The name, “popcorn flick,” and even to a degree, “Mission: Impossible” itself encourages a passive viewing experience, a What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get contract: the viewer agrees to only look for certain elements and ignore everything else, and the movie agrees to check those boxes. It is a blockbuster compromise—the film accepts a level of derision from the audience, and the audience accepts to like the movie a certain amount for indulging them. This phenomenon is best encapsulated in the phrase, “It was stupid, but it was fun.” We’re going to talk about everything else — specifically, how Mission Impossible is at its heart, a comedy.
Arby ‘n the Chief, more than ever, strikes me as an artifact of its time—late ‘00s Xbox Live culture—and as created by a man who is smarter than he is capable of articulating at the time as he experiences growing pains both as a director and as an early adult in his 20s. And those growing pains—that fuzzy grey area between childhood and adulthood, and all the insecurity and uncertainty that comes with that—those are what give the show its surprisingly resonant emotional core and its funniest, most endearing moments, what led to its widespread success.
In the seemingly endless waking nightmare that is our existence with the Star Wars and Marvel “Cinematic Universes,” we have been treated to a lot, a lot of talking about Star Wars, but it’s not exactly a critical discourse. It’s more akin to a nonstop ejaculation from—what I can only assume Disney’s horde of marketing people would condescendingly refer to as—the “enthusiast” demographic.