When it’s okay to miss the mark
Bloopers prove that the best part of something might be the mistakes.
Uncontrollable laughter, forgotten lines or pranks or practical jokes by fellow cast members. For me, the Special Features are the best reason to own a DVD, and bloopers, also known as outtakes or a gag reel, are irresistible.
The term blooper originates from wartime censorship – it’s short for ‘Blue Pencil’ which was used to cross out unacceptable parts of documents and letters by the 'blue-person'. Its use for these flubs on film was popularized in the 1950s in a series of record albums entitled Pardon My Blooper.
But one of the earliest champions of the blooper reel as entertainment in and of itself was the Burt Reynolds classic Smokey and the Bandit II. Theatre-goers in 1980 didn’t walk out during the closing credits but instead were glued to their seats watching Sally Field, Jackie Gleason, Jerry Reed, but mostly Burt Reynolds flub their lines, miss their marks and otherwise waste precious film in their tomfoolery.
Blooper reels allow us to catch our favorite actors when they let their guard down and we see them being real. You certainly walk out of the theatre thinking that these are people who get along well with each other and who have a lot of fun in their jobs. So what, then, when the actors aren’t real at all?
Lots of Pixar’s films include a blooper reel over the closing credit. This is the ultimate suspense of disbelief since, if the characters are doing retakes, there’s obviously a physical set somewhere with real actors – albeit monsters or toys – that really exist. In Burt Reynolds’s case, the blooper shows that he doesn’t take himself too seriously. For the Pixar crew, the blooper reel proves one half of that old adage: to err is human. If they’re making mistakes, then they must be real.