Going to the movies can be very educational. For example, you learn about sociology when you see teenagers pay $9 for tickets only to ignore the film and spend the whole time sending text messages. You learn about physics when you observe how an ordinary cell phone screen appears as bright as the sun when it’s lit up in a darkened theater. And you learn about civics when you are arrested for shoving a cell phone down a teenager’s throat.
And the movies themselves can teach us, too! If you’ve been avoiding the cinemas this year, here’s what you’ve been missing.
Things the Movies Taught Us in the First Half of 2008
“Cloverfield”: If monsters ever do invade our planet, all the survivors will do is complain about how they wish the witnesses had held their cameras steadier.
“10,000 B.C.”: The prehistoric tribes of 12,000 years ago had better dental plans than the Britons of today.
“Rambo”: Burma is a troubled, violent nation, so if you visit, be sure to bring a mentally imbalanced senior citizen with you.
“Meet the Spartans”: Even though the film “300” came out an entire year ago, it’s still possible to do a really, really unfunny parody of it.
“27 Dresses”: If you’ve been a bridesmaid 27 times and still have not gotten married, you should probably take the hint that the universe is sending you.
“Horton Hears a Who!”: A person who claims to hear tiny voices crying out to him for help isn’t necessarily insane. He might just be an elephant.
“Sex and the City”: If a woman gains five pounds and develops just the merest hint of a slight “tummy” — you know, like 95 percent of all women have — then her closest, dearest friends will openly mock and laugh at her for being such a big fat pig. This includes the friend who has the body of a praying mantis and the face of a racehorse.
“21”: When you are secretly counting cards at a Las Vegas blackjack table and you wish to give a stealthy signal to your compatriots to indicate that the table is “hot,” be sure the agreed-upon signal is as conspicuous and unnatural-looking as possible.
“Leatherheads”: Despite the misleading title, this is not the long-awaited reunion of Robert Redford and Paul Newman.
“Prom Night”: Fictional prom nights on which everyone gets murdered are only slightly more traumatic than real prom nights.
“Forgetting Sarah Marshall”: Full-frontal male nudity is always funny. ALWAYS. Or at least that’s what I told the judge.
“What Happens in Vegas”: Despite the Constitution’s guarantee against cruel and unusual punishment, it is legal for a judge to sentence you to be married to Cameron Diaz.
“You Don’t Mess with the Zohan”: Having now played offensive caricatures of a Chinese man, a Japanese man, a Pacific Islander, and an Arab, it is only a matter of time before Rob Schneider appears in an Adam Sandler film wearing blackface and singing “Mammy.”
“The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian”: No matter how many slaughters and decapitations your film has, it can still be rated PG if that’s what you ask the ratings board for, and if you happen to be the Disney company.
“Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”: The safest place to be in a nuclear explosion is a refrigerator. This is great news if World War III commences and you happen to be a package of lunchmeat.
“WALL-E”: In the distant future, all humans will be obese, lazy slugs who would rather sit in a chair and communicate electronically than interact with people face-to-face. So you’re on the right path, World of Warcraft players!
The "Sex and the City" part came from something I wrote for Film.com that was never published, called "Five Things I Learned from 'Sex and the City.'" The other four weren't particularly funny.
I tried to write this column so that actually seeing the films in question wouldn't be a prerequisite for getting the jokes. A couple of them violate that principle, but what's the point in having a policy if you can't violate it?