Friday, September 7, 2007

The Art of the Good Bad Review

Reading A.O. Scott's review of Shoot 'Em Up today reminded me why I read reviews of patently awful movies in the first place: sometimes, a reviewer, out of the generosity of his heart and the nimbleness of his mind, will eviscerate a bad movie in such a way that the review becomes more entertaining and thoughtful than the movie ever was. Here is how Scott begins:
“So what do you think of the Second Amendment now?” This is one of many thought-provoking questions asked, between barrages of gunfire, in the course of "Shoot 'Em Up." I won’t answer the question here — I get enough angry e-mail, thanks — but I’m happy to affirm my general devotion to the whole Bill of Rights, in particular the First Amendment, which protects Michael Davis’s right to make this movie, New Line Cinema’s right to market it and, best of all, my right to tell you what a worthless piece of garbage it is. (I interrupt this burst of patriotism to note that “Shoot ’Em Up” was filmed in Toronto.)
This is an example of what I call a Good Bad Review, and I have a minor hobby of collecting them. Other favorites are A.O. Scott's review of A Walk To Remember :
I wish I could say that the experience left me a better person, or that, in the favored idiom of studio publicity copy, it ''changed my life forever,'' but by the end I was tempted to go off in search of some industrial scaffolding and a shallow river of my own.
and Anthony Lane's review of The Da Vinci Code.
There is also Silas (Paul Bettany), a cowled albino monk whose hobbies include self-flagellation, multiple homicide, and irregular Latin verbs. He works for Opus Dei, the Catholic organization so intensely secretive that its American headquarters are tucked away in a seventeen-story building on Lexington Avenue. Silas answers to Bishop Aringarosa (Alfred Molina), who in turn answers to his cell phone, his Creator, and not much else. Between them, they track Langdon and Sophie to England, where a new villain, hitherto suspected by nobody except the audience, is prevented from shooting his quarry because, unusual for London, there is a gaggle of nuns in the way—God’s Work if ever I saw it, although I wouldn’t say so to a member of Opus Dei.
All these reviews are good for multiple laughs, a sense of righteous anger that terrible movies continue to get made, and a reassurance that we cynical folks are not alone in our scorn for the ludicrous and trite. And these movies may be horrible, yet they inspire critics to some of their best prose and most acute observations--so at least some good has come of their suffering. It's enough to warm your cold, black, judgmental heart.


Gregory said...

When I was in the fifth grade I was in a play a the George Washington University named The Elixir of Love. The director had recently been to New York to see the current performance at the Met by Pavarotti. Even today if I see that performance at the Met It bring tear to my eyes.

Sure maybe other tenors were better but I loved his boyish stage presence combined with his voice. That is why I never looked at his "size" like idiot critics did.

Gregory said...
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