Visiting state fairs every day sounds like the epitome of childhood fantasies realized, which it is in most respects. But it’s also tiring.
I know, I know. Poor us. We have to ride the Zipper and eat fried cookie dough all day, every day, for 98 days straight. It must be sooooo hard. We must be crying into our pillows every night, lamenting our terrible existence.
We find ourselves exhausted each night, as we watch dailies and catalog footage. Given our close proximity to one another (we’re staying in a tiny cottage in Jackson, Wisconsin, which is lovely, but not palatial), we sometimes need a little distraction in the form of a “background movie.”
A background movie is a flick that you can watch as you work. It’s a multitasking viewing experience that has enough action to keep you glancing up every few minutes, but isn’t so complicated or engrossing that your eyes must be glued to the set for the entire viewing.
I can’t tell you the relief I feel as we pull up to one of the local redbox kiosks in Jackson, West Bend, or Menomenee Falls. Giddily, we choose our background movie for the night, using the following criteria:
- All respectable background movies have simple plots. This is especially important for movies we haven’t seen before, because we don’t want to spend the whole night pausing and rewinding. Friday night’s choice, She’s Out of My League, was a perfect fit because the film’s premise was ridiculously easy to follow: dorky guy gets hot girl to date him and then has an identity crisis. Simple. Fun. Score.
- The film must be funny. This doesn’t mean it has to be a comedy, however. Last night’s background movie is the perfect example. We watched Chloe, a Fatal Attraction knockoff starring Julianne Moore and Amanda Seyfried. The plot was obvious and slightly cringeworthy, yet also riveting and fast-paced. Since I spent the night tagging our technical equipment, it allowed me to pay attention to what I was doing while every so often looking up to gasp, “No she didn’t.” Okay, so some of the more dramatic moments in Chloe were unintentionally funny, but that’s where the goodness lies. Why do you think so many women watch Lifetime?
- The film should likely be one you’ve seen before and liked. Last week, Chris and I picked up I Love You, Man, which is the kind of movie that bats cleanup every time. We had no doubt we’d be laughing our way through the night, making tasks like setting itineraries and looking for rental cars bearable.
- 4. A good background movie is like a warm bowl of mac and cheese. Sure, you love it, but you’re not gonna cry if you miss a noodle or two. Any movie starring Will Ferrell or Vince Vaughn falls neatly into this category. It’s likely that we’ll be picking up Couples Retreat tonight as we catalog ten hours of Wisconsin State Fair footage.
You don’t have to be on a trip around the country to enjoy the proven medical benefits of a background movie.* My mom likes to watch background movies while she’s cleaning the house. Chris’s good friend Jason pops in a background movie when he’s going through his mail and receipts for the week. Background movies are also good while doing the dishes, cleaning the garage, or sorting through old photos.
Kicking it Back to You: When do you background? What are your go-to movies?