JJ Vincent knows they are not PC, but he loves movies with a plenty of bang for the buck.
I haven’t seen The Notebook. I haven’t seen Love, Actually. I haven’t seen Garden State or any of the Nicholas Sparks movies (ok, one, but I got paid to go). I don’t know who half of the women on the tabloid covers are. I not sure I could pick the Ingenue-of-the-Month out of a line-up, and I suspect there may only be three, used interchangeably through the magic of clever dye jobs and nose putty. I’m not much better versed in the Hunk-of-the-Month menu, either.
True, I have several of rom-coms that I love. I can be provoked to watch a chick-flick.
But given my choice, I want to see stuff blown up. Lots of stuff. In big, loud, noisy ways. If I can get a side order of clever, snarky writing, some wicked-good martial arts action, and the well-choreographed gunfight, all the better.
This surprises people almost as much as my love of NASCAR. Once more, it goes both with and against type. And anything that goes against type makes people pause and reconsider their assumptions. “He’s gay…but he likes Big Destroy Movies…and NASCAR…like any other guy…but pink sparkly things…and Dropkick Murphys…”
And action. Turn-off-your-brain action.
I loved the Bad Boys movies. Forget the body count. The car/boat/bridge/explosion count was amazing. Almost anything with Jackie Chan is in my “Win” book. How he manages to fight that fast and do all those stunts is beyond me, and his and his enemies’ wake of destruction is quite respectable. I’ll gladly admit to watching Seagal and Van Damme movies more than once. Aliens flattening assorted metropolises? I’m in. ‘Most anything featuring Wesley Snipes, Sylvester Stallone, Vinnie Jones, check, check, and check.
Die Hards and Armageddon, more Bruce Willis, please. Tarantino, Rodriguez, yes, the body counts get quite high, but BLAM, I still love them. The Expendables 1 & 2, quite possibly the holy grails of action movies, let’s keep them going. And these movies are best when they dispense with useless romantic subplots and sex scenes that just break the pace and the action. If they need love to make the story go ’round, fine. But I prefer my sparks and fireworks to end with a few totaled cars or a leveled building.
I should probably feel bad about loving these movies. They show tremendous destruction and violence with the code of, “The ends justify the means.” In real life, a lot of innocent people would probably get hurt or killed. The families of the victims are rarely seen, except to give justification to what is about to happen. How many times do we hear, “I’ll get him for you. I promise.” Justice is in vigilante form. Consequences, beyond losing team member(s), are minimal. Some of the deeper films demonstrate the hero(s) struggling to maintain their humanity in the midst of their actions, and what happens when it is slowly stripped away. But the psychological wounds of violence, the costs, to people and communities, are absent. There’s rarely even an attempt to show what would happen if real life imitated art.
I know all of this. I’ve had these arguments with friends and colleagues. I’m not a violent person. I’ve never been in a fight, never shot anything more devastating than a paintball gun, never even blown something up with a firecracker. I’ve been watching these movies since I was a kid and I’ve not been tempted to act them out.
But I love these films. I love the tension of waiting for what happens next. I love holding my breath as the guy has to decide which wire to cut to stop the third bomb from going off. I love watching a spinning, flying car land on top of three other cars…and then the bad guy miraculously climbs out only to run into the fists of the hero. I love seeing the barely-concealed launch pads pop as three Really Awful Dudes go flying. I love sitting on the edge of my seat or letting my food go cold because there’s a chase on that’s gone from car to chopper to car, and I just know something big is about to go….right….wait for it…..NOW!
These movies are decidedly un-PC. They are pure escapist fantasy. To truly enjoy them, we have to turn off some of our filters. We have to sit back and be willing to be drawn into a completely unrealistic story where men can jump 50 feet onto a moving train without a hair out of place and guns have unlimited ammo. We have to allow our brains to not pick apart the chemistry and physics of whether that much explosive could really bring down a building. We have to shut off the voice that knows this could never and should never happen. We know it’s going to be loud and abrasive and gross, and if we are lucky, sharp and observational and funny.
Rom-coms may bring out or appeal to our softer, funnier side. But The Big Boom Movies bring out our Let’s Cheer and Yell Like Obnoxious Kids side. And that’s ok, too.