The Power of Film in a Troubled Era

The power of film and fiction is one of the greatest escapes in a world of fact, in spite of what might feel like a constant barrage of negativity. We leave our familiar existence for a brief respite, an intimate look deep into the journey of someone who isn’t as familiar to us as our own self. The lights dim, the film rolls and the gateway opens up our known world into an unknown world. Whatever you want to call it — escapism, vicariousness, suspension of disbelief — film’s impact and reach can carry a large part of society when times grow troubled.


Wait, wait, wait…sorry. I just totally rolled into that damn Nicole Kidman pre-screening AMC ad that only fellow Stubs A-List members truly know. My bad. Next thing you know, I’ll be citing old paper bag Fandango ads. Well, speaking of those classic ads, why not take a journey back for a second before we move on:

Okay, back to the power of film. It doesn’t have to wax poetic to have impact. In fact, we need just as many brainless projects as we need art. Sure, quality art film matters but so do movies. The best part of “Top Gun: Maverick” this summer was that it had universal appeal. Wasn’t preachy. Just gave us a pretty plain hero’s journey plot, using an aging protagonist looking for relevance one last time as its trope, added a mentor aspect, upped the music and visuals with incredible dogfight sequences and never tried to tell us how to live our lives.

It was refreshing for everyone…except enemy bogeys.

That’s what makes it great. Effective. Powerful. The diversity of product has always been a tie that binds us, no matter our walks of life. Feels like, maybe the last half decade or so, that there has been an overabundance of didacticism in film and I can’t help but think it’s played a small factor in our society’s growing divide. We haven’t gotten to be dumb together. It’s been hyper-focused on political statement and social justice (of which I’m 100% here for), without enough moments of letting our guard down to escape the constant barrage. Everyone needs to take some time to laugh, to turn off that intellectual part of the brain and just “be.” It’s unhealthy to be “on” 24/7.

It’s about time studios start churning out more of these types of films, just for balance. We have a long way to go as a society and justice truly must be for all, but we have to exhale sometimes. Give us some “American Pies,” “Mean Girls,” some “Naked Guns,” and some “Iron Eagles.” Give us more “Old Schools,” “Die Hards,” “Oceans 11s,” “Fridays,” “Rumble in the Bronxes,” and anything that’ll take our mind off thinking too deep, too often.

I, personally, need a sequel to “PG: Psycho Goreman.”

In the end, we all need a break, at times. Then, after we’re done laughing at ourselves and staring at incredible action sequences, we can come back to nuance and be challenged by a film whose message speaks on multiple levels to multiple audiences. If you stare too long at something — eventually — it, too, will lose its meaning.

Here’s hoping studios return to the big, “message-light” entertainment we’ve all enjoyed throughout our lives. If not to make a killing at the box office, at least it’ll give society a brief respite in a downtrodden world at odds most of the time. Now, more than ever, we need the full power of film.

While you’re here, check out the trailer to the newest Steven Spielberg film coming out this fall. I’m super stoked. Movies truly are dreams you’ll never forget…

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