I was tossing some old papers when I found a review by my favorite SF Chronicle film reviewer, Mick LaSalle, and was reminded of one of the most basic rules of filmmaking: It has to be an entertaining film.
In his article Few Saw This Film, But Now You Can, Mick LaSalle talks about a powerful film from 2007 that had just come out on DVD. The name of the film is Grace Is Gone and you’ve probably never heard of it. The film tells the story of a husband and father dealing with the tragedy of his wife, a soldier in Iraq, being killed. John Cusack plays the father in a performance that had early critics talking Oscar.
The film bombed at theaters. It wasn’t an entertaining film. Despite the excellent performances by Cusack and the child actors, and generally good reviews, the theme of the movie was just too downbeat. When movie goers read what the movie was about they stayed away in droves. They didn’t think it sounded like an entertaining film. The movie was quickly pulled from theaters and is only now coming out on DVD.
Will Your Next Film Be An Entertaining Film?
There’s a large audience for “weepies”, sad movies that make you cry, but movie audiences are looking for escape from their daily lives, not to have it rubbed in their faces. A quick check of IMDB uncovered that the best Vietnam war movies were all released after the war had become history. The war ended in 1975. Here is a list of some of the best films about the war.
- The Deer Hunter (1978)
- Platoon (1986)
- Full Metal Jacket (1987)
- We Were Soldiers (2002)
Filmmakers and screenplay writers, give your audience a break. If you’re thinking of creating a highly topical film realize that it still must be an entertaining film. Even a “weepie” has to have uplifting elements and take your audience away from the frustrations of their daily lives.
What do you think makes for an entertaining film?
Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below. Not everyone finds the same elements make for an entertaining film.
- Ask Mick LaSalle (sfgate.com)