The Good, the Bad, and the Enjoyable of Film- Alexander Thompson

I feel like it’s safe to say that the majority of us like movies. Even if one isn’t an avid film buff, generally, they’ll still go and check out the latest rom-com or big blockbuster that everyone is talking about. We like movies because they’re fun to watch. It's something you can do with friends, and it's an excuse to eat junk food -- it’s great! Our love for the moving picture doesn't dampen our obsession of labeling films as either good or bad. It seems that the film viewing community has had an increased interest on review scoring with sites like Rotten Tomatoes being ever popular. Considering all this, I feel like there's a misconception about review scores and the labels of “good” or “bad”. In my opinion, a movie’s being either good or bad has nothing to do with whether a viewer will enjoy it or not.

Now, you're probably thinking “what do you mean? Isn't that the entire purpose of the review score.” Yes, its purpose is to let you know whether a film is worth seeing or not (and, to get media outlets extra reads by tapping into relevant social interests, but that's a whole other can of worms that we can look into later). A review is just a fancy way of putting someone's opinion out. I'd argue that what makes a film good is its technical elements. Is the story concise? Are the performances strong? Does the film engage you for the full runtime? If your movie has all of those and more, then most people will probably agree that it's a ”good” movie. But, does checking off all those boxes guarantee entertainment?

I hate to use this next film as my example, but it just fits the bill. Any time I have a conversation about film, 90% of the time, this comes up in the conversation. I'm talking about Tommy Wiseau's The Room. The infamous worst film of all time. I’m not here to argue that it's a good movie, because in my opinion, it is terrible. It doesn't have a compelling story, the performances aren’t convincing, plot points are introduced that don't lead anywhere, characters change personalities for no reason between scenes, and they completely recast one guy halfway through the movie. And yet, people religiously watch it around the world every year. The reason being that it’s so bad to the degree that it's fun to watch. There's so much nonsense in the film that it's hilarious. It's a terrible movie from a technical perspective, but what is to be said of the entertainment factor?

The same goes reverse for “good movies.” I recently watched Goodfellas, a classic Scorsese film. And from that technical standpoint mentioned earlier, I would agree that it is a “good” movie. However, I can’t say that I would be all that interested in watching it a second time. It never really engaged me to the level that I really felt entertained. I’m sure many would disagree with me and call my words blasphemous -- and that's fine. Film taste is subjective; we won’t all enjoy the same things. There are people that will watch The Room and be stuck up on how terrible it is without seeing the humour in its awfulness. We all enjoy different things, and it’s ridiculous to think we would all have the exact same reaction to everything. That’s why a critic’s rating is just an opinion, as no critic is going to enjoy every genre of film.

Not every film’s purpose is to be mind blowing and life changing. Some simply seek to entertain. You really think Mr. Bean’s Holiday teaches any life lessons? Well, besides the fact that Mr. Bean is a terrible role model.

Movies should be entertaining and engaging, and I’d rather enjoy something then hate it, even if it doesn’t live up to the standards of a “good” movie. You don’t have to enjoy everything, but when you hear someone say they like a movie you didn’t, you don’t have to tell them that they are wrong. Maybe they watched it from a different perspective, or perhaps that genre just simply isn’t your cup of tea.

If you see a bad review for a movie you enjoyed, that doesn’t mean you're wrong to like it. Don’t let other people's opinions stop you from enjoying the movies you like. At the same time, be courteous to other people's opinions, because you don’t have to like everything and everyone doesn’t have to like the same content as you. The magic of art is that it’s subjective. It’s from the subjectivity that we get variety. Without variety, every movie would just be the same, and do you really want that?

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