As someone who watches most new releases, I wind up listening to critics on the margins. If the logline and advertising make a movie look brutal, and I'm not obligated to see it, I'll sometimes skip the screening (if there is one) and wait for the critics to weigh in. If the reviews are middling-to-decent, I'll bite the bullet and go. If they seem to confirm my initial impression, I might let that particular film pass.

Except sometimes that method fails me. As I've learned over the years, and as an experience last week proved for me beyond a shadow of a doubt, the mainstream critical establishment is not to be trusted when it comes to comedies; in particular, when it comes to the type of comedy that conceals intelligence under a sophomoric facade. Time and again, I've seen comedies panned, gone anyway, discovered a smart and funny gem, and wondered what the hell everyone's problem is.

An example. James Berardinelli introduces Fired Up!with this horrifying line: "Move over, Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer!" "No one in this movie has an idea in their bubbly little brains," moans Roger Ebert. The Detroit News' Tom Long calls it the latest in "a million-mile-long line of purposely dumb adolescent sex comedies" (though he does give the film a C+ for not being "painful"). On and on like that, to 30% on the tomatometer.