A Visit From The Ghosts of Movies Past, Present and Future
I was sleeping soundly one evening not long ago, when I was roused from my slumber by the rattling of VHS tape. It was my old friend Drop Dead Fred swathed in unwound copies of Beetlejuice, a reminder for all eternity that he was little more than a less successful movie knockoff. But I loved him best, you see. Fred and I were friends in my youth, we spent hour after hour laughing at his admittedly juvenile jokes. It was this reason that Fred came to warn me that if I did not change my ways, I would suffer a similar fate in the movie afterlife, carrying around my bad movie choices like the iron grip of Dana Carvey’s boney hands wrapped around my ankles.
“You will be visited by the ghosts of movies past, present and future on this night,” Fred said. “Heed their words or face frame after frame of Michael Keaton mocking you for all of time.”
I blinked and Fred was gone. Perhaps Cheetos were not a wise snack choice after dark, I pondered to myself before dosing back off to sleep, content that I was clearly involved in a strange Inception style dream nesting egg that might have Bradley Cooper waiting at the end of it.
No sooner had I nestled into my Ewok bedspread (don’t judge) when the clock struck twelve and a booming laugh awoke me from my slumber. “It can’t be!” I cried, rubbing my eyes and yet there she stood before me, Rachel Leigh Cook.
“Rachel?” I asked tentatively.
“No,” she replied, nonchalantly. “I’m the ghost of bad movie choices past.”
“A Walk to Remember?”
Rachel sighed heavily. “That was Mandy Moore.”
“Oh right,” I said, suddenly abashed by my mistake. “Hang on, how are you a ghost? You’re super alive…”
“I’m Mary Anne Spier– you know, The Babysitter’s Club. That movie you forced your entire family to watch on your tenth birthday, leaving them all to fall into bad movie comas.”
Suddenly, we were in the living room of my childhood days, windows flung open to avoid the sweltering heat of the summer. My mother and brother snoring in unison from their respective corners of the couch. There I was a smallish–okay largish–ten-year-old sobbing as Kristy realized her father was a total jerkface. “I don’t understand,” I said to not-Rachel Leigh Cook. “This movie is an underrated classic. Remember Claudia’s song? I never would have known the brain was the center of the chain without her.”
“It was terrible,” she said flatly.
“Well, maybe classic is too strong a–”
“Terrible. You could have been watching The Wizard of Oz or The Goonies, anything other than this. But this is the movie you chose and what’s worse is you forced it onto others.”
“Well that’s kind of my job now,” I countered. “So, it worked out.”
“Exactly, it’s your job and what did you watch this year?”
“I dunno,” I mumbled.
“You do know, and your next visitor knows as well,” Mary Anne cackled.
“I don’t remember Mary Anne being this intense.”
“I’ve been 13 for over twenty years, that can change a person.”
Before I could comment, she was gone. Poof. Vanished.
“Cheeto dream,” I said with caution before drawing the sheets over my head.
The voice was familiar. Under certain conditions it could even be soothing, but in this instance it was like the screeching of an exuberant alarm clock. I burrowed deeper under the covers, kicking myself for never watching All About Steve. With a mighty yank I was pulled from bed to land in an undignified lump on the floor.
“We gotta get going, lady; mama’s got other bad movie fans to visit and a handsome round man in a cowboy hat to sex up before the night is over. Shake a leg.”
“Identity Thief,” I said solemnly.
Not Melissa McCarthy grinned at me like a maniac, her fist raised for a punch, just for the heck of it.
“I’m up, I’m up…”
“Diana. Duh. Or Dawn, if you were actually PAYING attention.”
“Right…so, you’re here to tell me I shouldn’t have watched Identity Thief this year. I’m in total agreement, so you can go back to preparing for your cowboy. Although, if you would like to send over actual McCarthy that would be cool.”
“Not so fast there, doll; I’m glad you watched my fancy Hollywood yarn. Made a girl feel special. You even laughed a bit–”
“I did not.”
*cue quick flashback of me laughing at embarrassing slapstick*
Dawn squeezed my shoulder, accidentally shaking me in the process. “Me and you are a lot alike. Southern gals who enjoy a good belly rumbler–that’s a chuckle, you dirty minded thing.”
“I mean, it was okay…sort of. Oh Dawn, it was terrible. I love you–I mean Melissa–a lot, but it was sooo bad. Even worse than Due Date. I don’t know why I watched it. I’m weak. My town’s bridge was in it. I like slapstick.”
“Ahhh, save your whining for the next dummy,” she said. “I don’t have time to stand here and be criticized.”
“Cowboy?” I asked.
Dawn only grinned.
I sat alone in the dark trying not to envision the antics Dawn and her cowboy were getting up to, and reflecting on my movie watching past. So I’ve made a few wrong turns, watched a few clunkers. Who hasn’t? Okay, I haven’t seen Gravity or either Hobbit or anything involving a true story in the past year. There’s so little time.
And yet I saw Identity Thief.
The memory still makes me shudder. Is this my life? Are these my choices? Will my gravestone read “Here Lies a Woman With Terrible Taste in Film”? As I pondered my terrible cinematic decisions a warm wind rustled the blinds in my room and there before me stood Bradley Cooper. Finally.
“I was expecting a billowing black cape,” I murmered in awe.
“You’ve seen too many movies,” he said with a wink. “I’m just here to tell you to chill.”
“Which Bradley are you?” I asked examining his immaculate outfit for clues.
“One from the future. One with an Oscar. Life only gets more awesome for me, and hey man, you watched me when no one else did. You saw that train movie. You believed I had talent.”
“I did!” My pride in my choices was suddenly returning.
“Just stop worrying so much. Add more variety to your movie watching life and it will all work out. And eat fewer Cheetos. Not many of their ingrediants are found in nature.”
“So I can change?” I asked Future Bradley.
“Just wait and see.”
With a grin, he was gone. I wandered over to my DVD shelf and examined its contents. The second X-Files movie, the Guy Ritchie Sherlock Holmes films, Scooby Doo, Psycho, Raging Bull, When Harry Met Sally. “Balance, Fred,” I said to my departed childhood friend. “Balance is the key.”
Then I crawled back into my bed to cuddle with my empty Cheetos bag to await daybreak to share the lessons I had learned. And to tell everyone that one day Bradley Cooper will win an Oscar.
(*Disclaimer: None of these celebrities have ever been in my bedroom, minus the Cheetos.)
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