Weak excuses being made for “bad” movies isn’t a new thing. For as long as I can remember people have been combating thought out and reasoned film opinions with simple one sentence rebuttals. With the widespread growth of the Internet these excuses are now being “heard” on a much larger scale, often 140 characters or less at a time or in comment threads on sites such as this.
As someone that reviews movies on a weekly basis I probably see a larger variety than most people and I will admit it used to irk me to no end. Now, after almost nine years of writing reviews, it’s just part of the job.
As for the reason for this particular top ten, it may surprise you it actually doesn’t stem from frustration with commenters on my reviews, though most of the excuses listed here were directly lifted and/or paraphrased from comments found on this site. Instead it came as a result of a back-and-forth text conversation I had with my mother after she went to see Larry Crowne. I’d been thinking of putting a list like this together for some time, but when my own mother used one of these excuses on me I felt it was finally time to hit publish.
That said, here’s my list of the ten worst excuses used for “bad” movies with a few comments for each as to why they made this list. I’m sure you’ll have your own to add in the end…
10. “You just don’t get it.”
Yes, sometimes people just don’t get it, but that’s not what I am referring to here. If you have to help someone out by explaining a film to them that’s fine, that’s called being helpful. However, there is also the thickheaded individual that would rather defend a film by telling someone they don’t get it rather than explain what it is exactly they don’t get. Not helpful. Annoying.
This can also come in different varieties, such as a recent comment I saw in relation to Sucker Punch when someone described it as “one of the most misunderstood movies ever.” The problem here isn’t with the opinion, but with the fact that was the end of the comment. What were people misunderstanding? Enlighten us? Share with us your theory.
The problem is, the people making this comment don’t typically “get it” themselves, which is too bad considering well thought out opposing opinions are the life blood of cinematic conversation. Of course, this is top ten all about the comments that destroy that very conversation.
9. “It’s not as bad as people said.”
How many times have you heard how bad a film is only to end up seeing it and say to yourself, “Eh, it wasn’t as bad as people said it was”? A lot probably. This happens because your expectations have been lowered to the point it would be hard for a film to fail on the level you expect it to. The same can be said, and often is, for films people heap praise on. By the time you’ve seen critics hailing a film as the best of the year and then you go see it, chances are you’re going to come out saying, “It was good, but I don’t know why everyone is calling it one of the greatest movies of the year.”
Truth of the matter is neither comment says anything.
8. “You haven’t read the source material! You’re not judging it properly!” or… You can’t judge it based on the source material. The book is always better!
Okay, this one comes as a result of recent comments on one of my reviews where one reader felt I should read the backlog comics to get some form of understanding of the film’s character before judging the movie. It’s a ridiculous claim, and as you can see from the contradictory “OR” excuse, the exact same excuse can, will and is used in reverse.
No matter a film’s source material, it must stand on its own. If you are looking to have a conversation about a film, the film must be judged purely on what is seen on screen, not based on comic issue #103 or page 97 from chapter six. Movies are meant to exist outside of their source material and if someone watching it needs to have read the book, comic or short story from which it is based to appreciate the film, the filmmaker has failed.
7. “You went in wanting to hate it!” or… Critics just don’t like fun.
This is one that baffles me, an excuse in which people attempt to tell you how you are thinking and feeling because your opinion differs from theirs. Because you obviously couldn’t have approached the film the same as them or you would be head over heels for it also.
The thing is, no critic worth their salt goes into a film “wanting to hate it” and I would hope no consumer pays for a movie and “wants to hate it.” Why would anyone subject themselves to two hours of something they wanted to hate? And if you believe a critic truly wanted to hate a film why are you even reading or listening to this person’s opinion in the first place?
6. “Your expectations were too high.”
To say someone’s expectations for a movie were too high is to say they expected a good film when they should have expected a bad film. Certainly, in all cases we set expectations on a film, but this is something no one can help. If I expect a film to be good I can’t arbitrarily lower my expectations. That’s just not how it works.
This excuse can also come in the form of something like, “It’s a movie about giant robots… what did you expect?” The answer is obvious, the person expected a good film. Whether it’s a movie about giant robots, or Kevin James is peeing in a bush at a party or if Jim Carrey is being pooped on by penguins, people expect and want good movies. When they don’t get them it’s not that their expectations were too high, it’s that they felt the movie wasn’t any good.