By Steve Thomas
It is 2:33 a.m. And I have writer’s block.We’ve all been there; we all know and hate the feeling. It’s the feeling that comes with the knowledge that it’s crunch time, and your brain just doesn’t seem to want to crunch.
Whether you’ve put off reading those three chapters for your 8 a.m. class or forgotten about that four page “reflection paper” that’s due before 9, long nights are all but inevitable in college. That’s why you may as well figure out how to deal with them.
For me, the formula is simple:
“It is 2:33 a.m. And I have writer’s block. Time to watch A Few Good Men.”
Yes, A Few Good Men. As in the 1992 Best Picture nominee directed by Rob Reiner and starring Tom Cruise (pre-scientology Kool-Aid) and Demi Moore (pre-Ashton Kutcher/cougar status).
Yes, A Few Good Men. As in, “It doesn’t matter what I believe; it only matters what I can prove!” and “You don’t need a patch on your arm to have honor,” and “You can’t handle the truth!”
Let’s get the rousing endorsement out of the way – if you haven’t seen A Few Good Men, you haven’t seen one of the greatest movies ever made and likely my favorite movie of all time.
The DVD is $8. I’m just sayin’.
My friends know I live by a mere handful of quotes, one of them being “There’s never a bad time to watch A Few Good Men.”
That includes the period just after you’ve finished watching A Few Good Men.
In this case, it also includes 2:33 a.m.
While I admit the movie is a masterpiece in virtually every way, it’s more than just a good movie. And that’s not why I watch it anyway.
When I find myself in times of trouble, A Few Good Men comes to me, speaking words of wisdom, “One more and I get a set of steak knives.”
A Few Good Men is my quiet place; my happy place.
A Few Good Men is my reminder that I’ve been through this before.
Everyone has a rock in times of stress – mine just happens to feature Jack Nicholson thundering away in one of the best monologues in the history of cinema.
Why A Few Good Men, you ask? I have my reasons. They are threefold.
First, its length allows for a significant investment in a project or paper. A running time of 138 minutes is more than enough to accomplish most anything you’ve been putting off and not so long that you’re exhausted afterwards.
Second, every single scene kicks ass and takes names. That means regardless of when my eyes wander toward the screen, I’m bound to see something jaw-droppingly badass.
Whether it’s Nicholson’s brilliant (albeit vulgar) opening line, or the textbook montage as the defense prepares for court, or Kaffee’s “nice redirect on Barnes,” no movie keeps going like A Few Good Men.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, it’s my tradition.
The first time I watched A Few Good Men, I was helplessly gripped by the sensational acting, flawless dialogue and superb storytelling. And I accomplished nothing.
The second time I watched A Few Good Men, it was because I needed something positive to keep me from throwing myself out a window. Not only did it work, it’s worked each and every time since.
So for the past four years or so I’ve leaned on A Few Good Men. It’s attained a kind of mythic power – one that causes work to occur each time it’s shown.
You may think I’m exaggerating, but there’s a chance I owe my collegiate survival to A Few Good Men.
Not to mention this column.