“SuSPEEEND Disbelief!”

By , March 9, 2010

Years ago, when the movie Independence Day came out, my brother, Dave and I decided to go see it. I mentioned this to our sister, Beth, in a phone call. She’d seen the film. Chuckling, she offered this advice:

“SuSPEEEND disbelief!”

In the theater, Dave and I  enjoyed the film despite its many improbabilities. As Air Force One took off mere yards ahead of a massive conflagration, one of us (probably me) whispered to the other that air turbulence from the fires and explosions would crash the plane. In response, the other leaned over and whispered:

“SuSPEEEND disbelief!”

This has become a family catchphrase, very useful for navigating life’s improbabilities—disaster movies, political speeches, newscasts, etc.. While we love realism, and thoroughly enjoy nitpicking points of history, logic, and physics in films, we find it a useful reminder that sometimes, all we can do is sit back and enjoy the ride.

I enjoy disaster films. I’m not talking about the big budget soap operas that followed The Poseidon Adventure in the ’70s, but more recent efforts like Titanic, Deep Impact, and The Day After Tomorrow (check your local video store). There’s something transcendent, possibly even ennobling about major life upheavals of this sort—which hopefully, I’ll only experience vicariously, preferably while munching popcorn! Plus, I really do think it would be awesome if Morgan Freeman were our president. Because so many of them deal with situations that no living person has actually experienced, suspension of disbelief is vital to enjoying the show.

A couple of months ago, I saw the previews to the movie, 2012, the latest effort from the team that brought us Independence Day. The Catchphrase came to mind as I watched footage of a small plane flying over an earthquake. I learned long ago that in a major earthquake of the California-falling-off-the-continent variety, the quake’s shock waves would cause planes to drop out of the sky. I actually learned this tidbit from rock star Alice Cooper’s autobiography (he suggests viewing the destruction from a hot air balloon). The plane suggested the film would be unbelievable. The train falling from somewhere above the plane cemented that impression. The movie looked fast, furious, and totally improbable. It was immediately clear that I had to see it!

Unfortunately, Haines has no movie theater, so I never got to see it on a big screen. I had to wait till it got released on DVD, so we can watch it at home.

2012 came out on DVD this month; the disc should have arrived from Netflix Saturday, but recent heavy weather seems to have slowed mail delivery. With luck, it’ll be there when we get to town today.

My hopes are high, my expectations low. I assume the movie will fall far short of the ideal that has been building in my mind. Perhaps, in the matter of expectations, as well as the film itself, I should remember to heed my sister’s advice and . . . suSPEEEND disbelief!

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