Sure, plenty of stuff happened: buildings stomped flat, nuclear facilities collapsing, trains bitten in half, EMPs causing quarter-slot machines to malfunction.
But despite high production values and a handful of really swell actors (Bryan Cranston, Ken Watanabe, Juliette Binoche, David Strathairn) the film had a marked sense of detachment, as though nothing we were seeing really mattered much.
On the bright side, Linda B. and I saw the film on cheap day ($5.25 all shows) and we paid with discounted gift cards, which brought the cost down further. Not that it matters: I’m taking the price of the ticket as a business expense because – as usual – I found money lessons in the film.
I do that sort of thing fairly often:
- Television/theater/film: “Zombie consumerism”
- Movies: “10 financial lessons from ‘True Grit’,” “9 money lessons from ‘The Wolverine’,” “12 money lessons from the new ‘Star Trek’”
- Grand opera: “8 personal finance lessons from ‘Gotterdammerung’,” “5 financial lessons from ‘Parsifal’”
- And even sled-dog races: “10 personal finance lessons from the Iditarod”
So why should “Godzilla” escape unscathed? Las Vegas, Honolulu and San Francisco certainly don’t.
When your world is falling apart
1. Be flexible. During the course of the film, protagonist Ford Brody (Aaron Taylor-Johnston) must sleep on the floor, hitch rides on a couple of kinds of military transport (it’s okay – he’s in the Navy) and jump out of a plane. He even has to cut short his first chance in 14 months to be alone with his wife.
All in a day’s work for an action hero, I guess. As for the rest of us: When we’re talking finances we need a Plan B. Maybe a Plan C through Z, too. Point is, you can’t assume there’s only one way of doing things – and you shouldn’t give up even you’re your world seems to be falling apart. (Hint: Having an emergency fund is particularly helpful when the need for flexibility arises.)
2. Make a bug-out bag. In the film’s preamble, engineer Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) gets evacuated from a dangerous area. Later he mourns about leaving everything behind; he doesn’t even have a picture of his late wife.
In the event of earthquake, wildfire or flood (or giant lizards or rampaging moth-o-dactyls), you might have very little time to pack. Knowing where important documents are – including but not limited to birth and marriage certificates, passports, photos, Social Security cards, insurance info and vaccination records– can make life somewhat easier in the aftermath.
Covering your butt
3. Get life insurance. You never know when the tail of a giant lizard will knock over the building in which your cubicle is located. But seriously: Nobody expects the worst, which is why so many families end up completely screwed when a breadwinner dies. Don’t leave your family unprotected. A corollary: If you have homeowner’s insurance or renter’s insurance, update them – what kinds of things have you acquired since you took out the policy three years ago?
4. Create a paper trail. The engineer knows something’s wonky about the “seismic disturbances” that the higher-ups insist are aftershocks from a Philippine earthquake. Evidence that Joe collects ultimately helps the good guys save the day.
If you think something’s going on at your job (or in your personal life), document it. Don’t end up taking the blame for a misstep in the workplace; copies of e-mails and memos can save your butt, or also vindicate you if, say, someone stole your ideas and passed them off as his own.
Should you suspect that spouse/partner is less than honorable, or if that person is abusive, take steps to protect yourself. Keep an eye on your collective finances (you should have passwords and access) and make copies of relevant paperwork in case you have to flee the relationship.
Due diligence, monster-style
5. Consider the big picture. Ford and fellow soldiers must search for a nuclear missile that one of the monsters swipes for a midnight snack. When they do, it’s obvious that the problem is much bigger than they thought – but hey, wasn’t the order just to get the nuke and skedaddle?
Think about the long-term cost of your money dealings. It can be awfully tempting to make minimum payments to free up more cash for current fun, or to shop for a super-hot sports car that will cost tons more to buy and insure. Live and learn, though. (Hint: The future you will be very, very pissed at the present-day you.)
6. Seek professional input. Adm. William Stenz (David Strathairn) decides to use nukes on the monsters, even though a couple of scientists point out that the critters feed on radiation. Stenz and his camp believe the sheer force of the blasts will destroy all monsters.* But of course the scientists actually know what they’re talking about.
Due diligence is important before you make a money move. That doesn’t mean asking your buds what they’d do with a raise/inheritance, or asking your conspiracy-theorist uncle whether you should take advantage of the 401(k) at your new job. Read books and reputable blogs, and think about an appointment with a fee-only planner.
When I told my partner I’d be doing a post, he had a suggestion of his own: “Save your money and don’t go to this movie.”
However, I still think it’s worth watching, if only on Redbox. Although it would help if you had a free Redbox rental code.
*Toho fans will see what I did there.