Kurt Russell, Peter Fonda, 'Escape from L.A.' (1996)

For, Friday, Oct. 18, 2019

EDITOR’S NOTE: With this column, published in the Deseret News on Sept. 22, 1996, I find the most amusing observation in the final paragraph, where I ask, ‘Am I getting old? … ’ If I was ‘getting old’ 23 years ago, what am I now? Yikes! Although the specific examples used here are movies that are largely forgotten (but still have a fan base and are widely available from various outlets), the sentiment remains true. In fact, if anything, modern movies have become exponentially more moronic in the 21st century.

Let's call them "moron moments" - and in some cases, entire "moron movies."

The kind of films where things happen that are so implausible, so illogical, so ill-advised that we tend to roll our eyes, or scratch our heads, or find the words, "Oh, come on!" coming out of our mouths.


In truth, of course, nearly all movies have certain far-fetched elements. But if we like a particular movie, we are apt to be more forgiving. Or maybe we just don't think about it too much.


After all, if we were fed nothing but plots, scenes and dialogue exchanges that resembled what we encounter in our own everyday lives, how dull would that be?


Take, for example, "John Carpenter's Escape from L.A.," when the characters played by Kurt Russell and Peter Fonda jump on their surfboards to ride out a tidal wave alongside a Los Angeles freeway.




Ridiculous? Of course. And if you found that film too dumb to get into, you probably hated that sequence. But if you enjoyed the picture, you probably laughed and just went along with it.


So, "moron movies" are those that offer scenes or plot elements that are so over the top, so wildly ludicrous that we not only refuse to suspend disbelief, we get downright angry at the movie for insulting us.


To wit:


— In the first of many brutal, blow-away-the-bad-guys sequences in "Last Man Standing," Bruce Willis draws and fires both of his shoulder-holster handguns to kill one villain. He clearly gets the guy with the first shot, but he continues to pump round after round into the body as it jolts and jerks and ultimately flies through a plate-glass window, then rolls into a back-flip before flopping onto the street. (And how many rounds do these anachronistic handguns carry in each clip … hundreds?)


— Halle Berry, as "The Rich Man's Wife," is suspected of hiring someone to kill her wealthy husband. As the film opens, she begins to tell two police detectives her side of the story. Then the film goes into a flashback, which lasts for the length of the movie, until a surprise twist ending. But during the course of the film, we see how her husband was brutally killed, how a friend of hers met with the killer and how the detectives investigated the murder — all of which she could not possibly have witnessed. So, how is she able to relate these events to the police?




— At the end of "Extreme Measures" (which opens next week) a woman in a wheelchair sheds a tear when a doctor says he's not sure it's a good idea to kill people so that others may lead a more productive life. In other words, because he can't condone murder for the sake of medical research, she gets weepy.


— "Bulletproof" has undercover cop Damon Wayans being shot in the head by his best friend, a crook played by Adam Sandler. As a result, Wayans has a metal plate surgically implanted and goes through arduous physical therapy to learn how to walk again. No time frame is given for his recovery, but it is played as if it takes only a few weeks (if not days). Yet, logic tells us he had to go through this process for many months. And all the while, Sandler is a fugitive. After Wayans is released from the hospital and returns to police work, Sandler is finally arrested. How is he caught? Two highway patrolmen spot him in his car, which is illegally parked on the side of a deserted highway. It's an open convertible and he is sleeping in the front seat, in a drunken stupor, covered with beer cans. Do you suppose he's been sleeping there throughout Wayans' rehabilitation? Then there's the revelation that Wayans' physical therapist for his entire recovery period, who has also become his girlfriend, is actually a mole planted by the bad guys!


— A married woman (Jennifer Aniston) visits her parents in "She's the One" and gets into a detailed conversation about their respective sex lives … which is initiated by the parents! In fact, everyone seems to talk about their sex lives with everyone else in this movie! (Am I getting old, or isn't this still a private subject?)