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Tidal Waves, Cheap Gas and Thinking Machines

 One of my favorite things about movies is the suspension of disbelief. The fact that pretty much anything can happen in a movie and we’ll go along with it. Talking dogs, extraterrestrials we can understand, presidential campaigns with no mud slinging. OK, that last one might be a bit too over the top. The point is that if it can happen in a movie, we’re ready to believe it. There are some movies, though, for which even my imagination has cried foul. Some ideas are just too hard to believe. And since I’m sure you’re now asking yourself, “Like what, Ben. Give me some examples”, I will. Here’s my list of movies that challenge my suspension of disbelief.

1) 2012
I’m sure you’re thinking that my problem with the movie is the whole premise of the end of the world and how it happens. No, I was able to go along with that. I’m a sucker for those types of movies. I can accept the cities falling into the sea, the huge tidal waves and even the Earth’s crust shifting. What I am not able to buy is a particular scene late in the movie. Most of civilization has been destroyed. Check. There is a mile-high tidal wave sweeping across India. Still with you. People are trying to climb up a mountain for safety. Got it. At the moment these people see the tidal wave coming toward them, and everyone starts screaming and trying to climb the mountain to safety, one character whips out his cell phone, places a call and it goes through. Here’s where I call foul. I can’t get cell phone reception in my own home. But he can still make a call as the Pacific Ocean quickly covers most of the continent? And, he calls an American who, when he receives the call, is in China. What provider do these guys have? Because I want their plan.

2) Die Hard
Actually one of my favorite movies ever. The villain, played by Alan Rickman, was one of the best villains in any movie I have ever seen. While the idea of terrorists taking over a building and holding hostages seemed a bit far-fetched in 1988, it isn’t outside the realm of our thinking these days. No, the part I have the biggest problem with is a scene in the movie when a character is at a gas station. He walks towards the street to get a look at the building in the distance. As the camera pans over with him, it shows the gas station’s sign advertising the price of a gallon of gas. 80 cents. In L.A. I had to take out a loan the other day to buy gas. I could fill up my car for less than ten bucks at 80 cents per gallon. There’s no way gas ever was that price. Right?

3) The Wizard of Oz
I don’t know about you, but if a bunch of little people dressed in funny costumes and a woman in a prom dress told me to do something, I would run the other way, screaming. And why does Dorothy never meet anyone going the other direction on the yellow brick road?

4) The Matrix
A world in which machines have taken over and humans are used as power supplies while they “live” in a computer generated simulation. OK, the entire plot requires suspension of disbelief on a whole other level. But that’s why I love this movie. Everything is so unbelievable (including the idea that Keanu Reeves can act) that it all becomes believable. My question about the movie is, do the sentient machines run on Windows? And, if so, how often do they have to reboot?

5) The Terminator
Another machine-ruling movie of which many people would question its believability. Another movie with an unbelievable plot that I love. An assassin cyborg comes back from the future to kill the mother of the leader of the human resistance. A soldier is also sent back to save her. With Terminator, my beef is a basic premise of the movie. Early on, the man that travels back in time, Kyle Reece (played by Michael Biehn), tells the heroine, Sarah Connor (played by Linda Hamilton and her 80’s hair), that when travelling back in time, nothing that is not “natural” can go with the traveller. That is why they arrive in 1984 completely naked and with no weapons. Sure, I’ll go along with that. But how then does the cyborg, which has a fully metal skeleton and computer for a brain underneath the human skin, actually travel back in time. Shouldn’t the human skin be the only piece that makes it? Granted, it would have been a really short movie if the main villain arrives in 1984 and flops to the ground as empty skin.

Those are my top five movies with questionable plot devices. I’m sure there are many more that could be included. The mere existence of five Twilight movies boggles the mind, for example. Movies allow us to escape into a different world for a while. They let us step out of ourselves and be someone else. But then we come back and realize our cell phone doesn't work in the theater and we can afford just enough gas to get home.

What is your favorite suspension of disbelief faux pas?


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