The problem with real life is that there are no close-ups. We don’t have camera angles that show us which job we should take, nor key lights that shine on the eyes of the woman we’re supposed to marry. We may lie in bed at night thinking we’ve done pretty well anyway, and that these are the good times in our life, so we’d better appreciate them. But we don’t get a crescendo from a John Williams musical score to tell us when we tip across the best point in life. We’ll look around later to realize that the best time has passed, and we’ll wonder when the hell that happened.

If only Billy Wilder were directing my life, then I’d get some cues about what’s going on. I’d settle for Kevin Smith, or maybe Ron Howard. None of them signed on for the project though, so I have to bumble my way through it.

However, the movies haven’t abandoned me altogether. I’ve watched more movies than most people have eaten sandwiches, and I’ve absorbed quite a lot of life lessons from films. This afternoon I reclined in front of the fire to gather my thoughts, and as I ate a bag of Snyder’s pretzels I documented the nucleus of wisdom that the movies have taught me. I now bring it to you, packaged into seven convenient bundles.


You can get hit by a car and sprint away unhurt as long as you bounce off the windshield.

Any piece of furniture can stop any bullet, even a couch made of foam rubber and sticks.

You can run around in a burning house for several minutes and be okay as long as you breathe through your shirt sleeve.

If you jump through a glass window, you’ll get three or four tidy cuts rather than a deluge of blood from severed veins and arteries.

Social Conventions

You’ll probably be left at the altar sometime in your life. Your best man or maid of honor will be the one who screws you over.

If you act like a rude, selfish, condescending pig, then the most beautiful woman you’ve ever seen will fall in love with you.

It’s okay for a guy to cry, but only if he’s four feet tall and hiking to a volcano.


You can get away from any predator by climbing a tree.

Even thugs and homeless people have perfect teeth and are better-looking than anyone you know personally.

A dying person will always be able to say some final words before he expires.


There are tons of disgraced ex-cops on the streets, but if you have a ten-minute firefight with explosions in downtown, no cops will show up. Also there are more hit men in the world than there are convenience stores.

Half the people in the world have super powers or vast wealth. Another fourth are wizards, hobbits, elves, vampires, or zombie-fighters. The rest of them are pirates, secret agents, or Russell Crowe.


Bad people are such awful shots they can fire a thousand rounds without hitting anything. A good person can lean out a sports car window with a pistol and hit a moving target a hundred yards away.

All governmental agencies and corporations are evil, and any of them can be thwarted by a single ex-CIA agent or sniper with a three-day beard.

General Probability

You’re more likely to switch bodies with someone or go back to a younger version of yourself than you are to be seriously injured when your car flips half a dozen times.

Helicopters will be shot down by small arms fire 100% of the time.

If you’re someone’s best friend, there’s a fifty-fifty chance you’ll be dead soon. If you’re someone’s mentor, you’re definitely about to die.

Practical Advice

Stay away from telephones, unidentified video tapes, saws, and rings. Just stay away.

When someone asks if you’re a god, say yes. When someone asks if you’re alone in the house, say no.

What invaluable lessons have the movies taught you?

In Jailhouse Rock Elvis Presley taught me that prison isn't so bad if you can sing in a rock and roll band, everyone treats you like a movie star, and pretty girls fall in love with you.
In Jailhouse Rock, Elvis Presley taught me that prison isn’t so bad if you can sing in a rock and roll band, everyone treats you like a movie star, and pretty girls fall in love with you.