Following in the footsteps of folks from Disney and Fox -- who recently called out critics for panning films like Norbit and Wild Hogs, even though audiences are eating them up at the box office -- Brian Robbins has popped in to add more fuel to the fire. After all, if there's one man at the center of all this rubbish, it's Robbins; not only did he direct Norbit, but he also produced Wild Hogs -- combined, both films have taken in upwards of $120 million so far. According to Robbins, he cannot -- for the life of him -- understand how a film like Norbit could score so well with audiences, yet be universally panned by critics. He says, "How do you figure that? Is the audience that stupid? Is America's taste that bad? I don't think so."
I don't think so either. It's not that all of America is stupid; I believe it has more to do with what feels familiar. Wild Hogs and Norbit are both "familiar" films; from the actors to the stories being told, audiences have watched and enjoyed similar films, therefore it's easier for them to sit there with a smile because they've already been pre-trained to do so. Robbins continues: "The only films that get good reviews are the ones that nobody sees. I just don't think you can make movies for critics." Well, this is a stupid argument, because plenty of great films simply get butchered when it comes to marketing; studios would much rather spend their money on Eddie Murphy in a fat suit than Clive Owen in a film about the end of the world. And, regardless, a number of big blockbuster films get good reviews ... but those same reviews are conveniently forgotten about when someone like Brian Robbins is trying (but failing) to make a point.
This shouting match is a tired one because, in the end, no one really wins. Hollywood will continue to churn out movies for the masses, and critics will continue to trash the shoddy acting, regurgitated plotlines and lack of originality. Just like an audience is programmed to enjoy what's familiar, a critic is programmed to be, well, critical. And neither party should be blamed for doing their job.