Saturday, January 22, 2011

Critique of the Critics

Movies. What would we do without them? They give us an escape from reality. They are an opportunity to spend two hours in someone else's story. They're an excellent excuse to blow eight dollars. Let's be honest--who doesn't enjoy them? Infants, obviously, but there is a small portion of the population who you'd think would be avid fans. False. These people I refer to are movie critics and they don't like movies.
A movie relies heavily on reviews for publicity and credibility. Consumers use reviews as well, as a means of deciding which movies are worth seeing. I am no different and frequently visit sites such as to see which movies people seem to like. This particular website literally has every review from every critic for every movie. When I first discovered the site I followed it religiously. If a movie had a fresh rating it was automatically good, rotten meant it was bad. Eventually I started to notice that some of the movies with good ratings weren't actually that good, and a lot of the movies with bad ratings were really great. It doesn't make sense. You'd think that with countless opinions the consensus would match up with the typical American's opinion. Not even close. Thanks to the audience meter which takes normal viewers' opinions you can see that the opinions rarely match up. Why is there such a big gap?
The answer is: critics are just that. Critical. Their job is to look at movies from an objective position. They judge a movie from an unemotional, uninvolved standpoint. By doing this they make their opinion appeal to everyone because in theory it's factual. In the end, it just appears that critics never actually like movies.
While it's important to have an opinion that's broad enough to include everyone's point of view there's another important factor. Every movie is different--at least most of them--No one goes to Madagascar expecting to be intellectually challenged like they were when they saw Inception. It's important to take the right attitude. There are many critics who will make disclaimers such as: "It's the typical romantic comedy so you know where the bar will be set, but if you're judging by that standard it's an alright film". If you're going to a romantic-comedy that's what's expected. Judge on the Romantic-Comedy rubric. But critics generally don't follow that idea. That's OK though. If you want to analyze Beverly Hills Chihuahua on the same scale as Avatar be my guest.
The one kind of movie critics do like are the ones fewer people enjoy. It's like they always have to disagree with the common consensus. It seems that the only movies critics do like are the weird indie films from the Sundance Film Festival. Those are the ones that significantly more critics than average people enjoy. Go figure.
The moral of this story is: if you want an opinion on a movie, get someone's who doesn't write critical reviews for a living. If their livelihood doesn't depend on hating 98% of all films ever made you're much more likely to get a accurate opinion. And, if worst comes to worst, it's only eight dollars.


  1. I TOTALLY agree with you. The critics HATED "Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'houl" but me and the 8 teenagers in the audience actually loved it. We couldn't stop laughing.
    Good post Sara.

  2. I'm glad you finally see what I've been saying for pretty much EVER! =) ps I'm really bad at posting comments on your blog when I actually read it the first time. Pretty much I just do it when I'm bored. But I did read this like the day you posted it. Just took me till now to write something on it.

  3. So figured out why. Its the stupid verfiication thingys. They suck so I try to avoid them.