Between the rape of H.G. Wells’ works in “War of the Worlds” and the rape of my childhood by the “Dukes of Hazzard” seems like the only foolproof strategy hollywood has against piracy is to make films that no one would ever pirate. Sara and I showed up late to “The 40 Year Old Virgin” while the theatre was still vomiting giant sized adverts that no one wanted to see on television. The previews weren’t much better. It’s probably a bad idea to advertise two police buddy comedies back to back, even if one of them does involve Joe Flaherty.
Even after all these efforts taken to keep me from enjoying the film, I was pleased to find “The 40 Year Old Virgin”. Sure, it was a gross out comedy, but it really contemplated the concept of sex in our society. It’s the same premise of American Pie and its scores of predecessors, but this time our undersexed hero has the wisdom to ask why? Why is sex seen as something dirty, but when you abstain you’re seen as a serial killer? More importantly, how can you be “bad” at something that’s a bodily function? The movie doesn’t quite answer these questions, but the fact they’re asked is a turn for the better.
I got to thinking about this after seeing Hamlet at Bard on the Beach last week. (It’s in the last 4 weeks of the run, by the way. Cut work, cut school, cut everything. See this play!) How many plays of ritualistic regicide did Shakespeare have to sit through before coming up with his magnum opus? There are probably at least handful of bastardized versions of the Hamlet story lost to antiquity. I mean, what peasant wouldn’t want to see his local landed gentry get cakked? In the other versions, the Prince probably killed the evil king, married the princess, and everybody’s happy. Then along came Shakespeare who said, “Hey! The Prince can’t just kill somebody because his undead father tells him to! ” or “Hey! the Prince ain’t going to cuddle Ophelia when his Mom married his Dad’s killer!” You could consider Hamlet to be Shakespeare’s “What is up wit Dat?!” to the world
The crux of drama is the Question. You can create a story that’s full of emotional validation and dick jokes, but when you ask a few choice questions you give the audience something that they didn’t come in with. The Question creates and destroys ideas. It is the gift that keeps on giving. If you want the secret to movies worth pirating, the answer lies in the Question.