You have to be careful with friends. There are friends that help you move, there are friends that help you move on, and there are friends that recommend movies to you. There are movies you recommend to everyone, there are movies you recommend to people you don’t like, and there are movies that you never admit to having watched, even under extreme torture, like being forced to watch that very movie a second time. In our wondrous new age of being in constant electronic contact with all of our friends all of the time, you must be even more suspect of other people’s tastes. This suspicion could rightly be spread to all categories of everything except spouses, because she isn’t getting a divorce just because you don’t like him and never admitted your love for her, move on.
A few months ago, I saw that a friend I usually trust on such matters had seen and enjoyed Dylan Dog: Dead of Night. I had read his words on this movie because he had not written any at the time, he had merely clicked a button on a famous social media site and that button-clicking had been delivered to me through some strange algorithmic alchemy. I remember my exact thought process upon receiving this information. “Huh, Randall liked Dylan Dog: Dead of Night. He is generally circumspect in matters of such import, and wouldn’t like a movie without good reason. Furthermore, he is not such a huge fan of utter shit as I, and would not like something simply because it was godawful atrocious as I would. That movie must be better than it looked in its half-hearted media campaign.”
The next evening when the Lovely Lady and I went to the local video rental establishment in the parking lot of a drugstore, I voiced my interest in Dylan Dog while we scrolled through the available selections. My Lovely Lady agreed that Randall could be trusted with movie recommendations, and we rented the movie. I will be concise in my review: Randall is on a one year Movie-Recommendation ban. There are no redeeming facets to this movie. If it had been made in the 80s, it might have a reason for the crappiness of the effects. If it were written by an Tourettes Syndrome afflicted autistic child, then it might have a reason for the poorly written dialogue and lame plot. If I had recently been the unfortunate victim of a terrible accident while putting on my glasses and the junction between the halves of my brain had been severed, I might have been able to forgive my friend for liking this movie. Dylan Dog: Dead of Night sucked. I don’t need to delve into all the great, and mediocre, successes that exist in the niche of Supernatural Private Detective subgenre. Anyone who is inclined to read this site can, or should be able, to name five examples off the top of their clawed appendages.
The mere fact that Dylan Dog is a terrible movie is not why Randall received the year long ban. It was the fact that he recommended it without comment. I enjoy and own a number of movies that I will only permit certain people to watch, and only under special circumstances. In ascending order of restriction three of these movies are: Evil Dead (I will never recommend these movies to my parents), C.H.U.D. (I will never recommend this movie to my brother), and, the crown jewel in the Throne of Ultimate Suck, Demon Wind (I will only recommend this movie to the most astute viewer who proves to me their enjoyment of the worst movies of all time). Recommending movies is very much like finding presents for people. There are guaranteed presents like Bond movies, or Spies Like Us, but those are easy movies to recommend. Finding something that the recommendee will enjoy and always remember that you suggested requires a level of empathy and movie knowledge that goes beyond the box office.
I failed pretty spectacularly in giving my brother a copy of Dead Alive one year for Christmas. He tried to watch it once, about a year after I gave it to him, and he hated it. He hated it so much that he kept a smoldering coal of a grudge for several years. I had described a scene or two, and he had reacted favorably. I had made a classic mistake. While Dead Alive has its place on many a shelf, the film does not belong on a shelf that almost exclusively holds Arnold Schwarzenegger movies. I was trying to force a movie on a person who would never enjoy it. I had forgotten, or perhaps ignored, in my zeal for this movie, that other people have tastes, justified or not, that do not always jive with mine. Opinions, assholes, etc.
Our glorious new electronic existence has brought us closer to our friends in some respects, while also showing us just how wide the perceived gulf in opinion can be. There is little context allowed on many social websites, or if there is, it can often be a hassle to include. There are many reasons Randall may have selected the Like button. Perhaps he has some app that allows him to build an online library of his owned movies in reality. Perhaps he was pranking someone into watching that abysmal movie. Perhaps he suffered a massive brain injury and genuinely liked that stinking turd. I shall be more cautious in the future. Considering the source of all recommendations as I already do, I will also be considering the context in which a film is recommended. A simple one-click recommendation will not be enough without some corroborating words from the proponent.