Shit, Actually: The Definitive, 100% Objective Guide to Modern Cinema

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The book is a compilation of movie reviews of popular blockbusters of the past few decades. Written by columnist Lindy West, the book aims to answer cinema’s most important questions: Is Twilight the horniest movie in history? Why do the zebras in The Lion King trust Mufasa–who is a lion–to look out for their best interests?

“This krazy baboon climbs up there and hugs Mufasa like they are old bros, which probably would not happen. Then this woman-lion is like, “Look over here, baboon, I’ve got a baby!” And baboon is like, “JACKPOT!” So the baboon rubs some jam on the baby and then throws dirt in its face, and then he dangles the baby off the edge of the rock with some Michael Jackson blanket-head realness. You know, LIKE THE WILD ANIMALS DO IN AFRICA.”

Lindy West, Shit, Actually: The Definitive, 100% Objective Guide to Modern Cinema

The book is a pretty funny and entertaining read, and anyone who knows me personally (and those who used to read my old entertainment blog) will not be surprised that I chose this book to add to my list. There were several moments I found myself laughing out loud like an idiot. Then I would read those funny parts to my husband, only to meet completely blank stares. This brings me to the first important requirement of enjoying this book: know the movies the author reviews. Note how I said “know” and not just “watched.” I mean, you need to recognize, for example, Laura Dern’s and Jeff Goldblum’s dialogue in the movie Jurassic Park.

“We open on some bushes. Scary bushes. You can tell the bushes are scary because a bunch of dudes in jumpsuits are standing near them looking scared. The bushes are all, “Rustle, rustle. Rustle, rustle.” There is definitely something in those bushes. Some sort of monster. “Come over here,” the bushes whisper. “Try me, I’m just bushes!” Suddenly, the monster begins to emerge. The leaves part. Is it a bigfoot? Is it a dino? “

Lindy West, Shit, Actually: The Definitive, 100% Objective Guide to Modern Cinema

The author evaluates every movie in the book against the greatest movie of all time, The Fugitive. It is the first essay in the book, and it makes an incredibly compelling argument that this 90s crime thriller starring Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones (in his most Tommy Lee Jones-y role) is “the best movie ever made.” At the end of each review, the movie receives a rating on a 1 to 10 DVDs of The Fugitive scale. Naturally, The Fugitive gets a rating of 13.

“Something is just 2 percent off about every line and every interaction, which, taken cumulatively, is like a window into one of those dimensions where everything is identical to ours except cats and turtles are switched and Prince never died. Twilight took me out of my body in a way that did not give me pleasure but did give me fascination, and when it was over, I couldn’t believe it, but I felt compelled to watch the next one just to continue the satisfying, itchy glitch of it all.”

Lindy West, Shit, Actually: The Definitive, 100% Objective Guide to Modern Cinema

The second requirement for enjoying this book is to know a whole bunch of other movies AND understand various American pop culture references. Using the same Jurassic Park example: it helps when you understand why Jeff Goldblum’s character because such a meme-able internet reference. Or why the line “you better hold on tight, spider monkey” is absolutely cringeworthy. My husband’s blank stares were totally justified. Because I fit all of these criteria, naturally, I loved this book!

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