It’s not science unless you try something, right?

Here’s what I tried for four years of my life.

In 2012, I watched Top Gun once a week.

In 2013, I watched Back to the Future once a week.

In 2014, I watched The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring once a week.

In 2015, I watched a musical once a week.

You can probably guess what that might do to a person. But you don’t know until you try.

The first thing you can probably guess is that the more you enjoy a movie, the more you’ll enjoy watching it over and over again. My data supports that… mostly. The films selected for the first three years fit into the categories of Movie You Don’t Love Nor Hate, Movie You Love, and Movie You Hate. Surprisingly, however, the fourth year, in which a genre was repeated weekly instead of one specific film, gave me some unexpected perspective on what makes a repetitive action more bearable: hunting for details.

Here is a picture to keep your attention.

We intended the fourth year, picking a specific category of movie and watching a different qualified flick every week, to go on forever, but it didn’t take long to realize that I didn’t enjoy it as much. To be fair, I’m not a big fan of musicals, but I think it was more than that. To be stuck to such a rigorous schedule of film discovery and only notice the surface level details… well, shit, nobody hates Lord of the Rings more than I do, but there’s something comforting in knowing that it’s complex enough to absorb new subtleties every week. I can’t believe I’m saying this, even after the sad moment I felt utterly burnt out on my favorite film of all time, but… I missed watching the same movie every week.

That’s weird, right?
Not “mom squeezing your leg” weird, but weird.

So yes, enjoyment of a film is related to how much you can handle watching it again and again and again, but complexity is also a factor (thankfully, Back to the Future is enjoyable and complex). If you asked me if I wanted to watch Top Gun or The Fellowship of the Ring right this second, Top Gun, hands down. But if you asked me to pick one of those films to watch another 52 weeks… well, let’s be honest, the shorter runtime on Top Gun is pretty appealing, but I think I would go for the richness of Fellowship. I really would. Even though I hate fantasy and I think the whole thing is ridiculously boring. Hell, I’m already thinking of new angles I could come at it from.

Like comparing the scene in the movie where Sam savagely
beats a goat with a shovel to the same scene in the Lego video game.

I think it’s also important to note that, with each new year, I got better at dealing with repetition. My first two Top Gun viewings were built around the theme of just… watching the movie, though my third outing was a breakdown of popular ’80s cinema. But cut to Fellowship year, and boy howdy, I’ve got a plan for every damn topic imaginable right out of the gate. I got good at doing a specific thing I imposed upon myself.

What have I become?

I’ll admit, I feel sorry about that squeezed-off turd of a fourth year. If we’d kept up the “do a genre for a whole year” thing, it could have been something, but now it hangs there like Die Hard 4; kinda fun, but doesn’t really capture the tone of the first three. (Do not hold your breath for A Good Day to Cinema 52.) I’m really glad I expanded my knowledge of musicals, but I don’t feel like I had enough to say. It was loads of fun to experience, but not nearly as great to present back to you, the reader. Especially when I don’t have a lot of experience with the genre, as opposed to, say, the time I hungrily devoured over 150 time travel movies just because. 2013 was like two Cinema 52 experiments on top of each other. I don’t know where I got the energy. Probably from a child-like sense of wonder? Or a sick need to be a completist.

Kick me in the balls while I watch My Science Project!
It’s the only way I can get off!

By the way, this whole experiment was started to test if watching Top Gun once a week could improve your health, based on a single joke in a film article by Robert Fure. Unfortunately, I never kept detailed records of my health the whole time. Oops? I mostly ate like crap, remained fat, and occasionally went to the gym?

Hit the showers.

Since this is my final Cinema 52 article ever and it hasn’t morphed into the dreadfully boring but probably more scientific pile of data I thought it might, I at least want to leave you with some of the crazier undertakings I’ve endured for this project. You know, the weeks where I was really at the bottom of the barrel. How desperate for amusement in the face of repetition did I get? Well…

I pretended Top Gun was a sci-fi movie.

I made a photo collage by Googling lines from Top Gun.

I counted how many times Tom Cruise blinks in Top Gun.

I played a Top Gun drinking game with a total stranger.

I asked Siri questions from Top Gun.

I counted how many times each character in Top Gun says the word “the.”

Just… a whole bunch of stupid math regarding Top Gun.

I wrote an epic poem about Top Gun while watching Top Gun.

I watched Back to the Future and Top Gun at the same time.

I tried to recreate a historical moment like Doc must have in Back to the Future.

I watched Back to the Future in a skateboard shop.

I retold Back to the Future as an epic myth.

I tried to recapture my childhood by playing pretend during Back to the Future.

I got really drunk during Back to the Future.

I adapted The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring into a sci-fi movie.

I drew shitty pictures during Fellowship.

I watched Fellowship in a park that kind of looks like the Shire.

I tried to prove that Merry is Pippin’s Tyler Durden in Fellowship.

I read The Lord of the Rings.

I counted how many times each character says “the” in Fellowship.

I wrote an epic poem about Fellowship.

I watched Fellowship upside down.

I watched Fellowship and The Wolf of Wall Street at the same time.

I counted how many times Elijah Wood blinks in Fellowship.

I listened to all four Fellowship commentaries and hit “Play All” on the special features.

And… I watched High School Musical 3: Senior Year and Shock Treatment.

So… what have I learned? Mostly that if you work hard and have a little faith, a porn star will comment on your urban legend fact-finding mission, and also that I should have picked Grown-Ups 2. Good night, everybody! I love you!