Cinemaddicts Definitions

Jumping the Shark

“Jumping the shark” is a term used in the television industry to describe what occurs when a television series tries to continue to maintain audience interest beyond the point of natural attrition. It is derived from the television show Happy Days.

During the last, flagging season of the show, the producers tried to re-interest viewers by creating an episode with Fonzie “jumping a shark” while waterskiing.

Despite this desperate attempt to create interest, the show was cancelled. And thus a new descriptive term was created. . . .

Industry terminology

Lucas Effect

The Lucas Effect is a term derived from its namesake, George Lucas. The term was created by the staff at to refer to any situation where a filmmaker moves far beyond his/her gifts to make movies as a sole expression of arrogance and vanity.

The best example for this effect is, of course, the Star Wars Trilogies.

During the making of the first trilogy, a noticeably wiser Lucas realized that he had a true gift for creativity and visualization that did not necessarily translate into a gift for film direction. As a result, we have Star Wars, which is a creative masterpiece but suffers from mediocre direction and is saved from oblivion by the strength of several good/great actors; including the venerable late Sir Alec Guiness, Harrison Ford, and Peter Cushing.

This movie was followed by the creative/directorial powerhouse, The Empire Strikes Back, which was wisely directed by the talented but virtually unknown Irvin Kerschner. The final film, The Return of the Jedi, was likewise excellent, but again directed by someone other than George Lucas.

Fast-forward to the 1990’s. George Lucas decides to bring his nine-part series back to the big screen (despite his denials, the original script proposal/outline consisted of nine, not six parts). However, in an odd (some would say stupid) rejection of previously arrived at wisdom, Lucas decides to direct Episodes 1, 2 and 3 himself.

While no one would argue that Lucas is creatively brilliant, he is not in the same league as Spielberg, Coppola or Kubrick. Heck, he is not even a hot-dog salesman in the stands of the ballpark of Spielberg, Coppola or Kubrick.

However, when despite valid criticism similar to that meted out above, Lucas continues to make Star Wars movies (and a new TV series, if rumors are true) and uses the box-office receipts of said films to supercede critical analysis of his directorial proficiency, it becomes clear that he is simply milking the public, feeding his prodigious ego and stepping wantonly on the legacy of the original Star Wars universe.

Give it up, George. Capitalize on your creativity, hire a great director, cultivate your hard-won wisdom or go back to Little League where you belong.

Cinemaddicts Original

Matrix Bloat

Like the phrase “jumping the shark“* or our own “monkeycam” it is helpful from time to time to have descriptive phrases within an industry that can be used to express a complicated idea in simple, concise language.I will begin with a simple premise; some movies were meant to be single works of art, rather than parts of an overlong and poorly organized series.

For example, the original Matrix was written as a single story and was self-contained and cohesive. When that story was expanded beyond its original breadth it lost much of the focus and clarity that typified the original. Thus the following two movies felt like add-ons to the original, like artificial limbs grafted onto a well-formed original.

The same problem occurred with the Saw series. While the first of the series was arguably original in design and structure, the following three films were attempts to recapture, unsuccesfully, the originality of the first.

By contrast, some movies are created from a story that is too complex to be told in a simple two-hour film. Star Wars Episodes IV through VI are excellent examples. Each movie is a self-contained unit, but the sum of the whole of all three is greater than the sum of the parts that make up the films.

Sometimes, more is too much, and a little of a good thing is worth more than a lot.When the greed of a studio overwhelms this judgement and profitability reigns supreme, it is the art of film that suffers.

Cinemaddicts Original