You know the feeling: You're watching one of your favorite movies, and you start fast-forwarding through this one part that you're not as fond of as the rest of the film, and then you keep fast forwarding, and before you know it, you've hit the credits. For some reason, this old favorite of yours has only halfway stood the test of time. Well, you're not alone. Here are some movies which, for one reason or another, people seem to only like one half of.
The first half of the 1994 film Independence Day is not great art, but it's like nothing audiences up to that time had ever seen. In science fiction and horror films, aliens typically travel thousands or even millions of light years to Earth only to land and then immediately go into hiding, either to blend in with the neighbors in a series of wacky hijinks, or else to slowly slaughter beautiful teenagers in some backwater hick town. This was pretty much the first film to ever show what would happen if Earth was greeted one morning by an alien armada bent on total conquest. The results are fascinating and exhilarating as, for the first half of the film, we watch the world's leaders and its ordinary citizens scramble to protect themselves and their families. But more important then that is the fact that the aliens blow our shit up real good. Watching all those world landmarks get obliterated... you'd think it would be scary, but it was actually kind of cool.
But then the second half kicks in. We're taken to Area 51, where we meet some zany scientists and get up close and personal with the aliens for the first time. The aliens are all right, we suppose... sort of like if E.T. was driving around inside a Xenomorph from the Alien films. They definitely lose the mystique of unstoppable badassery at this point, however, and they unfortunately do so for a reason: Because the screenwriters are asking that you at least sort of halfway believe it when the aliens are taken down by the Fresh Prince, Brundlefly, and a MacBook. Not only does the film get silly, schmaltzy and predictable right around this time, but this is where the vast majority of the insults to the audience's intelligence happens. Aliens seizing control of every satellite on Earth? Sure, why not? That same super-advanced computer network getting disabled by a 1994 laptop computer with - MAYBE - a 100 MB hard drive and a Pentium processor? Shit. I've got a hundred times that amount of processing power on my computer right now and it drags like crazy whenever I try to run a Flash game.
Where to Stop the Movie: Right after Will Smith punches an alien unconscious and says "Welcome to Earf."
Quick. How does the film Stripes end? If you said "When Bill Murray whips his squad into shape and they show up the rest of the corps while marching in formation singing 'Doo Wah Diddy,'" you're wrong. The film actually keeps going for a good long while as Murray, Harold Ramis, John Candy, Sean Young and P.J. Soles muck about in Czechoslovakia getting shot at and trying to steal a top-secret RV prototype. While the first half of the movie is an entirely hilarious sequence of events revolving around Murray and Ramis' platoon full of screw-ups attempting to complete basic Army training, the second half of the film gets lost in some pretty badly staged action sequences and cloak-and-dagger hoohah. We watch Bill Murray because he can make an enemy wither with only a cutting remark; we don't need to watch him mow down enemies with an AK-47 in (verbal) silence.
Where to Stop the Movie: Right after the last note of "Doo Wah Diddy."
Adam Sandler's earliest movies are best when they're just goofing off and going from weird dumbass scene to weird dumbass scene. Yet these screenplays always set up some kind of conflict, and that conflict must be resolved. None of the Sandler films suffer worse from second-half plot-drag than Happy Gilmore. The first half of the film, you get to watch this angry, kind of dumb weirdo screwing around on the golf course, not taking anything seriously, and occasionally beating this shit out of someone. It's actually a lot of fun, seeing Sandler's Happy Gilmore run roughshod all over the naturally stuffy game of golf and its uptight players. Eventually, his grandmother's financial problems and his attraction to a lovely PR lady cause Happy to abruptly cease having fun on the course and start taking the game seriously. When that happens, the comedy evaporates and we're just watching a guy try to win a golf game. Which is boring as hell. They add in a few gags here and there, almost as an afterthought, but for the most part, the second half of the film is played straight. Not a good move.
Where to Stop the Movie: Once Bob Barker is done whupping Happy's ass.
Full Metal Jacket
Now here's one I almost didn't want to put on the list, yet I felt I had to. Over the years, I've developed a strong affection for the second half of this Stanley Kubrick war film, and I really do enjoy the suspense, the action and the final firefight between the main platoon and a young VC sniper. But the fact of the matter is, I and nearly everyone else watch this movie for one person only: Gunnery Sergeant Hartman, played to the absolute hilt by R. Lee Ermy in a role of such larger-than-life magnitude that it still follows the actor to this day. Sgt. Hartman's abuse of the platoon members makes for some of the most quotable dialogue in all of film history; how many people were walking around screaming "I WILL GOUGE OUT YOUR EYES AND SKULL-FUCK YOU!" the day after this film premiered? Plenty then, and plenty since. Once Hartman is out of the picture, all of the fun goes with him. Now it's just a war movie, and it gets heavy and serious, and that's not something you're liable to re-watch as often as you are a loudmouthed drill instructor forcing Vincent D'Onofrio to choke himself.
Where to Stop the Movie: After Private Pyle's final shot.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
From Dusk Til Dawn
Now here's an interesting film. I know a lot of people who only like the first half, and I know some people who only like the second half, but I only know a few who actually like the whole thing. There's a reason for this; the first half of the movie is a pretty straightforward crime flick of the type Quentin Tarantino - who starred and wrote the script - was cranking out at the time. It's long, serious, and very tense, with absolutely no foreshadowing of what's to come. All of a sudden the film takes a sharp right turn and we're in a ludicrously gory splatterpunk horror b-movie. The stylistic shift was too much for some people, but my feeling has always been that, hey, if you really were Shanghaied by a troupe of vampires while on the run from the law in Mexico, that may very well be how it might go down. Anyway, the first half of the film is gritty and suspenseful and the second half is anarchic and fun, and I see no reason why these two halves can't coexist.
Where to Stop the Movie If You Just Want the Crime Flick: After Salma Hayek's dance. Where to Start the Movie If You Just Want the Gore-fest: Before Salma Hayek's dance. No matter which half you prefer, you don't want to miss that scene.