• Joseph Barkley

Goofs


I’m going to say it: I think Spider-Man: No Way Home was the best screenplay of 2021.

Some of my fellow film-loving friends might reflexively recoil because big, superhero movies aren’t typically in contention for “prestigious” honors awards like screenwriting. But Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers achieved an almost impossible feat. They wove together 3 Spider-histories with a razor’s-edge balance of “insider” moments for the fan and context for the newbie. It was funny, self-referential, intimate, bombastic, and compelling. I truly cared about these people. In my opinion, they stuck the landing.

However, according to IMDb, this nearly-perfect film has 28 “goofs”.

I didn’t count them, but somebody did. Somebody poured over the film multiple times and logged mistakes.

For example, when Tom Holland’s Spidey is fighting the Goblin on the Statue of Liberty shield, he strikes the ground so hard it leaves a dent. In the next shot (*gasp*) the dent is gone!

There’s more! In Peter Parker’s high school, there’s a mural depicting the chemical structure of carbon. One of the carbons has five bonds and, as anyone with half a brain will tell you, (*duh!*) carbons can’t exceed four bonds.

So…how good could such a flawed film actually be?

I’ll be honest, I sometimes love to read through the goofs feature of IMDb—especially with beloved films in the horror genre. Those lists can contain hundreds of defects.


But when I read the goofs for my favorite screenplay of 2021, I thought to myself, “Really?! Who on God’s green earth has the time to strain these gnats? Who is spending so much attention and energy cataloging blemishes that have absolutely zero effect on the overall experience of such an epic movie?!”


Who can watch this complicated (pardon the pun) web of details and imagination and walk away giggling about the extra carbon molecule? Who is majoring in the minors?

And, then I thought…Oh yeah. Me.

I do that. A lot.

I do that with my team, my family, my home, my friends, my body, my church.


I so often function as though my experience of life would vastly improve if I could just eliminate more blemishes, mistakes, goofs, and typos.

I function as though my best contribution is fault-finding and fixing.


I function as though my best contribution is fault-finding and fixing.

Don’t misunderstand: I’m so grateful for the women and men gifted with detailed problem-solving. We wouldn’t have safe air travel, medications, or iPads without them.


But there’s a habit of goof-spotting that robs us of the joyous, larger picture of life. There’s a bent toward “gotcha!” which helps us “be right” so we don’t have to consider data or perspectives that threaten what we already think and believe. There’s a staring-in-the-mirror-until-we-count-all-the-pimples way of seeing ourselves that proves we’re as misshapen and unappealing as we always feared.


This might seem obvious, but your vision determines what you see and seeing only mistakes is a vision that blinds you.

Your vision determines what you see and seeing only mistakes is a vision that blinds you.

More specifically…

  • If your vision is to feel smart, you will automatically see how everyone who thinks differently is dumb.

  • If your vision is to feel safe, you can easily spot all the potential pitfalls.

  • If your vision is to never be rejected, you will see all the reasons why no one would love you in the first place so you can keep yourself to yourself.

  • If your vision is to never lose, you can build a perfect case for never playing the game.

  • If your vision is to avoid disappointment, you can exclude everyone from your life before you include them.

  • If your vision is to never fail, you’ll see dreams as fantasies instead of plans.

  • If your vision is to never be hurt, you will choose suspicion over curiosity.


I think there’s more to live for.

The story of your life is so much grander than the sum of the goofs.


A vision for a great life will mean metabolizing some bumps, inconsistencies, confusion, uncertainty, danger, disappointment, failure, embarrassment, squeaks, blood, tears, and stutters.


But none of this is a sign that you should give up.

These are the paint splatters of a masterpiece.

These are the out-of-place notes that make it jazz.

These are charming idiosyncrasies of interesting people.


I’ll gloss over some goofs if it means I can get caught up in a better story, thank you very much.

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