Jun 23, 2011

Slow Motion: Slow Your Roll

Guest Blogger Jennifer Love Bacon is as mad as hell, 
and she's not going to take it anymore!

I recently saw Happythankyoumoreplease, and it was good – I totally recommend it. I left with a smile, whatever.

However, I have a bone to pick with Happythankyoumoreplease. In the movie, when the protagonist first lays eyes on his soon-to-be love interest, the girl’s motions are suddenly slowed – way down. This isn’t Never Been Kissed! I was under the impression that this movie was set in the real world.

Don’t get me wrong. I love a good hair-blowing-in-the-wind-confused-eye-contact-half-smile slow motion entrance as much as the next person, but only when and where it’s warranted. Slow motion meet-cutes are great for high school flicks and bubble-gum-pop romantic
comedies, but they are out of place in seemingly legit indie films like this one. 

Happythankyoumoreplease has everything you'd expect from an indie: creative types struggling to live in Manhattan, a cabaret singer, and an actor from The Wire. The actors weren’t airbrushed and the apartments were tiny. The film was very much set in the real world. Compare that to Can’t Hardly Wait. In it, Amanda Beckett’s entrance made sense because the whole movie took place in a type of ‘hyper’ reality, where everything was intensified and dramafied (-tized?). There were flashbacks and flash-forwards, hazy dream sequences, and Seth Green. The slow-mo worked in this world. 

In the real world, there is no such thing as slow motion; it would literally defy gravity. Do you want to know when you can defy gravity? You can do it when your movie is set in space, that’s when. Take Space Jam. That movie combines non-reality with space. It’s an airtight example of when slow motion is acceptable. I hate to draw a line, but, unless Lola Bunny is strutting her stuff in slow-mo, I want no part of it! Union!

Working it
It boils down to this – slow motion is too often used as an easy solution to the difficult problem of trying to make your dreamy love interest seem like a dreamy love interest. It’s also a technique that is best when modified and tweaked. In a film like Miss Congeniality, for instance, a simple slow-mo entrance simply doesn’t make sense, because the film is too grounded in reality [Editor’s note: Umm, sure]. Of course, the director knew this. When Gracie Hart walks out of the makeover warehouse doors and reveals her hot new look, her motions are slowed, yet almost immediately Gracie trips, shocking the scene back into normal speed. It shows the audience "Hey! This is the real world!"

And that's why Sandra Bullock won an Oscar.

--Jennifer Love Bacon (JLB) spends her days sun-bathing, her nights moon-bathing and her twilights vampire hunting. Stay tuned for JLB’s take on Slow Motion in action movies, coming never to a blog near you.
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