Just as actors examine their motivation to portray Mr./Mrs. Everyman on the screen, (or sometimes, we hope, Neverman,) we as audience members need motivation to buy that increasingly pricey ticket and be a face in the dark. Defining that motivation is a billion-dollar industry, but individually, what drives us to the box office is very personal. What internal elements combine with Hollywood magic to create that perfect match? I’ve boiled my own cinema quotient down to four essential movie-food groups. Whether or not agree with my reasoning, you might consider similar examination when making your film choices, or more importantly, when someone suggests, “You really need to see Young Adult.”
That Hero is Just Like Me
I see a coming attraction. I relate on a deep level to the character whose been fired, dumped, discovered, married, deported, unhinged, misunderstood, finally understood, saved or slapped into reality. I can’t wait to see this representation of me played out on the screen, aggrandized and documented for posterity. I go to watch My Story (and pick up tips on proceeding with my actual My Story). I am Kung Fu Panda’s Po, never secure in my social circle, questioning my destiny, knowing deep down I am capable of great things, given the right opportunities. I am Cal Weaver in Crazy, Stupid Love, adrift in the world of relationships without a clue or a guidebook, and clearly I am a lovable goof.
That Loser is Nothing Like Me
I see a coming attraction. I am horrified at the unpleasantness of a character. I feel repulsed, superior, aghast, smug, judgmental, intrigued, curious, dismissive and wholly above him/her. I can’t wait to see this representation of the reprehensible character traits that I, gratefully, don’t possess. I go and feel good about myself, proud to be a better specimen of humanity, and maybe pick up tips on saving those around me who, quite frankly, suck at being human. I loathe The Help’s Hilly Holbrook and assess my circle of influence to eradicate vermin of her ilk. I take in The Human Centipede 2 to elevate myself above the entire film industry, and also anyone who would go see The Centipede 2.
That Movie is Just What My Life Could Be
I see a coming attraction. I am mesmerized at the perfectly idealic existence, lifestyle, good fortune or wardrobe of a character. I feel hopeful, energized, inspired, fantastical, giddy and secretive, knowing this movie will somehow aid me in attaining my secret perfect life and wardrobe. I take in The Zookeeper and know that I, like Griffin Keyes, will someday love and be loved by a beautiful person, clearly out of my league, who has been right in front of my face fuh-evah. I take notes during Justin Bieber: Never Say Never because I also plan to never say never, and be discovered for my youthful talent and adorbs good looks.
This Movie Shuts My Brain Off …
Finally I see a coming attraction. I have no idea what the film is about, who is in it, or what the thematic concept is supposed to be. I see fire, explosions, fast cars, oiled skin, vampires, timebombs, fire, Mel Gibson with a beaver, slow motion bar fights, a female assassin, the future, fires, fireworks, fireflies, fire, werewolves on fire, giant robots and mutants of indiscernible origin. This movie will require no intellectual or emotional investment on my part. This film has nothing to do with property taxes, unrealized life goals, laundry or social activism. I can’t name the films I might seen. It’s all a haze…of fire and sound and zombies.
This Movie is Making My Kids Happy
‘Nuf said. I buy the popcorn, take my seat and wait for the requisite grown-up jokes, inserted just for me. There are other reasons I go to see movies, including obligation (This Movie is Saving the World), knowledge (This Movie is Making me a Better Conversationalist in Regards to the Anglo-Saxon Monarchy), passion (This Movie Reignites my Love for Mountain Biking/World Travel/Ed Harris). Whatever your motivation, I highly recommend going, sitting in the dark and living out, seeking out, or figuring out something with the help of moving pictures. After all, if nothing is learned, at least you will have earned an informed seat at your friend’s Academy Awards party.
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