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You are spot on Billy. Another example, I was really looking forward to Wedding Crashers and it was a good movie but near the beginning where they pull out the purple heart to use to pick up women....well from that moment on I disliked the characters which obvioulsy killed the enjoyment of the movie for me.

I just can't stand people who would pose as a war veteran when they did not earn it, hence my problem.

Good examples though. Thanks again for a great post!


Haha - You LIKED that??
I feel that way when people say Heroes is the best show ever, or has intelligent dialogue or mysteries, etc.

Same thing with 'No Country for Old Men'. It wa good in some ways, but, like so many other movies today, felt incomplete, both character wise and story wise. I'm not jst talking about the ending. The characters were two dimensional and the story itself was told via drudgy dialogue. I mean, it had a simple theme, yet was so fuzzy in it's execution and the characters simply didn't make sense and those who did felt underwhelming.

I take it as an 'alright' movie, yet it's being hailed left right and center. It happens.

I feel the same with I am Legend.

Don't get me started on AVP:R, but I don't even think it was 'supposed' to be good. It's how I've been feeling about a lot of movies these days. Incomplete cash cows.

E.C. Henry

You're very right, Billy. Who you see a movie with, and the audience arround you's reaction to it does factor heavily into how it imprits on you.

I'll never forget seeing "Independece Day" in Idaho. When Randy Quaid runs his plane into one of the aliens ships, one of the local hicks (Idaho has an abundance of them) yelled out, "Yee-haw!"

Or when seeing "Jurasic Park" or "King Kong" (2005) with my aunt, and having her squirm all over the place because of the excelent chase scenes and gigantic bugs.

Pre-movie hype tends to make my anti-bias to a movie. Personal flaw, I guess. Like your experience with "Once," Billy, I too LOVE to discover a movie (but with media the way it is this day that's getting harder to do).

Did go see "I Am Legend" this weekend, and was shocked at how bad it was in the horror/thrill side. Going into this movie I read an article about how the studio didn't want this to be a zombie movie. Well, in my opinion, they suceeded, but the end result suffered. Sure, Will Smith was radiant in the movie, but outside the first look at "the infected" where you first see them huddle in a hive, they're highly ridiculous. Movies need a good, tanglible antagonist. "I Am Legend" didn't have that. Should have stuck with the previous Mark P. draft, where it DID have an antagonist to star opposite the lead. Oh, well, numbers don't lie, but in the case of "I Am Legend" the ART of improving on a clasic did get lost, in my opinion.

- E.C. Henry from Bonney Lake, WA

Elizabeth Kerri Mahon

What a great post. I once had a very heated discussion with a woman who passionately adored The Piano, while I hated it. By the time we were done, she was looking at me like I was some kind of anti-feminist. And I knew that I could never be friends with this woman, if she couldn't even entertain the idea that I had a right to my opinion. Instead she insisted I was wrong, and I had missed the point of the movie. Well, I watched The Piano again a few years ago, and I still hated it!

Judith Lewis

It reminds me of that scene in Woody Allen's Manhattan, when he spies Wallace Shawn from a distance and learns that the Shawn character is his girlfriend's sex god: "These things are so subjective!"

Judith Duncan

I recently had a good friend,(who is a script editor and screenwriter)treat me to the movies because I was a bit low.Little did I know when I got there that the movie was,'Thirty Days of Night'.I'm a fan of horror,but I was a little aprehensive.It was horrible,I was literally crunched up in my seat with my hands over my eyes,
waiting for the next ruthless and vicious attack.She was unfazed.
Yet I sat there,unable to leave,guilty that she thought she was doing a kind deed to help a friend.When it got to the point that I had cramps in my stomach from clenching,I whispered,'I'm leaving'and walked out of the theatre.The first time I had ever done that in my life.I had to walk home to shake off the experience.When the movie finished she called to find out what was wrong and yes the inevitable conversation of...'You liked that!It was as if we had been watching two totally different films.Suffice to say in order to keep a good friendship,
that film has never been discussed again.



It took a little while for my jealousy to subside before I could really enjoy the movie. It's hard to be open to a movie as an unproduced screenwriter when the screenwriter brags about how they are an "accidental" screenwriter-- never really wanted to write scripts, but was asked to-- and lo and behold-- the "hot new voice" of a generation! And I know I'm not the only one who has had similar feelings-- but it's such a relief to put the jealousy aside, congratulate the filmmakers, and concentrate on your own work.


Tavis I know exactly what you mean. I thought Juno looked great when I saw the trailer way back months ago, and as the film approached its release date, I began to get horrifically sick of all the articles and hype for the screenwriter. Reminded me of the Zach Helm hype when Stranger than Fiction was coming out.

By the time I went to see Juno, I honestly could not gauge whether I wanted the movie to be good or not.

In the end I did enjoy it and therein lies the greatness of being a struggling screenwriter. See a good movie and you enjoy it and learn a little from it. See a bad movie and you feel very good about yourself.


great post! your Five Factors methodology is much more generous and reasonable than my usual knee jerk taste test for separating the righteous from the wrongheaded. What about when the wrong person likes the right thing? There's nothing quite like the creeping dismay of realizing that a person who is otherwise loathsome and wrong about everything else loves the same movie/painting/record/novel that you do. It is horrible and wonderful all at once.

I'm glad to see that you are confident (as am I) that we'll all still be watching movies and arguing with people about them in the year 20017, although by then we may just be brains in pickle jars. (brains in pickle jars with eyeballs... I don't really have the details worked out, but there is plenty of time for that yet.)

(p.s. gunslinger rules!)


Dave: Comedy is cruel, indeed. Always interesting to see what gets a pass from some people but not others...

Carlo: "Incomplete cash cows" -- I love that! Could become its own category: Top 10 Incomplete Cash Cows... (BTW: I, too, was somewhat underwhelmed by No Country, but see Factor #5).

EC: I'm hearing similar thoughts from other Legend viewers. Ever read the Richard Matheson original? Good book.

Elizabeth: Well, you're wrong, of course; please stop visiting this blog. But seriously -- some movies are simply "room splitters," and that's clearly one.

Judith L: Ah, the Wallace Shawn syndrome. There IS no accounting for taste.

Judith D: That's on the Top 10 List of How to Sustain a Friendship, right? "Some things can simply never be discussed."

Tavis: You are strong in soul and spirit, Grasshopper! This honesty and humility (while virtually unknown in Hollywood) will serve you well in your career.

Same to you, Tuna: You and Tavis make me realize that I left "envy" and "schadenfreude" out of my Factor #5 rationale...

Jen: Thank you for seeding a rom-com idea in my fevered brain (i.e. the imperfect-perfect mate: totally wrong yet infuriatingly right...). Curse you for making me unable to shake images of bug-eyed brains in pickle jars out of my head.

Joanna Farnsworth

Billy, it's such a joy to have you express my thoughts, so much better than I can! Can't think of a single additional factor, your five tell it all. Just wish I could think of one movie everyone likes, no matter what, but I can't...


I'm usually the one who doesn't like the movie everyone else prays to.

Right now, that movie is Juno.

The annoyingly indie soundtrack, the main character's totally quippy, pretty un-real dialog, and the seemingly glossed-over reasons for not getting an abortion.

Everyone reading this probably hates me now, but this is my "you liked THAT?" issue.

I mean, the movie was good, the acting was great, but I didn't like it THAT much.

...Going up against the majority when it comes to not liking a certain film is scary.

Most of the time, I just feel like a freak.

With freaky dislikes.

Laura Deerfield

Ah, I know just how much your personal circumstances can effect your film-watching experience.

When I was in Prague, my husband and I were excited to see 5th Element, and made plans to see it. He died that Saturday, while I was at work, a day before we were to see the movie. I went to see it a week later, and was overcome by emotion - and the movie still has a powerful effect on me. I know it has little to do with the genius of the filmmakers. Objectively, I'd consider it a fun movie but not great - but because of the circumstances, it's one of my favorites.

Conversely, I went to see The Fountain a few months after my mom died of cancer. I was so frustrated with how nice and pretty the wife's death was that I utterly hated the film. I still can't tell whether it's as bad as I feel like it is... my sister, and a few others whose taste I trust, say it's actually pretty good. (Oh, and I thought the coarse hairs on the bark/skin of the tree was viscerally repugnant - so that put me off as well.)

So I try to listen very little to what people say about a movie and just allow myself to enjoy it, or not, as I experience it.


Joanna: Interesting challenge! The one movie EVERYBODY likes? My guess would be "Wizard of Oz" (he says, knowing that he's opened the door to Dorothy-haters everywhere...).

Jess, you just keep waving that freak flag. And now Juno's up for Best Picture! Get your Oscar-party raspberry-blower ready...

Laura, thanks for sharing those experiences. Pretty much says all one could say about the ultimate subjectivity of going to the movies...

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