Film Critics Getting Other Opinions

When I was working at a radio station in the ‘90s, we had a consultant who said if somebody sends a letter and complains, there are a thousand other listeners out there that feel the same way but they just didn’t take the time to complain. Now, I wasn’t so sure I bought that stat, but I got his point. 

So when the third person complained to me about something I do in my reviews, I thought I’d address it. 

About a month ago, I turned on KOGO 600 AM a few hours before I was going on to review movies. Morning co-host LaDona Harvey mentioned something about me, and Ted Garcia said something along the lines of “When he’s on later, I’m anxious to see what his wife thought of that movie.”

Harvey laughed and said, “Oh stop it, Ted.”

Later in the show when they teased my appearance, he again sarcastically brought up what my wife would think of a certain movie.

A week before that, I got a two page letter from someone that said how they agree with me on most movies and they respect my opinion. Of course, they had a page of complaints, too. The last paragraph of the letter was asking, “Why do you feel the need to tell us what your wife thought of the movie? Unless you both did a movie review show together, we really don’t care.”

So a few days ago, when a friend of mine sent me a private message saying, “No offense, but who is the movie critic, you or your wife?” — I figured I should probably address this. Who knew that adding a sentence at the end of my reviews sometimes, mentioning what my wife thought, would be such a big deal. Here’s why I do it.

As a kid, I was obsessed with Siskel & Ebert. One of the things people remember about them is how they fought (which actually wasn’t as often as people remember). The reason it was so much fun is because we all do that. If we love a movie, and someone you work with hates it, you argue about it. I had an argument with my stepbrother that lasted two days, because he hated Napoleon Dynamite. Another argument with him lasted an hour, because I liked The Book of Eli (Denzel Washington) and Cassandra’s Dream (Woody Allen). People argue when they don’t agree. Speaking of my stepbrother, I’ve had a two year debate with my wife, because I laugh uncontrollably watching Step Brothers when it’s on TV and she hates it.

A brilliant stand-up comedian I know named David Novin, has been giving me crap for three weeks now, because I recommend the movies The Promotion (John C. Reily, Seann William Scott) and House of Games (David Mamet’s first film). He wasn’t a fan of either.

So what does this have to do with my wife? I’m getting there.

Each of the three Sex and the City movies were awful. After a bad review I gave when on TV at Fox 5, one of the female newscasters smiled as she said, “Well, you’re a guy. Those movies aren’t made for you.”

I was shocked. First, because I loved the TV show. It had great characters and was smartly written. There was a 2 year period where I had HBO, and the only thing I watched on it was The Larry Sanders Show. When it ended, I was done with HBO, except…Sex and the City started up at that time (1998), and that kept me subscribed. Yet I can understand why a woman might think I didn’t like the movie because it was a “chick flick” (a term I’ve always hated for a few reasons).

Since I bring my wife to 90% of the movie screenings I go to, I figured, why not include what she thought of the movie. She’s a lot smarter than I am (yet I was smart enough to include that line in the story), and if we both hated something like Fifty Shades of Grey, people know they’re getting a male and female perspective. 

With a movie like Sorry To Bother You (which was her favorite film of 2018, it made my Top 10)…it lets people know that two older white folks could appreciate this flick. In fact, it was a blast telling filmmaker/rapper Boots Riley it was our favorite, and him looking at us like we were nuts, before saying “It was?!”

I remember a time when Roger Ebert was giving a good review to an animated picture that Gene Siskel hated. Ebert finally admitted something along the lines of, “Look, it’s not a great film, but my 6-year-old niece loved it, and it’s a kids movie.”

Siskel shot back, “Oh, great! What a ringing endorsement! So, this movie is awful, for everyone, unless you’re a 6-year-old girl.”

Ebert laughed, realizing how crazy it was for him to be recommending the movie.

When I bring friends to the screenings (for horror films, it’s a childhood friend appropriately named Wendy Graves), I point out what she thought of it, because most movie critics hate the crappy slasher flicks that are made nowadays. It will have more creedence among the horror fans out there, to know what someone that likes the genre feels about the latest Pet Semetary (we both kind of liked it).

If I bring kids to a kids movie, I include what they felt about it. Even though I feel like I could encompass what adults vs. kids would find entertaining.

And most times, I don’t even mention what my wife thinks. I only do that if we differ wildly on our opinions (which isn’t often), or we both loved it (and I want people to go see it), or we both hated it, and I want people to realize it’s not just because it’s a tough movie critic that “doesn’t like anything.”

That being said, I’d give this piece I just wrote 5 stars. My wife would say, “Like everything you say, it’s way too long, and nobody is even going to bother to read it all. It’s you ‘mansplaining’ and people will check out. Sure, you’re defending me, but you’re also boring me. I’m giving this article 2 stars.”

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