In response to Michael Ventre's piece on film critics as an endangered species, we asked you how you decide what to go see at the movie theater and here are a selection of your responses.
Where are the women critics?
I used to read movie critics’ comments, but now I go see movies based on the trailers or the actors or the subject matter. I noticed, too, that men differed a lot from women on what they thought was “funny.” Men seem to have a different sense of humor than women; they like the raunchy humor as opposed to the “Seinfeld” humor, it seems. For instance, the “Sarah Marshall” film got 3 ½ to 4 stars when a man was reviewing it. I saw it based on those reviews as I am not familiar with any female critics. The movie was funny, but a bit crude, and I particularly could hear the men howling at the various sexual jokes where they were childish to me and the women I went with and none of us are prudes. —Mrs. McD, Tustin, Calif.
Too elitistI believe that movie criticism is not an elitist ability that only scholars can claim. There should be no need for movie history in determining a movie’s worth. That is like saying that relatively this movie is awful, but if these others had not come along, it would be great. A movie is a thing of the moment. One’s emotions come into play when watching a film, and everyone has different emotions in regards to different events. You either become emotionally attached or you don’t. Movie enjoyment is a relative thing. To truly have worthwhile movie reviews, there should be critics specializing in certain genres that people who enjoy that particular genre can go to. A person who most voraciously hates horror films should not be writing a review of one. – Michael Walsh, Alpharetta, Ga.
It only takes one criticI couldn’t manage without Anthony Lane in the New Yorker. Of course I am of the school of thought that says no one should have to manage without Anthony Lane. – Stephen Lane, Portland, Ore.
Stop critiquing the people, concentrate on the movieI listen to friends, but never critics other than the rottentomatoes.com site. I stopped listening to critics because too frequently they are criticizing the actor, not the film. For instance, “The Hammer” is one of the best movies I’ve ever seen, but many critics said the movie was awful because they seemed to dislike Adam Carolla. The opposite can be said of a Will Farrell movie (no offense to Will, but they’re not all “Old School”). Critics are not film professors. They are just average Joes with an opinion. I don’t trust random people to shape my movie viewing. – Tim, Seattle, Wa.
Staying localFor the movies that are in my general interest, I read our local film critic’s (Colin Covert) review in our local paper (Star Tribune). If I like a movie, his insights help me understand why I liked it and what to look for in other films. – Roger Mehus, Minneapolis, Minn.
Trust in search engine
I usually Google the movie. Too many times I've read critical reviews and the movie still becomes a blockbuster. Either the hype put out by the studios or word of mouth had a greater impact that the review. – Stannie
Seeking many viewsI read reviews from several sources, look at films’ online Web sites, and discuss the movies with my two adult sons who are both film buffs. I also sometimes talk to my students to get the teenage point of view. Finally, I’ll talk to my wife about the movie. We have some similar tastes in films and some quite different, so I have a lot of input in my decision. – H.C. Mooningham, Central City, Ky.
Trailer tells the tale My first point is a trailer. If I’m interested in the trailer, I’ll look for a Stephen Hunter review in the Post. His writing is pithy and humorous and I have never been disappointed when taking his advice. – Christine, Potamac, Md.
Critics preach too muchI have never particularly appreciated art/film critics. Most seem too hung up on making social commentary than in simply describing what they have seen. I don’t need lessons on social responsibility or morality from critics. I can tolerate “preachy” films, but not “preachy” commentators. Film makers must use their skills and available co-workers and technologies to produce their products. I will appreciate some of those products, others I will not. I view films as entertainment — usually a diversion from the “serious” aspects of daily life. If a film comes too close to reproducing my own more mundane life experiences, I am likely to be bored by it. (Been there, done that, etc.) If a film touches on that which excites me, I will likely find it entertaining, even if it is crass, derivative, corny or in other ways less than profound. Sometimes I enjoy outrageous special effects. Sometimes I enjoy outrageous character behavior. Sometimes I enjoy spectacularly impressive visual images. Sometimes I enjoy intense sound tracks (e.g., realistic sounding machinery, gunshots, airplane engine sounds, music instrumentation, etc). Some movies are entertaining in the absence of technical excellence. In the end, movies have to entertain me. I could care less about the opinions of critics. I do appreciate learning about movie history and trivia, but not within the context of a movie review. For me, the most useful movie reviews briefly summarize plots, name artists, and post rating (R, PG, G, etc.) Online movie trailers are often useful in determining whether a movie might be worth viewing. Sometimes the unrated or so-called “director’s versions” of movies on DVD are more interesting and entertaining than the theatrical releases, so I will frequently wait for the DVD to be issued and not bother with the theater experience. – MrTVideo, Pittsburgh, Penn.
Too many criticsI have been a movie buff for almost 50 years, my Mother before me was a movie buff of the 40s and 50s. I used to read some criticism and I would watch Siskel and Ebert, because I respected them. I think, though I lost my attraction to movie critics, when it seems there was a glut. Online, magazines, local papers, everywhere you looked. And most of these were no better than my own opinion...which I trust much more than theirs anyway. My criteria for watching a movie, are to have an idea what it is about, A-list actors, and some word of mouth, the first two usually are enough for me to judge if I want to see it or not. – Chet, Avondale, Ariz.
Leave it to NetflixLike a huge number of people, I use Netflix movie ratings, even for movies I might want to see in the theater. That way the ratings are based on how I have rated movies in the past as well as on what people who rate like me thought. So I never have to worry that Netflix will recommend that I go and see “Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Travelling Pants” or whatever... it knows I’m not into that sort of thing. – Name withheld