Critics’ Confessions: What Too Many Film Critics (including Me) Forget


It’s common for people to complain about poor service before anything else.

How many diners rush up to the manager to let him know the waiter has done a good job? They are more likely to fear cold food or lousy service.

Ask James Corden.

So it was nice to get a Twitter DM earlier this week related to a new movie release. The actor in question co-starred in the film, and he thanked me for my thoughtful praise.

I’ll leave the film and actor in question a mystery. This is not the subject.

The exchange turned out to be civil, with the actor noting a common thread we shared as well as his appreciation for the positive review.

What if the opposite had happened? Maybe I hated the movie and his performance, and I said that unequivocally. It’s not uncommon.

This is one of the reasons I avoid being personal in my reviews. I never comment on a star’s appearance beyond how it suits the role and the general vibe. And I do my best to leave out the personal life of an actor. I don’t always succeed, but I try.

Still, the back and forth left me uneasy.


It takes me anywhere from 90 minutes to over two hours to screen a film, often from the comfort of my home. I write fast, so compiling the review can take as little as an hour of my working day. Or, roughly how long it takes an actor to finish their lunch before the cameras start rolling again.

An hour versus weeks, and weeks, on a film set. That hardly seems fair.

It also emphasizes the review of a film critic. What if I’m in a bad mood that day, or if the genre is one of my least favorites? Did this have an impact on the tone of the review?

There are so many intangibles that go into the work of a film critic. That’s why it’s wonderful how the web has opened up the gig to so many fans – some of whom write better reviews than the pros.

And this reviewer juggles a lot of balls in any given week. I write for OutKick, The daily thread, Newsbusters and Just the News, among others. I am also preparing the return of my podcast, as well as parallel concerts such as my “professorial” stint at PragerU.

The temptation to write a review without considering the talent involved is… considerable. Allow me to conclude and move on to my next mission. These deadlines are not respected.

It’s just an opinion, right? Of course, except for the people who made the movie possible.

These actors deserve my full attention. Still. Even the craziest movies involve endless dedication, long hours, and sacrifice. The least I can do is give each review my best effort.

Which is why I’m glad the actor reached out with his two cents. The exchange reminded me not only of consumers hungry for advice, but also of the artists directly impacted by them.


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