Second Chances

This is one from the archives, which was inspired by an episode of Nerd Nuptial, a show on The Nerd Party hosted by @TheInsaneRobin and The Girl. In it they asked why people give things – specifically movies – second chances when they didn’t like them the first time. As I stumbled across this post sitting in my drafts folder, I wanted to offer my own take.

This discussion exempts, of course, why we watch movies again that we enjoy. We watch them again because they offer something we need, and they’re a reliable commodity like a favorite dinner or candy bar. A truly good film can offers something a little different on a new viewing, or make you ponder their questions and themes as if they were fresh. A

Alternatively, they might just be thrilling and, like riding a roller coaster we’ve ridden before, we just want to experience a familiar thrill. We want to escape, to retreat from the world and let our hearts take over when our minds are tired. There are plenty of films out there that exist within that zone.

Back to the topic at hand, I think there are two big reasons why we give movies “second chances”….

Hope Springs Eternal

In the “Hope Springs Eternal” category, a rewatch happens in the case of a mediocre-to-bad movie made by someone whose work we typically enjoy. We feel compelled to do it.

After all, there are so many factors that go into enjoying a movie the first time around. How you feel, how the crowd is (if you see it in the theater), whether the day at work was rough, whether you’re just not in the right “place” at that time.

You could call this The Prometheus Factor: “I didn’t like this, but I figured I should have. There must have been something going on with me that day.” (Spoilers: No, it’s just a mess with an awful ending. And that ties into the second reason.)

Age is also a factor. I love to talk about the fact that decades later, when I was a different person and my tastes had changed, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me was no longer a reviled abomination that deserved contempt. I actually like it now.

Who knew?


The “Affirmation” possibility is because we want to affirm how right we were. And that’s OK, everyone needs a little affirmation now and then.

Additionally, movies that fail can give us a sense of relief, because they let us feel like our failures are OK, because at least we don’t fail on such a large scale.

Did you mess up for a meeting at work? At least you didn’t make Universal Soldier. Did you leave the car door unlocked in the driveway and someone stole the radio out of your car? At least you didn’t make Independence Day: Resurgence.

In Conclusion

In essence, we can’t really lose with a second chance. At worst, we confirm our first opinion and affirm our “correctness,” which can give a small ego boost.

At best, we find out we were just cranky on the first go, and we kind of like it after all. That happened with me on the aforementioned Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. It happened with me when I revisited The Shining as well!

It also happened with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. If you want to hear more about that…tune in real soon to something new happening over on The Nerd Party next week.

7 thoughts on “Second Chances

  1. Here’s a third option that may very well be unique to me (or extremely rare; I dunno). By way of example, leading up to the Dark Knight Rises, I heard lots of rumors that Marianne Cottiard(sp) was playing Talia Al Guhl(sp). I read up on who that character was. Nevertheless, SPOILER ALERT the moment she stabbed Batman, I was shocked for an instant. That’s because my brain purposefully blanks out everything I’ve heard so that I can watch a movie as it unfolds with no preconceptions, spoilers, etc. As a puzzle nerd, it also allows me to solve the mystery if there is one.

    This comes from my copyright background, or perhaps my attraction to copyright is based on this personality quirk (i.e., chicken and egg). When analyzing for infringement, you do both an intrinsic (how does it feel?) and extrinsic (let’s break down the science) analysis of a song to determine whether it’s infringement. My first run at a movie is intrinsic — I either like it or I don’t — and each subsequent viewing is extrinsic. I try to figure out *what* made me like it (or hate it in the rare occasion I watch a hated movie again). I also try to discover things I missed, and perhaps experience the two things you mention. They probably apply to me as well.

    But that’s just me, and there’s nothing wrong with that. YMMV.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think that’s a valid third option. Analyzing your own reaction to something and then trying to figure it out. It makes sense in the context of my love for, say, the Fast and Furious franchise. Everything about me says I should mock it and yet, I love it. And when I watch it again, I get another chance to figure why.

      Solid answer!


      1. Well, I’ve been watching and critiquing a ton of movies in my blog lately, and most of it says more about me than the movies themselves. I’ve missed only one day of blogging since before the quarantine. In particular, I’ve been analyzing the DCEU and MCU. I think a shrink would have a field day with my reactions to Shazam! and the Guardians of the Galaxy movies. I have a great deal of love for those three movies and know *exactly* why that is. They both were gut punches but cathartic.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I still have to see Shazam but the GotG movies kind of wreck me. And your blogs are good and interesting. I have to be better about sharing them.


          1. I imagine that Quill’s backstory is primarily what wrecks you, but it should go deeper than that. All of the Guardians have a story to tell, and those stories merge into a larger one. Did you read my post about Nebula’s Redemption? If so, did that make you like IW and Endgame any more? (I know you’re not a fan.)


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