In Praise of “B” movies: “B++”
My buddy looked at me incredulously from across the breakfast table. The table of our usual Sunday get-together “breakfast”–which somehow always manages to start around 2pm–was littered with used plates, napkins, and breakfast platters.
“You like the movie ‘Dredd’.”
I stirred some more honey into my coffee and nodded.
“Yeah…Dredd. The movie ‘Dredd’. It’s awesome. I really like it.”
He proceeded to laugh his ass off. I laughed with him, not knowing what the joke was. “What?! It’s a great film!”
“Man, it’s horrible! It’s pretty bad. I don’t know how you can even say that.”
“What?” I repeated. “It’s not the best movie ever, but it’s not the worst either.”
“I don’t get what you mean. A movie is either good or it’s bad.”
“Hear me out.” I take a sip of my coffee, grimace, and add more honey. Sometimes the place just doesn’t get it right. “So, it’s a basic action movie structure, like a video game, where there’s levels and greater complexity the higher you go, until you defeat the main villain.”
“Sure. Like the Bruce Lee movie. The one he was finishing before he was killed by an ancient Japanese curse that has been cast upon his family,” my buddy helpfully added.
(At this point, actually, I’m just making up the conversation because he was still laughing. So we’ll just insert My Ideal Friend as a new character into this narrative).
“Yes, exactly. Exactly like that. Exactly like that film that Bruce Lee was working on, until he was brutally, unfairly struck down by that Japanese curse that has befallen his family.” Sip. “My main point, is that it’s a basic, action-oriented plot, but the script is tight, the direction is great, the actors have been perfectly cast, the main character is what he is, and overall the movie doesn’t go beyond 2 hours. It’s great entertainment. If it was food, it’d be like a nice bowl of home-made chicken soup.” I pause. Dramatically. “For what it is, it’s perfect.”
My Ideal Friend nodded in total agreement. I won him over with my persuasiveness. Totally.
“So what kind of movie do you call that?” He asked helpfully.
“It’s not a ‘B-Movie’, per se,” I said. (I added the per se to sound extra smart and legitimate). “It’s something more. It’s like that Arrow show. ” ‘It’s got to be…someone else…It’s got to be…something else….’ ”
“When is a movie a person?” My Ideal Friend said aloud. He was kind of becoming a dick.
I pondered. Then the answer came upon me, like a lightning bolt, jazzing up my old soup-noodle.
“It’s a ‘B++’ movie.”
Silence. The gentle hum of fellow breakfast-brunch-lunch-lupper-goers filled the restaurant. It was a loud, gentle hum however, because it emanated from the only other table in the room, a dude in a wheelchair who was staring at his soup for a little too long, and a hipster couple with his-and-hers name-n-thorn-engraved tattoos, holding hands and looking through a “Tit-Tat” magazine together.
(Note: “Tit-Tat” magazine doesn’t exist, but I think it’s a good name for a tattoo magazine…Or a skin magazine…Maybe it can be both…)
“But what other movies could you say as an example? You know, just so I know what you’re talking about, exactly,” my Ideal Friend said. (I think he was starting to get a touch passive-aggressive, like a little robot that somehow was starting to get its first taste of freedom–and was liking it.)
“Other B++ movies?” I asked myself aloud. (My real buddy in the meantime had long left). “Hmm, let’s see…Predator…Steel Magnolias…Dazed and Confused…Newsies–although that’s just for the ladies, who seem to have all seen it, I don’t know any guys who would admit they have…and let’s not forget Love, Actually…Not the best film ever, but apparently it’s become the 21st century’s version of ‘It’s A Wonderful Life.’
“Hugh Grant is the new James Stewart,” My Ideal Friend proposed.
I nodded in agreement. “Touche, my Ideal Friend. Touche.”