Cinematic Pet Peeves

After you watch a number of films, you start to see certain patterns. Not clichés exactly, but little things that bug you to no end. The annoying line, the overused plot point, the ridiculous shots. These are the cinematic pet peeves. I surveyed around to figure out what has been bugging people lately, and this is what we came up with.


Joe Donohue – The Film Yap

I would have to say that my biggest cinematic pet peeve is the shaky-cam genre that is becoming more and more common. I’m not against it if it adds to the story and is used in a new situation. For example, I thought “Cloverfield” was great and the shaky camera was pertinent to the story. The same goes for “Paranormal Activity.” I especially liked how the next time around they changed up their formula a bit and went with more still shots. What drives me crazy is that once some of these movies were becoming big at the box office and the “shaky-cam phase” began, all the DPs thought it was “cool” to hitch ye old camera up on their shoulders and make all of their viewers seasick.


Keith Jackson – And the Nominees Are

I’m sure I have a better pet peeve, but right now I can just think of this: Plots that are based around a character who can’t seem to be noticed even though he/she’s being played by an attractive actor/actress. The lazy writer just thinks, “Let’s put glasses on Katherine Heigl and now she’s just so nerdy and undesirable!” I know there’s a certain amount of suspension of disbelief here, and there are cases where this can be pulled off. But oftentimes it can just confirm that, yep, this romantic comedy is really that bad.


Austin Lugar – The Film Yap

I have two that have been bugging me. The first is the use of prophecies in movies. “Kung Fu Panda 2″ is the latest example. In films, if there is ever a prophecy or a vision of the future, it will always come true. All of the dramatic tension dissipates immediately. They could have had the typical heroic story, but instead they decided to tell us the ending in the beginning. Not that it’s much of a surprise anyway. It always seems to be the hero defeating evil. Even when that’s not the point of the movie, that’s still the same boring prophecy! (I’m still glaring at you, “Alice in Wonderland.”)

The other one is in medias res. This is when the story starts off with something really exciting or crazy and then after the scene is over, a title card says “Two weeks earlier” or some time increment. It’s like the idea of cutting all of the unnecessary exposition. Instead of continuing the story when it’s exciting, it goes back to when it’s boring. The worst is when introduce a film with a scene that’s near the end of the movie because they want us to forget what happened so we’ll be surprised later. Plenty of movies use non-linear structure well to tease further mysteries, but oftentimes when you do it once at the beginning of the film, you’re not confident that your beginning is actually interesting. (That probably means you shouldn’t start your movie there at all…)


Richard Propes – The Independent Critic

#1: Why is it that directors continue to use non-disabled actors to portray disabled characters? OK, I get it when a character becomes disabled. You can’t exactly “switch” actors. However, when your entire film is based upon building an inspiring and feel-good story around disability, wouldn’t it help to actually have someone disabled play the part? I’m not inspired knowing that some hunky or handsome actor is playing disability just to shoot for the Oscar. I will forever admire the Farrelly Brothers for actually casting an actor with spina bifida in “Shallow Hal,” lending the film an authenticity most films simply don’t have. Can most people tell when a non-disabled actor plays a disability? Maybe the general population can’t, but who do you really think is seeing these films?


#2: The “Happy Ending That Makes No Sense” — Have you ever watched a film where the characters suffered the entire film only to end up happy at the very end? Of course you have. Hollywood creates gobs and gobs of them. They are ridiculous and I hate them. Don’t get me wrong, I’m as thrilled as the next person when someone ends up happy at the end of the story. Heck, sometimes you really want it to happen. However, there are those happy endings that you just know came as a result of those test screenings and they make absolutely no sense at all. Nothing has actually changed for the character and nothing within the story indicated a detoured fate. Suddenly, they just get their happy ending. Sometimes, sad endings happen in life and I absolutely love it when a director has the balls to stick to how the story really should end.


Beau Thompson – The Drop-Ins

Typically, I would assume that when you hear the sound of an explosion you swing your head around as fast as possible to the direction of the noise. Hell, I jump at the sound of a firecracker myself. So why in the hell does everyone in a movie become a hardass when something explodes? Not only do they act like the explosion doesn’t happen but they simply walk — not run — away from it. Do people really find the image of someone looking stoic in front of a fire to be an appealing image? Are movies being made by a bunch of pyromaniacs?

When did people consider this cool? I know going against the norm is “cool,” but we all still do the same practical things such as breathing when we need air, sweating when we are hot and turning our head to look to the direction of the sound of something blowing up to make sure we don’t get impaled by a piece of debris! You know what I want to say to Iron Man when I watch him walking away from an exploding tank? “GET DOWN, THERE’S AN EXPLODING TANK BEHIND YOU! DO YOU WANT TO DIE?!” And if you were blowing up a tank or building, wouldn’t you want to see your hard work pay off? If I blew a building up, I’d want to make damn sure that I was going to see the payoff. I’d also be as giddy as a schoolgirl who just got tickets to the Royal Concertgebouw Symphony Orchestra. (That’s what kids are into these days, right?)

Maybe it’s just me, but when I keep seeing these people in movies walk away from explosions like they’re Don Draper, I start to think that movies aren’t real, and that my dream of meeting Iron Man so I can tell him to be more mindful of vehicle explosions will not come true.



So what are the ones that are bugging you right now?


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10 Responses to “Cinematic Pet Peeves”

  1. Kathy says:

    I agree with many of the pet peeves already listed such as weak story lines and changing the story if the movie is based on a book. If a movie is based on a book, I now see the movie first, then read the book. I used to read then see the movie but I found I didn’t enjoy the movie at all because I compared it too much to the book and couldn’t stand when characters/settings were changed. Now I can enjoy the movie, and the book even more.

  2. Jane Cook says:

    Agreed with all posted previously!

    I know a film is not a book…I know this. However, why o why! must they change the ending of a perfectly great book when they film it? And I don’t mean ‘polish’ it here or there – I mean changes like, the difference between a major character living or dying!! Or changing the gender of a sidekick. It makes me crazy!

  3. Angela Braden says:

    I would have to agree with Austin in having the movie pet peeve of showing the ending of a movie and then saying # of weeks earlier to get a chance to piece the scenes together…especially when there’s a disaster scene or some sort of hospital scene of survivors of sorts. Hope I can win some passes for Twilight when it comes out later! Keep them on reserve for me!!!

  4. Mike Gambrel says:

    I have to agree with every one of these pet peeves. The one that has irritated me lately is the refusal to end a story. I understand that this is a business and the studios are looking to make money, but I am tired of seeing every film end with questions lingering. Not every film will have a sequel. In fact, some that do have sequels should not have. Have Hollywood writers lost their senses of creativity to the extent that they can’t come up with a sequel without leaving the original story unfinished? Take, for example, movies like The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. The movie seemed to be finished, but the writers had to give that little hint that Allan Quatermain might return for a further adventure. Why was that necessary? I know that there was probably a test audience that didn’t like the ending because he died and the final ending was a compromise to make people feel a little better, but completely unnecessary. I would love to see a film end with all of the ends tied up, happy or otherwise. And, while I’m at, no five second shot after the credits alluding to a sequel either.

  5. Matt says:

    Wow…this is really thought provoking! I have to agree with many of the posts. I am NOT a fan of the shakey camera when it doesn’t make sense either…I loved the Bourne movies, and while it helps add to the "gritty" aspect to the movies somewhat, I have to say that it felt way overdone to me. Right now, my biggest pet peeve has to be the overuse of 3-D technology. It can literally ruin some movies by making them so dark. And simliar to the concept of "Let’s put this hot actor/actress in a movie and not have a plot or story", JUST having 3-D is NOT enough! There still has to be good writing, an engaging plot, good acting–just having a shot of somethign coming out of the screen doesn’t cut it!!

  6. Aaron Chasteen says:

    I don’t mind voiceover monologues when used effectively, like American Beauty or Goodfellas, but oodles of comedies and dramas these days have cheesy-generic monologues that make me want to punch someone in the face.

    As a fan of Kung-Fu movies, I always love great choreography in my action movies. American movies fail in this department. They shake the camera more and add a billion camera angles, but it never makes up for shitty choreography. This could easily be solved by adding a ‘Best Choreography’ category to the Oscars, as they have in the Hong Kong Film Awards.

  7. Karen Cohn says:

    I like a movie with a great story. Lately, all I see are these action films, tons of car chases and stunts that seem like a waste of time to do. What happen to just a great story, something to remember. Lately, I just walk out of the theater with a headache and a drained feeling.

  8. Joe Shearer says:

    One of my favorite rom-com peeves: The Chase, when the main character in a romcom finally decides he/she loves his/her foil. But wait! He/She is moving to Kentucky, or is going on a cruise, or getting on a plane that will crash and kill them! So the hero has to race against time to stop that person, leading to a silly "action sequence."

  9. Brittany says:

    I would have to agree with most of these movie pet peeves. Now that I have a better understanding of movies I notices these things a lot more! I really have to agree with the one about happy endings. It seems that all movies have a happy ending and this makes them predictable. I love when a film has a goes against the cliche and has a not so happy ending when it fits the story. It gives the film a little extra twist.

  10. Jen Barnette says:

    These are all so true! I tend to nit-pick at movies way too much and my husband can’t stand it. Glad to know I’m not the only one who enjoys a more realistic cinematic adventure that I can really get into because it actually seems believable for once.