Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Jeppy

In my house, we have a term we use for movies that hinge on a plot flaw: the Jeppy. This comes from a scene in the movie Sphere, where Dustin Hoffman uses a semblance of mathematics to decode a message from an otherworldy intelligence as “I am Jerry. I am happy.” Later in the movie, in a particularly stupid plot twist, he realizes that his message was off by “a letter” and that the message actually came from the mind of another character. It should read: “I am Harry. I am happy.” But what the movie is too stupid to realize is being off by a letter should change the entire message to “I em Harry, I em Jeppy.” And so we have the Jeppy, my shorthand term for any plot flaw that completely works against its own interior logic.

So, in Independence Day we have a Windows-based PC uploading a numerical virus onto an alien computer. In Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, the time travel paradox collapses as two Austins appear and then are quickly forgotten about. In The Sixth Sense it’s a surprise that a man we see get shot dead in the first few minutes of the movie…is dead! And whose voice was on the other end of the phone in The Ring? Since when are there streets wide enough for a car chase in Venice, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen? Does Neo just like to play his games in God mode, or does the end of The Matrix just not really imply that he changes the whole game? Since when do the cops need “more time” to trace Harrison Ford’s phone call in The Fugitive? Haven’t they installed caller ID yet? And Somewhere in Time, I ask again: where did the watch originally come from?

The one that makes me the craziest, for some reason I can’t even identify, is the remake of The Stepford Wives. Faith Hill has a malfunction and shorts out, and there’s a remote control that can make her boobs bigger, so obviously she’s a robot, right? And there’s one woman who spits cash out of her mouth like an ATM, so obviously they’re all robots, right? But then we see a film that says the Stepford technology implants a woman’s brain with nano-chips that curb their individuality and make them obedient, so obviously they’re women with microchips in their brains and not robots, right? But then, seconds later, we see a robotic Nicole Kidman, which implies the women really are robots, right? But, at the end of the movie, Matthew Broderick turns off the main computer signal, and all of the microchips short out, and the women return to their normal selves, so obviously they’re women with microchips in their heads. Or, was it the robots?And then my brain exploded faster than a robot given a logic problem by Captain Kirk.

Does anyone else have a Jeppy to share? Or am I just completely crazy?

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

What about the greatest jeppy of all? Orson Welles says, "rosebud," in Citizen Kane, but no one is in the room (the nurse comes in afterwards). Therefore, there is no way the reporters could have gotten that information.

SamuraiFrog said...

That is a classic jeppy. Another classic I just thought of is the one in Casblanca, when it's established that the letters of transit are signed by Charles de Gaulle. The Nazis are going to honor a pass signed by the leader of the Free French?

Two cases where neither spoils the movie, though.

Bryan said...

"The Facts of Life Goes to Paris," when it's NATALIE -- big, fat Natalie! -- who gets hit on. Doesn't spoil a masterpiece tho.

Deborah said...

I like the paradoxical watch in Somewhere in Time. In fact, I adore it; I think the whole point is the transcendant and paradoxical nature of their relationship. (Where does her enigmatic smile come from? He falls in love with a picture of her because of the beautiful smile. Only, she's smiling because she's looking at him.)

Kamikaze Camel said...

Oh boy, that Stepford Wives one is wild and I was so confused in the movie. But I one almost as bad.

So, 2001's Legally Blonde ended in the year 2009 (I believe) where Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) was finally graduating from law school. At the end of the movie we are told that Jennifer Coolidge's character and her boyfriend are getting married or some such. We're told that Reese's character and Selma Blair's character are going to be best friends for life. Yada yada.

Cut forward three years to when Legally Blonde 3 is released. It's actually set in 2003. Reese has apparently been out of law school for a couple of years, Selma Blair doesn't even appear (best friends?) and Jennifer Coolidge now has a four-year-old child.

SusanP said...

I was watching something recently that had a major Jeppy, but *bangs head against desk* I can't recall what it was...

Middento said...

In one of the most famous outings of a Jeppy, William Goldman wrote in Premiere about how idiotically illogical Saving Private Ryan was since the initial dolly into the old man's eyes and come out to Tom Hanks in flashback doesn't make sense when (a) Hanks' character dies, meaning that (b) Matt Damon's character is really the one flashing back... except (c) he wasn't at Normandy to experience the flashback as we've seen it. It's apparently collected in his collection, titled "The Emperor's New Fatigues."

I had seen the movie and thought to myself, "There's something not quite right here" -- and then read Goldman's article and thought he got it right on the nose. I now bring this up in class whenever a student believe Spielberg can do no wrong.

J.D. Judge said...

Actually the end of Legally Blonde ends in 2004, and yeah, I've been weirded out by that a couple times. Now, I don't actually remember if they said 2003, but they probably did. If they didn't, that could be a loophole. And Selma Blair probably tried to make out with her and Elle freaked.

Ray said...

A heavily *spoilerific* Jeppy, so if you don't want Jacob's Ladder ruined for you, don't read on.

So, Jacob Singer learns what happen REALLY happened to his platoon in a climactic scene with Michael, the inventor of "The Ladder." Except that, as the film later makes (somewhat) clear, the entire movie actually transpires as Jacob is being airlifted into a helicoptor, with all the strange occurences taking place inside Jacob's subconscious mind. But while it's possible that he could have independently realized the truth about the platoon killing each other, there is NO WAY he could have independently known anything about The Ladder, its creation, or the fact that it was administered to them.

Anonymous said...

I love Grease, but it has a huge Jeppy. First day of school, pep rally is announced for the weekend. Pep Rally night, the girls party at Frenchie's. Rizzo blows them off for Kenickie, where they make out and the condom breaks. Half way through the year, she realizes she might be preggers, and finally realizes she isn't by the end of the year festival. That's one hell of a first trimester.

Anonymous said...

Stepford Wives? Yeah I noticed that but realized by that point that the filmmakers had no clue what they were doing anyway.

I suspect that The Whole Ten Yards (yes, I watched it last night - I needed a cheap laugh or two, don't judge)has a big honkin' jeppy or two, but I'm still trying to figure out what that is.

Since we've started with Kidman films - how about The Peacemaker, where Clooney says something about the nuclear bomb in question capable of taking out "half of Manhattan" or something to that effect, but Julia (Kidman) neutralizes the effect of the blast by having it moved to a church sanctuary - so the worst that happens is a bunch of stained glass windows are blown out. Um, hello - a nuclear bomb blows up in NYC without a hint of nuclear fallout of any sort? If a nuclear bomb is no more dangerous or harmful than a bunch of dynamite just what was all the fuss about anyway?

Oh, and this isn't really a jeppy because the plot doesn't hinge on it - but in Moulin Rouge, why do they go through all the fuss of lacing Satine in the red satin dress, then she takes it off as soon as she gets to the elephant - why? And then she manages to put the dress back on by herself afterwards, apparently, and fixes her hair even though she's done with the assignation for the evening and presumably has no reason to get dressed up again except that Baz wanted her to look good for the ELM. Mission accomplished but - how the hell did she get the dress back on by herself? that dress is evil, if you ask me.
-RSD

Anonymous said...

BTW, I love the jeppy someone mentioned for Citizen Kane (oopsy-doodle). Usually when I think of a jeppy I think of crappy films, so it's somehow comforting to know that even great films contain these sorts of lapses.

I don't know if cross-film jeppys count (in other words, a mistake that doesn't become apparent until one of the sequels - or prequels). But in Return of The Jedi, Luke asks Leia if she remembers her mother and Leia replies that she remembers that she was beautiful but very sad - and in Star Wars III (or whatever the heck it was called) Padme dies in childbirth? Hellooo??

-RSD

Kamikaze Camel said...

"I love Grease, but it has a huge Jeppy."

Dude, the car flies at the end. That movie ain't bothering with reality :D

(I love Grease btw)

Anonymous said...

The Village is filled with them!

SPOILERS ahead: Stop reading if you haven't seen this ridiculous "film"...

I'm not even gonna question the idioc reasons why the villagers talk like they are from another century. How would their kids know the difference? Is it just to fool the film's viewers? Shyamalan always finds a TWIST he likes and the tries to build a movie out of it, compromising the credibility all the way... Remember the scene in The Sixth Sense where Bruce Willis is sitting with Toni Collette in her living room, and then H.J. Osment comes home? How did Willis get in? Why didn't he speak to her, when he's sitting right next to her? And if he did, wouldn't he find it weird that she doesn't answer him? No, F*** credibility, as long as he can fool the viewers!

Well, back to The Village: The villagers keep all the costumes in a shed. But when they lock up Adrien Brody in a room, he tears up the floor boards and finds a burried costume underneath. WHY ON EARTH would there be a costume there? Why hide it under FLOOR BOARDS and spend time NAILING a floor on top of it if they have a locked shed to keep all the costumes in? Okay, even if we consider that the room WAS a possible FIRST hiding place for the costumes before the shed was used, why still keep it there? Why nail a floor on top of it? It would have been moved to the shed. This, as in all of Shyamalan's movies, makes no sense other than Shyamalan needs to have a costume there to make the plot make sense (to himself). But there is absolutely NO reason of any kind why there should be a costume there.

But MY FAVORITE 'f*** up' in a movie series.

POLTERGEIST 1: Two parents, three children (the oldest daughter is 16, the mother is 32 - uh... okay, this I can accept, but why not call the mother 35 or something? Pregnant at 15/16? Weird...)

Anyways...

POLTERGEIST 2: Two parents ... and... Wait, the actress who played the oldest daughter died. Should we recast? No, it will only make the plot screwed up in our plans. Wait, I have an idea! She never existed! There are and will be only TWO children in this family!

This makes NO sense. The ending calls for the whole family to stand together to make a "light". If one family member is missing, the "light" cannot be realized. So since the oldest daughter is never mentioned in the sequel, and since the family is able to make the light without her, there is only one conclusion: She never existed, according to "Poltergeist 2". Why make a sequel for any other reasons than to draw fans and viewers of the first into theatres again? Didn't they think anyone would notice!? Judging from the film, she could EASILY have been recast or have been killed without it having any real impact on the plot itself. It would have changed nothing. She could easily have been put into the mix...
And one more thing: The film takes place one year after the first - but was filmed FOUR years after POLTERGEIST 1. It shows - the children are MUCH older. There is no reason either for the film to take place just ONE year later - it could just as easily have been four. Carol Anne was 5 in the first. She is NOT 6 in the second AT ALL... Weird calls making these films...
But: Rest in peace, Heather O'Rourke - we miss you!