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In 1996, I was in the mood to watch a sad movie, so I asked my co-workers at the Chili's in Toco Hills for a recommendation I could take to the Blockbuster Video across the parking lot. Their suggestion was Two Moon Junction. I don't have a great memory of that film, but I do remember ultimately being disappointed by it. It was sad enough, I guess, but not in any poignant way. It's no The English Patient. (Which is just as well. I hated The English Patient.)

That's really the thing about movie reviews: it doesn't matter so much whether a critic likes or doesn't like something, it matters whether you and the critic like the same things. Therein lies the value of a film critic.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution used to have a critic named Eleanor Ringel. (She still writes criticism for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Why the Atlanta Business Chronicle runs movie reviews is another question altogether.) Ringel has long been my favorite critic because I know that anything she likes, I'll hate, and vice versa. She has the anti-Walter's taste in film. For example, she hates The Incredibles and loves Avengers: Infinity War. That's just wrong. Wrong, but useful. Compare Ringel to Rolling Stone critic Peter Travers, who earned his reputation by giving any blockbuster summer movie a great pull quote to use for their marketing. That's not useful.

Anyone who is capable of separating what they like from why they like it can be a critic. Sadly, that's too high a bar for most. I mean, it's fine if you like Aquaman, but you have to be able to explain why for anyone else to find value in your subjective opinion. "It was a fun thrill ride" is not a helpful blurb if my idea of fun is an episode of NOVA about the construction of medieval cathedrals and yours is watching idiots eat Tide PODSĀ® on YouTube.

For going on 8 years now, I've been obsessively tracking on this site the movies I watch. I do that mostly for my own benefit, though I do try to put what I've watched into some context of why I did or did not enjoy it. If that helps anyone else find a movie to watch, great. But stay away from Two Moon Junction. It's not good.

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In today's newspaper, I saw an advertisement for the new movie Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film For Theaters. The ad included this endorsement: "Perversely entertaining,...whups the ass of TMNT!" -- Peter Travers, Rolling Stone.

If you ever make a movie, give Peter Travers a few bucks, and he'll say something good about it for you to put in your promotional advertising. I don't know what Mr. Travers' personal taste in films is, but he seems to have something banal to say about everything, no matter how bad a movie it is. And I'm not alone in noticing this. Travers is oft called a "blurbwhore," and hollwoodbitchslap.com names their annual award to the critic most often quoted in promotional advertising the "Peter Travers Whore of the Year Award."

To get a handle on how many movies Travers shills for, take a look at the five other ads published today that used Travers' comments:
300: "Prepare your eyes for popping -- they just might fly out of their sockets!"
Disturbia
: "A nail-biter. Cool stuff. Cool movie."
Grindhouse: "This tour-de-force gets you high on movies again!"
Hoax
: "A devilish satire with mischievous wit."
Hot Fuzz: "A blast!"

Well, guys, perhaps you shouldn't all chose to quote Travers in the same week. It sort of weakens his endorsement if he endorses everything, doesn't it?

His blurbs tend to be very, um, visceral, clearly tailored for an audience desperate for thrills. His blurbs might not tell you anything about the movies themselves, but at least they're entertaining. Recent favorites of mine include the following:
King Kong: "What you will see will spin your head six ways from Sunday." (Ouch. Look away!)
Mission Impossible III: "The movie to beat in the race to push your pulse rate past the danger zone." (Past the danger zone? Watching this movie will kill me?)
Poseidon: "Hits the action button and never stops!" (Never stops pushing the action button?)
Rocky Balboa: "Stallone steps in the ring and every day is Christmas." (Sweet.)

(P.S. Note that Peter Travers has never reviewed the movie TMNT, at least so far as I can tell at Rollingstone.com. Therefore, how would he know if ATHF whups its ass? Sounds good, though, doesn't it, Peter.)

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To be continued...

 

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