Sunday, May 8, 2011

A (mostly) successful dry run

I mentioned on Wednesday that I'm on the verge of a major movie marathon, as soon as my wife and son leave for Australia on Sunday night.

Last night I got a dry run to see how it would go.

As an early Mother's Day present, my wife took herself to a neighborhood motel last night. It's a cute place that we've always admired and in which our family has stayed, but in which we ourselves have never stayed -- for the obvious reason that you rarely need to stay at hotels that are less than a mile from your house. Since it's also cheap, it made a perfect place for her to get away for the night, without really being "away" -- a staycation to the extreme. Especially since she'll soon be the only parent looking after a baby with his body clock all screwed up, for 11 straight days, she desperately needed the treat of a full night's sleep -- her first away from the baby in the nearly 8 1/2 months since he was born.

Naturally, I lined up a double feature to watch at home, for after he went to sleep.

I had one Netflix movie I needed to return (Despicable Me), and I wanted to supplement that with a spontaneously chosen movie from Redbox (Skyline).

However, I didn't start the second movie until after midnight, and had to finish it this morning.

See, last night I discovered that it's very possible to be "out of practice" in watching movies.

What? you say. How's that possible? You just press play and passively watch what comes on the screen.

Except it's not quite that simple, is it? Watching a movie by yourself is a bit different from watching a movie with someone else. With someone else, yes, you hit play and watch. By yourself, however, you can be distracted by the many other things that compete for your time -- especially when you can spend that time doing whatever you damn please. You can hit pause whenever you feel like it -- there are no social repercussions.

And this "dry run" showed me some of the potential obstacles to watching quite as many movies as I think I'll watch over the next 11 days:

1) Sports. There will be a lot of sports I care about on TV while my wife and son are gone. You can start with the NBA playoffs, where my Celtics are fighting for their lives against the Miami Heat. They'll play at least one game while my family is gone (Monday night), more if they win tonight. Then there's all the baseball that will be on. You may remember that I'm in two fantasy leagues.

Last night, the start of the double feature was delayed by the fact that I wanted to watch the Lakers-Mavericks game. Even more than the Celtics winning a championship this year, I want the Lakers not to win one -- you see, one more and they'll be tied with the Celtics in terms of total number of championships (17). I'm trying to forestall that inevitability as long as possible, and last night's Laker loss to the Mavericks -- which put them in a historically insurmountable 0-3 hole -- took a big step toward delaying that tie at least one year. (And if the Celtics do somehow manage to win it all, even longer.)

2) The internet. I just got a new laptop last weekend, and its much-faster speeds make the internet a much more attractive option for wasting time at home. With my old machine, I had to keep the power cord taut at all times in order for the laptop not to power down. This has tended to discourage random browsing for a couple months now. Well, not anymore.

So I didn't start Despicable Me until around 9:20, and about an hour in, the beer I'd had with dinner suddenly caught up with me. So I took a 45-minute "nap" before finishing. I considered not even starting Skyline because it was so late, but I hate keeping a movie an extra day from Redbox -- in fact, I've never done it. And now was my window to watch it. So I started at around 12:15, and went to bed with about a half-hour left. Which I watched this morning over my coffee.

So what have I learned?

1) Watch the Redbox movie first. That's the one you have to return on time. The others will wait. You can expand that to "watch the movie from the library first" as well, because that also has a hard-and-fast deadline.

2) If you have a movie you don't really want watch, but are obligated to watch it as a result of circumstance (like having it out from Netflix), then just return it. I have to say, I was impatient with Despicable Me from about its first minute. I have spent the better part of the nine months since the movie came out growing increasingly grouchy about it -- first it was the omnipresence of those silly yellow minions, then it was my boredom with the whole animated supervillain concept (and I have yet to even see Megamind). I must say that Despicable Me did not surprise me, which I half expected it to, since most people say it's good. It was pretty much what I thought it would be, and I didn't really care for Steve Carell's performance -- I've written before about the fact that he's far more miss than hit for me at the movies. It didn't end up mattering in the end because I got the second movie in, but my disenchantment with Despicable Me nearly cost me the double feature.

3) Trust your instincts about the movie you want to see, even if people told you it was bad. I couldn't believe how much I ended up liking Skyline -- in fact, it help put me in touch with how much I've decided I dislike Battle: Los Angeles. For two movies about the city of Los Angeles being attacked by aliens that came out less than five months apart, Skyline is clearly the superior effort. First and perhaps most importantly, they're not afraid to show the aliens in Skyline -- and they actually look good (even if they are sort of indebted to War of the Worlds, The Matrix and District 9). Second, it's much more interesting to follow random citizens than the military in a movie like this. Third, Skyline didn't feel the need to cop out with a Hollywood ending. So, if you wanted to see Skyline but heard it sucked, you now have at least one person recommending it to you.

Okay, now for the real thing starting tomorrow night.


Daddy Geek Boy said...

First of all, you're old! Second, Im not sure what it is about Despicable Me that you didn't connect with. I truly love that movie and find it charming as hell.

Vancetastic said...

Hmm, let's see ... well, I didn't care about Gru, I didn't care about the kids, I didn't care about the rival supervillain. In fact, the only character I really liked was Russell Brand's Dr. Nefario. I also found it very "cartoonish," and yes, I do realize how that sounds given that the movie is a cartoon. But all the security systems that do this, this and this at the flick of a button, it was just too cutesy for me. And then the whole "guy you think is bad who's not that bad when he softens over the course of the narrative" has just been done to death. Next!

Mark said...

Vance - Enjoying the blog as much as ever. Enough to put you up for a few Lammy awards. Keep it up!

Vancetastic said...

Mark, thanks so much! That's really nice! I have been a very poor LAMB member lately as I have basically crawled into a cocoon consisting of only my own blog and a few others. But I hope to be returning to great LAMB reciprocity soon!

Vancetastic said...

Er, "greater."