RANT: Movie Reviewers

This rant is about movie reviewers. Don’t get me wrong – I like them as a whole and value their opinions. But on a person-by-person basis. I hate each and every single one of them. Why?

Well, the first reason I hate them is because many of them seem to have “movie envy”. Many reviewers seem to be bitter film school failures. For some reason or the other, us “plebs” just didn’t “get” their “vision” and instead of being the next Steven Spielberg, these poor schlubs are writing reviews for the Des Moines Register. You can see them same bitterness with music reviewers, too. Many must have had dreams of being the biggest rock star on the planet, only to fail miserably and be stuck writing for some rag. So that’s something that’s not unique to movie reviewers.

Something else that movie and music reviewers have in common is their disdain for the popular. If hoi polloi like it, it therefore must be bad. Which I kind of agree with in a way, but movie reviewers tend to take it to extremes that even their musical counterparts won’t go to. And thus, they get painted into a reviewer’s corner. They’re so smart that only they understand the genius of Lars Von Trier, even though 99% of the population sees Von Trier films for the crap they usually are. Look, I’m not opposed to “different” films, or films that make you think. But “weird for the sake of weird” just doesn’t cut it with me anymore, and it stopped doing so once I got out of high school.

Next up – the movie reviewer’s apparent inability to look past their elitist attitudes to see the movies as we do. Case in point: the new Jackass film. Did you read reviews for the movie? It’s as if these reviewers had no idea of what Jackass was or what they do! Many reviews went something like: “You just won’t believe it folks… they actually do these stupid stunts on film! And they get paid for it!” Well hello – thanks for catching up with the rest of us. Some reviewers seemed shocked that such things would even get committed to film, much less laughed at by The Great Unwashed. In the words of Sergeant Hulka – “lighten up, Francis”. Not every movie has to be some dreadful, soul-searching Igmar Bergman examination of life and one’s own existence.

But then you have the bastards who review films where it’s obvious that they don’t even know what the source material was about. Consider the reviews for the recent horrible remake of All The King’s Men. Several reviewers mentioned “the story’s cartoon characters” or the “eye-rollingly bad story”. Did these people even know that the movie was based on a book of the same name? Most did. Did they know that the book is loosely based on real-life Louisiana politician Huey P. Long? Not all of them, apparently. When searching reviews to comment on this, I was careful to isolate reviewers that had problems with the script (which is one thing) with reviewers that apparently had no idea that the genesis of the story lies in fact. The fact that these people could be so ignorant is just shocking.

So – what are movies reviewers good for? Well, on a single-reviewer basis… nothing. After all, even though they might articulate why they liked or disliked a particular film, it all boils down to their personal opinion. However, taken as a group, movie reviewers are quite helpful. After all, if 90% of the movie reviewers out there hate a particular film, you can be sure that it is, in fact, a stinker. That’s why Rotten Tomatoes comes in so handy to me; the site collects reviews from all over and indexes them into a “Tomatometer” – essentially just a 1-100 scale. Stinkers like From Justin to Kelly, White Chicks or the aforementioned All The King’s Men get reviews in the 1-10% tomatometer range, whilst great films like Borat and The Queen hit the 92-98% mark. So although your local movie reviewer jerkoff missed the whole point of The Queen by calling Helen Mirren’s performance “stiff”, you can see what other (better) reviewers thought of the film.

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