"I would consider this a wholly unreliable and unrealistic review...The cynicism demonstated by this review shows a man ill-equipped for his job."


This is a comment I received from someone upset over the fact that, in my review on this site, I called Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel "dull". It's obvious that Cinematical reader "Juno" really enjoyed the film, but is my review unreliable? Unrealistic? Am I really ill-equipped for my job?

The real way to tell if I'm not equipped to review the film would be if she made the exact same statement, even if I liked it. If I thought it was a blast watching The Chipmunks sing and dance, just like she did, would she still say I'm unreliable, unrealistic, and ill-equipped? She should, if I truly am that bad of a critic. She would never do that, though, and there's the rub. I don't like a film, and sometimes people get really upset. Where does the anger come from? Are there really throngs of people waiting to let the critics guide their every ticket-purchasing decision? I don't think so. I have to assume "Juno" doesn't like every single movie she sees. Why am I, as a critic, not afforded the same right without people telling me my opinion is a wrong one?
div>

I was recently chastised for the first time ever by a filmmaker (Ursula Dabrowsky). I gave her film, the Austrailian indie-horror Family Demons, a mixed/positive review, and she came out swinging because it wasn't positive enough. She called me "John Ghoulhead" and told me to read Fangoria so that I could learn how to review a film properly. Would she be telling me that I needed to learn how to review movies if I unabashedly adored her film? No, she wouldn't.

I'd guess Dabrowski has seen films she thought were pretty good, not great. Why can't her own film fall under that category for me? There will be people who love her movie a lot more than I did, but there will also be those that hate it. If they can articulate why they hate it, in specifics, does that make them ignorant people? Certainly not. It just makes them people with strong opinions.

That's all critics are – people with strong opinions. I have a platform, and I can articulate what elements of a movie worked for me and which ones didn't (...with varying degrees of success. Most critics can tell when they've nailed a review or when they've written something limp). Those feelings are specific to me, but general to the film. And just because my opinions are public, that doesn't mean I'm breathing rarified air.