It’s happened to all of us: You’re happily coasting along watching a movie you’re thoroughly enjoying, when up pops a glaring error that zaps you out of the movie and has you fuming to your friends as you exit the theater. At which point, you realize you were the only person to notice this so-called “error,” and all your friends think you’re a crank who totally missed the point of the movie and wish you would just shut up about it already.
The difference between you and Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson is that the famed astrophysicist and director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York was actually able to do something about it. Upon seeing Titanic in the theater, Dr. Tyson became incensed after Kate Winslet, delirious and nearly frozen in the black Atlantic Ocean, looked up at the night sky and saw the wrong set of stars for that specific time and place. Apparently, astrophysicists can tell you exactly what the night sky looked like in the North Atlantic in the wee hours of April 15, 1912, and that’s exactly what Dr. Tyson did. He sent a letter to James Cameron. Five years later, he cornered Cameron at an event and lodged his complaint once more. A few years after that, he brought it up again at an intimate dinner party with Cameron. And now, this Wednesday, Titanic will be hitting theaters in 3-D, with no other alterations to the film except that now, Rose Dawson will be looking up at the same stars those doomed Titanic passengers saw that fateful night. (You can watch Tyson recount his entire story here.)
This is such a specific complaint, it got me thinking: What nagging movie goofs only seem to bother me? My brain screams back at me: Fonts. When someone picks up a newspaper that uses, say, Palatino as the body copy font, or opens up a magazine in which all the headlines are in 60-point Arial, I am torn between wanting to claw my eyes out and feeling bad for the people in the movie, living in a world where everything was apparently designed by a 10th grader on an Apple Mac Performa. But when I start talking about this grievance with my friends and family, all I get back is an apathetic symphony of eye rolls and blank stares.
This cuts both ways, of course. Here are a couple other examples of things that apparently needle my colleagues to no end but do not bother me a whit:
Anthony Breznican: “In Beauty and the Beast, the prince has been a beast for 10 years and will become one permanently when he turns 21. That means he was 11 when the witch first cursed him for not giving her shelter (cold stuff, witch), but of course the intro, and the portrait he rips, show a grown man.”
Laura Hertzfeld: “The one I think of is Mr. and Mrs. Smith. They are in New York, but a street sign on the highway says Los Angeles. It goes by quickly, but for some reason, it is BURNED in my memory. City stuff like that always irks me — license plates from the wrong state, etc. We know you filmed somewhere with good tax breaks, but come on.”
Mandi Bierly: “I’ve never heard anyone else complain about it, but I hate it when a woman goes on a date in a movie, and you see her with a purse, and then she gets up to dance, and the purse is nowhere. She didn’t just leave it at the table. No one is that trusting today. I actually noticed in Midnight in Paris that when Adriana (Marion Cotillard) and Gil (Owen Wilson) are dancing at La Belle Époque Maxim’s, she is carrying her purse. Granted, it’s so tiny it can’t be much of a burden, but it still made me happy. That’s how sensitive I am to it.”
Your turn! Tell me, PopWatchers, what’s the one thing about movies (or a particular movie) that apparently only gnaws at you while the rest of the world ignores this most grievous of oversights?