Thursday, July 03, 2008

Hollywood Reality

As was pointed out in a discussion here recently on bullwhips, a Hollywood phrase has been updated:

From the Urban Dictionary:

"Jump the shark:

A term to describe a moment when something that was once great has reached a point where it will now decline in quality and popularity.

Origin of this phrase comes from a Happy Days episode where the Fonz jumped a shark on water skis. This was labeled the lowest point of the show."

"Nuke the fridge:

Cinematic equivalent of the TV term "jump the shark." It is used to refer to the moment in a film series that is so incredible that it lessens the excitement of subsequent scenes that rely on more understated action or suspense. Such moments are felt to mark the beginning of a low point in the quality of the franchise, as it attempts to explore more absurd avenues. "Nuke the fridge" is a reference to a scene in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull wherein the title character incredibly survives a nuclear blast by climbing into a lead-lined refrigerator. The fridge is blown hundreds of feet into the sky, and, when it lands, Indiana Jones opens the door and walks away completely unscathed and apparently unaffected by any radiation sickness that would surely result from being in such close proximity to a nuclear blast."
Neither of these moments bothered me; after all, we are talking about Hollywood reality. Anybody who watched Happy Days or who goes to a summer movie who expects any kind of veracity? They ain't from around here. Any facts you might learn from an hour and a half in the local multiplex cinema in July? Pure lagniappe.

Pick a summer blockbuster movie, old or new -- in fact, here are the top ten worldwide all time box office grossing pictures, courtesy of Box Office Mojo:

1 Titanic
2 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
3 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

4 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

5 Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End

6 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
7 The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

8 Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace

9 Shrek 2
10 Jurassic Park

(You can see the rest of the Top 100 by clicking on the BOM link, above, but I'll save you the trouble -- none of them are any more "real" than these. None of them.)

Reality? Now and again, but in a big summer flick? That isn't the mission. That's not why we buy the popcorn and the big Coke and start squirming in our seats an hour later because we have to pee but we can't leave because we'll miss something. Summer is for fantasy -- look how many of the top ten, or the top hundred, fall into that category. A couple are nominally science fiction, a couple are kinda-sorta historical romances.

The rest? Pure fantasy ...


Dan Moran said...

Indiana Jones can ride a submarine for hundreds of miles without drowning.

The refrigerator didn't bother me.

Anonymous said...

As for Happy Days, more specifically the Fonz SOLD his beloved motorcycle to buy water skies to jump that shark.

I think most people thought it was totally out of character. Thus "jumping the shark."

Steve Perry said...

Sooner or later, most long-running TV series start to come up dry for new ideas. The smart ones realized it and shut it down. Sometimes a little early, sometimes a bit late, but things like M*A*S*H, Murphy Brown, Seinfeld, Everybody Loves Raymond, saw the handwriting on the wall and walked away.

Better to retire as champ than to wind up pugging away and getting brain-damaged once you've lost it.