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Josh Reviews The Movies That Made Us

The Movies That Made Us is a Netflix documentary series, in which each episode explores the behind-the-scenes work that went into the creation of iconic, beloved movies.  The first season of four episodes spotlighted Dirty Dancing, Home Alone, Ghostbusters, and Die Hard.  The recently-released second season, called The Holiday Movies That Made Us, consisted of two additional episodes, spotlighting Elf and The Nightmare Before Christmas.

I’m a sucker for making-of documentaries about movies and TV shows.  And Ghostbusters and Die Hard are two of my all-time favorite movies (and neither ever had a great making-of documentary on any of their home video releases), so this series immediately interested me.

I found enjoyment from watching each of these episodes, even the one for Home Alone, a movie I don’t care for all that much.

But I find that I can’t recommend this series too highly.  I quickly tired of the series’ jokey, sarcastic, tongue-in-cheek tone.  The series seems to feel that regular making-of documentaries are boring, so they pile on goofy narration, jokey editing, and all sorts of other silliness designed to keep poking the audience.  It’s as if they’re constantly saying: Hey! Look at us!  We’re not dry and boring!  We’re wacky and irreverent!!  I found that all to be, pretty much, hugely annoying.  I wish they’d just played everything straight.  The stories behind the making of these movies are terrific and interesting!!  Just tell those stories and allow us to hear from all of the people being interviewed without constantly playing some yuck-yuck editing trick or throwing a bad pun into the narration!

I don’t know why the series seems to be so self-conscious, even embarrassed maybe, by its subject matter.  It seems to me like someone who chooses to click on this series and watch in on Netflix is most likely someone who is genuinely interested in learning more about these movies.  We don’t need the ridiculous, (bad) joke-filled narration to try to sell us that these documentaries are interesting to watch.  (Seriously, the narration in season one is just the worst.  Ugh.  Thankfully, they used a different narrator in season two, and that voice was much less grating, though the approach to a “wacky” narration was unfortunately unchanged.)

It’s especially frustrating because underneath all of the over-editing, each episode tells a ton of great stories.  I was again and again impressed by how many important behind-the-scenes players they were able to interview for each episode.  Sometimes they missed out on the big names, which undermines the project somewhat.  (Jennifer Grey didn’t participate in the Dirty Dancing episode; Bill Murray didn’t participate in the Ghostbusters episode; Macauley Culkin didn’t participate in the Home Alone episode…)  But they made … [continued]