Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Deuce Factor

Since I moved most of my movie stuff elsewhere, I thought this a good time/place to repost the history of "Deuce Factor":

What Is It?
Okay, now that I know that "Deuce Factor" is being practiced in at least four different cities, I figured I better write it up so that any subsequent people claiming to have invented it would be precluded. "Deuce Factor" is a way of rating movie trailers (also called previews). After watching a trailer, each person ranks how interested/willing to see the film he/she is in comparison to Deuce Bigalow, Male Gigolo. One simply asks oneself the question: "Based on this trailer, if someone held a gun to my head and said, you MUST watch, right now, either this movie or Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo, which one would I choose?"

A Deuce Factor +1, means you would rather watch the film than Deuce Bigalow, conversely, a Deuce Factor -1 means, if forced, you would prefer to watch the Rob Schneider film. Films can be given a +2 (I think I would rather watch that movie twice than have to sit through Deuce Bigalow once) or a -2 (I would rather watch Deuce Bigalow twice than this movie once:--and hey, it can happen). Thus far, only one movie in history (Nutty Professor II: The Klumps) has ever received a Deuce Factor -3. A "Deuce Push" means that one may as well flip a coin, there is nothing to recommend the film (based on the trailer) over Deuce Bigalow or vice-versa).
I would point out, this procedure, while working marvelously well, only seems to work for those people who have NOT in fact seen Deuce Bigalow. If you have seen it, then the question becomes, "would I rather see it again, or watch this movie for a first time?" and then calibration gets messed up.

Who Invented It?
Steven H. Perlstein of Northern Virginia. I was visiting him in the winter of 1999 and lamenting how Deuce Bigalow looked like the worst movie of all time. "You're being melodramatic," he replied. "I can think of a half dozen movies playing right now that I would rather see Deuce Bigalow than..." I challenged this statement, and Steve picked up the Washington Post and began perusing the film section. I don't remember the exact movies that he rattled off--perhaps one was Bicentennial Man, perhaps another was Stuart Little, perhaps he mentioned Dogma, The Messenger, or The Bone Collector. I think The Story of Us was still playing in the $1.00 theaters. Needless to say, I was shaken. It wasn't so much that there were a half-dozen movies as bad as or worse than Deuce Bigalow, just that there were a half-dozen as bad or worse movies AT ANY GIVEN MOMENT.

Later, in line to see Man on the Moon, Steve consoled me for my naiveté. "Deuce Bigalow is a good test case though; it's the type of movie that is easy to ridicule and criticize without ever thinking about how bad some other movies really are." We bought our tickets. "In fact," Steve said, "I think that is how I am going to judge previews from now on: would I rather see this movie or Deuce Bigalow?"

I believe the first previews we got that night was for Play It to the Bone. It looked stupid, crass, and pointless. I was hard pressed to find any reason why I would rather see it instead of Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo. I think next came Fantasia 2000, or maybe Snow Falling on Cedars. More pretentious films, to be sure, but in their own ways promising to be no less dreary. "I rest my case," Steve said.

I've never looked at previews the same way since.

Since that time my friends Todd and Sherry Truffin have introduced "Deuce Factor" to Cleveland, Ohio, and last summer I took "Deuce Factor" on the road to Saugus, California where my brother, sister-in-law, and friend, Jeremy Riter, quibbled over whether Coyote Ugly was a +3 or a -1 (and whether a film had only one true and authentic "Deuce Factor rating" or if it could have several depending upon the gender and taste of the viewer). These questions are still unresolved.

So if you are in a movie theater and you hear somebody saying, "It's a -1..." during one of the previews, you know what they are talking about. Why not lean over and surprise them by saying, "You mean you would seriously rather see Deuce Bigalow than that?"

Then email me at and tell me where "Deuce Factor" has reached.

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