The shaky camera technique. A love interest that’s not really necessary to the plot. A ticking time bomb that’s switched off at the last possible second. Henchmen who turn out to be completely incompetent and can’t seem to protect the villain or capture the hero.
We all have our film/TV pet peeves or Hollywood clichés that frequently show up in entertainment media and drive us crazy. While I don’t mind a touch of “shaky cam” now and then if it is used sparingly to add to the film’s effect and I’m always a sucker for the ticking time bomb, here are some of my biggest film and TV pet peeves. I’d also like to hear about your entertainment pet peeves or clichés you just can’t stand.
1. Too-obvious product placement
I’ve accepted the fact that product placement is likely here to stay, and it’s probably a necessary evil as the costs for big-budget films and TV shows rise. However, I believe there’s a right way and a wrong way to handle product placement, and the less obtrusive it is, the better.
I love the crime drama “White Collar,” and it’s one of my favorite TV shows. However, the product placement in the show can be frustrating. About every other episode, there will be a scene that’s a very obvious product placement for a certain car brand. These moments always make me cringe and pull me out of the narrative, and it takes me a minute or two to get back into the episode.
Although the Heineken product placement in the latest Bond film, “Skyfall,” did generate some controversy, I thought that overall it was fairly well done. I recall seeing at least two characters drinking from Heineken bottles during the movie, but if I hadn’t known ahead of time there would be a Heineken product placement, I might not have noticed.
2. Over-use of love triangles
This one is a fairly common plot device in romantic comedies or dramas. I don’t have a problem with the overall concept, but I think it can be over-used by Hollywood. The tricky thing about love triangles is despite the fact they’re presented as a dilemma — how will the heroine choose between the two boys who are in love with her? — it’s usually easy to spot which of the two boys she’s ultimately going to pick. *Spoiler alert!* I guessed Katniss was going to end up with Peeta in “The Hunger Games” series, and I don’t think anyone doubted Bella was going to pick anyone but Edward (sorry, Gale and Jacob!).
I do think the triangle concept can be interesting, especially if the writers come at it from a surprising or clever angle. *Spoiler alert!* In “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” I thought the show runners were trying to set up a Skye/Agent Ward romance, and then they suddenly introduced an Agent Ward/Agent May dynamic. I like shows that keep me guessing. Also, a triangle doesn’t necessarily need to be romantic in nature. In the BBC show “Sherlock,” Dr. Watson has to balance his loyalties to his wife, Mary, and his best friend, Sherlock.
3. Do your research
There’s a scene in the Tom Cruise/Cameron Diaz espionage comedy “Knight and Day” that always makes my friends and I chuckle, though it wasn’t actually meant to be funny. The scene supposedly takes place in an airport in Wichita, Kansas — except it’s obviously not the Wichita airport, because I live in Wichita and our airport isn’t nearly that big or elaborate. 😉 The recent “Man of Steel” movie had a Kansas-related goof too; in the tornado scene, everyone is told to take shelter under a highway overpass — except in the Midwest, people are told repeatedly overpasses are actually some of the worst places to go during a tornado.
Movies are expensive, complex projects, and I know it’s impossible to catch every detail (and impractical to shoot one short scene in the actual Wichita airport). However, just like product placements, little moments like these can jolt you out of the narrative and break the “spell” a good movie puts you under. The more background research and attention to detail, the more authentic the final product will feel.
4. Converting to 3-D
I know I’ve ranted about this before, so I’ll try to keep this brief. 😉 I do think the concept of 3-D is a bit overrated, and yes, sometimes it is a shameless cash grab. I watched the new Hobbit movie in 3-D and 2-D and didn’t really notice much of a difference; Smaug was just as impressive both times. Maybe it’s just me, but after about 10 to 15 minutes, I tend to forget I’m even watching a movie in 3-D. That said, 3-D can be impressive on special occasions, such as the recent Oscar-nominated “Gravity.” Most times, though, good old-fashioned 2-D works just fine for me. 🙂