Much like selecting pizza toppings, voting for a class president, or picking a TrapperKeeper, this decision lacks magnitude yet still carries the burden of you potentially being silently and forever judged for a wrong choice. It’s simple but still tricky, as only the most horrible oversights will warrant immediate outrage. In true presidential fashion, your pseudo-cabinet may never acknowledge, while never forgetting, a wrong decision.
An ideal pregame can be effortless. Un-catered and unapologetic, it’s a less-than-formal gathering dedicated to one universal de-sobering mission. Binging and drinking games rule the scene of competitive, awesomely American excess that ruthlessly promotes intoxication and uncurbed enthusiasm. Yet, often, the latter objective is overlooked, taken for granted just like another day of free living in a country with an abundance of functioning toilets
Granted, movies, music, and television can be exciting, but it’s nothing compared to the brutally honest, hilarious, inside-joke-forging conversations and shit talk that accompanies drinking games and aggressive boozing with friends. Unless an integral part of an event, e.g. The Lebowski Challenge, movies need to be thought of as background noise to be intermittently tuned in and out from.
Opt for lighthearted, unsophisticated, and familiar. Depressing all your friends with Grizzly Man, Blackfish, or Requiem for a Dream before frequenting a poon trove is a recipe for a solemn, dismal, self-reflective night that’s never ideal. Instead, start with a flick that keeps churning out laughs and refuses to ever come to grips with any bleak realities, like a Step Brothers (1) or Caddyshack (2).
Complexity isn’t your friend either. Anything with misdirection or a lack of narrative economy is going to solicit an onslaught of questions from drunk, inattentive types. That cute girl with the beret and Zooey-Deschanel look who fancies herself an artist is not going start touching herself just because you’re poetically waxing on about the David Lynch, Ingmar Bergman, or Akira Kurosawa film you’ve just put on.
Go for simple and avoid ever clarifying plot. You can bring up your apparent affinity of The Bicycle Thief to that Deschanel doppelganger in casual conversation later and see if it leads to any interest or soup-ing panties. Pick something non-cerebral easy-to-follow movie with mass appeal. No one can fault you for putting on Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle (3) or Superbad (4).
The pregame formula is tried and true. Learn from Coca-Cola’s mistake and never alter a perfected recipe. The focus shouldn’t waver from uninhibited alcoholism and getting excited. Cultural horizons can be expanded later—nobody wants to try to watch Life is Beautiful or The Artist between shots of bottom-shelf vodka and dick jokes. Familiarity is easier; there’s no explanation or serious thought required if you’re watching Anchorman (5), Old School (6), or Super Troopers (7).
Much like a burning building, the easy way out is the best way out here. Hilariousness and booze are entertaining already. If you want a movie, seek the lowest common denominator. It does not matter how much you feel you personally grew while watching 12 Years a Slave, put it down, pop in Wedding Crashers (8) or Grandma’s Boy (9), and refocus back on what matters.