7 Dumb Things People Say When They Don’t Dig A Movie

There’s no shame in a movie not working for you. This is something I’ve come to terms with over the course of my movie-watching career. Very few movies, or anything that ultimately often comes down to taste preferences, are universally appreciated. This isn’t a flaw to the system; it’s how the system works. It’s how taste works. Different strokes for different folks and all that. It takes all kinds, etc. etc. I have no beef with people who simply don’t dig a movie or show or whatevs that I care deeply about. There’s plenty of stuff that others think is great that I’m not into for one reason or another.

Here’s where issues arise though: it’s in the reasons people give for not liking something. It’s usually more appropriate to place the responsibility for not liking a movie, especially if people have been making pretty airtight and detailed cases for its greatness, on yourself. I’m not blaming Amour for the fact that it didn’t connect with me. Everyone else who’s seen it seems to think it was devastating. And I was probably tired and cranky when I watched it late at night. I can’t say why I didn’t get into it, but I didn’t. No worries, right?

For lots of people that’s not good enough. They seem to think giving some meaningless explanation for not liking a movie will give their taste some sort of credibility. I’ve witnessed enough of this kind of talk, from critics and mainstream moviegoers alike, to identify a few cliché criticisms people make when they obviously can’t think of anything original or interesting to say about why a movie didn’t work for them. Because they don’t seem to simply think the movie didn’t work for them; it’s that it doesn’t work as a movie. If it didn’t appeal to them specifically then it’s a failure as a piece of work. Or it didn’t conform to some imaginary “rules” about filmmaking. Come on.

Here are 7 things people will say are a movie’s shortcomings when they don’t know what they’re talking about. Watch out for them because they usually show a person is BS-ing you. It’s not to say everyone who says this stuff is completely clueless, but rather that one who is completely clueless tends to rely on these tropes. Sorry if this is a little ranty.

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Comments (52)

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  1. skunkybeaumontsays:

    If I tried to cite this article when talking about misnomers and non sequiturs in online ‘journalism’ then I’d probably be wrong for it. Its a good article in principle and effort.

  2. MarcusMIDIsays:

    This article is spot on, I know so many people over the years churning out one-liners about films like that! Spot on Sir 😉

  3. Must say, no one of my friends have never come up to me after we´ve seen a bad movie and told me. Man this movie was so poor edited.

  4. whatanunoriginalarticlesays:

    what a stupid article every line that you used was viable in my opinion maybe not …it was great but there wasnt much there, and even that one i could make an excuse for ex. avatar was great but there wasnt much there as far as a story goes

    and what is dumb about someone saying a movie was poorly edited… sounds to me the gob who wrote this is a bitter little film connoisseur know it all elitist twat 🙂

    ex. if steven speilsberg said that film was poorly edited, you wouldnt be jumpin to say what a dumb thing …exactly!

    1. Arrisays:

      well, precisely!! you are not Spielberg, and there is nothing called “equality”… what goes for Spielberg, does not go for you…

  5. Cinemarksays:

    On the so unoriginal tag, there are some films that warrant this comment, especially Avatar. Not only are the themes and story borderline on plagerism, but the visuals look like they’re pulled right off of Roger Dean’s Yes album covers. Yes, technologically the film was a breakthrough, although not much more than Lord Of The Rings.
    Now that doesn’t mean I didn’t like it, I was entertained by it despite some eyeball rolling I was doing. It is a fun movie to watch.

  6. ab111111says:

    “It just sucked. I was bored the whole time.”

    Kinda like this article

  7. I’m surprised The Master and Cloud Atlas aren’t on here XD

  8. Alex Lowesays:

    I definitely agree with 5. I had a screenwriting professor once who said every film is at least 80% unoriginal, it’s what they do with the 20% that matters.

  9. Hate Hackssays:

    Holy shit…Writing has devolved so much since the internet. Just about any moron who can focus long enough to hammer out some worthless, no research involved, opinion piece can get it published (posted) on a site. Please, learn how to write a decent article before you embarass yourself further.

  10. Bill Paxton Cameosays:

    Usually dumb people just say, “it sucks”, not talk about film making techniques.

    1. Editing/ Pacing problems.

    I don’t get it. If you can’t tell a movie has bad editing because you can’t see what was cut, how can you tell if it has good editing? Both; because you can see what is still there.

    Pacing is more a problem with the writing.

    2. Bad direction.

    True, it’s hard to tell what exactly is the result of the director alone, from a single film. But you can get an idea when you see the same thing again and again in all his movies, especially if it has other things that you know that you like, such as actors, composers, etc. Ultimately the director is the one who takes responsibility for achieving a film’s vision, and if it’s bad that should fall on them.

    3. Good but flawed.

    Yeah, it’s nitpicky, but it’s not necessarily incorrect.

    4. Style no substance.

    The complaint is not that they don’t care about style, it’s that they wanted other things to be good about the movie beside that one thing.

    5. Unoriginal.

    Same thought as 4. “Just because it’s a remake doesn’t mean it has to be bad.” Right, so why was it bad then? It’s even worse because it screwed up an idea that they already knew worked well in other films.

    6. Can’t relate.

    You’re right, but that’s part of subjectivity. If criticizing film techniques is not OK, then all that’s left is subjectivity and this is a big one.

    7. It sucks!

    There you go.

  11. Dalinkwentsays:

    This article is basically saying unless you’re a film expert, you can’t be critical of movies. Considering art itself is subjective and in the eye of the beholder, this article is perplexing.

  12. “It looks greatsays:

    Have you seen a Quentin Tarantino movie Darren ?

  13. Larrysays:

    What a waste of fucking time. I was hoping for an insightful look into the process of movie making to expose the errors of some of the more typical complaints out there and what I got instead is the equivalent of a forum post. Do yourselves a favor and real the ingredients jar of store bought pasta sauce for a mare entertaining read.

    Example: Style over substance: Movies that do both well are what we call classics. Look at the photography of a Kurosawa film and the memorable images constructed. Then add the great stories, the character developments, the emotive pathos and so on, and you had original works that had its own style without sacrificing the story.

    You can separate the two, a great story of substance with no style or a great style with no undertones and just a superficial story, and have a good movies, but when you combines the two, that’s when you get the best movies, like a Lawrence of Arabia, or a Braveheart, or a Terminator 2 or The Godfather. Style + Substance = movie magic.

    This article has neither style nor substance.

  14. The only one I have heard of or said myself is number 7.
    Don’t forget shitty artsy fartsy bullshit movies like “the artist”

  15. Jordansays:

    Yea, I feel this article hit it dead on. And right on to the dude who wrote it. It’s a great article to slam those who hastily cast a movie off as bad or boring. To those who say it sucked, you must use these dumb lines all the time about movies and this article hurt your feelings. Get your panties out of a bunch.

  16. Nicosays:

    This article was a load of tripe. You sound so pretentious

  17. Adolphussays:

    I really hate this article. Any of these 7 “dumb things people say” can absolutely be used to criticize a movie. Film Criticism 101 says that as long as you support your argument with specific evidence from the film, the criticism is valid. I guess you were only paying attention during the part about “mise-en-scene.” This entire article is a pedantic piece of shit.

    I think you should write a follow up piece about “7 dumb things people say when they like a movie”, and start with people that call a film “fucking solid” as you did on your twitter feed in praise of Mystic River. Twitter character limitation or not, that is a really dumb thing to say when you like a movie.(you forgot to #charlatan in that post, btw)

    1. Edward La Guardiasays:

      Exactly, and I’m glad that your response has almost 50 up votes and 0 down votes…because you’re right.

      The cinematic ignoramus who wrote this article doesn’t seem to realize that every single one of these statements applies to at least one movie in existence. Like style over substance…oh man there are TONS and TONS of movie that are visually stunning and put you in a world that is just breathtaking but the story leaves much to be desired (What Dreams May Come; Mirror, Mirror; Alice in Wonderland ’10; Sucker Punch; and tons of others that don’t spring to mind this instant.

      That rejection of that criticism alone shows the writer here doesn’t exactly know what they are talking about…just another example of someone whose job I (and/or several other people I know) should have instead of him…sad…..

    2. Ted Redsays:

      Agree 100%, sounds like the writer hasn’t come to grips with people not liking the movies he likes. LOL

    3. Jennifer Checkisays:

      I agree 95%. Some of these are valid to a large extent, but many have no validity whatsoever. Julian McMahon spoke to playing a villain: “ultimately, the viewers have to want to make the journey with you.” Whether you describe it as being unable to relate to the characters or another way, most people do not enjoy sitting through a film where they feel nothing for the characters. A viewer has to have an emotional response to characters, be it sympathy, love, hate, anger, etc.

  18. I’m sorry but movies can be boring and characters CAN be unlikable. For me if the main character/Hero of a movie is someone I don’t like, then it’s going to effect how much I like the movie.

  19. Mike Grunwaldsays:

    Might want to check your facts on the Editing Oscar; it’s been won by the Best Picture winner less than half the time.

    1. Less then half is still a significant amount, and it’s definitely more relevant recently.

  20. shadyginzosays:

    almost every word of this article was sickeningly self-righteous, you saved yourself a morsel or two of credibility by acknowledging your own ignorance on a couple of occasions but elsewhere you couldn’t seem to get over an editorial equivalent of small man syndrome. I have no idea what you were thinking when you wrote this but even if you do genuinely believe that there are such criminally ill-informed movie-goers out there your article only serves to offend your audience or worse still castrate the genuine amateur critics out there. Those passionate enough about films as a pass-time and cultural indulgence owe you no apology for the lack of qualification you seem to perceive.

  21. Loved the article, this was perfect! These are the exact type of moronic criticisms that I hear coming out of movie critics and movie-goers concerning movies that I find ridiculous as well.

    People trying to criticize things about movie making that they truly know nothing about JUST to make themselves sound more intelligent is so obnoxious. Of course not everyone can like the same things, but too many viewers take it as their opportunity to stand out as the know-it-all.

    The WORST is when a critic trashes a movie for not being what they expected. How about watching the movie for what it “is” and not for what you think it should be? I guess that’s a bit too much to ask.

    Loved the article, this was perfect! These are the exact type of moronic criticisms that I hear coming out of movie critics and movie-goers concerning movies that I find ridiculous as well.

    People trying to criticize things about movie making that they truly know nothing about JUST to make themselves sound more intelligent is so obnoxious. Of course not everyone can like the same things, but too many viewers take it as their opportunity to stand out as the know-it-all.

    The WORST is when a critic trashes a movie for not being what they expected. How about watching the movie for what it “is” and not for what you think it should be? I guess that’s a bit too much to ask.

  22. And the people below who hate this article are the very ones you’ve been describing sir 🙂

  23. Your opinion of a movie should be based on one thing. The movie. If you deem a film a piece of crap because you were hungry or had a headache. Or decided Run Lola Run was the best movie ever coz you saw it on shrooms, that’s no way to be a movie critic. Asshole. Have an opinion, please. Just don’t call it a “movie review”.

  24. “It’s like grammar. People will be sticklers for “correct” grammar, when
    really, as long as people understand what your trying to say…”

    If confusing “your” and “you’re” in a quip about people being sticklers for “correct” grammar was done intentionally, well played. Well played, indeed.

  25. extraintelligencesays:

    You know, it’s pretty ironic that you’re doing a bad job of criticizing people’s tendencies to do a bad job of criticizing movies.

    1. Edwinsays:

      Burn!

  26. Simonsays:

    Well, the point of this article is (as I interpret it) to call the bluffs people often use towards both themselves and others to cover up the fact that they, besides
    taste, do not have actual evidence or reason why a movie is bad. He states in
    the first page that: “It’s not to say everyone who says this stuff is completely clueless, but rather that one who is completely clueless tends to rely on these tropes.” So what he is actually against is the times people use these arguments in a so vague and uninformed way that they are essentially pointless, but sounds good. It is not the fact that someone may not like a movie based on evidence or taste, but when someone try to justify it with ambiguous pseudo-arguments that is very annoying. It is also not the case that these arguments are never valid, only that they are more often than not abused for other reasons than to actually analyse the movie in question. I do it sometimes and I am convinced that 99% of all movie viewers do to a varying degree – consciously or not.

    I think this was a good article, not a great one in its execution, but I still found it
    a decent read: it’s core message, that people make up stupid shit and try to justify themselves in ways to make them look better/more knowledgeable/as more of an authority than they really are, is still a very good point to make – and not just about movies.

  27. Kirk Maillouxsays:

    This a reason someone to gave to not like Trance. I liked it because it was a movie that made you think and there was one character I found likable which was Rosario Dawson’s character

  28. Stansays:

    Personaly the author sounds abit full of himself, a bit preachy such as i’m an expert and the unwashed masses don’t have a clue about the making a movie.
    Also, many of the same conclusions we, the movie goers, seem to make are also made by the critics(other experts on or above the same plane the author puts himself on),Does this mean that these people who have spent years learning film making and studing them are also as stupid and dumb as we.I think not.
    I think we know “a stinker” when we see it and deserve alot more credit than the author is giving us.

  29. Pizza the Hutsays:

    James Cameron is a known hack he steals other people’s work sorry!

  30. Chris Robert Ericksonsays:

    I know in context you probably did it intentionally, but *you’re*

  31. Sacksays:

    I rate the success of a movie on several criteria. The story must be more than superficial. It must have a climax and a finish where the main character has gained insight into himself/grown as a person/succeeded at something perceived as unattainable/or given up something he valued greatly as a momentous act. Characters must be complex, well rounded and with clear reasons for being in the movie. Special effects should be used to further the plot, not to artificially ramp up the excitement.

    A good example of a poor movie is “Dune”. The book was about the workings of three major factions juggling for position on a massively valuable planet. Each controls a portion of the puzzle that will make the planet profitable and none of them will share. It’s a thick book and it’s packed with intrigue, betrayal, danger and debauchery. At times it’s hard to tell what is right and what is wrong, who is the villain and who the hero.

    The movie, “Dune” is about a family who seeks to sell drugs off world but becomes torn apart by that same drug. It takes all the debauchery but leaves out the world view. It makes caricatures of hero and villain alike. A sad excuse for a film.

    More and more US film makers have gone for flash rather than substance. More and more I’ve been seeking out Canadian and English films.

    1. P.M. Gleasonsays:

      You have no idea what Dune is “about”.

  32. David Kernsays:

    Perfect examples of why #5 is such a mindless critique are several of Gary Kubiack’s films. “The Shining” and “Space Odyessy” are rightfully hearlded as magnificant but but it can be argued they a merley reimagined source material. So what? Christianity steals virtually everyone of its lessons, imagery and tenants from ‘pegan’ religons; that deosn’t mean it lacks value, right?

  33. Desmon M Dunnsays:

    Somebody got there favorite film smashed and wrote an article about how the other person was wrong. Also, I think all of these are valid points. Maybe you just dont understand film. I had almost all of these issues with World War Z.

  34. Jimmy Deansays:

    Most of the comments pertaining to this article are sadly poorly edited.

  35. Daniel Poursays:

    Avatar was shit.

  36. Froddoislostsays:

    Darren,

    Thought of the day;

    ‘Your’ is the possessive form of ‘you’. As in; You just showed us your butt with this article.

    You’re is the contraction of ‘you’ and ‘are’. As in; You’re about the worst writer I’ve ever read. To Wit; your points are, in and of themselves, arrogant. I see what you mean about ‘editing’ and ‘directing’, but without an hour and a half to pick out each piece of material that was bad in the movie, sometimes you have to summarize, assuming that most shots were done several times and that the story could have been edited to make the flow more even.

    Barring that; your article basically says; don’t criticize movies because there’s no possible way you’re an expert, like me.

    (See what I did there, with the your and you’re used in their proper context?)

    Too much fun. Better luck on your next article.

  37. Brian Mac Iansays:

    Over the years, I’ve realized that some people who like a movie that I don’t think is that great, will, when pressed, reveal that they realize the flaws but the enjoyable elements of the film outweighed the significance of the flaws in their mind. Some folks call this a “guilty pleasure.” I certainly have my guilty pleasures. The bottom line: some viewers don’t care about the criticism because the movie appeals to them in a way that matters.

    I’ll tell you what I find fascinating: Try critiquing a film that holds great emotional value to someone who is schooled in the art of criticism. I’ve done that a few times and sometimes they want to rip me a new one. I’ve also been in the reverse role and reacted in ways I thought were emotional.

    I’ve developed a conversation tool when talking about a film with a friend, especially when we’re walking out of the theater, through the lobby, into the parking lot and, sometimes, at a post-viewing dinner or drink. I couch my criticisms like this: “I didn’t like the way that ___________.” I think that acknowledges your bias and you earn respect in the discussion; it nips emotion-based, ad hominem attacks between friends in the bud when you’re picking it apart.

    I do feel that some movies emphasize style over substance and it is a legitimate gripe when it is pointed out. Yes, fascinating scenery, framing, wardrobe, language or action go a long way toward an enjoyable film-watching experience. But if there is no storyline (or if it’s a very weak one), those are all just overemphasized elements that serve as crutches.

  38. Pleb monkeysays:

    I’m amazed no one has written an article about arses like you who seem to think they are intelligent by expressing hate towards a mainstream subject. A terrible article

  39. P.M. Gleasonsays:

    …it’s quite obvious when anything is poorly edited simply for the fact that you can point out multiple ways that it could be vastly improved with editing.

    What a terrible article.

  40. Luke Elliotsays:

    This article should be titled
    “7 legitimate arguments for disliking a film”

  41. Brandy McNameesays:

    Lol… well played, dear author… [nearly] every comment on this page justifies every point you made in your article. There’s a lot of butt-hurt critics and film-school drop-outs here today… XD

  42. CoaxialJunkiesays:

    Well – If everything you say is true – there are no bad movies …. Yeeeeaaahh!

  43. Mr. 9says:

    “The fact that the Oscar for Best Editing almost always gets awarded to the movie that also wins Best Picture bears this out.”

    I didn’t know that 34 Best Picture and Best Editing combos out of 85 (that’d be 40%) constituted “almost always”. And because I actually use evidence to support my statements, here are the 34 films that won both Best Picture and Best Editing:

    2012 Argo
    2009 The Hurt Locker
    2008 Slumdog Millionaire
    2006 The Departed
    2005 Crash
    2003 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
    2002 Chicago
    1997 Titanic
    1996 The English Patient
    1994 Forrest Gump
    1993 Schindler’s List
    1992 Unforgiven
    1990 Dances With Wolves
    1987 The Last Emperor
    1986 Platoon
    1982 Gandhi
    1978 The Deer Hunter
    1976 Rocky
    1973 The Sting
    1971 The French Connection
    1970 Patton
    1967 In the Heat of the Night
    1965 The Sound of Music
    1962 Lawrence of Arabia
    1961 West Side Story
    1960 The Apartment
    1959 Ben-Hur
    1958 Gigi
    1957 The Bridge on the River Kwai
    1956 Around the World in 80 Days
    1954 On the Waterfront
    1953 From Here to Eternity
    1946 The Best Years of Our Lives
    1939 Gone With the Wind

  44. erreecesays:

    One of the worst articles I’ve ever read.

  45. Fanboy Bobsays:

    Yeah… well, Amazing Spider Man was a hot mess about a character I can only despise for his self-centeredness, and I have to wonder where those who adore it are coming from. The problem has nothing to do with it being another retelling of the origin and everything to do with little modifations that changed the character a guilt-driven decent kid into a kid who merely reacts in anger to the death of his Uncle by immediately using his superhuman abilities to become a bully, punishing an unrelated and helpless pretty criminal while spouting belittling banter.

    I want to see a big giant Galactus foot come down and step on this spider, because there is nothing noble or redeemable there.

    Further, despite some overrated 3D processing, the film is mostly a regression in terms of visual effects and direction, so I can’t even see how fans might have been dazzled into overlooking the character issue.

    I wind up suspecting that the people who rave ASM see themselves in this character, identifying more with the prideful angst of this quiltless mister-smarty-britches than the regretful but morally convicted character Peter Parker has been in every other interpretation. While there may be interest in a less idealistic version of the character, such was done in the comics much more intelligently with the ongoing Superior Spider-Man storyline, which puts a less noble individual in the costume, rather than “re-imagining” the iconic character of Peter Parker as a slimy spoilt brat.

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