What Not to Watch In Flight

I’ve just got back from my long-anticipated biking trip to Canada.

I had an amazing time. But I’m still sifting through memories, notes and photos before I can write anything about it that makes sense.

While I’m composing my excitable thoughts, I will just take a moment to pass on my views on a trivial yet hard-to-avoid part of many holiday experiences. One of the first, and last, ingredients in the holiday – The dire mix of films shown during flights.

On my way to and from Vancouver from Heathrow, I had the dubious pleasure of witnessing five films, varying in quality from average to unbelievably bad. Here are my tips:

Shooter – A classic example of the ‘So bad it’s good’ phenomenon. Action thriller with Mark Wahlberg and Danny Glover. Glover is a crooked FBI chief and Wahlberg is a retired military sniper, wronged by the army and living in peaceful retirement. You can probably guess the rest. In fact, to revel in the predictability of the cheesy nonsense, draw up a game of ‘Thriller Bingo”. Place bets with a friend on the likelihood of phrases and situations that are bound to crop up. The smart money is placed on the prediction of phrases like “You’re on your own now, son“, “This goes all the way to the top” and “They say you’re the best. Are you as good as they say?“. And, without wanting to spoil any surprises, who thinks the dog is going to end up with a bullet in the head?

Frequency – Dennis Quaid is a sixties fireman in an intriguing time-travel-related drama. I couldn’t believe that this film is seven years old, so easily did it slip past my awareness thusfar. It begins slowly, then gathers pace and becomes fairly sophisticated, before descending into one of the most ludicrous endings a film has ever had. Enough to really spoil an otherwise passable movie. Try and watch the ending without collapsing into fits of laughter.

Music and Lyrics – It’s a Hugh Grant rom-com, so we all know how the story goes. Foppish Grant repeatedly makes fool of himself with eccentric feisty female – Drew Barrymore this time. Hugely predictable yet, to be fair, enjoyable.

Wild Hogs – Awful. Awful awful awful awful awful. There is a huge gulf between the ideas of ‘So bad, it’s good’ and ‘So bad that everyone involved should be ashamed’. The main offenders in this terrible film are Martin Lawrence, William H. Macy, John Travolta and Tim Allen. Four middle-aged men embark on a motorcycle road-trip in an attempt to reclaim their youth. If that sounds bad, I can assure you this is much much worse than you can imagine. Jokes revolve around comedy crashes, gay policemen, plastic bags of excrement and hen-pecked husbands. Lawrence has a history of terrible films – this is home turf for him. Allen and Travolta should be embarrassed by their involvement, but the real shame rests on the shoulders of William H. Macy. An actor who has been part of great films like Fargo and Boogie Nights should have run a mile from this stinker.

The Time Traveller – To be honest, I fell asleep before half an hour of this film had passed, but I hope it improved after I started snoring and dribbling into my in-flight meal. Guy Pierce was introduced as an eccentric professor with odd social habits and a penchant for time travel calculations. Listening to his English accent is nearly as odd as listening to Mark Addy’s American accent. I quickly grew weary of this contrived set-up and abandoned myself to sleep. By the look of the Wikipedia plot summary, I made the correct choice.

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