So, you wake up from your routine gallbladder surgery dismayed to find that you are now missing a kidney and have a brand new artificial femur. This heinous breach of trust leaves you feeling betrayed and abused but, thankfully, there is a system in place for this kind of thing. A system through which you can demand some admittedly disproportionate recompense for being given a vastly inferior version of what you were led to expect going in.
The movie industry leaves us no such recourse. However, perhaps the right hungry, Jackie Chiles-style lawyer could lead the charge on suing moviemakers for malpractice and getting the American public some compensation for all the crappy films they have had to endure over the last few years. And the onslaught doesn't seem like it's going to end anytime soon. The WTF remake of Arthur will soon be followed with remakes of Footloose, Straw Dogs and maybe even The Birds. This summer, Thor, Green Lantern, Captain America, another Pirates of the Caribbean, another Fast and the Furious, Kevin James wrangling a bunch of talking animals in The Zookeeper, and Transformers 3 are all getting set to clog up the plumbing of our rational minds.
Wait, says the astute counsel for the movie studios, surely the public can simply decide not to support such execrable excuses for storytelling; they can choose not to plunk down their hard-earned lucre on these cinematic equivalents of projectile vomit. That freedom of choice alone means the movies themselves are under no obligation to refund their purchase price.
Wrong. Audiences know when someone is feeding them crap and calling it caviar (okay, well, a lot of people think caviar is crap, but I liked the analogy and the alliteration, so sue me), and they are, even after decades of being bludgeoned by filmmakers, still open, warm and loving people who want to give you guys another chance. And besides, doesn't the movie business have a system in place that is supposed to fix the bad stuff? Something that is the entertainment industry equivalent of med school? Don't all the development people listen to the audio books of Syd Field and Robert McKee until their ears bleed? This schooling allows them to lay claim to a firm grounding in 'story,' and so orchestrate a product to help it achieve the maximum effect, based on paradigms going back over 2,000 years, all the way back to the Ancient Greeks. But still they screw it up! Even more tragically, the only place any semblance of a recognizable three-act structure appears is in the condensed versions they use to promote their lousy films: the trailers.
Then, when they realize the very first draft of the script was not that bad after all, and that the movie they have since Frankensteined together really does suck, they release it in 3-D, forcing us not only to pay more and bring along kids who don't know any better, but to wear gigantic, awkward, uncomfortable glasses that are probably streaked with the nose grease of the previous user.
In fact, forget price of admission reimbursement. I want Jackie to sue for mental cruelty. Whether or not I physically attend a screening of Insult To Your Intelligence IV, the very fact that it exists is a personal affront to me. Okay, okay, I'll even grant a certain percentage of movies like Utter Disregard for the Audience and We Didn't Give a Crap So Why Should You. Creating entertainment can be a fickle business and sure, a few turds are going to get dropped out of the idea machine. But when such a steady stream of offal keeps hitting our screens, it's like we are being called out. They are begging us to sue them. But then they keep the malpractice lawsuits at bay every year by suddenly finding ten movies of varying degrees of quality and handing out some Oscars to trick us into thinking that they've known what they were doing all along. (It used to be they only nominated five movies, but, you know, business was falling off because of all the terrible movies, so they had to act fast.)
So let's get a class action deal going. Even if we all get nothing more than enough money to pay for parking and popcorn at a new lousy excuse for screened entertainment.
Alas, maybe the percentage of dreck to genius has always been this high; maybe that's the nature of the movies. But, we're here now in the middle of a very rough patch, and it's no fun. It's like we're going into a film with one set of expectations, and coming out missing a kidney and with a brand new artificial femur.
James Napoli is an author and humorist. More of his comedy content for the web can be found here.