Mission: Impossible—Ghost Protocol

In theaters.

Back in college, a friend of Sean's used a particular phrase to describe mushy emotional subplots that interrupted otherwise comedic or suspenseful movies: "feelings and woman crap." It's completely asinine, but the term nonetheless has become something of a running gag for Sean and me—partly because it's such a parody of stupid offensiveness that it becomes kind of funny and partly because, loath as I am to blame such nonsense on women, the poor storytelling Sean's friend was describing is so widespread that it's useful to have a shorthand way to identify it.

In any case, when Mission: Impossible—Ghost Protocol (that punctuation—kill me now!) came off its awesome action high with ten endless minutes of tell-don't-show melodrama, I left the theater muttering "feelings and woman crap" under my breath despite myself, and Sean grinned knowingly. For the most part, Protocol is a expertly constructed thrill ride, but even virtuoso director Brad Bird can't do anything about the leaden display of feeeeeeeeelings, especially when Tom Cruise's self-satisfied rictus of a smile comes into play.