Entertainment options: what's your absolute dealbreakers

In another thread I’m too lazy to look up just now, we’re discussing whether a morally bankrupt story – movie, book, tv show, what have you – can still be acceptable entertainment. Looking over the responses has moved me to ask a different question.

What one element makes a story (in whatever medium) absolutely unenjoyable for you, no matter how much you might be inclined to like it otherwise? In other words, a movie might star your favorite actors, be directed and written by your favorite filmmaker, and have an absolutely gorgeous score–but if this one element is present, the whole thing is likely to piss you off?

I’ll name a couple to get things started:

  1. Psychics taken seriously in detective work. I should note that this isn’t absolute. If a show with obvious fantasy elemens like Angel, Xena, or Buffy wants to include a character with clairovoyant powers, that’s fine. But shows like Medium and The Ghost Whisperer, set in what supposed to be the real world, with psychics solving crimes? That bugs me to no end.

  2. Laugh tracks. Obviously this only applies to TV sitcoms, and I should add that there are some cancelled shows–hell, as recently as Friends – that I like even though they have a laugh track. But the laugh track starts me off on the wrong foot. I don’t need to be told when to laugh, thank you, and telling me something is funny doesn’t make it so.

Anybody else?

The presence of Tom Cruise.

Ditto. Can’t do it anymore.
Other than that, I can’t think of anything that’s strictly off-limits. Horror movies can be too much for me, so I tend to skip those.

The words ‘Based on a True Story’ usually cause me to bail (think Pearl Harbor, Titanic, The Perfect Storm, et al) I just can’t get into a movie when I already know what’s going to happen. I have all the reality I can handle. Give me some brain-eating zombies from another dimension!

I agree with completely with laughtracks. I just got done rewatching my Arrested Development DVDs with my sister and decided to start going through my Newsradio sets. Holy Zombie-Jesus is the laugh track bad on Newsradio. It got to the point where I could only watch one episode at a time because I’d get so aggravated at the volume of the laughter that it was ruining the show. It is hard enough to get me to laugh at a sitcom but when I am being told to laugh at certain jokes and find them funnier than I am, I am annoyed and some what insulted.

I’ll go ahead and add “From the producer/director/stuido/janitor that brought you American Pie” and the presence of any friends alumni that isn’t Lisa Kudrow.

Rewriting history. Braveheart takes liberties; U-571 just takes the piss.

U-571 wasn’t a history film. It was a World War II film, like hundreds of others that set fictional events against the war as a background.

For me:

  1. Jason Alexander
  2. Remakes of classic films.
  3. Gross-out comedy.

Hmmm, I must be easy (hey, no comments!)because the only thing I agree with so far is gross out comedies. And here I thought I had such discerning taste :slight_smile:

Funny, but lately Tom Cruise’s performance seems to have improved a bit. Too bad he’s such a tool.

I’m immediately turned off by movies based on 70s TV shows. No good can come of it.

Any action or war movie with a stupid romance dragged in. “Star-crossed lovers set in the war-torn” NO. “In the middle of WWII, two lovers” NO. “While he was off fighting, she was waiting for her love” FUCK NO.

I am beyond anti-romance. Romance has its place and I do like it sometimes but I really hate it when it detracts from the plot and we all have to stop and wait while they romance each other. :rolleyes: If they would just fuck and get on it with it’d be one thing but it always has to change the plot, like suddenly they’re fighting instead of working together because they’re both in love with the same woman.

:takes a deep breath: Yeah, it really annoys me. Sorry.

I can’t deal with scenes in which people are embarassed while sincerely trying to do something. That’s sort of vague, but there are many examples. The canonical one for me - the one where I first noticed how horrifying I found it - was in Cheers when Diane went and auditioned for a dance company. I found it extremely uncomfortable. Other examples can include people who make heartfelt declarations of love or whatever, and then get mocked for them.

YES! This irks me even more when it’s a movie that’s based on a book, and there’s no overt romance in the book.

Super smart and/or smarmy kids in a world of dumb adults. I didn’t like this when I was the target audience, and hate it even more now. I didn’t find Ferris Buehler that funny (it did have a couple of laughs), and that was the best of the lot.

I also cringe from that dreaded phrase, but for a different reason - if a studio is going to base something on a true story, then give us the true story. If the “true story” is too boring to make a compelling plot, then don’t make the damn movie.

If you change the events or the characters, it is called “fiction”. You can certainly be inspired by an actual event; I’d say almost all fiction is. But don’t be trying to reel suckers in with untrue claims, even wishy washy claims, to nonfiction status.


The recovery of the Enigma machine was anything but fictional. It was recovered by the Poles and British, and the Americans had very little to do with it. Quite contrary to the film, of course.

Ferris Buehler worked because it deliberately ranged into fantasy; the breaking of the fourth wall helped greatly in that regard.


Any number beyond 2 in the title. By extension, any movie past the second one in a series. Dishonorable mention: Any series that renumbers the original so they can do prequels.

Gratuitous break-ups. Nuanced stories of complex relationships–that’s fine. But don’t spend a couple years or a movie getting a couple together only to have them break up the next season/in the sequel unless you can come up with a credible, consistient reason why it happened beyond “this is the only plot we know how to write”.

Mine is related to this, but more when kids have moral authority over adults. Against my better judgment I watched the recent Cheaper by the Dozen remake in which Steve Martin wants to move his family to another city to take a better job. His whiny children don’t want to move so they hatch various allegedly amusing schemes to try to prevent it. Whatever.

I was horrified, though, when the movie demonized the parents and took the side of the kids. “The kids don’t want to move, so they shouldn’t have to. How dare their parents try to force them!” Steve Martin had to repent and apologize for his affront to the kids’ authority over the household!

I’d except Star Trek III & IV from this rule.