A personal diary keeping people abreast of what I am working on writing-wise.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


This first part was written on June 6 but never posted, because I felt others were all saying it:

Next person to ask me if I am going to see the Transformers movie, or worse, whether or not I will take him to the screening (it has yet to be a "her" in this scenario), gets cut out of my life completely.

What is wrong with you people? It's amazing, because to a man, you've all made an appeal to my sense of history for why I should see this movie, and yet you have no sense of history yourselves. This is Michael Bay we're talking about, the guy who made Pearl Harbor. He can even turn actual history into sludge, and yet you're trusting him with what you all tell me is "your childhood." First of all, you zygotes, the Transformers are from my childhood, not yours. Most of you are younger than me, so you're Johnny Come Latelies as far as I'm concerned, so don't try to school me on my childhood. I'll school you by transforming my five fingers into a fist and removing your teeth. Second, even if it is your childhood, all the more reason for you to stay away from this piece of crap. Even if I let you get away with your claims that the cartoons and comics weren't appallingly bad (seriously!), by what criteria are you thinking this movie will be what you want it to be? Getting Michael Bay to direct Transformers is like hiring a child molester to babysit your kids, and yet you all clap and say, "Oh, sweet! I'll pay $9.25 for that!"

Would it really kill you to walk away, to say, "No, this is not mine, this is theirs, and I'm not going to support it." I can already hear the apologists starting. It's like the Star Wars prequels all over again. Instead of just manning up and saying, "They screwed me," you're coming up with all the reasons why it's going to be okay. The most common already is, "Well, I really like Shia LeBeouf. I'll go for him." You really like Shia LeBeouf? What for?! Look at this guy's oeuvre. Wow. He spun a successful Disney channel show into cinematic gold. One stinker after another, and it's like he's a goddamn genius to you people. Allegedly Disturbia is pretty good, but I'll live comfortably never finding out as I watch Rear Window for the umpteenth time.

Just face it. Look at what Hollywood has shown you from Transformers so far and be smart about it. They are doing to your childhood what they did when they made Gene Kelly sell cars and Audrey Hepburn shill pants. It's advertising necrophilia, and they are having their way with your memories in a most unclean manner. And they won't stop as long as you keep letting them get away with it. Can't you let your good times rest in peace?

It's over, people. Stay home!

Today is July 3rd...

Now that all you sheep have dutifully followed the herd and gone to see this movie, you're all freaking e-mailing me about it. "Dude, it's not that bad." Say it in a meathead voice. "Dude, it's not that bad."

You know, I guess I can kind of forgive this collective amnesia that has forgotten that Michael Bay used to be the punchline of every joke about bad movies, because now that he's been replaced by Brett Ratner, we wistfully dream of a time when he was our whipping boy and think, "Oh, that wasn't so bad, was it?" So, let's just let this slide.

Instead, look at how people are defending this excrement. (And if you're reading this and getting all pissy or proud that it's about you, guess what? You're not special. You're actually in a club. I'm hearing this junk regularly. Though, you can all thank this guy for breaking the camel's back. (You know I think you're cool, Plas, don't cry.)) The first thing that follows, "Dude, it's not that bad" is, "It's just a summer popcorn movie." Note the word "just." That four letter word means so much more. There is a reason Radiohead used it as a title of a song where the central line in the chorus was "You do it to yourself." The word "just" is the shorthand abbreviation for "It's really a piece of shit and I am kidding myself." If you can't say that sentence without the word "just," you're lying to me and you're lying to yourself and there is a special place under Satan's ballsack that tingles every time you tell that kind of lie.

I'm a goddamn cinephile. You don't think I like summer movies? You don't think I like things blowing up and people's head exploding and other such gory nonsense? But as with anything, there is good nonsense and there is bad nonsense. The good is the kind where you say, "That was a great summer movie." The bad: "It's just a summer movie."

Then...and this part I love...I'm going to pause and savor it's imminent arrival, like I would at the airport when my long lost love is finally returning home...

"You just have to turn off your brain and bleh bleh bleh blah bloo."

You know when I turn off my brain? Right when I hear that phrase. And you notice the word "just" in there? The other key word is "have." The only time I have to turn off my brain is when I know I'm in the middle of something horrible and it's the only way to get out of it. Like when your mother tells you that you're an abomination and she wished she had fished you out of her uterus with a spoon, and you start thinking of happy things to make you forget the harshness. It's what happens when someone perpetrates violence on your mind and you have to leave your own body in order to keep from breaking down completely.

If a movie requires that you ignore that it's insulting you, that means it's insulting you. A truly excellent entry in the "dumb fun" movie genre asks nothing of you. It lulls you into the good time it provides and requires no caveats. It never makes you feel stupid just because it might be stupid. That's the beauty of it. Movies like There's Something About Mary or Let's Go To Prison, they just make you laugh. They don't lower your standards to do it. 28 Weeks Later killed things real good, and though it had plenty of story holes, they didn't degrade the visceral thrills I got in the action sequences. And then something like 40 Year Old Virgin or The Host transcends by being the best of both worlds. I'll watch it a million times because when I'm just feeling like being silly, I can watch it for how silly it is; if I want something more, I can watch it for the jokes and/or action and the deeper subtext.

Now, ask yourself, is there anything about Transformers that is really more than meets the eye, or is it only more because of the excuses you're about to make for it?

On a final note, if you want to relive your childhood, relive your damn childhood. It's still there. Go back to what you originally enjoyed. Isn't the whole point of reliving your childhood that you're returning to simpler times? How does watching a movie that updates said simplicity with an overcomplicated script, taking the sleek designs of the old toys and giving them a million moving parts, do that?

Answer my rhetorical questions if you must, but only if you can honestly say that if you were replying to me verbally, you wouldn't begin with at least three buts. "But, but, but...dude, it's not that bad."

Current Soundtrack: Patton Oswalt, Werewolves & Lollipops (Ironically, Oswalt is such a geek, I bet he's seen Transformers already. Wanna wrestle?)

Current Mood: irate

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Jenny said...

I don't really know anything about Transformers. I saw the animated movie when I was in college, and was properly impressed that they killed Optimus Prime (can you do that?), but ultimately didn't really care that all Transformers were dead except Judd Nelson.

The biggest non-Michael-Bay complaint that I've got about the way the movie looks so far is that there's the Camaro one...and Optimus "Softimus" Prime. And then...a bunch of other ones that all look exactly the same? There's the silver one...and the silver one. The only one that looks any different is the one that's secretly a toaster in that Mountain Dew commercial. Except that's silver too, but it's a toaster, so I'll probably be able to tell it apart from other ones. Maybe. Because it's small? Aren't Transformers big?

And Shia LaBeouf? His big break came on Project Greenlight. That...isn't making me have faith. In anything.

People that love Transformers can't tell me anything other than "it's not that bad." I don't give a shit about Transformers in general, so I want to see a movie that's better than "it's not that bad." I'll add it to the list of other movies that "aren't that bad" that I might see eventually: Oceans 13, Pirates of the Caribbean, Die Hard 4, Transformers. And probably in that order. And I'll continue to probably hold out for something slightly better than "it's not that bad."

Wappety Smackety Dooooo.

1031 said...

I'll be honest. It really is that bad.

I'm glad I saw it, though, so that I know how truly bad it is, so I won't have to speculate.

Plus I saw it for free, which makes even the crappiest film seem just a tiny bit better.

That animated movie from '86, though, WAY better than this new movie.

robert plastorm said...

Blah, blah, blah...

...all of the subjective justifications for the CRAP served at your table with little acknowledgment of the slight variation of plates at the other end of the room.

I like a good fast food cheeseburger now and then, never once feeling the obligation to question the cook.


Jennifer S. said...

You're my hero, Jamie S. Rich.

Kurt Weller said...

I am so with you on this - You have been saying the same thing I've been saying. On the documentary about this Transblasphemy, [found on Transformers the Movie special disc 2] Stephen Spielberg said 'I saw the Transformers toys in the eighties and I thought, there's a movie in here somewhere.'

Yeah, the movie was the Transformers movie. The one I saw in 1985 with my buddy Rich. The one with Orson Welles and Judd Nelson. The one where the stars were robots and not Shia whatever. I saw the preview and I thought - Alien vs. Predator - all over again. Not Transformers.

I loved the Transformers so much!
So I will not see this garbage - I just thank god I didn't get an autobot sticker for my car when they first started making them about five years ago.


Jamie S. Rich said...

Thanks everyone for the comments. As Anton Ego would tell us, this kind of stuff is fun to write...and fun to read (hopefully). :)

One thing I had intended to put in this post but skipped over for some reason is my own motivation for being pissy about how studios try to use our memories against us, selling us a product based on what we enjoyed as younger people but not before completely manhandling said product.

I loved Godzilla movies growing up. I looked forward to when KTLA would show their Godzilla marathons, and I'd watch them all, waiting for the big finish, Destroy All Monsters.

So, years back when that execrable remake with Matthew Broderick hit theatres, I headed straight down.

That was not just when I swore never again to this kind of nostalgic thievery, but it made me wary of summer blockbusters from then on out. So far, I've been pretty happy with how that suspicion has rewarded me.

Ian said...

It was the worst fucking movie I have ever seen in my life. I was so incredibly ANGRY coming out of the theatre and hearing people say "That is the best movie I have ever seen!!!"

I have never been so irritated at a movie, ever. It was garbage, and all these people saying how great it was need to go drown themselves.

Travis said...

Jamie, you need to get angry more often. This might have been your best blog post EVER! I'm totally going to see this tomorrow just to make you cry...and to make Satan's ballsack tingle.

Edward said...

Once I saw Bay's name as "Director" all I could think was crap, crap, and double crap. But after seeing I kinda, sorta, maybe liked it. Parts of it were like watching Anime without the annoying whining red haired girl. Yeah I'm talking to you Neon Genesis. And for the record Shia was really good in Holes.(But the book was better.)