Posted by Chris Lang on May 14, 2012 at 3:40 PM
Those who are regular viewers of the Nostagia Critic, the Nostalgia Chick, and Obscurus Lupa are well-acquainted with the two terms I’m discussing here. For those who aren’t, I’ll try to sum them up.
First off, there’s Pointless Padding Scene Time, a term coined by Allison Pregler aka Obscurus Lupa. It’s pretty much Exactly What It Says On The Tin. It’s a scene in a film that serves no real purpose other than padding out the length of a film. It messes with the pacing and if it was removed from the film, we pretty much would not lose anything.
So when you see a scene like this, then on repeat viewing, you might (like Obscurus Lupa) say…
Pointless Padding Scene Time!
A Big Lipped Alligator Moment is similiar, since after all, most Big Lipped Alligator Moments (or BLAMs if you prefer) indeed only exist to pad the length of a film. There’s also the fact that BLAMs are pretty much pointless, since two of Lindsay Ellis’ original criteria for a Big Lipped Alligator Moment are that they have ‘little or no bearing on the plot’ and aren’t really spoken of afterward.
However, what seperates a Big Lipped Alligator Moment from mere Pointless Padding Scene time is this: A Big Lipped Alligator Moment is a moment in a movie (though it can also apply to TV, video games, and other media as well) where, out of nowhere, something really crazy and over the top (even in context) occurs. A big lipped alligator could suddenly sing a song while riding an elevator clamshell and swinging on a trapeze, a chocolate factory could have a tunnel whose walls show bizarre images of bugs crawling on people’s faces, or a pair of traffic sign pictures could get in a fight with each other. All in movies where you aren’t expecting such crazy things to happen.
(Context is key with a Big Lipped Alligator Moment. The event has to come out of nowhere with little or no foreshadowing and be incredibly crazy even within the context of the work).
When all these criteria are met, we’ve gone waaay beyond mere Pointless Padding Scene Time, and into the realm of …
A BIG LIPPED ALLIGATOR MOMENT!
The reason I bring all this up is that sometimes, in online discussions, people call certain scenes Big Lipped Alligator Moments when they’re really little more than Pointless Padding Scene Time. For example, just about all scenes involving Sam’s parents in Michael Bay’s Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen are examples of Pointless Padding Scene Time.
However, some might say the scene where Sam’s mother trips out, played for laughs, is a Big Lipped Alligator Moment. But it’s not. The reason why it isn’t a BLAM is that it happens in a movie where far, far, weirder things happen — such as Sam briefly dying and finding himself in a portion of the afterlife dominated by Optimus Prime’s ancestors. And that’s just one example of a bizarre, over-the-top ridiculous moment that makes even less sense then the scene where Sam’s mother gets high on drugs.
Mind you, I’ve only seen the whole film once, and I’m not in any hurry to see it again. But I do remember a lot of the details. And all in all, I’d have to conclude that the moment where Sam’s mother trips out is just Pointless Padding Scene Time.
To give another example of something that IS a Big Lipped Alligator Moment, I’d pick … oh, the rapping dog from Titanic: The Legend Goes On. If that’s not something that comes out of nowhere, has little or no bearing on the story, is over-the-top nonsensical even in context, and isn’t spoken of again, I don’t know what is.
I could list several examples of both Pointless Padding Scene Time and Big Lipped Alligator Moments, but I think I’ve said enough to make my point. If I were to go on and on, this article itself would have an example of … Pointless Padding Scene Time.
So I’ll wrap this one up now. Feel free to leave your comments and insights.