unpaid bills!
2. No-one looks at at anyone when they’re dropping some real heavy news
I get that sometimes dramatic things happen in life and breaking the news of some heavy shit can be pretty damned hard. But, whether you’re telling the President the zombie mutation virus has broken out of containment; or confessing to an extra-marital affair with your spouse’s bikram yoga instructor; or finally revealing to other soldiers in your platoon what really went down during Operation: Blue Typhoon and why you can never eat a banana again; at least have the common decency to look them in the eye! At the very least point your face at their face. None of this back-turning, mumbling rudeness!
3. Everyone has appalling phone manners
Have we really become such a socially abbreviated culture that we can’t even manage a mannerly goodbye at the end of a phone conversation? Characters just sit there on the line and wait until the crucial bit of info is revealed and then hang up. It’s just rude. No ‘thanks for calling’, no ‘see you later’, no ‘have a nice afternoon’, no ‘say hi to Frank for me’… just an abrupt end to the conve-
4. Dating in a big city a breeze
Even, no, especially in films about romance, it seems like a love life comes complimentary with your latte from the trendy city coffee shop as if cupid’s arrow tips were made of biscotti. Not only do you just happen to regularly bump into random acquaintances for witty banter over whatever semi-embarrassing situation you’re caught in (locked out of apartment, spilled coffee on self, dog running amok… etc), you then can simply peg a date with a simple: “Dinner Friday?”, “Sure”, “I’ll pick you up at eight.”… Done! It matters not where this stranger plans to take you, or how they know where you live. Pfft details – it’s date time!
5. The best player in the team will only show up at half-time
What does it say about team commitment when the best players are NEVER around for that dramatically crucial match against the really slick, sinister-looking team who have heaps of money, a bully coach and shiny black uniforms. It’s not until your team is one full cheek into a clinical and comprehensive arse-kicking when who should show up in the dressing room? Only the most vital member of your otherwise shithouse (yet totally lovable) team! Now get out there and win in the last few seconds in the most uncanny, slow-motion, tears-for-the-underdogs way possible!
6. People just kind of waltz into a room and pick up the conversation as if they’d been there all along…
Seriously!? Do important people hide around corners in government buildings just waiting for the opportune moment?
“It’s almost as if the alien mothership has some kind of-”
“-electron-pulse plasma forcefield, yes general, I took the liberty of entering the room and finishing your sentence so now everyone knows I’m the smart one around here.” Unfortunately it never works for me, though hopefully the next time I blurt: ‘ham sandwich!’ as I enter a room, it WILL make sense. I probably should increase my odds and walk into more delicatessens.
7. Gangs of ruffians never co-ordinate their attacks very well
I don’t condone wanton violence, nor gang affiliation… but nor do I condone a lack of respect for teamwork and role-based coordination tactics. So many attempted beat downs are thwarted because a lack of tactical cohesion completely nullifies the numerical advantage. Instead of gathering around in a circle and going in one at a time for a routine cycle of butt-kicking – why not pool your resources and attack with purpose? Guy in sleeveless leather jacket can feign a frontal attack to draw the target’s attention, opening up for a simultaneous pincer strike on the flanks from guy with shaved head and guy with bandana. While they close in, guy with metal pole can sweep low and take the legs out from under the target where they will be vulnerable to a good’n’proper stompin’. See street toughs of Hollywood? It’s not so hard.
8. Police think a car door is a bulletproof shield
Why? Why do cops do that?! Do they realise the baddies are firing lumps of lead at a really high velocity?! Unless you’re patrolling the streets in a Sherman tank, a car door isn’t actually going to stop a volley of bullets. You might as well hide behind a tissue.
9. People hold torches funny
A torch (or, ‘flashlight’) doesn’t seem like the kind of object that requires any technique to use. You just kind of, point it and… not drop it… but the folks of Hollywood seem loathe to hold it any other way than next to the temple, with elbows pointed down. I suppose you could consider it the coolest way to point a torch – but you don’t always have to look cool, especially if all you’re doing is trudging knee deep in human refuse as you investigate the town’s sewers at night for whatever ominous reasons.
10. All doors can be opened by shooting them
Fair enough, I were packing heat, ‘shoot it’ would also rank high on my list of troubleshooting solutions to overcome various problems, like say a jammed printer, a tight jar lid, a loud neighbour or even a locked door. But, would it actually work? Locks can be pretty hardcore these days, I’d be more worried about the slug ricocheting back into my groin from the 30cm distance at which I shot the stupid thing. Yeah, not a smart idea, better call a locksmith.
11. Looking at a photograph will change a character’s mind
They say a picture is a thousand words, to which every screenwriter in the business replies, ‘thank fuck for that’. In Hollwoodland, photographs are extra-super-mega persuasive and prolonged staring at an old photo of the family you once had will definitely thrust you into the third act guns blazing – figuratively and most probably literally.
12. Cops don’t take suspensions very seriously
I’m beginning to think that ‘You’re off the case’ is some sort of police code for: ‘Please continue the investigation, and make sure lots of things explode along the way’.
13. Dudes in suits are really awesome at fighting
This one I know a bit about, because I am both really, really good at fighting and also look really, really good in a suit. But, for reasons of restricted mobility and a little thing called Saville Row stitching, I refuse to combine the two – even if shit goes down at the charity ball. Disappoint the babes I may, but It’s simply impossible to execute an exemplary roundhouse kick in tapered trousers, and a bespoke Hugo Boss might look killer, but doesn’t make you killer. It’s also really hard to run at top speed in Italian loafers, so I don’t know who these try-hard suave Hollywood action men think they’re kidding.
14. The Wilhelm scream is really annoying
What was once a long-running inside joke in the film business has become a real pain in the aural receptors. The famous Wilhelm Scream appears in just about every mainstream Hollywood movie produced ever. I can barely sit through a blockbuster movie these days without the uncomfortable expectation of hearing that distinctive warbled cry clawing away in the back of my head. They could have at least recorded a semi-realistic scream; ‘Wilhelm’ sounds more like someone who fell in the toilet than a man who just received a bullet to the chest.
15. “I’m getting too old for this shit”
“Let’s get out of here”; “I’ve got a bad feeling about this”; “Get me the President”; “The monster is headed downtown”; “No, it’s too dangerous”; “Hold it right there”; “I’m hit! Go on without me”… So much lazy, lazy dialogue just won’t go away. I can honestly promise that I’ve never actually said any of these phrases in real life… well, except for in moments of extreme passion, and then it’s pretty much word-for-word in that order…
16. Profane old ladies are hilarious
No they are not. They just aren’t. A sweet old lady flipping the bird, swearing or laying down some ebonic trash-talk for ‘shock humour’ is not funny. Not even remotely. So, stop it. Now… Adam Sandler. Bad Adam Sandler!
17. If you own a fruit stall – a car WILL crash through it
It’s just a matter of time.
18. Electronic devices are noisy
Generally, if something electronic starts making noises, it’s most likely faulty and will probably electrocute someone. Unless of course it was programmed to make glitchy beeps and boops and crackles every time it is used. Though, why every high-tech piece of covert espionage equipment would be programmed to make more of a clamour than a startled R2-D2 is just too far a stretch for my logic.
19. There are commentators at children’s sports games
Despite the head injuries, I still remember my junior sporting days and NOT ONCE was there a card table and microphone set up for some play-by-play commentary of my team’s most nail-biting of encounters, 1998 under-12s grand final penalty shootout epic included. Though, if Hollywood were to believe every junior sports game features fully-fledged referees, grandstands and professional commentary. We were lucky if one of the mums remembered it was her turn to bring the oranges.
20. Batman can’t turn his head properly
This gets to me every time. Every stinking time! Get a more flexible suit already, you silly billionaire orphan!