I loved the original Star Wars movie. I saw it at the theater the second weekend of its release.
But I spent the entire movie wishing that Luke Skywalker would just comb his damned hair.
This is just one minor chapter in a long, long list of movies, TV shows, books and songs in which one niggling little thing pretty much drives me over the edge and nearly ruins the entire experience for me. Hair issues in movies seem to comprise a surprising number of these irritants, for I felt exactly the same way about Meg Ryan’s hair in You’ve Got Mail. “For the love of heaven, comb your hair, woman!” I longed to shout at the screen. Fortunately for the other moviegoers, I kept my peace and just seethed in silence. Weeks later, reading a magazine article by a hairstylist, I almost choked when she referred to “Meg Ryan’s adorably tousled hair”. My eyes rolled upward so hard they almost lodged there permanently. Adorably tousled? Adorably tousled is a toddler’s hair after a long day. This was a grown woman who just needed a comb and a mirror.
Despite my griping, let me point out that all of these were movies that I really liked. That fact in itself may be the key to my irritation. Had I seen people wearing these ridiculous hairstyles in a movie I didn’t actually enjoy, I would probably just have shrugged.
Hair issues aside, there are the moments in movie plots that just seem so completely unrealistic or totally wrong that they simply set my teeth on edge. For instance, I’ve watched My Best Friend’s Wedding a number of times, which only goes to prove that I’m a complete masochist, because the ending always infuriates me. Why? Because he marries the wrong woman. As the newly-wedded characters drive off into the night betwixt the romantic sparklers, I always think, “Well, there’s a marriage that’s not going to last six months past the honeymoon.”
I felt the same way about the characters in Sleepless in Seattle, although hardly anyone agrees with me, being blinded by the romantic “I just knew!” nonsense that comprises the heart of the script. I myself got over that “I just knew!” rubbish at the age of 17, but apparently many grown people are still suckered in by it. This may explain the national divorce rate.
Far more minor incongruities annoy me in other movies I love, such as The Holiday. I absolutely adore that show and watch it ever holiday season. But the entire movie would have been made even better for me if a few improbable scenes had simply been smoothed by careful scriptwriting. After all — let a total stranger have one’s home for a two weeks, without even a background check?! All that needed to come out of the American character’s mouth was something along the lines of, “I’ve been registered on that home exchange website for a year now….” and the whole scene would have been made realistic. And being able to obtain a transatlantic plane ticket on less than 24 hour’s notice at the start of the Christmas season?! Why not a cry of protest – “We’ll never get tickets!” from the British character, and a response from the Hollywood American, “Don’t worry about that; I’ve got contacts.” Simple Realism 101.
I felt even more flabbergasted watching a scene in Steel Magnolias, in which Sally Field’s character, working in the kitchen as she talks with her severely diabetic daughter, takes out a giant bag of sugar to begin cooking. The first time I watched the movie I lost the next several seconds of the film because my mind couldn’t focus on anything but that five-pound bag of sugar…the five-pound bag of sugar being used by the mother of a diabetic while they discuss the girl’s condition. Yes, the scene was set during the Christmas treat-baking season; so what? What mother of so seriously ill a diabetic would be cooking a ton of sugar right in front of her? Had the director been lobotomized, I wondered?
And then there was that moment in the first Indiana Jones movie, in which Karen Carpenter’s character, having been gagged and bound in the heat of an Egyptian desert all day, is untied and served a meal and reaches for the sandwich first. Say what?! The water! She would have chugged that water like a young partier doing Jello shots.
As picky as I undoubtedly am, I’m sure you’re wondering why I ever watch a movie in the first place. I wonder it myself sometimes. Nevertheless, if there’s ever a magic button that lets one change these little problems while home viewing a movie, I’ll certainly wear out my finger poking the darned thing!