I think I have the whole critic thing figured out.
Sometimes I get tired of hearing a critic rave about a movie, only to be sorely disappointed. Or skip a movie because the critics pan it, only to realize (after watching it on DVD), that I would have loved to see it on the ‘big screen’.
But I’ve got it figured out.
Last year a reader sent a letter to Roger Ebert, the big critic from the Chicago Sun-Times. The reader expressed surprise that The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King was not in Ebert’s top 10 list. Ebert responded in his loving, pompous way, by saying something to the affect of, "I watched over 320 movies last year. If you watched that many movies this year, and still think that LOTR should be in the top ten, then we can have a discussion."
And that's when it hit me. 320 movies! He's watching a movie a day. And not movies that he wants to watch, movies that he has to watch. If I had to eat ice cream once a day, the flavor chosen by somebody else, I would probably get sick of ice cream.
So when Roger Ebert sees a movie that isn't like the 'run of the mill', there is a good chance that he might like it, just because it's not the normal 'drivel 'that he usually watches. The problem is that for the rest of us, who don't get to watch a movie a day, the 'run of the mill' isn't drivel. We enjoy it. A good example of this is National Treasure. Critics panned it saying it was just another action movie. But for many who don't watch action movies every day, they found it quite enjoyable. It's made a lot of money.
I watched a movie a while ago call Adaption which many critics had put on their top ten list a few years ago. I found the movie generally to be a waste of time. It was so 'bizarre', that I just didn't care for it. But critics, tired of the movies day after day, found it to be refreshingly original.
Anyway, the long and the short of it is that I'm going to pay attention to friends, rather than critics. While critics can be right a good portion of the time, I tend to like the movies my friends like, and will put more weight in their thoughts, that the thoughts of Ebert et. al.