Writer’s Room: What’s Your Dealbreaker Movie?

We recently brought you the story of a woman who supposedly divorced her husband because he didn’t like Frozen.  I suspect there were a lot more problems with their relationship than a disagreement over a snowman movie (that’s what Frozen‘s about, right?), but it did get us to thinking: Are there movie opinions that, in and of themselves, could be considered a dealbreaker? (Shout out to Liz Lemon). Many of us have probably gauged our compatibility with certain members of the opposite sex based on cultural preferences, like enjoying the same music or movies. Maybe we’ve even gotten into long-term relationships based on shared tastes, and found out that both loving the Coen Brothers might not be the ideal foundation for lasting love. As a friend once remarked, “When I was 23 I wanted a girl who liked all the same things I did. These days I’ll settle for ‘nice.'”

Respecting your mate’s shitty taste because you’re compatible in much more important ways, like communication style and propensity to throw things, just seems like the more mature way to live life. Still, there have to be some things, some tastes that are just beyond the pale. Likes or dislikes that reflect such poor taste that they surely must be red flags for more serious character defects. You couldn’t date a Nazi, could you? That’s the way I feel about Limp Bizkit. So for our latest Writer’s Room, I asked a few other writer types for their “Dealbreaker Movies,” movie opinions in others (be it a like or a dislike) that they absolutely could not tolerate in a significant other.

This week’s panel includes Sh*t My Dad Says/Surviving Jack’s Justin Halpern, internet shtick genius PFT Commenter,  comedy writer Julieanne Smolinski (@BoobsRadley), our favorite glib lesbian Heather Dockray, SchmoesKnow Editor In Chief Mark Reilly, and yours truly, Vince Mancini, the world’s most powerful hip thruster. Enjoy.

Justin Halpern: Lost In Translation

This is going to be a really unpopular opinion, but if you SWEAR by Lost In Translation, you’re probably going to be someone I hate. I don’t think it’s a terrible movie by any means, and if you like it just fine, then I doubt we’ll have problems. But there’s something about the people that sift through this movie like they’re planning on reciting it for a bar mitzvah, that just drive me crazy. It’s one of those movies where people get mad at you if you call it a movie, instead of a “film.” Even though there are more jokes about Asian accents in this movie than if it were written and directed by Seltzer/Friedberg. Anytime anyone makes a movie about twenty somethings searching for the meaning of their life, you know there’s going to be a giant subset of f*cktwits that go “OH MY GOD THAT’S ME TOO I AM JUST LIKE SCAR JO SHE FEELS THE UNIQUENESS OF BEING ME.”

F*ck you. You’re twenty four. Maybe I just hate twenty four year-olds. That could also be it.

Julieanne Smolinski: Inception

If pressed, I guess I have to say that I could never make it work with anybody who liked the film “Inception.”

I’ve never felt more like I was being large-scale gaslit than when theatergoers had any other reaction to it than, “We should find out who wrote that, and burn down his house.”

I think what really bothered me about it was that it was a deeply silly idea that asked you to pretend that is was really very smart. If you ask people who liked “Inception” to explain to you what happens in it, they will start talking very confidently, then become increasingly panicked, like incest-murderers on “Law and Order” whose alibis unravel under the penetrating gaze of Ice T.

It also makes me very sad how seriously everybody in the film “Inception” seems to take the film “Inception,” which is — again — very silly. Marion Cotillard is probably one of our prettiest human people, but when she recites her lines, she sounds like one of the upsetting-Asian-stereotype cats from “Lady and the Tramp.” I also think Leonardo DiCaprio is a very talented actor, but this role was one of the many in which he relies pretty heavily on what we’ll poiltely call “some worryingly intense eyebrow stuff.” Honestly, sometimes I expect his forehead furrows to come whizzing off with a loud PING! like overly tight viola strings. And poor Ellen Page, whose character exists purely to ask silly expository questions. “Can you really build a prison of memories?” Uh, I’m living in one right now, Ellen.

I ask you: Has Christopher Nolan ever had a dream? Being asleep is one of the few truly universal human experiences and he was unable to come up with a vague simulacrum of what having a dream is like. It’s like if you made a movie about chefs but everybody in it “ate” by pouring boiling food into their eyes and ears.

Listen, I realize you asked me what movie would prevent me from dating somebody who liked it and not “What movie from 2010 did you intensely dislike, and don’t say ‘Marmaduke.'” So let me explain why I could not date a person who liked “Inception.” First of all, I imagine that we’d occasionally have sex, and I’d have to stop the sex a lot to go, “Really?” Of course, I’d be referring to the fact that they liked “Inception.” I imagine this would get old for both of us.

Look, a lot of people liked this movie, and I wish that I didn’t find them all sexually repellent. What does it have to do with my real life, or anyone else’s? Nothing. Obviously pleasure is subjective. Thinking this film is not a black-out-rage-inducing waste of human time is just an opinion. Just like enjoying fried onions or thinking it’s fun to expose yourself to people on trains.

I feel bad denigrating a piece of writing because it is hard work and it is also an achievement to make a film. I’m sure Christopher Nolan is a very nice and hardworking guy and I wish him no ill. If I ever meet him at a dinner party I will probably be very polite, although I may ask his wife if she saw Man of Steel and if so, if she has to pretend he is someone else when they have sex.

PFT Commenter: Rudy

Im not a movie guy Im more of a film type guy.When Im talking bout “All 22” Im not talking about the male cast of the new Sahsa Gray picture or whatever Im talking about seeing what shows up on tape after NFL Sunday.

That said, Im pretty tolerent of whatever taste in movies my date/escort/stranger girl sitting next to me in a movie that Im trying to make out with has. With one acception: Rudy.

Rudy is Rocky for people who think Sylvester Stallone was to ethnic and flashy. They basicaly adapted a Dropkick Murphys song into a screenplay and made the main character short instead of drunk.

Rudy wasnt the biggest guy but he wanted it so much. It goes to show you that in sports you dont have to be big, strong, or good to be good at football. You just have to be a average white guy whose not afraid to speak his mind. If you dont like “Rudy” well theres the door but to be honest by the time my shirt come’s off and they see my “Ruettiger 45” jersey tattood on my back its to late for them to really say any thing about it so to bad so sad for them.

Rudys the one movie Ive seen that makes me cry cum and fight all in the span of 2 hours and by god if thats dosent sound like the perfect first date this was probly never going to work out between us anyways.

Heather Dockray: Dangerous Minds

About once a week, I’ll be browsing through the ol’ dating site, and I’ll come across a brave young “public school teacher” who describes their job as “a lot like Dangerous Minds.”  Now don’t get me wrong – I, too, once dreamed of a Gangsta’s Paradise. But there’s something about Dangerous Minds, the story of a white teacher who comes to the rescue of her inner-city class with poetry! real talk! low expectations! – that strikes me as a fiery flaming call-the-fire-department red flag.

Like Cool Runnings, Freedom Writers, and 2009’s The Blind Side, Dangerous Minds belongs to a category of savior stories that are insane to think about but also pretty damn great to watch. These stories function powerfully as entertainment because they play into our strongest and weirdest American fantasies about race. We want to believe that Michelle Pfeiffer’s hard-knock students can be “redeemed” through tapas dinners and British poetry, because if we actually had to think about what it would take to help gangbanging Raul, or pregnant Callie, or Coolio as Coolio– we just might need to adjust our income tax returns. It’s so exciting to imagine that what inner-city kids need is “real talk” from “rich people,” instead of  a system that serves them, or a computer, or a Trapper-Keeper or something. And how would great would it be if the dropout population of downtown LA didn’t need a job or a future but maybe, just maybe – a white person to believe in them? In Dangerous Minds, softcore fantasies replace hardcore realism, all at an outrageous whopping cost to the imagination.

But what scares me the most about Dangerous Minds aren’t the hallway fights or the drive-by shootings. It’s the scenes that take place right inside of the classroom, where predatory high school kids of color call Pfeiffer ‘white bread’ and threaten her with death and cunnilingus. And sure. As someone who’s spent some time working in schools, I’ll gladly agree that all American teenagers, regardless of their class status, are evil and gross. But the students in Dangerous Minds are painted to a bizarre and uncomfortable extreme. Like dogs, they bark, holler, and run – and are only sedated when Michelle Pfeiffer throws candy at them like seals. Whether conscious of it or not, Dangerous Minds comes dangerously close to depicting the students (most of whom are of color) as animals. It’s unfortunate, both because the story is well-intentioned and because holy s@#$ I love seals.

To the writer’s credit, Dangerous Minds tries to address a real American social problem. So many movies about the American high school experience (American Pie, The Breakfast Club) see the primary challenge of adolescence as “getting laid,” instead of what it is for a lot of kids – “not dying.” So I give it one, Viagra-induced, quarter-of-a-thumbs-up for trying to say something about something. The performances, including Michelle Pfeiffer as a karate-chopping teacher and Renoly Santiago as a well-meaning “thug,” do resonate. The story moves! The story emotes. The story ends. Ultimately, however, Dangerous Minds is a 20th century movie guided by 19th century paternalism. Students here walk through the valley of the shadow of death, only to end up in someone else’s savior story. Dealbreaker.

Mark Reilly, Editor in Chief, Schmoesknow.com, The ET Dealbreaker

She told me she was a movie lover and all around geek. She said she understood the complexities of the cinematic medium; was a fan of many different genres, actors, directors; even writers. She was a self-proclaimed cinephile. And for that, I loved her.

Then it came out that her favorite movie was SOMETHING’S GOTTA GIVE. I was okay with this at first; after all, Jack Nicholson was in the movie doing classic Jack things. Then she fell over backwards praising any and all Nancy Myers movies…The Holiday??? Come on. The hair on my back raised to attention at this confession and became jagged shards of glass that could cut you if I happened to give you a hug, bro or otherwise. The more we talked, the more I realized that her “movie love” was completely limited to fluff movies IE Chick Flicks; not that there is anything wrong with that – I LOVE When Harry Met Sally, a “chick flick” I suppose. But when it came to being a well-rounded movie lover, I started to have my doubts about the woman I was with.

Then she did the unthinkable… She begrudgingly let me (let me! No shit she LET. ME.) put on E.T. The Extra Terrestrial one night, saying she wouldn’t be watching it with me rather, she would be doing a survey on the Internet in order to win a 10-dollar gift card from some beauty boutique (a boutique who’s average product cost well over 100 dollars). I agreed. I put on ET, settled in to watch one of my favorite movies of all time; a movie that defined me as a kid growing up, further enhancing and honing my love of cinema that obviously started with Star Wars.

ET is a masterpiece in my opinion and I was excited to sit there and watch it in the company of my girlfriend, even if she was filling out a f*cking useless survey. I was certain the music and theme of divorce in the eighties (to which both of us were casualties) would pull her out of the survey that asked whether or not you like cheese on your taco (how this related to a beauty boutique is beyond me). I hoped the first sign of ET speaking to Elliot would rouse her from the monotony of bullshit (survey) and win her over and away from wasting two hours filling it out (which breaks down to earning five dollars an hour and then waiting six weeks for the gift card to arrive). Basically, I felt the power of awesome that is ET would perhaps, take her away from the girliness of surveys and jog her memory into liking other movies than just old, clichéd chick flicks (not that there is anything wrong with that) that included FOOLS GOLD, FAILURE TO LAUNCH, MARIE ANTOINETTE and 27 DRESSES. I mean, she was a self-proclaimed cinephile and also told me during our courting ritual that ET was one of her favorite movies when she was growing up.

That’s when it happened. During the forest scene in ET when Elliot flies his bike over the moon for the first time, John Williams majestic score swelling, the heart strings being masterfully strummed by Spielberg… she said it. “I never liked ET. I just don’t get it,” she said. And I knew… right then and there. Deal-breaker.

“Wait a minute”, I bellowed quite suddenly as I paused the movie (mostly out of shock). “You told me you loved ET growing up?”

“I never said that,” she retorted. “You make things up in your head” she added for good measure. She was also kinda mean if you can’t tell by now.

She continued: “ET is ugly and scary looking. I didn’t ever see the movie again after I left the theatre because he scared me too much.”

I calmed myself and looked to the frozen, paused screen of ET; a particularly well timed pause that showed ET holding a finger to Elliot’s cheek to dab a tear away. “Does he scare you now?” I asked.

“No. He’s just ugly.”

That was it. I was done talking about ET with her. I looked at ET, looked at my (now) Ex and decided that I was hoodwinked into believing she was anything BUT a movie lover. As the relationship continued, the ridiculousness of her movie choices didn’t even register with me. She kept claiming her movies were fantastic choices and fantastic examples of cinema. In these sidelined conversations about movies, she would continue to use my love for ET against me… “What do you know, your favorite movie is a KIDS movie!” or, when friends were discussing top ten movie lists and favorites, she would, again, use my love of ET to carry over into the discussion: “Well don’t listen to him – he doesn’t like any movies after ET from 1982” (not true).

To illustrate this previous point, I had the awesome experience of loving The Dark Knight and found myself invited to a Q & A with Nolan, Bale and Oldman. When I invited her to the Q & A she told me she thought The Dark Knight was boring. Okay… to each his own. Boring? Not for me.

In my mind, ET was the deal breaker; the knife to the heart; the plastic bag over the head; the feeling of betrayal that was exercised immediately when she tried to ‘woo’ me to her side by using my favorite movie ET as bait. Once reeled in, the truth came out. And I was diggity-done….

Ladies, if you want your man to be happy, tell em’ the truth about your movie choices. Don’t lie to them, say, if they tell you their favorite movie is PULP FICTION and you agree only to turn around years later saying: it’s too violent that’s why I don’t like it. Tell the truth. And if you truly hate ET, well then… we can never date. Deal breaker.

Of course I could go on and on about other things my notorious EX did that would be considered bigger deal breakers… but that is a story for another time…

My name’s Reilly – that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Vince Mancini: Love Actually – The Cue Card Scene

If I thought long and hard about my all favorite movies, the ones I stop to watch every time they’re on cable, there are probably a lot of dealbreakers out there. A failure to at least appreciate, say, Goodfellas, or The Big Lebowski, would probably cause trouble. I once broke off a date when the girl demanded I explain my love of Magic Mike more than twice. Lady, if I have to explain the appeal of Matthew McConaughey in jazz shoes saying “stick it” I’m not sure what we’re even doing here. But this is an article about relationships, and as such, I’m choosing a movie that’s actually about relationships. The worst movie about relationships. That’s right, I’m talkin’ bout Love Actually.

Veteran FilmDrunk readers have probably already noticed that I hate Love Actually, so much that I make sure to bring it up every time it’s even tangentially related, just so that I can talk about how much I hate Love Actually. I hate Love Actually so much that I’ll stop strangers on the street to tell them how much I hate Love Actually. I hate Love Actually so much that my hatred is probably much more of a deal breaker for others than others liking it could ever be for me. But what can I say, a man hates what he hates.

Because life is hard, one of the biggest problems with Love Actually is that a not insignificant number of otherwise attractive women LOVE Love Actually. As such, I’ve gradually learned to count to ten and breathe into a paper bag every time someone brings it up in the positive, and this has been a healthier experience for me (not counting my twitching eyelid). I can accept (read: barely tolerate) loving Love Actually in a general way, but even so, I can’t keep from asking the lovers: what about the cue card scene?

If you don’t remember, that’s the scene where Keira Knightley’s character is at home enjoying Christmas with her new husband Solomon Northup, when Solomon’s supposed best friend shows up to give her a secret cue card show about how he’s in love with her. He turns the cards over one by one to reveal a series of trapper keeper bon mots, such as “my wasted heart will always love you,” and a few other uvula ticklers. At which point she’s all “Awww!” and the audience is all “Awww!” and that’s the end of an entire storyline.

Aside from the fact that the scene’s a bulimia enabler from start to finish, it’s not just the schmaltziness of it that I hate, or the fact that it’s about a 30-year-old man who expresses his love with a junior high collage made from of old issues of Cosmo. (And UGH, Keira Knightley’s phony demure laugh. It’s like she couldn’t even pretend any of this was sweet or funny, which actually makes me respect her more). It’s that if you think about it for more than three seconds, you realize that this guy is a total sociopath. He’s in love with this girl, who starts dating his best friend, and he doesn’t say anything to either of them about it, and instead waits a few years to randomly show up carrying a boombox like the eunuch Lloyd Dobler, screaming “MERRY CHRISTMAS! I’M HERE TO RUIN YOUR MARRIAGE!”

He has as strong a grasp of human nature as the average spree killer. The entire movie is like that too, albeit on a lesser scale. Like a girl? Don’t talk to her or try to relate or anything, just wait until she’s moved on and then prove the size of your love with some ridiculous gesture, like jizzing your names onto a zeppelin. The path to a woman’s heart leads through public embarrassment!

I finally watched Casablanca a few weeks ago. I’d never seen it before that, and one of the things that struck me about it (other than the Marseillais scene, which is amazing), is how mature it was (at least from a male standpoint – I’m purposely ignoring the somewhat sexist elephant in the room here – “you’ll have to decide for all of us, Rick!”). Humphrey Bogart is hopelessly in love with this girl, but realizes that she’s already pretty happy with someone else, so, instead of trying to mess it up for her, he accepts that he’s missed his chance and walks off into the sunset to drink himself silly with a traitorous Frenchman. In 60 years, we somehow went from “respect her happiness” to “show up at her pad with a Sharpie, bro!”

Let’s be honest, I probably know more about hating movies than I do about loving humans, but I’m a big believer that affection is expressed frequently, in small ways. A note here, a squeeze there, graciously backing down in a silly argument about Love Actually so as not to ruin her company Christmas party,regardless of how wrong it feels. Love Actually, as perfectly encapsulated in the cue card scene, is a movie that’s all about ignoring, even eschewing the small, sweet gestures, in favor of the grand, phony, completely unrealistic, and actually not-that-sweet-when-you-think-about-it ones. I can’t trust anyone who could find that romantic.