Art vs. Entertainment: Is the debate finally over?

by Jake Sproul

The debate continues as to whether the intent of a motion picture is to express feeling/state a point or to entertain an audience. One can make arguments for both. However, as the movie industry continues to make more and more movies each year, and make more and more money, the lines between movies to feed the need of the thinker and those to feed the popcorn junkie have blurred. Its about time.

Even movies made for those who like to think have big explosions and action sequences. For example, Minority Report was universally hailed by critics as a wonderful movie; a thinking man’s movie. Yet that film had tons of action and a great, interesting plot line. When we as a movie going public shells out an average of $5.50 for a movie ticket, we expect to be entertained. Yet why should we be dumbed (no pun intended) down in the process? It is a good thing the movie studios are starting to realize this.

Movie studios of course don’t care about what is good for us, they care about what makes money. That is why I am so pleased about the success of some recent smart, yet entertaining movies. Such films as Signs, Minority Report, and Panic Room. Just to name a few. When a style of film succeeds, its expected to expect many more of the small type, because they are considered financially lucrative. And in the case of smart, yet entertaining movies, I couldn’t be happier.

Of course we will always have movies for idiots. As a high school student, I have to listen to these people say how “funny” gross out things are, like Adam Sandler’s Eight Crazy Night. Or how people “can’t wait” to see the latest farce comedy from Rob Schneider. But these movies have become less overwhelming than they have been in the past.

The blockbuster trend toward smarter movies was painfully obvious to anyone wanting to see it, this summer. For example, the smart, deep, yet action packed Signs grossed well over 200 million, while the highly touted, yet horribly dumb xXx only grossed 141 million. While this may seem like a lot, and it is, it isn’t even close to its expected gross.

For all the talk various groups do about the “dumbing of America,” the fact that smart movies are becoming more and more profitable is proving all the negative thinking people wrong . There will always be talky, philosophical movies, and there will always be popcorn movies. But I for one am loving the fact that intellectual is finally beginning to meet popcorn. Its just what we need.

© Jacob Sproul

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