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Over the years, Mark and Simon - and the Wittertainment listeners and correspondents - have developed several theories, patterns and rules about and around films. Some of the principal principles are:

Film sequences


Toy Story rule - all three are perfect

High School Musical rule - first is great, second is a dip, third brings it back

Evil Dead rule - first great, second even better, third rubbish

Nativity rule - first great, second dismal, third even worse

Toxic Avenger rule - each film is progressively better than the previous one

Extended film series

Bourne rule - first good, second better, third superb, fourth doesn't exist, fifth (which is the fourth, because the fourth doesn't exist) good but not as good as the third.

Transformers rule - all the films in the sequence are universally terrible, despite what your son might think.

Listener-created rules

10 Commandments of Wittertainment

Moviegoers Code of Conduct

Sides of buses rule - all comedies advertised on the side of buses are terrible (rule challenged by Slumdog Squarepants)

Phone boxes - rule - all films advertised on the side of phone boxes are terrible (rule challenged by Shaun Of The Dead)

Gents toilets at The Hawthorns rule - all films advertised in the gents toilets at West Bromwich Albion's ground are terrible

Punctuation rule - a rule developed by both Simon Mayo and listeners, that films with too much punctuation in a title are terrible

Acting rules

There were originally rules that said there were no such things as bad Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Bettany or Richard E Grant movies. In the light of, respectively, Red Dragon, Priest and Spiceworld, this was changed to "there is no such thing as a bad Philip Seymour Hoffman / Paul Bettany / Richard E Grant performance", although they are, in fact, just as capable of being in dreck as anyone else.

Conversely, there was also the rule that neither Julian Sands nor Jennifer Aniston are any good in anything, but again, Timecode and The Iron Giant respectively proved that rule.

Russell Crowe rule - when he is in shape, he is making fluff; when he is fat, he is taking the part seriously.

Halle Berry rule - win an Oscar and then appear in a run of terrible movies.

Harry Connick Junior rule - the minute he walks on screen, he is either playing a nice guy or a serial killer.

Director rules

The Steven Spielberg rule - the less important Spielberg thinks his movie is, the better it is. So Jurassic Park is better than Schindler's List; ET is better than Close Encounters Of The Third Kind and War Of The Worlds is better than Munich.

The Sir Guy Ritchie rule - the less involvement Sir Guy has in the script, the better his films.

The Woody Allen rule - any Woody Allen rule that isn't absolutely terrible will be described by other critics as a "major return to form".

The Poltergeist rule - everyone knows who the producer is but no-one knows who the director is.

Mark and Simon's rules

Anthropomorphism rules - Mark Kermode's rule you can build a world in which animals / cars / toys talk to each other, but don't have them suddenly get fully involved in the human world as if that is normal

Comedy spending rule - The more money is spent on making a comedy, the less funny it is

Films produced by actors rule - Most films in which actors have a production credit are bad, as actors pick them in order to show off their Acting Talent. See Bride Wars; We Don't Live Here Anymore.

TV shows adapted into films rule - Around 45 minutes in, any movie made from a TV show will go abroad

Lab closure rule - All scientists in movies will begin the film by having either their research or their entire lab being threatened with closure

Martin Lawrence rule - Mark Kermode's maxim that the nicer the movie, the nastier the people involved in making it (and vice versa)

Hairdresser rule - Simon Mayo's rule all hairdressers' names are formed of two first names (for example, Mark's former hairdresser David Blair)

Beautifully shot rule - Any time a film is described as "beautifully shot" by critics, what they mean is, "it's really boring - but it's made by an arthouse director so we can't be that blunt, so we're going to damn it with this faintest of praise instead."

The Secondary infection theory - Simon Mayo's suggestion that a film simply being bad cannot trigger a Kermodian rant; it has to also be morally bankrupt, and then the full rage will be released.