Topic: Can a movie be too perfect?

I recently watched a YouTube video that asked the question "Can a movie be so good it's bad". It's likely that you've heard of the term " So bad it's good", a movie so imperfect, that it is perfect, like The Room or Birdemic, but can the same be said about the other way around? A movie that is flawless and so perfect, that it's imperfect?

For example, I watched the Godfather a while ago, a movie many consider one of the most perfect movies of all time. I wouldn't argue about that - in fact, aside from some very minor continuity errors, there isn't much I can criticize about the movie, and yet I found it left very little impact on me. For some reason I can't entirely explain, I felt like something was missing - maybe it was that I couldn't relate to any of the characters? Or maybe it was just too perfect.

But why would too perfect be such a thing? Well, people are imperfect. The reason why we don't usually mind if movies we love have some flaws is that the good outways the bad. We can relate to a movie that has some problems, because as humans, we all have flaws.

I love Unbreakable. Sure it has some flaws - It goes by a snail's pace, and Bruce Willis' performance leaves a lot to be desired - However, when something incredible does happen, you appreciate it much more. Looking at it this way, it helped me to realize why I couldn't love the Godfather like everyone else seemed to: The lack of flaws didn't allow me to be amazed by the incredible moments. The entire movie, I was looking for a particular moment to amaze me.

Have any of you had similar experiences watching movies? I would be interested to hear your thoughts on this!

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Re: Can a movie be too perfect?

I think that the original Star Wars trilogy is a great example of something being "too perfect for its own good." Sure, the films have their flaws, but, that didn't really stop an entire generation (and several after that!) from experiencing them. Many future filmmakers and TV producers were heavily inspired by just how special Star Wars was to them... Many decided to parody or reference events from the film as tribute and homage in the years since.

However, that almost ruined it for someone like me. Just think... really, just stop and think right now: how many times has Luke Skywalker's parenthood twist been parodied or referenced in other media? Really, actually think about that.

I can't think of many specific examples right now, but, I know that we've all seen/heard them. Even if you lived under a rock you'd still know the basics of the original trilogy's plot. Just as one example: I saw Chicken Little (2005) about a year or two before I'd ever seen Empire, but that didn't stop the filmmakers from alluding to the pivotal plot twist anyway.

Sure, I really like the Star Wars films (all of 'em), but, I think it'd be hard to find someone other than original theater-goers who wouldn't already have bits spoiled for them before they ever watched a single one.

Guardians of the Galaxy, in a totally different way, could be classified as "too good" from me as well. Don't get me wrong, I hate the film - utterly despise every frame of its existence - mostly because it was the first Marvel film (actually, first film ever) that I had seen where the MPAA rating and stylistic choices seemed formulaic to its success.

Spoiler (click to read)

Write a bland but action packed script with subtle fan-service here and there, rely on CGI for explosions and some extras in crowd scenes, throw in a few swears to make sure the film isn't PG (because, really... who watches PG anymore, right?), color grade everything a shade or two grayer than reality to look "modern", use a temp score, and end with a "hey, please stay and watch the credits - not to honor/learn of the people who dedicated their time to making this piece of entertainment, but just to see sequel bait and a pointless cameo."

Most of the points made in the above paragraph are common criticisms of modern blockbuster cinema (think Michael Bay) or of the MCU in general... but, it had never seemed so bad before. Sure, Vertigo's bold Technicolor blows The Avengers dull blueish hues out of the water, but Avengers actually was pretty entertaining for me at the time... after credits sequences and all. The formula may have been in place, but the filmmakers still put the film first... instead of just appealing to the lowest common denominator.

Guardians of the Galaxy, in my opinion, succeeded at every field the filmmakers tried to tackle - it's just that those fields are all major negative trends in mainstream cinema...

When it comes to brickfilms, the same thing applies. I sometimes find myself slightly disliking a brickfilm just due to its "flawless" animation... especially when other fields (such as audio or story, for example) are underdeveloped... Sometimes (in brickfilms and theater cinema) playing things too safely can really hurt the artistic integrity of the final product.

To err is human, am I right? I think that a little bit of flaws can go a long way - severe creative limitations, especially, sometimes lead to creatively original ways to overcome weaknesses. That's why I'd choose to watch Doug Vandegrift's Pirates! first, over Smeagol's Unrenewable - Not because I prefer pirates to neo-noirs, but, because Pirates! is just a bit more entertaining to me. I've learned to love its flaws, and that makes it just a bit more special to me.

Re: Can a movie be too perfect?

I'm going to assume that you watched the Nostalgia Critic's video. One thing I noticed with this video is that he cites two movies, The Crucible and Bram Stoker's Dracula, as examples of movies that might be so perfect that they're bad. With him saying that, you might be led to believe that they received rave reviews when they were released. They didn't.

According to Rotten Tomatoes, The Crucible got an average score of 7.3, and Bram Stoker's Dracula a 6.5. In comparison, two other movies he highlighted, The Truman Show and E.T. got average scores of 8.4 and 9.2 respectively. That doesn't discount the question he poses, but I'm less inclined to take him seriously considering half the evidence he gave didn't fit the assumed criteria. Another problem is that most of the video is his own opinion. I can't recall a single time he quoted anyone with some credibility, or anyone else for that matter.

Anyway, now to actually address the question.

How can you really define a perfect movie? How do you even define a good movie? I may have my definitions, and you may have your own. They probably will be different. Just because a lot of people love a movie doesn't make it a great movie, nor does it mean that everyone will like it. I don't like the original Ghostbusters. I didn't really care about what was going on, and I don't like Bill Murray's type of humor. That doesn't make it a bad movie. On the other hand, I have siblings who hate WALL•E, one of my favorite movies, either because they think WALL•E himself is annoying, or they can't sit through the 30 minutes of silence at the beginning, or whatever. That doesn't make WALL•E a bad movie.

There's an old phrase: "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." It all depends on how you look at something. I will look at a movie with a more analytical eye than most of my friends or family, and I will interpret it with my own experiences, and judge it based on those two things combined with many other things unique to myself. Others will see a movie and judge it differently.

So my answer is no.

P.S. I feel like there's something inherently erroneous with the question, though I'm having trouble pinning down what exactly.

Last edited by Littlebrick (December 5, 2016 (08:36am))

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Re: Can a movie be too perfect?

Dyland wrote:

To err is human, am I right? I think that a little bit of flaws can go a long way - severe creative limitations, especially, sometimes lead to creatively original ways to overcome weaknesses. That's why I'd choose to watch Doug Vandegrift's Pirates! first, over Smeagol's Unrenewable - Not because I prefer pirates to neo-noirs, but, because Pirates! is just a bit more entertaining to me. I've learned to love its flaws, and that makes it just a bit more special to me.

Don't get me wrong, Unrenewable is a little dry. But it's hardly an example of over-polish and no creative limitations. I spent about $30 making it and did the compositing in glitchy beta software that was eleven years old at the time.

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Re: Can a movie be too perfect?

Littlebrick wrote:

I'm going to assume that you watched the Nostalgia Critic's video. One thing I noticed with this video is that he cites two movies, The Crucible and Bram Stoker's Dracula, as examples of movies that might be so perfect that they're bad. With him saying that, you might be led to believe that they received rave reviews when they were released. They didn't.

According to Rotten Tomatoes, The Crucible got an average score of 7.3, and Bram Stoker's Dracula a 6.5. In comparison, two other movies he highlighted, The Truman Show and E.T. got average scores of 8.4 and 9.2 respectively. That doesn't discount the question he poses, but I'm less inclined to take him seriously considering half the evidence he gave didn't fit the assumed criteria. Another problem is that most of the video is his own opinion. I can't recall a single time he quoted anyone with some credibility, or anyone else for that matter.

Yeah, it was Nostalgia Critics' video that made me think about it. I hadn't really thought about it until seeing the Godfather. Like I said before, I don't think it's a bad movie, it's just that there was something lacking in it for me. I feel very nuetial about it - I didn't dislike it, but I didn't enjoy it that much either. Maybe it just is that even the greatest movies aren't for absolutely everyone, or there is some truth in Nostalgia Critics's statement. I'm not sure.

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Re: Can a movie be too perfect?

William Osborne wrote:

Maybe it just is that even the greatest movies aren't for absolutely everyone, or there is some truth in Nostalgia Critics's statement. I'm not sure.

I believe it's more of the former; while a great movie may try to reach as wide an audience as possible, it's not going to resonate with everyone. The reasons for that are numerous. Maybe a perfect movie could be for absolutely everyone, but there are no perfect movies. For that matter, even if there was a perfect movie, there are no perfect people; I'm sure someone would still find things to complain about. Like Armond White.

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Re: Can a movie be too perfect?

I haven't seen that video in awhile, but I remember feeling similar to Littlebrick; that his argument didn't make much sense and his evidence was unsubstantiated or actually counter to the point he was trying to make. I think a movie can only be perfect in the eyes of an individual. Your perfect movie is different than mine. Not to mention the purpose of the film; is the goal to be funny? To make the audience question the source of their own humanity? Personally I try to avoid using the word perfect when discussing films, it tends to be counter productive.

Re: Can a movie be too perfect?

I haven't read any of the discussion except for the topic post, but here's my two cents anyway:

If a movie's good moments are only good in comparison to the rest which is bad, then they aren't good moments. A good moment needs to be objectively good. It the rest of the movie was a whopping awesome film that you couldn't get enough of, then the good moments still should be good. They should be great even. I guess that good films' good moments are held to a higher standard because they are wanted to be better than the rest of the film, which might make one's expectations way too high, thus, setting them up for such a letdown.

Continuity flaws cannot make a movie good. it might make for an interesting discussion afterwards or a good laugh, but that doesn't make the movie itself good. A perfect movie should have none of those flaws, but be able to stand alone as a film even after scrutiny and still remain good. Of course, goodness is never objective, but subjective. And a movie's goodness is usually defined by the sum of the plot and execution. Both of these things can be held to relatively objective standards, but there's always something someone else won't like. Thus, a perfect movie does not exist.

That's why when watching a movie, one has to remove all previous expectations and just take the movie for what it is. That makes the movie all the more enjoyable. It's unfortunate that some movies are held to such a high or low esteem that it ruins it for everyone else.

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