written by Mike Shea on 21 November 1999
There have been a few changes to the Rules. There is no more "Banned" or "Hot" actor list. They have simply become their own rules. The "no movies by the producers of ID4" rule has been removed as it is too dated now. The "subplots are padding" isn't like any of the other rules so it has been removed. I've added the important "Ashton Kutcher" rule and the "No Amusement Park Ride Movies" rule.
The following movie rules are built after my extensive knowledge of what makes a good movie and what makes a bad one. They help keep movies honest. There are no short cuts, no easy ways out. We are not sheep, we are not numbers in a weekend box office log. These rules represent the laws that are broken every day by movie makers who think we have the brain of a pea and when we spend a billion dollars in two days to see The Mummy, we are agreeing with them. These rules are black and white, not grey. We may sacrifice a good movie by cutting it apart with these rules, but sometimes we have to sacrifice ourselves for the greater good. Let us begin.
No movie starring a cast member from "Friends". Just because a billion people watch this show a week looking for a guide on how to live their lives doesn't mean any of the actors are worth a damn. They have been type-cast into similar roles in just about every bad movie made since 1998. Any single violation of this rule mandates a banning of the whole movie. Examples include Charlie's Angels, Analyze This, and Office Space
No romantic movie starring the same stars of another romantic movie. Any time two stars show up again in a new romantic movie, the film makers have basically given up and figure that chemistry that worked before will work again. They remake the movie hoping to pull in a few bucks from the teary eyed women who wish that When Harry Met Sally never ended. There are a few violations of this movie including You've Got Mail after Sleepless in Seattle and Runaway Bride after Pretty Woman.
No movies based on 60s, 70s or 80s TV shows. Another sure sign that the producers have given up. They think that by hearing a similar theme song or a particular tag line that audiences will be more than happy to throw out $8. They also have to do no work on coming up with characters or background and can simply throw any shoddy story at it along with a billion dollars of special effects. Shaft, The Avengers, Inspector Gadget, Wild Wild West, Charlie's Angels all violate this big time. Two examples of good movies that are sacrificed by this rule include The Fugitive and the Brady Bunch which weren't THAT bad.
No movies with women running in wedding dresses. I have no idea where this cliche showed up, but it should die. About five movies in one year not only included women running in wedding dresses, but included it in all their trailers. One movie even went so far as to base their title on it, Runaway Bride! The Bacholer and My Best Friend's Wedding are included. There is one movie that is truly an exception to this rule, The Graduate, which is wonderful even considering the running bride.
No movies directed by Michael Bay. I don't care how many people tell me they like it, The Rock just plain sucked. Rather than any intelligent plot line or story we get a chemical guy racing around San Francisco in a Ferarri. Michael Bay is the whore of directors, doing anything that will make a billion dollars but offer no actual improvement to the world of film. Armageddon, The Rock and Pearl Harbor all hit this one.
No movies produced by Jerry Bruckheimer. If Michael Bay is a whore, Jerry Bruckheimer is the pimp. Not only is he a proven racist but his films have subtracted from the overall intelligence of our society. His movies are so rittled with sub-plots that they rarely include more than 20 minutes of the actual story. He defines cliche, if one can do such a thing. Any movie with his label on it is bound to suck and suck hard.
No movie with a plot from a Three's Company episode. One would be amazed at the amount of movie plots that are ripped off from old Three's Company episodes. Everything from dating two girls in the same bar, dressing up like a woman, and acting gay when you are straight ends up as the plot for the latest period piece. Another big version of this rule is the miscommunication plot. Mr. Rouper is listening at the door to the kitchen and overhears Krissy and Janet talking about kittens. He of course assumes they are making an all girl porn and begins the eviction process. Miscommunication is a horrible plot motivator and should be scorned. Ms. Doubtfire, Talented Mr. Ripley, and Shakespere in Love are all in violation of this rule. Keep an eye out, you will find them all over.
No talking babies, no talking animals. This one was pretty much a no-brainer when I put it out in front of my team of experts. A couple of people brought up Babe, Pig in the City, but I just can't believe any movie with a talking pig could be as good as old man Ebert says. Hell, he did give Anaconda three stars. Look Who's Talking (1 and 2) and Stewart Little are good examples.
No movie that violates the rules it sets for itself (The Gremlins Rule). Lets look at the movie, Gremlins. I have no problem being told that there are little furry creatures that multiply when you pour water on them or turn into Joan Rivers when you feed them after midnight, but the minute you put one behind the wheel of a remote control car and he can drive it from the inside, you have broken my trust. When a movie sets up some basic guidelines it must be followed explicitly. Movies like Crouching Tiger and The Matrix do good jobs of setting rules for physics that are different than our own, but Charlie's Angels doesn't.
The more vomit a movie shows, the better it is. This is a Mike Shea original, so don't believe it if anyone tells you otherwise. Any movie that shows non-comedic vomit is an upper class film. Any that hides it is trash. The more messy or serious the vomit scene is, the better the movie. The more comedic it is, the trashier the movie. Saving Private Ryan and Das Boot are good vomit examples. Summer School is an example of bad use of vomit.
No chain disaster movies. There must be a league of filmmakers who decide on a disaster for the year and then make about fifty movies about it. One year it is volcanos (Volcano, Dante's Peak) another it is asteroids (Armageddon, Deep Impact). Any series of movies that follows the same general plot-line is just a weak way to steal our money.
No feminist training films by Jane Campion. I don't know what happened during the life of this director but I have never seen someone take so much pleasure in ruining male characters and teaching women that it is ok to crush us stupid males under their heels. Mix in entire layers of feminist propaganda into her films and you have Portrait of a Lady. I am sorry but I am not going to apologize for having a penis.
No gangster comedies. Nothing is worse than taking a type of film, adding Billy Crystal and calling it a comedy. There are plenty of great gangster movies that are funny all on their own, but don't think that adding Chris Tucker to Goodfella's will make great cinema. Micky Blue Eyes, Analyze This and Get Shorty are good examples.
Don't see a movie because the girl is hot If you ever catch yourself heading to see a movie because they showed you some hot women in it, go rent porn instead. I don't care if they make a movie about cheer leaders with the five hottest women on earth, I won't see it unless it is rated X. Somehow our thick skulls can't fathom the idea that there won't be any skin in it. Erin Brockovich, Bring it On, Charlie's Angels, Sirins, Striptease, Coyote Ugly and many more violate this rule.
Just because a movie is based on a true story doesn't make it good. I can't say how tired I am of being told "but it is based on a true story you fat bastard!" after I say that Erin Brockovich is a movie about Julia Roberts's tits. Just because a movie is based on a historical event doesn't make it true. Remember the book that the author was writing in Unforgiven called "The Duck of Death"? It describes how English Bob single-handedly saved the honor of young women over tyrants when he was simply a raging jealous drunk who got lucky. Movies based on true stories are like that. They are nothing but embellished stories that were hand picked to sell tickets. Me picking dead skin off of my feet is a true story too but that doesn't mean you want to see a movie about it. You are much more likely to want to see Julia Roberts's tits. I don't blame you, but that still doesn't make it a good movie. Judge all movies on their merits, not on any false license of fact. At least Gladiator had the decency to make up imaginary characters in a historical period and it is a better movie because of it.
Any movie with vampires is a good movie. I don't know what it is about these beasts, but they are always cool in whatever movie you put them in. From Bram Stoker's Dracula to Blade they have the perfect mix of gangster-like societies and nasty ways to kill folk. Interview with a Vampire, From Dusk till Dawn, John Carpenter's Vampires and The Lost Boys are all good examples.
Any movie with Wynona Ryder in it must be seen. Ok, this one really is a Mike Shea only rule. I can't place my finger on what it is exactly and after movies like Lost Souls I am really beginning to think hard about this one, but whether I like it or not, I love Wynona Ryder. Any movie she makes is one I have to see.
Any action movie where a character slides across something firing two guns in slow motion is good. This is the easiest way to determine a good action movie. Though it might be considered a rip off of John Woo movies, there are times when directly copying something is good, and this is one of them. The Killer, Desperado, The Matrix and Face/Off are all good examples.
No movies based on video games, no video games based on movies. For some reason the big execs take a look at just about any video game plot and think they get a free script along with built-in marketing tie ins. Movies based on video games always suck. Even if the video game had a good plot, the movie writers, probably insulted already for having to write a plot for Street Fighter, screw it up. Examples include almost too many to list. Super Mario Brothers, Final Fantasy and Mortal Kombat (both of them) are good examples. This rule has a parallel rule for gamers. All video games based on movies always suck.
New! No movies based on amusement park rides. I don't care how many people went to see Pirates of the Caribbean, it was crap. It also led to the Eddie Murphy disaster, Haunted Mansion. God help us if we see a Space Mountain or It's A Small World After All movie.
New! No movies starring Ashton Kutcher Dude, Where's My Car!, Bosses Daughter, Just Married, this guy has made one hideous cocktease movie after another. Even though you can see Ashton dry humping his co-star on the cover of Boss's Daughter you don't see a single nipple in the whole film. Even if you did, it would still violate the "no movies because the women are hot" rule.
No movies starring Julia Roberts, Kevin Costner, Will Smith, or Bill Paxton These actors have shown that their acting ability is as exciting as drying cement. They sell their name like a commodity on the stock exchange and people flock to them like ants to sugar. They define type-cast, using the same character over and over. At times they even have whole movies written about their breasts (Erin Brockovich).
If you enjoy this article, please consider bookmarking this link to purchase anything from Amazon.com