The Nexus of Pop-Culture Fandom

When an Okay Movie Still Kind of Sucks: Get Ready for Anticipointment

Written by: Kristen Lopez, Editor in Chief

Image In the interest of full disclosure, I should begin by admitting that I am a recovering Orlando Bloom nutcase.  By this, I mean that there was a time when I was consumed 24/7 by the greatness that was Will Turner, and it is with this former love that the advent of anticipointment came into being.  You see, Orlando made a little movie back in 2005 called Elizabethtown.  Directed by Almost Famous alum Cameron Crowe, it was set to be a great follow-up to his previous musical tinged opus, or at least I thought it would be.  I watched every ad, online featurette and clip; you name it, and I probably Googled it.  I came to the pre-conceived conclusion that Elizabethtown was going to be the next great American love story, a piece of cinema to be placed up there with West Side Story, though without all the singing.  And then…I saw it.  It’s not that it’s a bad movie per se – I didn’t want to cut my heart out with a spoon or anything – it’s just that it didn’t know what it wanted to be.  Was it a romantic comedy or a drama, it didn’t seem to know.  It also didn’t help matters that the script I had obtained and read ahead of time was for Crowe’s original cut, which would have been far superior to what ended up on the screen.  Looking back, I realized that if I hadn’t hyped up the film in my own mind as much as I had, I might have just went with the flow and moved on.  It still would have been nothing but a fluff film to watch on a lazy Sunday, but I wouldn’t have felt horrible for telling everyone I knew to go with me the day it came out.  As it all turned out, at the end of the day I left EXTREMELY disappointed.

This is how Elizabethtown became my “patient zero” if you will, in a phenomenon I would like to call anticipointment.

If Webster’s dictionary one day put my word in their book, the definition would look at little something like this:

Anticipointment: The feeling you get upon experiencing something that has been heavily hyped by outside sources, thereby convincing you that said thing will be great, only to be disappointed when said thing fails to deliver on all its grandeur.

I think this happens a LOT in movies, given the amount of Hollywood coverage and entertainment “news” we are subjected to on a daily basis. However, there are some rules to remember when you label a whatever you’re watching as anticipointment fodder.  Anything that you know in your heart is truly going to stink (i.e. comedies like Fun with Dick and Jane, horror movies like The Messengers or various comic book adaptations like Elektra), or any sequel (like Big Momma’s House 2) does not count.  An anticipointing film must be original, or as original as a movie can be in Hollywood.  Besides Elizabethtown there are three films that will always be synonymous for me with anticipointment.  These three are the foundation of all my rules for the term.  Use these films as guides to make your own deductions when you think a what you’re sitting through suffers from this tragic syndrome.

The Village-I know I mentioned Elizabethtown as my “patient zero” in describing this word, but when I looked back I realized that The Village suffered from a classic case of anticipointment as well, though perhaps not quite so strongly felt.  In analyzing The Village, I went back and watched the theatrical trailer, and even though I know how disappointing the end product was, I am still fascinated by the movie it promised.  Everything just seemed to flow perfectly, making me wonder with bated breath what Shyamalan was going to do at the end.  When I saw it in theaters, I really tried my hardest to say it was up to par with his previous work, yet as the months wore on I came to the understanding that it really wasn’t what I wanted it to be.  Whether it was the ending that made it so disappointing, or just the overall direction of the story, there was something about The Village that was just…missing.

The Black Dahlia-Yet another movie that got me hooked with the trailer, but it also had something else that made me look forward to it: authenticity.  I’m a true crime buff, and the story of the Black Dahlia was something that I was dying to see discussed on the big screen.  Upon seeing that theatrical trailer, with its grainy black and white picture and that amazing background music from Death in Vegas, I easily saw this being the next L.A. Confidential (one of my favorite movies about old Hollywood).  However, a lot of people shied away from this Brian De Palma picture because of its misleading story.  While it may be titled The Black Dahlia, and while it does feature her story, it is not in fact what this movie is actually about.  Instead, that case is barely even a little slice of a giant convoluted pie. The trailer ended up being one of the most misleading pieces of media I’ve ever seen.  If they had just come out and said “This movie revolves around the Black Dahlia but nobody truly tells her story” then I might have gone in with a better idea of what to expect.

The Invisible-I really hated putting this movie on the list, because I waited years to see it (yes years).  Another confession for the sake of explanation: I tend to binge and purge on celebrities.  If I hook myself on a star (usually male), I have to watch all their films lest I see myself as not a true fan (I know it’s weird; that’s why it was a confession).  A while back, I went through a little phase with one Mr. Justin Chatwin (of War of the Worlds fame) and he (surprise!) is the star of The Invisible.  The first preview for it definitely had one of the better taglines of the year to really whet your appetite, “How do you solve a murder when the victim is you?”  It gave me hope that I wouldn’t regret this latest infatuation. Sadly when I saw the movie it was long, boring and drawn out with very little to bond you to the characters. To make matters worse, Chatwin came off as incredibly wooden and dull.  When I walked out, I realized that I had devoted almost two years to what was probably the least pleasing movie I’d seen in that entire time.  It’s times like this when anticipointment can be the most painful (Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End I’m talking to you).

What have we learned from this?  Some big screen wonders are just going to be disappointing no matter how happy you are to see them.  Anticipointment can strike you at any time, and it might not be the fault of the entertainment itself, but rather your expectataions for what it should be that ruins it.  But being aware of the condition won’t cure it; the best you can do is take it all in stride. We are dealing with Hollywood, after all.