Some Hollywood films can cause difficulties for the impressionable. We all like movies that are inspirational, exciting, funny or even sad as long as they end happily, but for normal people the effects don’t last much beyond the exit lobby. Unfortunately, a lot of us are not completely normal.
I noticed a long time ago while leaving a John Wayne movie I tilted to the right a little as I walked out and I spoke haltingly for a day or two and in a deeper voice.
“Good Will Hunting” reminded me I was once a math-challenged engineer. It got me to bone up on long division and fractions, but before I got to improve my algebra I went to see “The Karate Kid” and went off on another tack and seriously bruised my right hand trying to chop through a one-inch board. It would have been worse if I hadn’t started with balsa wood.
I had to laugh at the panic created by the movie “Jaws”. I thought it was a silly overreaction. I’m not that impressionable. I didn’t cut back on my frequent trips to the Jersey Shore and just took the simple precaution of avoiding the beach and staying on the boardwalk. There have been no verified shark attacks on boardwalks. I checked on that.
Disease movies were once the rage. Most people treated them as interesting science fiction about whole populations in danger of fatal infection. It was different with me. A few minutes into the film I would begin to experience the symptoms the actors were displaying. It didn’t matter if it was a made-up disease created by a screenwriter. There was the Dustin Hoffman movie “Outbreak” about a fictitious airborne virus with a 100 percent fatality rate. As I sat nervously chewing my Milk Duds I could feel my temperature rising and my inner organs beginning to liquefy . I was losing patience as “Doctor” Dustin was losing patients. (“Cure them for crying out loud. I”m feeling lousy!”) I went home, took an aspirin and two Tums and was completely saved . I never watch that movie on TV, afraid I might have a relapse.
The movie that had the most effect on me was “Field of Dreams”. I swallowed it whole, especially the mysterious message, “If you build it, they will come.” I didn’t have room for a baseball field in my backyard so I built a bocce court just to see what would happen. Sure enough, in a few days, eight old Italian men showed up and began to play bocce ball from dawn to dusk. I didn’t know if they were phantoms of legendary bocce ball players from the past or not. (What do I know about legendary bocce ball players? ) Eventually my neighbors complained about the loud arguments in Italian and I had to call the police. The phantoms (or whoever) were cited for disturbing the peace and I took down the court. There were several empty Chianti bottles out there. Do phantoms drink wine?