March 28, 2014

WOLFSIE: Picking a movie is art


---- — When my wife and I decide on what film to see in a local theater, it’s a pretty simple process, one developed by Mary Ellen. She picks a movie (that’s movie A) and then I suggest a movie (that’s movie B). Then my wife says: “Why would we spend 15 dollars to see a B movie when we can see an A movie?” This is why I have never seen Jennifer Lopez on the big screen. There has to be a better system.

I began investigating some online movie services and decided to subscribe to Netflix, but I had to justify the new expense to Mary Ellen. Here’s pretty much how the conversation went:

Dick: Mary Ellen, I think it’s time we sign up for Netflix.

Mary Ellen: Why?

Dick: Because they stream movies.

Mary Ellen: What does that mean?

Dick: I have no idea. But it’s only 8 bucks a month.

Mary Ellen: How do we get our movies now — the ones we watch on cable?

Dick: We download them.

Mary Ellen: I thought we uploaded them. What’s the difference?

Dick: Not a clue.

In order to enjoy Netflix, we were advised to ditch our old DVD machine and buy a Blu-ray player. Then we hired someone to hook everything up and that night Mary Ellen and I sat in front of the TV for about four hours — not watching a movie, but trying to figure out which of three remotes to use. We did a lot of scrolling, pressing and pointing the remote at the TV. Nothing happened.

We called the young man who had connected everything. “Spencer, it’s Dick Wolfsie. We have been looking at a blank TV screen all night.”

“That’s weird. Why not watch a movie?”

“There’s a problem. We can’t get it to work.”

Spencer mumbled something about the Blu-ray’s ON button. Pushing it made a big difference and I’m going to remember that advice if we purchase any other new technology.

OK, now it should have been easy to find something we could both enjoy. After all, there were over 3,000 choices. This would be a piece of cake. Sadly, we can never pick out a type of cake we both like, either.

There were dozens of different categories like crime, mystery, fantasy, adventure, romance, and Westerns, to name a few. We didn’t know where to begin. The only thing we really agreed on was that we didn’t much like Nicolas Cage, which narrowed down the options considerably. Then we both made a list of the other elements in a movie that allowed each of us a veto.

Mary Ellen: No blood, no hour-long car chase scenes, no gratuitous sex, no juvenile bathroom humor.

Dick: No subtitles, no flashbacks, no Victorian mansions, no sappy love stories, no prequels, no sequels. (Ungratuitous sex was okay.)

We also axed all movies with less than a two-star rating by Netflix viewers and canned the few hundred films we had already seen. This narrowed our choice down to a couple dozen, but it turned out they were all animated features, which really does pretty much eliminate sex, blood and flashbacks. There was a castle in “Beauty and the Beast,” but I was willing to let that slide. We settled on the DreamWorks mega-hit “Crood.” We made popcorn and cuddled up.

Yes, it started out to be the perfect evening. Except for one thing. Who was doing the voice of the caveman Cug, one of the main characters? Yeah, you guessed it: Nicolas Cage.

Dick Wolfsie is a television news reporter, syndicated humor columnist and author. He can be reached at