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Shower Thought #1: Stop calling movies formulaic #fb

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Movie reviewers will often deride a movie by calling it formulaic. I claim this characterization is useless for casual moviegoers, the target audience of a movie reviewer.

11:59 Restate my assumptions

  1. Movie reviews exist for the purpose of telling somebody with a busy life whether he should spend spend upwards of $10 to see it.*
  2. A formulaic movie is defined as one that follows a plot with a common progression shared by other movies that fall into that formula and contains characters that fall into standard archetypes.
  3. A successful movie is one that makes more than its costs. The free market has spoken.

Formulaic movies work. The Bond movies all follow the same exact script. It’s a script that moviegoers have come to expect and enjoy, so much so that there has never been an unprofitable Bond movie. Look  up the movies from this article. All of them made gobs of money, with budget/earnings ratios exceeding even those of the Bond movies. So clearly, some segment of the population enjoys these movies even in the face of movie reviewers who call the movies formulaic.

Nor should we expect these people to care whether a movie is formulaic. These people haven’t spent four years sitting through film criticism courses in college or watched a movie daily for a decade in order to form a base of comparison. To them, the word formulaic means nothing because they have no preconceived idea of a formula to compare a movie against.

Therefore, reviewers who call a movie formulaic are not helping their audience, but they are simply engaging in mental masturbation.

*Of course, assumption #1 is wrong. Movie reviewers try to review the movie as art rather than as a recommendation. By starting from this view, they fail to inform the greater public and do a disservice to the newspapers they serve.


Written by notatypewriter

2010 October 3 at 1:18 pm

Posted in Thoughts

Tagged with ,

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