This seemingly random stock photo will make sense later on in reading this piece.
There’s a blatant continuity error in Jurassic Park that terribly irked my six year old brain. I’ve pointed it out to tons of people in my life, so I might as well publicize it here too. I’m sure it’s already on IMDb, but c’mon, this is my life story here.
When the helicopters are landing to deliver our main characters to their exotic location, there are several shots of the helicopter slowly lowering to the landing pad. It’s a great sequence, but in it is a shot of two jeeps pulling up to a stop, and in the wide shot, the jeeps are already there.
This mistake was very bothersome to me. It also awakened me to the fact that movies are fake, and, that they are made by people.
Later in life, I learned that Spielberg doesn’t care about continuity mistakes and just lets them happen. Scorsese has a similar attitude. In their minds, you should be paying attention to the story, and if a mistake like that ‘takes you out of the movie’, then they have already failed. In other words, if a movie is truly lessened by these errors, how good could it be in the first place? Scorsese just lets his actors go nuts and freely cuts between takes, because he knows that, at the very least, he’s adding to the jaggedness of the scene. And when Spielberg overlooks them, it’s because he’s simply more focused on the story than the amount of coke left in someones glass.
Continuity errors don’t bother me—unless we’re talking Troll 2 or something. Instead what’s always bothered me is the bizarre rules that govern the worlds in movies.
It is the duty of every movie to establish the rules of its own universe—this includes not only the expository groundwork of the story, but the logical behavior of the characters, and the basis for their decisions and actions. Every movie creates a world, and the best worlds are in the best movies. Sometimes even, a movie’s depth and richness comes solely from its world, its design. Regardless of a movie’s individual world though, all movies seem to exist in a larger world that governs the decisions of every movie character. I call this phenomena ‘movie world’, and the things that happen there are retarded.
We all know the obvious ones, like don’t go out and explore the scary woods when you hear a weird sound. Those are silly, and are often handled terribly, but they don’t bother me much. The ones below, however, drive me nuts:
Fake Ass Cups
Every fucking time anybody in a movie or TV show is carrying a cup, with or without a lid, it is empty! You can tell because of the weight in somebodies hand. Sometimes it’s subtle and almost unnoticeable, but sometimes it’s totally fucking ridiculous. Somebody will hand someone what’s supposed to be a tray full of hot coffees, and they just like, brazenly hand it to them, because in real life they are just empty cups.
The cups are empty because you can’t have hot, stainable liquids in actors’ hands while they’re try to act. However, what I don’t understand is, to get the weight right, why not just fill them with something, anything. It doesn’t even have to be liquid—just put some kind of weight in there that won’t spill out and won’t hurt anyone. Solved, you stupid assholes.
Note: Michael Richards defied this rule on Seinfeld and demanded to carry only real props. He’s a genius.
Tell the Cops What Happened, Asshole!
In movies, when a character is accused of something they didn’t do, or really just in any situation of peril, they never fucking explain to the cops exactly what happened. The reason, from a storytelling standpoint, is because they can’t just have the main character rehash everything we just saw, so they always have the character exasperated from some kind of chase or something. Sometimes, they even go as far as to have the character just panting and exclaiming gibberish in a heightened volume. As if, in a dangerous situation, a human’s natural response is to just spout rushed nonsense at the person who could potentially help you.
High School Classes Only Last 3 Minutes And Teachers Only Remember to Give Homework As Their Students File Out
The title explains it all.
Computer Sound Effects
Every computer in every movie has a bunch of fucking sound effects on it that no computer has or ever has had. We all know the familiar swoosh of an email being sent on a Mac or whatever—but, when you zoom in on a picture, no computer makes a sound for that. It would be fucking stupid if they did, and everybody knows they don’t, so why the fuck does it happen in movies?
Cellphones in Movies
That’s it. Cellphones should not be in movies. Movies should be an analog universe when it comes to phones. I’d rather they just ignore that cellphones exist then try to write them in or out of any script—it’s always noticeable.
Not Giving or Getting Enough Information for Plans
Every time two characters set a time for a meeting or a date, they always just say “Pick you up at eight?” Or sometimes, nothing at all. In movie world, just agreeing to get together with somebody somehow automatically downloads all of the necessary logistical information into both people’s brains.
Everybody is a Writer
Practically nobody is a writer, so why is everybody a writer in movies? I think the reason is because it’s a job where you make a lot of money, which explains the characters’ means. And, they also work from home and make their own schedule, which explains why they never eat or sleep or do anything other than deal with their personal relationships.
There are more, many more, but these are the ones that bother me most. I don’t even care that much about the lightning thing—you know, how it always happens simultaneously with thunder in movie world.
What ones bother you the most?
10 thoughts on “7 Annoying ‘Movie World’ Mistakes”
Great article, thanks Greg
There are so many writers in movies, of course, because movies have writers. It saves you a lot of research if you write a screenplay about the stuff you know anyway.
The one that bothers me is that no one ever says goodbye/see you/talk to you later when finishing up a phone conversation.
Came to say this.
It’s because it’s sloppy screenwriting and takes up precious
This is related sort of to #2 on the list (tell the cops what happened, asshole) but I hate when characters have something really important that they want to explain to everyone – such as, I’m not really engaged to your comatosed son, for instance – and then they let a minor interruption or distraction keep them from explaining anything at all, until usually the final climactic scene of the film (often during a wedding or a televised broadcast. I hate that too!)
I hate movies.
My favorite part of “Office Space” is when Micheal Bolton and Samir are talking to the lawyer at the party and he tells them that minimum security prison is no picnic. Micheal reacts so emotionally that an ice cube flies out of his cup and hits Samir in the forehead.
Such a good part. Forgot about that!