Homework from Hollywood

Published July 10, 2022

An illustration of the Hollywood sign with city landscape and pavement with Hollywood stars

Recently, I watched The Butterfly Effect - a film I’ve seen before a long time ago and couldn’t remember a lot about. The movie features some kids going to the cinema in the 90s, opting to watch the thriller crime drama Se7en, and we get to see a few clips from that film-within-a-film. I hadn’t seen Se7en, something which was instantly rectified, but the fact that I watched it specifically because it was mentioned in another movie got me thinking.

What a film really needs is a message up front that says: “This film references the following media…” and goes on to list books, films or TV shows that are discussed within. You don’t have to have seen them to enjoy the movie, obviously, but it will add to your experience if you have them in your back catalogue. I can’t tell you the number of times we watch a film and are frustrated that we haven’t seen what’s being referenced within, whilst when something we have seen is mentioned, we high five!

The Butterfly Effect only features a couple of shots of the movie and the fact I hadn’t seen it didn’t matter. Equally it didn’t spoil anything for watching Se7en next. But other films don’t take such precautions, or the referenced culture is important to the story. I’m thinking of This is 40 that heavily references the TV show LOST or When Harry Met Sally that talks about Casablanca occasionally.

It would be a really useful Public Service Announcement, so we could make sure we’re watching the great movie universe in the right order. Thanks Hollywood!

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