Behind The Screen: Everyone’s a Critic!

This past week brought a little notoriety both to MediaMikes and to me personally. With a click of the mouse I entered a favorable review of the new Adam Sandler film “Jack and Jill” and apparently, when I did this, I caused the end of the movie going world.

I’ve been writing film reviews since high school. And I’m sure since then people have disagreed with my opinions. But I was unprepared for the backlash I took from “Jack and Jill.” And it wasn’t the people that actually took the time to see the film and then comment. It was the people that not only HADN’T seen the film but had no intention of seeing it. The first three comments left for me on RottenTomatoes were simply, “F*** You!” In fact, out of the 169 comments left, the majority of them were critical. A lot of “How much money did Adam Sandler pay you” comments. Not a dime. We also received over 40 comments on MediaMikes. Thankfully only one dropped the “F” bomb. I made an attempt to explain myself but later on started getting as snarky as those commenting. For that I apologize. Mike G. and I appreciate the fact that you took the time to visit the site, even if it was for a couple of minutes. By far the nastiest comment I received was emailed to me. The entire comment consisted of: “YOU ARE A WORTHLESS F**!!!! WORSE THEN A N***ER. At first I thought to myself, “wow, Mel Gibson read my review.” But then I saw the return email address identified the writer as “tallmaninla.” Since Mel and I are the same height I wouldn’t consider him tall.

I won’t say I’m sorry that my review brought some attention to MediaMikes. That certainly wasn’t my intention, but we were featured on Sirius Satellite Radio, HLN television, MovieFone, The Huffington Post and I even had someone write an article trying to dissect my movie preferences. I would also like to point out that two other critics eventually liked “Jack and Jill.” And that out of almost 11,000 reviews from moviegoers who had seen the film, the average rating was 3 out of 5. My rating: 3 out of 5. Thank you average movie fan. I don’t write reviews for attention. I write them because I enjoy sharing my opinion of them. I’ve been a self-proclaimed movie nerd since 1975 (thank you Steven Spielberg) and will hopefully continue to be one until the day I die. If I ever lose my passion for everything cinema I’ll unplug my keyboard and go away.

I want to say a few things about what we do here at MediaMikes. First and foremost, we are two guys who like movies. That’s the job requirement. Same for our staff. We did not go to college to become writers nor do we think we’re writing the cure for cancer. OUR reviews are just that. We try to write for others who like movies. A lot of the negative comments I received also blasted me for not liking the film “Drive.” You know who also didn’t like “Drive?” The film critics for the Chicago Tribune, New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Leonard Maltin. And while I would NEVER presume to put my writing on the same level as theirs, I don’t think they received any comments telling them they had no business watching movies. One of my fellow critics here in Kansas City gushed all over “Drive” after the screening, comparing the director to Stanley Kubrick. He actually used the term “Kubrickian.” Really? After eight movies the guy’s Stanley Kubrick??? Kubrick’s eighth film was “2001: A Space Odyssey.” He’d already made “Lolita,” “Spartacus,” “Dr. Strangelove” and “Path’s of Glory.” And he still had “A Clockwork Orange,” “Barry Lyndon,” “The Shining” and “Full Metal Jacket” ahead of him. He WAS Stanley Kubrick.

I write reviews for people like me. People that want to be entertained for two hours. And if I’m blown away afterwards then that’s a bonus. I do have a pretty good knowledge of film history. If I were reviewing films in 1987 and had screened “The Untouchables” I could have told you that the scenes on the stairs of the train station were a homage to the Odessa Steps sequence in Sergei Eisenstein’s 1925 film “Battleship Potemkin.” But would that make you want to see the film more? Besides, Brian DePalma is so often accused of ripping of Alfred Hitchcock that I wouldn’t want him to be known for stealing from a dead Russian as well. Kevin Smith included a scene in “Chasing Amy” that had his stars comparing body scars against a nautical backdrop. Do I mention that he’s “Spielbergian” in his work or do I just know that Kevin Smith loves the film “Jaws?” I’ve made a total of three films in my life. Even won a couple of awards. But I don’t portend to know everything about movies. I know what I like. And what I don’t. And so does anyone that goes to the movies. Believe me when I say it: EVERYONE’S a critic.