Film Faux Pas

I had a big debate in my head whether to name this post “Movie Missteps” or “Film Faux Pas.” I obviously just wanted to write the word ‘faux pas’ and now I’ve written it thrice, so mission accomplished.

Are there certain moments in movies that ruin the experience for you? It happens to me a lot. I think I spend too much time concentrating on what’s going on in the background or actor’s expressions to fully get absorbed into the experience of just watching. That’s probably why movies don’t make me cry. I just can’t get into them enough to let my emotions get all crazy. I’m usually too busy concentrating on whether the actor or actresses’ tears are in the same position between cuts. Which brings me to my first point.

Bad cuts/Sloppy editing

I grew up knowing how to spot a bad cut. It’s a skill that will never come in handy unless your goal is to sound like a total douche. A “bad cut” is basically when a scene ends and goes onto a different scene without a smooth transition. OR it can take place within the same scene, which makes it more obvious and even more frustrating. Here is an example from one of my favorite movies during one of my least favorite scenes: between 2:40-2:45. It’s quick! See if you can catch it.

Dancing is extra tricky. You have to do a perfect take all the way through otherwise it’s easy to spot the mistake. Gene Kelly is always perfect so I’m going to assume it was Cyd Charisse’s fault.

This happens a lot when props (usually food or drinks) are involved. Have you ever seen a movie where someone is eating an ice cream cone and the director cuts away and then when he cuts back to the person eating the cone, it’s a different size, shape, or height? ย The worst. Consistency is a big deal. The damage that’s done between takes is big. And it shows the audience that the scene wasn’t accomplished in one fluid moment. They had to stop in the middle of it, take the ice cream away, get the person a new cone that looked nothing like the other one that had already almost melted, and start again from where they took off. Movie magic? I think not.

Another example happened in the movie Titanic when Jack hands Rose a white note to meet him at the stairs and when she opens the note, it’s on yellow paper. What genius made that mistake? Did they even have yellow paper in 1912?

Movies within movies

I don’t like to give my dad credit for things, but he did bring this faux pas to my attention. When you show characters in a movie watching another movie, it takes the attention off of the movie that you’re watching and puts it onto the movie that they’re watching. This is especially bad if the characters are watching a great, classic movie. It makes the audience think about how great that movie is compared to the stupid movie they’re watching right now.

I can’t really think of any examples off the top of my head besides Gilmore Girls. They would over-use obscure pop culture references and often sit in front of their television watching movies that were immensely better than Gilmore Girls itself.

Too much length

It turns into a problem if I can identify a scene that doesn’t belong in a movie. If a movie starts to head into the longer-than-two-hours zone, I begin thinking of ways I could’ve solved this problem if I were the editor. Most movies, even the classics, have pointless scenes that make the film a little longer than it should be. You know that rare feeling when a movie is so succinct and perfect? Nothing could be removed, yet nothing is missing either? Yeah, that’s what a lot of movies miss now. Trust me. I accidentally watched the director’s cut of Amadeus and it was like, 3 hours long. I feel like I’ve seen The Magic Fluteย in it’s entirety because of that movie. Rough.amadeus-movie

Using a name to fill in the gaps

It seems to me that whenever a scene in a movie or TV show includes an argument between two characters, or a moment where one character is trying to convince another of something, names will be overused. I couldn’t have described that any worse. What I mean is when actors are trying to add more emotion, and steer away from their lines. I think when they do that, it causes them to get flustered and overuse their counterpart character’s name.

For example, if a character was crying and fighting while talking to her boyfriend and saying something like this:

“But Brad, I love you Brad. Brad, why won’t you talk to me? I can’t believe you would do this to me Brad. Brad, I’ve always been there for you!”

Bad example, but you get the point. They rely too much on an character’s name and it doesn’t seem like a real conversation. That kind of thing always takes me out of the moment and usually ruins what is supposed to be an emotional scene.

Any movie moments that bother you?


20 thoughts on “Film Faux Pas

  1. Thank you for this, Lily. It is a post I can relate to in every way. Each and every point you made are things that drive me crazy when I’m watching films. I had to leave the theater when I saw Pretty Woman because there were so many continuity problems I was complaining out loud, and my date was embarrassed. The movie within a movie irritates me, too, mostly because I get involved in the secondary movie, then, when they don’t finish watching it, I’m miffed. How annoyed was I when I found out the movie in Home Alone was a fake?

    Don’t get me started on period films. I started watching a series on cable a few weeks ago and knew I had to quit when I was shouting at the TV, “Doesn’t anyone take notes or do research or pay attention? What is wrong with you people?”

    You are brilliant.

    • I think I’ve only seen the “highlights” from Pretty Woman, so I guess I’ve dodged a bullet there! But yeah I was surprised too, by the fake movie in Home Alone! However, if you’re going to put a movie in your movie, it might as well be fake so no one else has a reference for it. Kind of brilliant.

      Yeah period films are kind of cray. What’s even worse are period films based on books because then everything is wrong and annoying.

      Haha thanks! Far from it, but I’m glad we could relate about this topic!

  2. Lack of explosions, topless women and car chases is always a big mistake in any film. As is allowing Nicole Kidman to be in any way associated with it.

    • I feel like a lot of men don’t like Nicole Kidman. My husband doesn’t like her either. Haha. Have you ever seen the movie with her called The Others? Kind of creepy and good. The only time she’s acceptable in my opinion.

      As for explosions, topless women, and car chases….I don’t think we would have many favorite movies in common. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. NAMES. Yes. I always notice that. Speaking of Titanic and that topic, did you know Rose says ‘Jack’ 80 times and Jack says ‘Rose’ 50 times?! Holy cats.

    Other tidbits that bother me:
    1. Driving – how hard is it to not turn the wheel drastically when you are pretending to drive?! It looks so unrealistic on screen.
    2. Video games – again, how hard is it to not move the controller all over?
    3. Coffee – Please, for the love of god Hollywood, learn how to drink coffee in a scene. Your actors would never actually move the cups so frivolously as they do. (I notice this a lot in Gilmore Girls.)

    Yikes, for someone who adore film/tv, this was nice to get off my chest.


    • I feel like Rose said Jack’s name 80 times when she was floating on that door in the ocean alone! Haha

      Lol driving in old movies is especially bad. They move the wheel so much! Hah I never thought about that one.

      Ugh yeah video games. Also, never thought of that one! I have to look out for it!

      Hahaha about the coffee thing. I watch a lot of Pretty Little Liars (guilty pleasure I swear!) and they always have coffee cups that they slosh around. Meanwhile the audience knows the cups are totally empty.

      Thanks Sarah! I’m glad we could both vent about this troublesome topic! ๐Ÿ˜€

  4. Do you ever watch Mystery Science Theater 3000? It is my absolute favorite. There is this one movie that was on there where Raul Julia plays this futuristic guy who gets trapped in an alternate computer world, and the movie makes a billion references to Casablanca. Casablanca! The whole time my husband and I were both laughing at it because this crappy movie (which I think was made for PBS in the 80’s lol) kept referencing one of the best movies of all time.

    Great post, Lils!

    • I usually tend to shy away from things with the word ‘science’ in them. But maybe I’ll check it out because you’re cool and I respect your suggestions. Crappy movies that reference classic movies are so frickin ballsy, right? You would be proud that I saw Casablanca in the theater. But I feel like you wouldn’t be proud that I’ve only seen it once and don’t really remember it at all. So that should negate all pride that you almost had for me.

    • I remember that episode of MST3000. I was excited to see M. Bison from Street Fighter. The movie was called something with “memory bank” in it. Looks like I used my memory bank to remember this one lol!!!!

  5. I never really thought this through, but now I’ve got some extra pet peeves :D.
    The name thing botheres me a whole lot too. It’s so not realistic! I barely say names unless I’m calling the person (or gossiping about them).
    Great post once more Lily :).

    • Lol same! I never use people’s names either. Hahah so true about gossiping about people! So funny!
      Thanks Astrid! (hey look, I used your name!) ๐Ÿ˜€

  6. This morning, my kid was watching “Community” and Abed was watching “The Jeffersons” on TV. I never thought about watching someone watching before until I read your post. But now I do. Now I probably always will. Thanks.

    • Ahhh I love Community. So many references. But yeah, it’s hard to not notice the movies within movies/shows within shows thing once you’re aware of it. The Jeffersons is probably equally as good as Community though.

      Now I have “Movin’ On Up” stuck in my head….

  7. Movies that are too long really ruin it for me.. once I have to pee/get uncomfortable in my chair/ start getting hungry or thirsty I just can’t pay attention anymore. I think there should be a 2.5 hour limit! Unless it’s Titanic and Leo Dicaprio. I will sit through that.

    • Yessss I feel the same! If a movie calls for an interruption, then it’s time to wrap it up.
      But yeah, truth about Titanic. That movie can do no wrong. Except for the part where Leo dies. And except for the part where Kate Winslet is Rose and not me.

    • I totally know what you mean about good writing. If a movie has great dialogue or an awesome story line, many things are forgivable. I also agree about the movement thing! That’s super annoying!

  8. Whenever Adam Sandler is cast in a film. That bugs me.

    I think errors like these are only a problem if they are blatant. Like everyone always talks about a guy in Ben Hur wearing a watch. I never notice those things. The Three Men and a Baby ghost bugs me. Ever since I saw Fight Club I also notice the cigarette burn in the upper right corner as the reels change, or whatever it means. Christian Bale’s voice as Batman too. Fragmented thoughts in blog comments.

    • Haha too true about fragmented thought blog comments. We are guilty of those. Me more so than you, but I know you don’t judge me so whatever.

      Yeah all the obvious moments are annoying but they don’t ruin a movie on their own. It’s when they’re combined with bad writing or a lame story line, that’s when I get annoyed. I don’t think I’m familiar with any of the moments you named though! I’ll have to check em out.

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