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Well How Do You Like That?

Banes at 12:00AM, June 15, 2023

The 90's movie “The Firm” is a good thriller. I just rewatched it and it holds up very well. Recently I picked up the book to check it out.

Even though I've watched the movie several times over the years, I got less than a third into the book and put it down months ago.

The characters and plot are very close to the same, at least so far - the downside for me is that I didn't like any of the characters. The biggest problem was Mitch, the main character. He reads as arrogant to me. Even though he's a hardworking, honest guy who pulled himself up from humble beginnings to ace law school and the bar, the guy in the book feels like a jerk to me.

In the movie, Tom Cruise as Mitch is a hardworking, honest guy who pulled himself up from humble beginnings but he's super likable. It could be the charisma of Tom Cruise - but there is also a scene of Mitch working as a waiter while interviewing for positions as a lawyer, and his earnestness and vulnerability with his wife that don't show up in the book (at least to me).

Actually, all of the characters (particularly the small time, semi-criminal types who end up helping Mitch) are very likable in the film. Again, it's a great cast of actors. In the book, there is a hardness and coldness to these supporting characters in comparison.

The book is a John Grisham bestseller, a massive hit I'm sure, so I don't know if it's just me.

But I far prefer the sketchy or criminal characters who are honorable, like in the film version. This is probably a lot less realistic, though, for those kinds of characters to be as good-hearted as they are in the film. I believe this was done purposely and skillfully by Sydney Pollack, the director of the film version. The waiter scene, giving Abby the flower, and Mitch's backflipping alongside the kid on the street were very helpful as far as making Mitch a more likable hero. The shady characters were written to be softer, more good-hearted and honorable characters. The charm and talent of the actors helped, but much credit must be given to the screenplay and director.

It was a surprising contrast, my reaction to the film versus the book.

I think a big problem for a character's likability, at least for me, is arrogance or elitism. If a character looks down on others too much, or too often it really disengages me. I don't like that quality in real life either, of course, and don't like it whenever it shows up in my own thoughts. It's probably an unappealing quality for most people - I'm sure there are other qualities that are off-putting in characters.

How do you make your characters likable? Other than having them portrayed by a running Tom Cruise?

What qualities make a character likable - or unlikable - to you?

okay, i gotta run! See you next time!

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bravo1102 at 1:36AM, June 16, 2023

I've known women who quoted Top Gun and used it as foreplay. It's one of those addictive movies. And I knew a computer consultant who had the Matrix on continuous play on his computer. People can get hooked on a particular movie.

Ozoneocean at 7:28PM, June 15, 2023

@Gunwallace - wow! That sounds like a crazed character from an over-the-top sitcom. Bizarre! He's be one of those insane savants that can quote every line of a film.

Banes at 5:00PM, June 15, 2023

@Gunwallace - that is simply astonishing and something that I hope will show up in a story of yours at some point. It would fit into my comic world pretty handily as well…just gotta figure out how to go about it. Wow!

Gunwallace at 3:28PM, June 15, 2023

I once worked with a man who watched Top Gun on VHS (as was the (only) style at the time) every single day. Sometimes more than once. He was about two years into this routine by then. There was a party at his place and he just kept the movie on continuous play in the background, nudging people to pay attention to some of his favourite scenes. Surprisingly, he wasn't single. That was over 30 years ago. I wonder if he still does it?

Banes at 2:56PM, June 15, 2023

@PaulEberhardt - I’m glad this wasn’t completely my own experience - but sorry to bring back any bitter literary memories! I can say that I really like the movie, and the characters are a big reason why. If you do see the film do let me know how it was for you!

Banes at 2:53PM, June 15, 2023

@bravo - a ripoff of Hot Shots? Now I gotta see that! Cruise has brilliantly made his movies draw people by the spectacle of practical stunts, performed by the man himself. Gotta respect that. And Hackman’s absolutely one of the greats!

PaulEberhardt at 1:39PM, June 15, 2023

Oh dear... I was made to read the book at school long ago, and I haven't touched it since, exactly because I couldn't really warm to any of the characters in it. I might have been too young as well. I've never liked Tom Cruise's characters either, nor the man himself, what with this scientology thing. But one day I may have to give the movie a shot anyway.

bravo1102 at 9:47AM, June 15, 2023

I saw the Firm for Gene Hackman. I'm a big fan of his. He's in Interstellar_Battle_Girls as Peter Cushing's aide. ;)

bravo1102 at 9:45AM, June 15, 2023

@Banes: I only saw Maverick when it was free on Amazon Prime. As I've said elsewhere I found it very derivative, almost a tribute to earlier aircraft movies like 633 Squadron and even Hot Shots! But I like looking at airplanes and all the flying is real unlike so many other current films where the flying is CGI and you can really tell.

Banes at 9:08AM, June 15, 2023

@bravo - as an aside, I was never really a Top Gun fan. Just not my cuppa for some reason. The new one sequel really popular and well reviewed but i haven't seen it.

Banes at 9:05AM, June 15, 2023

@skyangel - It's really good, yeah. Mitch is seduced by the money of course, and the perks like the house and car, but also the friendliness and sense of community and family. You remind me that Avery (Gene Hackman in the film) is a LOT more nuanced in the movie than in the book. He's a threat, too, but there's a lot to him. I don't know how he ends up in the book, but as of his introduction he was another one who seemed a lot colder and less likable (again, I didn't finish the book. Maybe I'll try again just out of curiosity).

Banes at 9:01AM, June 15, 2023

@bravo - haha! Fair enough - I find him very likable in some roles. Definitely in the Firm! Your comment reminds me of something my mom said about George Clooney, that she believes him as a jerk but never as a good guy. xD

skyangel at 6:09AM, June 15, 2023

I've never read the book but I've seen the film twice and really enjoyed it both times. What I liked most was how the dark side of the bad guys creeps up on Mitch slowly and behind fake smiles and pats on the back for how wonderful it is to have him on the team. It's the sort of situation I'm sure we all dread happening in our own lives, to suddenly realise we are in a situation that's so bad we can't just walk away from it without serious consequences. I can believe what you say about the book though as good scriptwriters and actors know their character has to be human to feel real and that includes a nice balance of moral decision dilemmas for the good guy and maybe a bad guy who can at least feel shame or disappointment when he realises what his over ambitious intent has brought about.

bravo1102 at 1:56AM, June 15, 2023

After Top Gun, I can only see Tom Cruise as an arrogant jet jockey so even in The Firm I still didn't like him. XD

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