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By Doug Brunell | September 24, 2006

You’ve all had this experience.
“I just saw this movie I know you’d love,” she says.
“What is it?” you ask.
“It’s this romantic comedy about a guy and a girl.”
“I don’t like romantic comedies.”
“Oh, you’d like this one. The guy is [fill in the blank with whatever would somehow connect you to him; in my case the character is usually a writer or hates society]. He’s just like you.”
“I really don’t like those films. They follow the same formulas all the time and are way too predictable.”
“But you’d like this. He’s a [same thing as before], and he says funny things. He’s just like you.”
Why is it that people who know nothing about your taste in movies (or maybe they do, but ignore it) believe they know what kind of films you’ll “love”? And why is that after you tell them you hate whatever genre it is they are trying to sell you on, they insist you’ll “love” it anyway? They are pushing idiotic movies on you, and they get offended if you don’t buy.
I recently had this situation happen to me. The person thought I’d love some movie (I made a point not to remember the title) just because the character in it was a writer who spoke his mind. It was a romantic comedy, a genre I repeatedly told the woman I loathe, but that didn’t matter. She thought I’d love the movie simply because he was a writer who said “things.” (Her words. He said “things.”) She couldn’t even give me an example of some dialogue where he spoke his mind, “but it was really, really funny.”
I asked her to name five films I really enjoyed. Just five. She couldn’t. I asked her to name three. Nope. Two. Still nothing. I gave up. When I told her I wasn’t going to take her recommendation to heart because she obviously had no clue what kind of films I liked, she got offended. “I’m not saying it’s the best film ever, but you’d like it if you gave it a chance.”
These people are like crack dealers. They are trying to sell you a product that will do you harm. They don’t give up easily, either. They hit with the hard sell. Their dope — movies that should have never been made in the first place — is good enough for them, so it should be good enough for you. Heaven forbid you would deny that.
I don’t go out of my way to recommend films to friends and casual acquaintances. Reviewing films for magazines and sites like this one is different, however. I’m in the role of a critic. When dealing with people on a one-on-one level, however, I’m cautious with what I say. I know most people don’t like the same films I do, and when I am talking to a fellow film fan, I tend to know the kind of films they like and can give them recommendations based on that … if they ask. The strange thing is, I still get s**t when I don’t recommend movies.
A few weeks ago I mentioned that I bought “Hostel.” A woman I was not directly talking to at the time, edged her way into my conversation and asked about the film. I said, “I hated it right after seeing it. But it grew on me. It’s not a movie I’d recommend to everyone, though. It’s a bit rough if you aren’t used to that kind of thing.” That’s a pretty safe way of saying, “If you had any desire to see this kind of movie, you would know about it already. Stay away.”
This woman rented the film and a week later gave me all kinds of grief over it. “I can’t believe you would recommend that,” she scolded me. “It was disgusting, and it sucked.”
“I didn’t recommend it,” I reminded her. “I did the exact opposite.”
“You said you liked it.”
“I said it grew on me, which is a fancy way of saying I eventually did like it. I also said it’s not a film I would recommend to everyone. I said it was rough.”
“Well, you said you liked it. It sucked.”
You can’t win for losing sometimes.
When I look at the films I think are great and deserve to be seen by people, the list is pretty short. “I Stand Alone” is one of the films on top of that list, and it represents the kind of films I enjoy. Dark, depressing and hard to watch. Films that move me. It’s a short list, and the list of people I can honestly recommend them to is even shorter. So I keep my mouth shut most of the time (except for places like here and in reviews).
I contrast this list with what people tell me I should watch. I have had the following films recommended to me by people who actually know my taste in movies. “Kangaroo Jack.” “Dude, Where’s My Car?” “Kippendorf’s Tribe.” (I know it’s called “Krippendorf’s Tribe,” but the person got the title wrong. That’s how good it was.) “S.W.A.T.” “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” remake. “I Know What You Did Last Summer.” “Lilo and Stitch.” “Scary Movie 2.” “The Lizzie McGuire Movie.”
Dope pushers, people. That’s what they are. Pushing the dumbest things onto people, trying to get us hooked on the same junk that’s hooked them. They don’t take “no” for an answer. They make weak excuses for the flaws you point out just from seeing the trailers. (“Yeah, but the special effects are really neat.”) They know you hate the stuff, but they can’t help but offer you a hit.
I vow that the next person who does this to me is going to get quite a f*****g shock. I’m going to send them on their way to see “Requiem for a Dream,” selling it as a feel-good movie about a couple of young people trying to get their lives together and overcome their various problems. The music is good. It’s got MTV-style editing, and the actors are all really cute. And when they come to me the week after they rented it, traumatized out of their f*****g minds, I’ll say, “I’m sorry. I really thought you’d like it. I know your favorite movie of all time is Sandra Bullock’s riveting “Miss Congeniality 2,’ but I’d thought you’d really get a kick out of this one. Was it the dildo scene that bothered you, or the vomiting in the potatoes? Do tell, because I’m very f*****g curious.”
I’m pretty sure that will stop their unwarranted recommendations faster than a bullet to the head. And if not, I’ve got about five other movies that will thoroughly mess up their lives, and I won’t be afraid to use them.
Consider yourself warned.

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