A Tribute To the People Who Write Excruciatingly Detailed Wikipedia Plot Summaries For Movies That Suck

There is a group of individuals whom Movieline would like to salute: The passionate, faceless people who lovingly record, in surprising detail and with confounding care, the full plot summaries for horrible movies on Wikipedia. Wikipedia movie plot historians, your day has come.

I first recognized this phenomenon last month. While researching several pivotal roles in Kirsten Dunst's career for the actresses's 9 Milestones in the Evolution of... feature, I noticed (and greatly appreciated) that an Internet user had heroically outlined the entire plot of her long-forgotten and laughable 1998 television movie Fifteen and Pregnant. The plot summary is delivered in four straightforward paragraphs which remarkably do not acknowledge the ridiculousness of this poorly-scripted and self-righteous project. Here is just a taste...

"The film opens with fourteen year old Tina having sex with Ray. A few days later Tina is sitting in the car with her mother and [...] Tina's mother asks her if she knows anyone who is sexually active at her age, or if she has ever been sexually active, and Tina nods her head yes, although her mother doesn't know what she is admitting."

Granted, the person who was so moved by the melodramatic play-by-play of Fifteen and Pregnant that he/she rushed to his/her computer and tapped out a painfully accurate recap, is by no means a scholar. But skill or grasp of the English language is not the point here: The dedication is.

For example, do you know how much you'd have to pay me to watch Troll 2 again and compose an entire 11 paragraph summary without a single critical inflection? (The most derogatory statement about the film in its Wikipedia entry is that it is "widely considered to be of poor quality.") Do you know how severely you would need to threaten me before I typed out 1,000 words on the detestable Rob Reiner film North? Do you know how many Target gift cards you would have to hire Woody Harrelson to strew onto a hotel bed Indecent Proposal-style before I agreed to not only view New Year's Eve but to pen an earnest six-paragraph summary of this particular Garry Marshall's holiday disaster-piece? (The answers to these three questions are "a ton," "very severely," and "like, $10,000 worth.")

The heroic Wikipedia users who composed the above plot summaries may not have saved any lives. But they did save brain cells -- brain cells that could have met a similar fate as the millions of those left to be swept up along with the neglected candy and self-respect on the floor of every Jack and Jill-screening multiplex auditorium in America last month. Because hopefully, some smart moviegoers elected to just read the Wikipedia plot summary of the film so that they could appropriately rag on it at the water cooler without paying for a partial Adam Sandler-performed lobotomy. Or maybe a few intelligent viewers decided against seeing the film after its detailed Wiki page informed them that the "comedy" would feature "cameos" from Bruce Jenner, Regis Philbin and Drew Carey.

Or maybe that is all just wishful thinking and Wikipedia plot summary movie-going prevention is just a hope for the future. Either way, I am thankful for the bold Wiki user who dared to recount every minor plot twist in Showgirls so that I never have to re-watch the film to rediscover how much Cristal and Zach paid Nomi for a lap dance at the Cheetah ($500).

So please, in honor of these Wikipedia movie plot historians, take a moment and scan through a few detailed recaps of your least favorite movies of all time. Recognize the effort, thank the faceless writers in whichever way you deem fit and maybe consider tapping out a few future plot summaries of your own. For without these loving recaps, human beings might actually have to sit through a screening of Gigli to fully recognize the film's atrociousness.

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  • KevyB says:

    BEST. POST. OF. THE. YEAR. Seriously, Wikipedia has saved me so much time! I cannot count how many insufferable, twee, pretentious, incomprehensible, unfunny, atrocious movies that I have gotten to stop watching before they are over... Greenberg, Tiny Furniture, Due Date, Public Enemies, most of the Harry Potter movies... the list goes on! "Hmmm, Wikipedia, tell me where this movie is going.... ARE YOU SERIOUS???" Stop film, watch something else. PRICELESS!

  • Steve says:

    Had to comment on this. I agree 10,000 percent!

    A few years ago I was laid off and a friend gave me a copy of the entire run of the Stargate TV show and in the later seasons when the writing started to suffer in quality I found myself realizing that (if I had access to them) I could read the scripts/screenplays in a quarter of the time it took to watch the show.

    Ever since then I've fully appreciated finding good plot outlines on wikipedia - not so much because it's saved me money, but because it's saved me hours of my life. There's nothing I hate more than feeling like I wasted 2 hours of my life watching a less than spectacular movie.

  • Django says:

    Hee. As a lover of MST3K and celluloid atrocities in general, Wikipedia has rarely failed me as a film resource. Its often the best source on the 'nets and the attention to the detail is sometimes.. scary.

  • Tom Morris says:

    As a Wikipedian, I can say, sometimes that kind of writing is done for fun. I haven't done it for crappy films, but for crappy TV, it's fun to write an absolutely straight-faced, detailed article on an utterly awful show.

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