Wow, Meh, Yuck

Isabel never saw a movie she didn’t like
until she was 30.

That’s my father speaking: Well, it’s my father’s voice in my head. I remember it clearly, although I’ve long-since forgotten who (besides me) he was sharing this insight with. And I never knew whether he was identifying a sad lack of discrimination or a happy ability to be pleased with whatever came by.

Funny? Yes. True? Not quite. Some of those late-night WWII movies I watched as a teenager were pretty drab. I watched them to the end anyway. With a handful of TV channels, all of them off the air for 8 hours/day, my choices were limited.

Maybe that early experience explains in part why I recently finished watching a movie I thought was truly awful. I kept thinking, “This has to get better.” But it never did, and then it ended.

I’m not much for rating stuff online, but I reached for the remote control for this one, keen to warn others: Stay Away! Then I stared, aghast, at my options.

Rating scheme for movie serviceIn what possible universe does one star mean, “I hated it”? No no no. One star means:

  • “I wouldn’t watch it again but it was OK.”
  • “The screenplay was silly and the acting was only OK, but it was mildly amusing.”
  • “This is a typical vehicle for so-and-so. Not a film for the ages, but OK.”

One star means “I hated it” only when the objective is to get a star even from people who hated it, so others will say,

Look, it gets one star. How bad can it be?

One star — all the stars in this rating scheme — should be averaged from viewer input. My “Yuck!” should dilute “Wow!” ratings from critics who apparently and inexplicably liked it. And I’m still unexplicked even after reading their comments:

— a brilliant allegory for the increasingly superficial systems of contemporary courtship —

— visually stunning, narratively bold, and totally singular —

— [the director’s] most accessible and purely enjoyable film yet

Yikes. Remind me not to watch any of this director’s less accessible and enjoyable movies.

One critic did offer some small-c criticism:

elegant and eccentric in Lanthimos’ familiar style,
but appears to run out of ideas at its mid-way point

And the rating that he gave to a movie that ran out of ideas halfway through? Three stars out of five. Three.

Is that a sad lack of discrimination or a happy ability to enjoy whatever narratively bold and brilliant allegory comes by? I don’t know, although I have some singular suspicions.

I do know that I’m paying more attention to rating systems. And from now on, I’m only playing if I get to select from the full range. The real full range.

Rating scheme from email



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14 Responses to Wow, Meh, Yuck

  1. Tom Watson says:

    Ahem! You didn’t mention the movie you recently watched that was “truly awful.” Might save me some time.

    Reminds me of daughter Valerie and me watching “Roma” last winter when I was out there. We kept thinking that it had to get better…after all it had several Academy Award nominations…but it just never did rise to the promise. “Meh” would be mild in comparison to our reactions.
    Of course, it did go on to win three Awards!


  2. Barbara Carlson says:

    Cyberspace ate my Reply!

  3. My computer is working so slowly, this might reach you by Tuesday. I do want to extend my sympathy for the horrors now embedded in your brain. Reading about it was nauseating. I understand “absurd,” “dystopian,” and “black.” But “comedy”?

    I read a dispiriting novel early in the summer that I considered “educational.” When I read a review that used the words “dark comedy” I was similarly disgusted.

    We are not amused. And good for us.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Laurna – Humour is a species capacity, as far as I know, but isn’t based on a universal set of sensitivities, that’s for sure. Considering just the sophistication dimension, I find neither pratfalls nor dystopian worlds funny. But. then, I don’t get modern art, either, tending to the representational. 🙂 With respect to this movie, I’d have done better to trust my instincts sooner rather than hanging in because of two actors whose work I usually respect.

    • Barbara Carlson says:

      Sometimes I want to add my “like” etc., but the option may mean you agree with the person posting OR you agree with what they dislike. May I don’t know the protocol (meaning) of these emojis. Often the only emoji that really tells how I feel is a chimpanzee planting his big palm on his forehead.

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