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Sucker Punch: Why You Were Unprepared To See the Film

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I didn't see Sucker Punch, and chances are, neither did you.

The heavily-hyped special effects film opened Friday, but it lost the weekend box office battle to Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules, a kids' film that cost a quarter as much to make.

Some people may blame poor reviews for Sucker Punch's disappointing numbers. Critics described it as a poorly-executed, standard issue action fantasy, with Richard Roeper calling it "the most painful test of endurance since Drive Angry 3-D."

But that's not why I didn't go. I didn't go because I was confused by the film's tagline. Every Sucker Punch billboard contained the promise, "You will be unprepared."

What exactly does that mean?

Why the future tense? Does it mean that when I sit down to watch the movie, I will not be prepared for it? If so, doesn't that mean I'm already unprepared now? I mean, if I'm not going to be prepared when I watch it, I must not be prepared now. And if that's the case, shouldn't the tagline be, "You are unprepared?"

Perhaps, though, the PR folks had a different intention. Perhaps when they say, "You will be unprepared," they mean that watching this film will transform me into a state of unpreparedness, as if the viewing experience itself will result in some kind of preparedness regression. Sure, right now, I'm totally prepared, but after I see the movie, I will be UNprepared.

That would be a bold take on a word that's become pretty tired in this post-9/11 world. Since our government established September as National Preparedness Month in 2004, I don't think they've ever prepared us for the possibility that we'd be UNprepared.

This radical usage strikes me as especially bold considering that Sucker Punch seems to borrow every epic fantasy special effects movie trope of the past... well... the past. I don't know how the filmmakers could claim that anyone would be rendered unprepared by a film that actually includes the line, "If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything." Indeed.

Americans have spent our very filmgoing lives preparing for this pablum. And unfortunately for the makers of Sucker Punch, it seems we're mostly content with our current level of preparedness.