The Expectations Game

July 18, 2011 § 3 Comments

Guest post by Steven Grahmann.

I can’t remember the last time I went to a movie without knowing almost everything about it, even whether or not I would like it.

OK, I can.  It was Sneakers.  Remember?  Probably not.  It was a 1991 heist movie with Robert Redford and River Pheonix (RIP) and Sidney Poitier and Dan Aykroyd and that guy from Groundhog Day who goes “Ned? NED?”  The tagline was, “We could tell you what it’s about, but then we’d have to kill you,” and I loved every uninformed minute of it.

Nowadays I watch every trailer, read every review, and look at every Rotten Tomato score before I even get CLOSE to donning my Free Popcorn T-Shirt and walking into the theater.  Remember the Super Bowl?  I think the Packers won or something.  But me, I was interested in something else:

Speaking of Super 8, I went to see it last month on opening night, but I probably shouldn’t have.  My expectations were so high (A JJ Abrams homage to Steven Spielberg starring what looks like the kids from Goonies and Coach Taylor from Friday Night Lights? WHAT?) they were scraping the ceiling, and those theater ceilings are really high.  So when the movie was merely good, I was sad.   My expectations were so much better than the actual thing, I honestly would have been better off staying at home and basking in them.

Flip the coin, and there’s Cars 2, another movie I read up on like a madman – and one that critics seem to be getting bona fide pleasure in ripping apart.  Me, I’m a Pixar fanboy.  In my opinion, it’s the best art house out there.  This is true:  I went on to their website a couple months ago, found out that there is a janitor position open at their offices, and applied.  No call-back.  So after reading the scathing reviews of Pixar’s latest, I was expecting to hate it.  BUT, in the back of my mind, I was thinking I’d love it because everyone else hated it.  And guess what?  I loved it!  How messed up is that?

Does the access to information about art (of which I willingly and greedily take part) color my opinion of that art, to the point that it’s not even my opinion anymore?  I would like one time to go to a movie, watch a TV show, even read a book, with a clean slate.

One of my goals this summer is to just that.  I’m going to watch a movie that I haven’t read a single review, watched a single trailer – even had a single conversation – about.  I’ll do the same with a book.  Maybe if I’m good Pakou and Abi will let me guest blog again so I can tell you the results.

Anyone want to join me?

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§ 3 Responses to The Expectations Game

  • Brad says:

    I remember seeing The Matrix in the theatre for the first time. I had absolutely no idea what it was about and was blown away. I completely agree… sometimes knowing too much about a movie can take away from the experience. And expectations are everything. Great post!

  • I am in. And by the way I loved Sneakers! What a great movie. Which is funny because at one time the club, or whatever that hang out place at UWEC on upper campus wa called Sneakers and it always reminded me of the movie. Anyway. Awesome to see you guest bloggin.

  • I’ve only recently heard of Sneakers as someone’s fav heist movie, so it’s on my list of things to see–but this is all I’ve heard about it, I promise!

    Can’t wait for the follow-up post to this experiment!

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