During the American football, baseball and volleyball (yes, it’s a thing) seasons, I’m often balancing my watch time between the subject of my lifelong passion (movies) and the rush and fleeting fulfillment of the contests where my favorite local teams participate. Though the latter habit has its undeniable massive dopamine hits (balanced out by the crushing agonies), I feel soothed and excited in a more even way by movies. After all, watching movies is different than sports in that a rooting interest is not a prerequisite to enjoyment.
Or is it? At the least, we go into a film (or watch TV show or open a book or put on an album) rooting for it to be good, that we’ll enjoy the experience and not feel our time was wasted. Or if not explicitly hoping for a nebulous “good” movie, rooting for it to meet our expectations – a fun “bad movie” for riffing, an enlightening documentary, an easy-to-follow comedy, a cathartic weepie.
Beyond that, it’s common to want movies to succeed for reasons outside our immediate enjoyment. There’s filmmakers whose careers we follow that we want the best work from – I’m still hoping Errol Morris has one more work of crafty genius for us. Or films with representation for marginalized groups that we want to fulfill the promise of fleeting chances – as I agonized at the time, I really wanted to say I liked Netflix’s (Oscar-nominated!) animated film Nimona because its queer allegory (not to mention text) was so valuable to children’s entertainment, even while I couldn’t pretend its hacky smart-aleck dialog didn’t sound like nails on a chalkboard to my ears.
The recent reign of the franchise movie turned rooting interests in film into a whole new game, with fandoms forming around movies and properties with the same kind of flag-waving fervor of any sports arena. In turn, this has created, at least in me, a desire to root for films in genres pushed to the side in terms of screentime, adult dramas and comedies in particular. I went to see Anyone But You with this in mind the other night, a sexy romantic comedy that’s hung around the dreary January theaters for a while. For a while I was excited to feel the movie pulling it off – a movie with some real laughs and no thought of a sequel – but eventually couldn’t ignore the distinct lack of talent around the appealing cast. Too many lame lines and bits given to the actors, and a director that cuts punchlines off at the knees more often than he comes up with the right view on a visual gag – not to mention the habit of starting a new pop song on the soundtrack every two minutes, like I’m getting a proud tour of a very prosaic Spotify playlist. Meh. Yet there’s a part of me that’s excited to see it hanging around for theaters, hoping this opens up a spot for an comedy filmmaker who doesn’t waste the opportunity.
Your turn, Soluters! Are there movies or filmmakers you hope for success besides (or maybe despite) the actual quality of the movie? Is rooting for a movie for factors outside the movie healthy, or should the movie’s accomplishments always win the day?