Movies and Other Things
Author: Shea Serrano
Movies (And Other Things) is the third book I’ve read by Shea Serrano. I discovered Serrano on my favorite all time website, Grantland (rest in peace) and along with several other columnists from that website have made it a point to follow his writing. (Serrano is probably the most entertaining writer from that group, Steven Hyden is my personal favorite, and Ben Lindbergh and Mark Harris are the most talented writers; there were a ton of other great writers, but following these four have been the most enjoyable.) Movies follows the same format as Basketball (And Other Things), where Serrano asks a question at the start of each chapter, spends about six pages discussing the topic and two fun pieces of full page artwork by Arturo Torres are mixed in.
With the prior to Serrano books, I came in either knowing almost nothing about the topic (The Rap Yearbook) or almost everything about the topic (Basketball (And Other Things)). I enjoyed both of those books, and being a huge movie fan I figured this would be more of the same. While I did also enjoy this book, I’d give the edge to his other books for enjoyment from page one to the ending. Serrano generally sticks to movies made in the 1980’s to the present, but more than that he sticks to the movies he loves which are likely not the same ones the reader enjoys.
In This is Spinal Tap, a wise man says “It’s such a fine line between stupid and… clever.” A full chapter of Michael Myers giving a press conference after a night of killing? Very clever, one of the high points of the book. Another chapter arguing the velociraptors in Jurassic Park were actually misunderstood and trying to protect the kids? Pretty stupid, definitely tedious by the end. Those are two of the extremes in the book, but I found this book to be more of a ping pong experience of quality than Serrano’s other two books.
Serrano’s writing works better for me when he focused on a genre (heist movies, teen movies, etc.) than celebrating one movie or character (Dominic Toretto from The Fast & the Furious or Book Smart). He also does well in rapid fire segments (the Kevin Costner chapter takes a fun turn in this direction). The replacement Academy Awards worked better than the Gangster Movie scene draft. For the movies I haven’t seen, sometimes Serrano’s writing carried me through to keep it interesting (Selena) and other times not as much (Something’s Gotta Give). I think instead of expanding the (And Other Things) universe, it would be better to continue in the Yearbook universe which could focus his writing to more universal things.