In The Dark Knight Rises, did you know Joseph Gordon-Levitt's "John Blake" was supposed to be a version of Robin?
In Warm Bodies, did you know Nicholas Hoult's "R" was supposed to be Romeo?
In Lincoln, did you know Abraham Lincoln would get shot and die?
Director: Jonathan Levine
Based on the book by: Isaac Marion
Romeo: Nicholas Hoult
Juliet: Teresa Palmer
Count Paris: Dave Franco
Mercutio: Rob Corddry
Capulet: John Malkovich
The Nurse: Analeigh Tipton
Kevin: Cory Hardrict
What It's Good For:
-being a zombie-filled recreation of Romeo and Juliet
-A step forward in the campaign of Teresa Palmer to replace Kristen Stewart
-Analeigh Tipton showing confidence she couldn't really show in Crazy. Stupid. Love.
-Dave Franco's personal trainer
-I can now say "I liked Rob Corddry in something"
-I had hoped it'd be better
-wasn't as funny as I thought it'd be
-was simpler than I thought it'd be?
-for Levine, don't think it's a great follow-up to 50/50. Maybe no momentum lost, but non really gained?
-someone might read into Boneys and their color and them being vilified as racist. I don't agree with that, but someone could say it
Have you ever heard of the premise "Don't explain the joke"? That's what we're working with here.
For example. In the general sense, who is Robin? He's Batman's sidekick. What role does John Blake play in The Dark Knight Rises? The closest thing to a sidekick we've seen in the Nolan Batverse. At the end of the movie, when the secretary reveals John's real name is "Robin" we're supposed to be like "OHHHHHHH!!!!!! AWESOME!!!". And some people were like that. The Youtube video showing the reveal is described as "Epic reveal of Robin !!!!"
But to me, this is explaining the joke. What relevancy does the reveal have to the plot? It's not like Fight Club where we find out who Tyler Durden really is at the same time Tyler Durden finds out who Tyler Durden really is. That's relevant to the forward momentum of the plot. Nolan's insertion of Robin is a "wink, nudge" at the audience.
From NBC news: "'It's a wink at the audience,' tells Nolan. 'I think, what we endeavored to do, was not the complete story of Batman, but our complete story of this character. … The wink towards Robin was an acknowledgment that he liked the character, and I liked the character."
In other words: there was no reason to include it in the plot other than to make the audience go "OHHH!!!! HE INCLUDED ROBIN! COOL!" Or for some of us to go "Wow. Did he just do that? That was cheesy."
What group are you in? Did you like it? Did you not like it? Do you not care?
Here's a discussion about "don't explain the joke" from TVTropes.org.
I've never understood why explaining the joke is a Bad Thing. How, exactly, does explaining the joke make the joke not funny? Am I the only person in the history of Earth whose had a punchline explained to her, then a light bulb goes off in her head and she laughs because she now gets the joke? My guess is this is just another case of Three Men Make A Tiger (It refers to the idea that if an unfounded premise or urban legend is mentioned and repeated by many individuals, the premise will be erroneously accepted as the truth).
- I thought the article itself did a decent job explaining why explaining the joke is bad. Explaining the joke to someone who actually says "I don't get it" is one thing. Explaining a punchline because people didn't laugh at it has hard as you thought they should've is quite another. And by "quite another" I mean "Stop doing that, you tin-eared douche."
- Because a joke that needs to be explained is too much of an "in joke" for other people to understand and/or too complicated? Imagine if your favorite stand up comedian had to spend half his show explaining his jokes. Wouldn't be funny then would it? (I always thought this rule applied more to professional stand up than telling a joke to your mates at the pub.)
- Telling jokes is all in the delivery. Explaining them tends to fuck up the delivery pretty bad unless the joke is really good.
- Because other people might understood it is a joke. They might understood punchline. However thay may consider it not funny or they may understend it as joke and consider to play it along as form of play.
- Because most of the humour in a joke is often the surprise / trick ending. It's not really a surprise / trick ending if it's explained to you, it's just a story. "Getting" the joke contributes to the good feeling of the joke. Imagine how funny that joke would be if you figured it out yourself!
- I'm fond of Genius Bonus jokes; if a joke isn't funny, it might be because of the wrong audience, not because the joke isn't funny. But about explaining the joke — it might not be as funny when you hear it being explained, but you will get it the next time you hear it. Kind of like "better to ask a question and look stupid than remain ignorant"
- There's also language barrier. This American Troper needed a joke about "abortion of chips" explained to her. (When I walk into a McDonald's, I ask for an order of fries.)
That ah-ha moment is special, right? I mean. Even with love, right? If a random person comes up to you and says "I LOVE YOU!" then smacks you across the face and walks away, do you really think they love you? "I love you" is a hollow sun that gains density and gravity and, most importantly, heat with continued interaction. It's a punchline. Say it too soon and the joke is ruined. Withhold it after a great set-up and tension builds so that when you say it it really is meaningful. Never say it and ruin the joke.
For example, The Princess Bride:
Another example: I just made a terrible pun. "not everyone would pick it up right off the bat" while discussing a Batman movie. Pointing it out like this ruins the pun. "I made a pun. Give me credit."
On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being "not obvious" and 10 being "really obvious", I'd give Nolan an 8.5. He didn't put Blake in a Robin costume. But he did name drop when he didn't have to.
Warm Bodies doesn't name drop. It sticks with the single letter method. "What's your name?" "Rrrrrrr." It also has a bunch of clues to let you know this is a Romeo and Juliet tale. R and Julie are part of two warring groups. R's friend is M (Mercutio). The dad wouldn't approve of R and Julie being together. Julie's name is "Julie", which would be like Nolan naming John Blake "Robbie Blake". There's the balcony scene!
What Warm Bodies does is probably worse than what Nolan did? At the very end, we have a 30-60 second scene involving Julie and R. Julie asks him if he remembers his name. Tells him he can pick a new name. Suggests some. And R says, no, I like R. Great, cool.. It's like someone who has just made a pun repeating the pun.
Person 1: "So I pitched the baseball, and the guy hit it. Next thing I know, I'm on the ground! The baseball hit me right in the face! It hurt. It tasted like wood. And pain. Yeah, really woody. It tasted like biting into a tree. You wouldn't think it would taste like wood, but it does. I wonder why that is? The last thing I expected was a wood taste."
Person 2: "Why's he keep saying wood?"
Person 3: "Because batters use wooden bats."
Person 2: "OH! That's pretty funny. But why's he keep repeating it?"
Person 3: "Because he really wants us to know how clever he is."
In the defense of Warm Bodies, it would make sense for Julie to ask R if he remembered his real name once he is no longer a zombie. And to let him pick a name. I think it would have been great, knowing that most of the audience knows, at this point, the movie is recreating Romeo and Juliet, if R had said, "Actually, I do remember." Julie would say, "Oh, what is it!?" And R would say: "Rumpelstiltskin." Julie is shocked. R would say, "Just kidding." Cut to black, roll credits.
I'd give Warm Bodies a 6.5 on the obvious scale. It'd be a 4 if it weren't for the final scene.
With Lincoln, I'm pretty sure 99% of Americans know Lincoln is assassinated. Which means there's an obvious end point in Lincoln. When is that?
This is why the end of Lincoln is like someone telling a joke you've already heard. It's told in an amusing way, sure. There are some novel additions. These are welcome! But the punchline is still the same. And sad.
In terms of Not Obvious/Obvious or 1/10: Lincoln is a 9.5 (at least Spielberg avoided showing us shots of the shooting).
So I have another question. What do you think?
I'm not saying every movie needs to withhold every bit of information. But think about The Usual Suspects. It doesn't tell us who Keyser Soze is right away. It lingers for a few minutes, showing all the sources of the names and details Kint used. Then, before showing us the sketch, we see Kint lose his limp. The viewer is already going "...wait...huh...Oh.. OHH. OHHHHHH!!!!K!JWLJ@L:DJ:LQJ" Then we see the sketch artist drawing. The drawing is, as far as I'm concerned, a little too much. Don't we already know or aren't we already starting to know Kint is Soze?
On the other end of the spectrum: you have things like Another Earth, Mullholland Dr. and Ides of March. You have Groundhog Day not giving a reason for why Phil is reliving the same day over and over. You have Blade Runner keeping mysteries just under the surface. Full Metal Jacket doesn't explain...anything. It just shows you sad things and is unremittent about it. You're left to go "Why end with the soldiers, silhouetted, marching as a unit, singing the Mickey Mouse song???????"
But there's a difference between the movies I just named (Another Earth, Mullholland Dr., Ides of March, The Usual Suspects, Blade Runner, Groundhog Day and Full Metal Jacket) and the ones we previously discussed. And that's viewer knowledge.
Another Earth isn't based on the life of a famous figure everyone knows. The Usual Suspects isn't based on a famous Shakespeare play. Blade Runner isn't based on one of the most famous superheroes of all time. Though it was based on a story by a famous author--I'm choosing to ignore that because the general population has not read "Do Sheep Dream of Electric Sleep?". And while Full Metal Jacket is based on a real war and captures the abuses and fears and horros of marines in basic training and in the field, it is original material. None of its characters are from comic books. The movie wasn't about a specific battle or event (like, it wasn't titled The Tet Offensive) so no one had preconceived notions about what would happen. It isn't a re-telling.
I make the points in the previous paragraph because these movies have grown a FAN BASE for no other reason than their material alone. They're not capitalizing off of material that is already popular world wide.
I don't know if I believe what I say next, but here we go: the movies that survive through time are the movies which hold a little back. Not everything in the plot is explained or illuminated. But everything is logical. Imagine if portions of van Gogh's Starry Night were in stereogram (otherwise known as a "hidden 3D image").
Think about it. Mullholland Dr. is a movie people say "Wait, you haven't seen it????? You have to watch it!" Do people still say that about Forrest Gump?
I'll tell you this, right now. Say The Princess Bride didn't have the frame narrative of the persistent grandpa/Columbo reading the book to the reluctant grandson/Kevin Arnold. The movie would suck. Most people wouldn't like it. Why? Because the story of the Princess is interesting but cheesy. Even ridiculous and stupid at times. Goldman knew this while writing the novel so said the novel was actually an abridged version of a novel called The Princess Bride by an S. Morgenstern (a fake name) and had commentary throughout the entirety of the novel, commentary by and about a "William Golding" that wasn't really true but sounded true. The filmmakers utilized the same concepts of "abridgment" (the grandpa reading) and "commentary" (the asides from the grandson and grandfather). By having the grandson and grandfather, there's unspoken stuff going on. We're not told the grandfather wants to bond with the grandson. We see it. And we see that it works. Could you imagine if there were a scene where the grandpa left the room and the mom said "How'd it go? Did you bond how you wanted to?" And the grandpa says, "Yeah, I think we did." That would be so...stupid. And irrelevant.
What was I saying? Oh, the filmmakers behind The Princess Bride were well aware of audience knowledge of the genre and how audiences would respond to a love story involving a princess. So they played on audience knowledge and expectation. They had an audience surrogate (the grandson) who brought up some of the major concerns someone in the audience might have. Then they had someone to assuage those concerns (the grandfather).
Let's take another perspective on this.
Say your Brad Pitt.
People obviously know who you are. You're BRAD PITT. You're one of the most recognizable people in the world.
You go to a coffee shop. Everyone there knows who you are. Or at least knows you're important because everyone else is staring at you. When you order your coffee, the barista asks for a name. You say, "B". Then you smile. When the coffee is ready, they yell, "Coffee for, B!" You walk up. The barista who made the coffee says, "Oh, so your name starts with a B?" You smile. "Yes." "What's the B stand for?" You smile. "I don't know." "Is it Barry?" You shake your head. "Brian?" "Nope. Definitely not Bram Stoker, author of Interview With the Vampire." ..... "Okay.... Blarney Stone?" "No, and don't guess Benjamin Button either. Because my name is just B." "But really you're Brad Pitt." "I said B!"
That's sort of funny. A bit flirtatious. But also...a little weird? You've made it obvious enough who you are. Why keep the secret if you're going to be so obvious about it throughout?
Let's say you're not Brad Pitt. You're someone sitting in a coffee shop. In walks Brad Pitt. Except he has his head shaved, a full beard, and is wearing sun glasses. You sort of glance, think the person looks familiar. You go back to not paying attention. You glance again though because the person really looks familiar. You see the person leaning over the counter, whispering something to the barista. What's going on?, you think. The person then orders their drink really loudly: "I'LL HAVE A GRANDE HOT CHOCOLATE." Don't you recognize that voice?? Hm... Then the barista says, "AND WHAT NAME IS THAT UNDER SIR?" And the person says "HERE'S MY DRIVERS LICENSE." The barista takes the license and says, "OH, YOU HAVE A NICE NAME. IT'S VERY SUCCINCT. BRAD PITT." Brad smiles at the room, then promptly walks out of the store without waiting for his hot chocolate.
What the hell?
What Spielberg did in Lincoln is, essentially, you're going to a group discussion of Fight Club. People are there to hear your anecdotes (because you're Brad Pitt!). You tell anecdotes. People laugh. They're impressed. Everyone stands up. They thank you. You shake everyone's hand. Then, as everyone is turning to walk away, you stop them and say "You know, I'm Brad Pitt and I was in Fight Club. My character dies at the end of the movie." No one knows how to respond to you.
I think "not explaining the joke" is a good rule of thumb for most of life. For example: if you're famous, you don't tell everyone your famous.
Could you imagine if you didn't know who Brad Pitt was and you were in an elevator with him? You're both standing there, quiet, as the elevator is moving. He says "Hey, I'm Brad Pitt." You say, "Should I know who you are?" He says, "I was in Fight Club." You say, "Yeah, I don't watch movies." He says, "I'm engaged to Angelina Jolie." You say, "Who?" He says, "A famous actress." You say, "Yeah, I don't watch a lot of movies. Sorry." He says, "Do you like baseball." "Yeah." "Do you know the Oakland Athletics." "Oh yeah!" "Do you know the book Moneyball? "Yeah, I loved the book." "I played Billy Beane in the movie." "Oh, that's cool." "I've been nominated for Academy Awards." "That's nice." You get to your floor and when the door opens, Brad Pitt reaches out and pushes the "door close" button. The doors close. "You really don't know who I am?"
What would your impression of Brad Pitt be?
Now imagine you didn't know who Brad Pitt was and you were in an elevator with him and you both get on at the same time and are both going 15 floors up and as the elevator starts moving you two start talking. He asks, "How's your day?" You say, "Good, so far. Enjoying the sunshine." He says, "Vitamin D is nice. What brings you here? Can I ask?" You say, "Sure, yeah. I have a doctors appointment." "Anything serious?" "No, just a general check-up." He says, "That's good to hear." That's it. You two get off the elevator. Go your separate ways. When you get into the office, you are told the doctor will be right with you. You sit down and pick up a magazine. On the cover is Brad Pitt. Wait. What. Wasn't that? OH SHIT!
What would your impression of Brad Pitt be?
Why are clothes sexy? Because they're a form of "not explaining the joke". Treat your body right, get yourself the right clothes: people will want to hear your punchline. If you wander around naked all the time...
Why are girls often attracted to jerks? And dudes to bitchy girls? Because when the jerk/bitch is nice it's extra special. They keep you waiting and waiting. They're mean to you. They're mean to other people. You feel awful. Then, for five minutes, they're sweet. They tell you they love you. That you mean the world to them. etc. etc. You feel extra special! And you stick around for more even though you know it's terrible. You stick around because you don't know when they'll be nice next so it's thrilling when they are, especially because they're nice to you and no one else!
I'm not saying nice guys and girls need to act like jerks. They have to know how to make someone feel special. How to let potential significant others know there are punchlines being withheld. If a guy is known as a "nice guy" and he does something nice for a girl...he's doing what he commonly does. It's playing into audience knowledge. It's when the nice guy or nice girl demonstrates other facets of their personality that attraction grows. They now have depth, some mystery.
For a great example of this dynamic see A Knight's Tale.
If you're thinking, "This guy needs to take his own advice and shut up already,"
I agree. Which is why I'll leave you with one more question. Why is it that the line "The truth is...I am Iron Man," is one of the best final lines in movie history?
Did I LIke It:
Sure. I thought Warm Bodies would be more dynamic. More outrageous. Funnier? Instead it's sort of...shy? Though there is some grandiosity in the settings (the city and airport), the overall scope of the film is very small. We're restricted to a walled city and an airport. And a random street in the suburbs. There didn't seem to be that many zombies? Nor that many boneys? Nor that many humans left to fight them? I mean. I get the whole "reaction of Romeo and Juliet" thing means the movie is limiting itself to focus on the couple. But...it's still taking place in a larger world? And I would have liked to have had some sort of...feeling that that world existed? Especially since there are already rumors of sequels. It's not a huge problem, just something that nagged at me for some reason?
I thought Hoult did a good job of impersonating zombie movements. I sort of like the message the movie has? There's some depth there.
I really do think Teresa Palmer could give Kristen Stewart a run for her money. Let's see if she makes the cut in Malick's Knight of Cups.
I'm glad I saw the movie, but I'm not anxious to to re-watch it anytime soon. If someone else rented it or owns it and wants to watch it, I'd watch it then. But I wouldn't stop myself from falling asleep if I started to fall asleep.
What did I hope from this movie? Maybe more Zombieland type humor? Or Scott Pilgrim? Some edge? I think the movie plays pretty safe.
I thought they did a good job handling the balcony scene. I was curious if they'd have it. Then they did. Then I was wondering how it would go. It works on two levels. One: the moment itself is romantic and a bit awkward for Julie and R, so Nora crashing the reunion (especially given the fact she was skeptical about R) adds tension to the scene that is humorous while also disruptive to what has already been an awkward and disrupted romance. "Foiled yet again" comes to mind. Two: people who get R is Romeo and Julie is Juliet should know the balcony scene is this famous moment where the couple declares their love for one another, when they decide to get married. So here Warm Bodies does, indeed, toy with audience knowledge by making the most romantic scene from the source material into an awkward (albeit sweet) reunion interrupted by a third party who ruins any hope for balcony-born romance. ::small applause:: That's tact when dealing with audience knowledge.
Did Malkovich's voice get higher?
I thought Dave Franco did well but I have a hard time taking "Serious Dave Franco" face seriously?