Why you should care
Because making a great movie ain’t easy — so let’s give credit for at least making one great scene.
Wife: “This isn’t very good. Let’s watch something else.”
Me: “We’re already 45 minutes in. And if we stop now, we might miss … (pauses for dramatic effect) the scene.”
What’s “the scene”? The scene is that magical segment found in 2.5-star movies that makes — or almost makes — sitting through the entire film worthwhile. Not every forgettable film has one. I’ve watched many a meh movie over the years, but only a few have moments that fly so far above the rest of the film.
The scene can be anything. An action sequence. A piece of dialogue. A tracking shot. It’s something that when you watch it, you get a feeling of what the director was going for. It’s an exciting bit of creativity, something daring and original that (unfortunately) stands in stark contrast to the rest of the film.
OK, so what’s an example of a magical scene in an otherwise forgettable film?
The film is a sports movie, but of course nobody wants to watch a sports movie that’s only about sports. To balance things out, there’s a romance between Falco and a cheerleader/bar owner named Annabelle, played by Brooke Langton.
Two words: The Replacements. Wait, where are you going? I’m not crazy. The decidedly average (but by no means terrible) sports comedy starred a post-Matrix, pre-Lake House Keanu Reeves as washed up quarterback Shane Falco, who is recruited by old-school football coach Jimmy McGinty (Gene Hackman) to play for the fictional Washington Sentinels, who have lost their entire team to a players’ strike.
Which brings us to the incredibly effective scene. We’re at a bar. Falco and Annabelle. They’ve been hate-flirting the entire movie. He wants to kiss her. She wants him to. Falco approaches as “Every Breath You Take” by The Police plays. So far, nothing unusual. Just your standard love scene about to take place. But then something magical happens, involving … John Madden?
Yeah, the voices of John Madden (probably not somebody you associate with romance) and the late great Pat Summerall begin to narrate the scene as if they are commenting on a football game. It’s genius, and illustrates how sports and love are (at least in the movies) not so different.
Pat: “What do you do here, John?”
John: “You go for it, Pat. You have to.”
Pat: “But Falco’s been shut down by this defense all afternoon.”
John: “Well, I tell you this. All it takes is one big play to get him back in the ball game.”
Falco goes in for the kiss.
Pat: “And here goes Falco.”
John: “Falco scores! Falco scores!”
I couldn’t tell you what happened in the rest of the movie. Did Keanu’s team win the championship? Probably. Did Gene Hackman give a motivational speech during halftime of the big game? I’m guessing so. But I don’t remember and don’t really care. This one scene eclipsed the entire movie. That’s a compliment. Isn’t it?