October 18, 2006 11:31 AM
I just ran across a post at the blog Mighty Girl complaining about something that I’ve been thinking about for a while in one form or another: the problem of making movies that that are both smart and fun. In the post she wonders whether it is a trend that we are getting more and more movies that are either pure—through and through—depressing, or light to the point of brain dead.
While I don’t see enough movies anymore to know for sure, I think she’s at least right that balanced movies are few and far between. The funny thing is that I think in recent years television, which used to be filled with the polar opposites of dour documentary and brainless fluff, has stepped in to fill some of that void. And no, I don’t mean the increase in entertainment masquerading as news. The hour long drama has really blossomed in the last decade. Sure there’s a lot of crap on TV, but there’s also a lot more good stuff than there used to be, and good in smart ways that where almost unheard of before the mid 90s.
In part this may be in reaction to the blight that is cheep reality TV. If you can be so easily replaced by something that costs a tenth of what you do, I guess you have to work hard to be as good as you can and to capture an audience that is never going to watch whatever cheap replacement they come up with. Movies may be trying to do a similar thing, but I think it’s just much harder to do it in a two hour format. A TV series can conduct its mood up and down over time, but a movie has to do it all in the space of what would be about three—maybe four—episodes if it was serialized. It’s probably easier just to cut out one side or the other.