Will Smith, Jaden Smith, ...
Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

I went to Sunday’s 2008 MTV Movie Awards expecting the unexpected. After all, this is the show that prides itself on not being like those other “boring” award shows. This is the show that honors “movies” instead of “films.” This is the show where, last year, Sacha Baron Cohen got away with kissing Will Ferrell, and Sarah Silverman got away with taunting jail-bound Paris Hilton.

And, yes, this year’s show had its share of surprises, but the whole production felt a bit off. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that just down the hill from the Gibson Amphitheatre, firefighters were still struggling to contain the morning fire at Universal Studios Hollywood. Iconic backlot sets that had been used for everything from To Kill a Mockingbird and Inherit the Wind to Back to the Future and Bruce Almighty were destroyed. Thousands of the studio’s film reels were damaged. The 30-foot animatronic robot of King Kong himself perished under the flames.

A slice of film history was dying, but the MTV Movie Awards marched on. And how many times did the show mention the fire that was blazing just a couple of hundred yards away? Zippo.

Oh well. I guess it’s the role of award shows to make you forget about the real world, and this show sure did try to do that. Here are some of the highlights of what I saw from inside the theater:

addCredit(“Will and Jaden Smith: Kevin Winter/Getty Images”)

  • By far, the most spontaneous and hilarious moment of the show wasthe result of one clever audience member. Steve Carell, Dwayne Johnson,and Anne Hathaway were presenting the award for Best ComedicPerformance. Carell kept on leaning into the microphone to speak, andJohnson kept on telling him that he didn’t need to do that. Carellquipped, “I think I can handle this, Dwayne,” and, without missing abeat, a guy from the loge level yelled, “That’s what she said!” Theaudience erupted into laughter and applause, and Carell and Johnsonnervously smiled while knowing that they just got owned.
  • It was interesting to see which celebrities received the loudestcheering. You could almost predict the winner of each award simply bylistening to the decibel level of the audience. Johnny Depp, naturally,came in first place (which explains why he was the only person to wintwo awards — best villain and best comedic performance). Chris Brownmust be on his way to becoming a superstar because he also received anear-piercing greeting from the audience. Tom Cruise got a rather mildreception — most of the audience members stayed in their seats when theactor came out to present the Generation Award to Adam Sandler. And thewoman whom everyone here seemed to love: Ellen Page.
  • I’ve always shrugged off Coldplay, but their new album’s title track, “Viva la Vida,”is quite a lovely song. It was therefore disappointing that MTV decidedto attack the band three times with butterfly-shaped confetti duringtheir performance. The confetti machines were so obnoxiously loud thatthey drowned out Chris Martin’s voice. I later watched the show on TVand noticed that there were no audio problems. Just goes to show youthat these award shows are tailored for TV viewers and not thein-person audience.
  • If you want proof that mostly young women vote for these awards, consider that the winner for the Best Fight Award, Never Back Down, was the only nominee in which the actors were shirtless.
  • If you want proof that Edward Norton still isn’t excited about promoting The Incredible Hulk, consider how utterly bored he looked while introducing Coldplay.
  • And if you want to see how a true movie star acts, just watch WillSmith (pictured, with son Jaden), who seemed (or pretended to be) genuinely moved when he won forBest Male Performance for I Am Legend. “I haven’t always made great movies,” Smith said. “But I’ve tried real hard.” Nobody works harder.
  • Where did the movie parodies go? Instead, we got interview sketches with host Mike Myers as an eccentric, poop-eating animal trainer and a heavily accented food service woman. The skits were serviceable, but I’d rather have those infamous movie parodies any day.

So, PopWatchers, was the show a hit or miss for you? Did you think Myers was a funny host? And will you see The Love Guru, which Myers made sure to plug on three separate occasions?