As someone living in Los Angeles and working in film, it seems like everyone I meet has their own personal “I knew I wanted to work in movies when…” story. Usually, people cite films like Fight Club, Boondock Saints, Run Lola Run, or (if they’re really pretentious) Citizen Kane as the ones that awakened their passion for directing, editing, etc. They always bring up those movies that film geeks should have not only seen but also those we better have liked. If these people are lying, it would be really comforting.
Because I have a much less impressive story.
If thirteen-year-old me had had any sense, I would have chosen to use my formative years to verse myself in the classics. I would have watched all of Fellini and Scorsese and Truffaut and come out the other side of teenagedom a successful and knowledgeable film geek. I would be able to say things at cocktail parties like, “I knew when I saw Taxi Driver that I just had to work in film. I mean the social commentary on America’s dissatisfaction is so blah blah blah pretension pretension.” I would also have a good answer to the inevitable what’s-your-favorite-movie question that’s ever present in my job interviews.
For a while, I said my eye-opening movie was E.T. Not a complete lie—I saw it when I was very young and have been bewitched by it ever since. The music still gives me chills and all I need to see are the last five minutes to turn me into a sobbing mess. It’s honest but still a great enough movie that I can cite my love for it to film snobs.
But, there was totally one movie I saw when I was thirteen that erased any doubt in my mind about what I wanted to do with my life. I got home from the theater and declared to my parents that I was going to NYU (I didn’t) to study film (I kind of did that somewhere else). This movie was naturally Charlie’s Angels 2: Full Throttle.
I can’t even tell you what it was in this movie that enraptured me. I mean, it was directed by McG (…yeah), it revolves around people in the witness protection program and boasts cameos by the Olsen Twins and Eve. But I paid $9 to see it in the theater. Three times.
All I know is that plump, dissatisfied, tween me sat in that theater (all three times) thinking, “I have to be a part of something like this. There is no other job I will ever enjoy.” And I’ve been saying the exact same thing for almost ten years to anyone asking why I’m not going to law school or into accounting. I know nothing makes me giddy as much as the right movie can; as much as C.A.2: Full Throttle did when I was thirteen.
So I’m just admitting it from now on. At least there’s no way people will think I’m lying. The movie that initially inspired me was not Dead Poet’s Society. It was not Citizen Kane (I hated that movie the first time I saw it. There, I said it). It was Charlie’s Angels 2: Full Throttle. And I still own it…just hidden behind Almost Famous and season 2 of Arrested Development.