Put Me In A Movie

If you ever watch movies with the subtitles on, try this trick- do a search and replace in the movie's subtitles file (.srt) for a main characters name, switching their name with the name of whoever you're watching the movie with. The subtitle file's just a regular text file, you can do whatever you want with it.

sed 's/Brian/Sakiko/g' -i *.srt;
sed 's/BRIAN/SAKIKO/g' -i *.srt

The Fast and the Furious (2001)

Adapt this script for any character / any person in the room. If you're not comfortable using command line tools, just open up the srt file in a text editor and do a regular old search and replace. Try not to let them catch you doing this.

Jason and the Argonauts (1963)

If you're watching a movie in a foreign language this works great/flawless, Because what you're hearing and what you're reading is untethered. If you're watching it in English with English subtitles it works out kind of eerie-- it doesn't fool the mind into false hearing, but your brain sort of leans into it. I mean even though you're hearing and reading different things, your brain really wants them to match, and I think the writing has a slight advantage. I would defer to a scientist in a relevant field here, but I think that your brain really does take the written word with more authority than the spoken word. But then again, I would imagine that your brain has a hardwired predilection to recognize its own name, or the names of other loved ones in the room, so it'll probably fudge things in that direction when possible. Anyway these aren't laboratory findings, I'm just having fun.

Return of the Jedi (1983)
Lost Boys (1987)

I have a lot of opportunity to do this because my main movie-watching partner has a slightly easier time catching everything in an English movie with the subtitles on, so that's what we do. But I do this pretty much any time I watch a movie now. One time I was feeling sad and did the switch with Kiki's delivery service, it really boosted my spirits.

Kiki's Delivery Service (1989)
Kiki's Delivery Service (1989)

Like I said, it's best if you do it sneaky so no one knows what's going on until they find themselves in the movie. But if the riff is established already then it's ok to call out before the movie starts which character you want to be. Also you can be like "make Kelley be Kevin's shitty brother". But I think you shouldn't be allowed to both nominate yourself to be a cool guy and someone else be a shitty guy, you should only be allowed one call. Also whoever's at the computer, they can just invert your call like "what'd you say Frank? You want to be Kevin's shitty brother? OK". That's valid.

Home Alone (1990)
Jurassic Park (1993)

If you're watching with a bunch of people it's good to try and get everyone in the room into the movie somehow. My feeling is that it's OK to cast someone that isn't in the room, but not as a villain-- only as the main character.

Home Alone (1990)

If you end up doing this trick a lot, I think it's important that you not just make yourself the hero all the time. It's a valuable experience to emphasize with the villain of the story, and that experience is not lessened if you use software tools to help you get there. Besides, playing the villain is more fun.

Ghostbusters II (1984)
Ghostbusters II (1984)
Ghostbusters II (1984)

Bear in mind you can change more than just the names. When we watched Jurassic Park last year I switched out "dinosaur" with "fuckin dinosaur" to give it a little more oomph. I imagine you can overdo this pretty easily, but with judicious use it's like any other spice-- it adds flavors and also reveals flavors that are present already. Also, like spices, it increases your engagement with the artwork via a customizable layer.

Jurassic Park (1993)

Oh yeah, and this is like a "party movie" trick, for loudish funnish movies and/or groups of people for whom the movie is a rewatch. Cinema heads are advised to watch a movie as it is intended. 2019's greatest rewatch was North Shore (1987), which I watched probably 5 times this year. Thank you Darnell for recommending this delightful movie that has nothing wrong with it.

North Shore (1987)
North Shore (1987)

Technical Specs

Please note this will not work with streaming services. I still just download stuff, because I'm extremely cheap and also because I'm a very moral person and I just don't think that downloading movies is morally wrong. Why do you guys do all the streaming stuff? I don't see the benefit. If the download doesn't have subtitles I get them from a subtitle website. Some video formats (.mkv) can have a subtitle file rolled into the video in a way that makes it hard to access, in which case I download another subtitle and load that one instead. The whole setup works great, totally no problem.

I keep the movies I might want to rewatch on a 1tb drive (~$40 new, I got it free when a friend upgraded). This replaced the milkcrate of DVDs I used to have, which replaced the 2 milkcrates of VHSes I used to have.

Other Movie Tips

  • We got a digital projector to watch movies on and it's great, we just project the movie on the wall. With the projector you never walk in the room and see the TV just sitting there, which means you end up thinking less often that dangerzone thought: "I can just watch a little TV". Also the digital projector makes the unseemly act of watching movies during the day basically impossible.
  • snacks
    • Put your snacks in a bowl, you'll enjoy them more. Also if it's a quiet movie, a bowl is less noisy than a bag.
    • If there's a lot of people then everyone gets a bowl. Less commotion that way.
    • Go ahead and mix all the snacks together.
    • I know this is corny but if you're drinking beer watching the movie and the guy in the movie drinks a beer, you gotta "drink with the guy".
  • I reached out to Tom of "Bubul and Harms at the movies" for movie-watching tips: "I have so much to say abt this but my main, fairly widely applicable, apolitical, non-power user thing wd be, "watch a movie while taking a bath" = I do this all the time & it rules"