Random Pet Peeve: Historical References

This fucking movie, man. I am going to finish watching it. Mainly because it has a lot of naked Jake Gyllenhaal in it, and for that I can put aside my distaste for the script and plot. But I will not finish it until I get something out of my system right this second.

This movie claims to be set in 1996. In actuality, it is set in an alternate dimension’s version of 1996 that did not occur in the one from whence I emerged. As a result, the open mind I use to enter into any cinematic viewing experience was compromised within the first five minutes of the movie. Way to alienate your audience, there, people. Allow me to explain.

Evidently (although I can’t say for certain since I haven’t watched the whole thing yet), the fact that this story occurs in 1996 is important in some way. We know this because it’s the first thing we see in the movie. “1996” at the bottom of the screen, setting the scene, taking you back. But it obviously wasn’t important enough for the creators to make sure their 1996 references were actually accurate. This makes me wonder if the people who made this movie are too young to remember what 1996 was like. And if that is the case, and people that much younger than me are making bad romantic comedies while portraying their own made up version of history and earning a shit ton of money, that makes me want to seriously reexamine my life. Or kill myself. Whichever would take less time.

Some examples.

The opening scene (just after we’ve been informed it’s 1996) features the song, “Two Princes” by the Spin Doctors. This song was a top hit in 1992, and I should know, because I was a HUGE fan. By 1996, no one was still listening to this. Except me.

Jake works in an electronics store. First he is shown trying to sell a boom box to a couple of girls by demonstrating how light it would be on their shoulders. Boom boxes were popular in the 1970’s and 1980’s. No one was carrying boom boxes around on their fucking shoulders after like 1985.

This same electronics store, which is trying to pimp old technology onto teenagers, simultaneously carries products that were not even available on the market in 1996. Like, flat-screen televisions. Which were invented a long time ago but were not available to the public for purchase until 1997, and that was just the first model, offered by one company. It wasn’t until 8-10 years afterward that they became popular, widely available, affordable, and commonly purchased. Yet, in the movie, Jake is trying to sell at least three different brands of flat-screen televisions. While “Two Princes” is playing in the background. Are. You. Kidding. Me.

Also being sold in this store: small cell phones. Being perused by a grandmother. First of all, hardly anyone had cell phones in 1996. People who did have them were pretty “up” on technology, fairly well-off, and they used them respectfully. They didn’t walk around the fucking grocery store blabbing about their weekend indiscretions. They used them when driving long distances, in case of emergency, and sometimes on job sites to look cool. I got my first cell phone in 1996, when I left for college. It was kept in the glove compartment of my car in case I needed to call AAA while traveling back and forth to school. It was about 8 inches long by 4 inches wide. This folded in half. It didn’t really work unless you pulled out the antenna, and it had zero battery life. You pretty much had to keep it plugged in in the car to use it, which would have been pointless in the event of an emergency where my car had no power. It wasn’t until around 2001 that I had a slightly upgraded model (maybe one-third smaller than the first one and a non-flip model) and was using my cell phone like people do now, actually putting friends’ numbers in it, getting calls on it from other people, and talking while driving around.

Today, I can see a grandmother with a cell phone — after all, the Jitterbug is a really good marketing idea. I have been told on more than one occasion that it’s the perfect cell phone for me, actually. When it comes to cellular technology, I am quite like an old person trying to figure out which end to speak into on the new talking contraption. But back then? No. My parents didn’t even have them. My grandmother had yet to own even a cordless land-line house phone at that time.

Anyway, after all this, I’m left with nothing redeeming but Jake Gyllenhaal nakedness. And while that counts for a lot, I’m pretty sure if I had actually paid to see this movie, I would have walked out after I enjoyed hearing “Two Princes” in Dolby Digital surround sound. That newfangled technological breakthrough. Which was only available on LaserDisc until 1997, just in case you were wondering.

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1 Comment

  1. Aaron Lesher said,

    April 6, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    excellent use of the phrase “shit ton”, which I think is generally under-utilized. Also, excellent review of an otherwise terrible movie.


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