Moving Reviews

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Bring up the subject of movies with your friends and/or contemporaries. Go ahead. I’ll be here when you get back.

OK, how did that go? If your friends are anything like mine (which we’ll define as “normal”), most of them responded to your prompting by saying something like, “I used to go to movies a lot, but I haven’t seen one in I don’t know how long.” (If your friends didn’t say something like that—or even those exact same words—you don’t have “normal” friends and might want to think about getting some new ones.)

Now, having established our “control” group, it’s time to go back for the second part of this experiment and ask your friends about some of the current movies, such as “Man of Steel”, “The Lone Ranger” and whatever that thing is with the little yellow, one-eyed creatures (no, not “The Evening News with Scott Pelley”, where is your mind?). Ask your friends if they liked these movies.

It is my experience—and, remember: my friends are NORMAL—that my friends who actually saw the movie in question will say something like, “That was a pretty good show” or “I liked that one.” The friends who haven’t seen the movie will just parrot whatever the movie reviewers are saying.

I, for instance, really enjoyed both “The Lone Ranger” and “Man of Steel” this summer. My friends who have seen either one of them have enjoyed them as well. The people who haven’t seen the movie in question have already decided that “The Lone Ranger” is a piece of dreck and that “Man of Steel” is a pretty good take on the Superman legend.

Where did they get this idea? From reviewers and the “popular media”.

These are the same people who will tell me—as they would tell you if you were friends with them, which you may be but, I have to tell you: they never mention you—that, “I never read reviews.” Really? Yet your whole movie-going (and movie-buying, when it comes out on DVD) experience seems to match exactly the advice given by the “experts”? How did that happen if you weren’t listening to them?

Sometimes, we (meaning “me”) like to wear our appreciation for a poorly-reviewed movie like a badge of iconoclastic honor. I, for instance, really enjoyed last year’s “John Carter” movie. It was both faithful to the book and it improved on the book (and it had a really attractive woman in limited clothing for much of the movie). The critics, however, hated it and it bombed at the box office. All of the people I know personally who saw it liked it—some liked it a lot.

The same is true of “The Lone Ranger”. I think it’s the best movie I’ve seen this year (and yes, I have seen several movies this year) and I have several friends who say the same thing. Now, it could be that the reviewers are right while I and my friends are wrong. (Or, it’s just a matter of taste but who wants to get into that?!?!)

I think I’ll side with my friends and tell you to go see “The Lone Ranger”. And “Man of Steel” is pretty good, too. I was thinking that it would be really funny if the critics liked a movie but the general public didn’t go see it, but then it dawned on me that that pretty much describes every movie that has won an Oscar in the last five years.