This Independence Day my wife and I patriotically supported the economy by going to the movies. She chose the movie, which was fine with me. I like movies of all kinds. I’m not prejudiced against any genre of movie. I’m prejudiced against movies that suck, regardless of genre. When I say “suck”, I mean poorly written, badly acted, unimaginatively filmed, and so trite that the corpse of a blind flat-worm could see the plot twists coming through a concrete wall.

In these days of Netflix and Hulu, traveling to an actual movie theater seems unspeakably dowdy. Yet I don’t look at it that way. Driving to the multiplex, parking a quarter-mile away, and paying $5.00 for 28 cents worth of popcorn all feel like part of a cherished ritual. The annoyance they cause is in itself oddly comforting. Perhaps it reminds me that I should be expected to put forth at least a little effort if I want to be entertained.

I dislike one part of the experience however. I do not care for previews. I know that some people like them, but to hell with them. When I buy my ticket I have some inkling of whether the movie I’m attending will suck. But watching previews is like being forced to eat a box of demonic Twinkies. Some may contain creamy filling, but some will reek of bile and the corruption of the human spirit.

Theaters think about their preview strategy, of course. They show us the previews they think we’ll like based on the movie we paid to see. For example, if a theater is playing “Descent Into Hell” then it will probably not show a preview for one of the My Little Pony films, unless it’s “My Little Pony – The Reckoning”. They try to target the trailers, but that doesn’t change the fact that lots of the previewed movies suck, and therefore the trailers will suck as well.

When the previews began this afternoon I knew that several trailers would be washing over us. In fact, we saw eight trailers before the actual film. But the movie we’d come to see was a romantic comedy, so I figured the previews couldn’t get truly hideous. Then an amazing trailer appeared, for an upcoming film I shall not name. It’s the story of two guys who’ve been friends for life. One’s a stressed-out family man with no more spontaneity, privacy, or sex life. The other’s a successful, workaholic sex-maniac living a shallow existence. They’re each frustrated by their own lives and envious of the other’s. In the land of movies, there’s only one logical way to resolve this dramatic tension, and of course that’s for these two men to be magically swapped into each other’s bodies, without their knowledge or consent. Then they can have all the fun of seeing how green the grass is on the other side, and then they can get into hilarious trouble, and then they can realize that they want what they had all along, just before they’re magically swapped back and learn a valuable, heartwarming lesson. I understand that this is THE ONLY WAY for movies to handle this situation. I accept that. But it seems that every possible method of magical body-swapping has already been done:

  • lightning bolt
  • gypsy fortune teller
  • magical amulet
  • magical earrings
  • breaking a voodoo mirror
  • spell cast by statue of an Aztec god
  • steering wheel blow to the head
  • malfunctioning Starfleet transporter
  • near-drowning experience
  • drink brain-exchanging serum
  • magic doodad inherited from a giant dead snake
  • magical soul transfer at the point of death gone awry
  • get drunk and have sex
  • somebody flat out casts a magic spell on you
  • brain transplant (after being captured by mutant thugs)
  • fortune cookie
  • wish that came true for some random, inexplicable reason

All of these mechanisms, and many more besides, have been employed by film makers to realize the artistic vision of the noble “Body Swap” storyline. Therefore, I viewed this afternoon’s preview skeptically. What would keep this movie from fading into the background? What creative twist could make it unique? And then the trailer revealed that these two friends will switch bodies because they’re talking about it while they’re both peeing in a public fountain!

That’s some amazing creativity right there. I can hardly wait.