I can’t tell you how many times I’ll see a movie and think it’s great, and talk to a friend with the same taste in movies a month or so later that thought it sucked. From what I can tell there are several factors that make or break your thoughts of a particular movie. Every one of these factors may not apply to every movie because of one thing or another but generally if they all fall in place, you will more than likely have a good time.
See it close to when it comes out, preferably with like-minded people, and screw what the critics think.
- 1. How long has the movie been out?
The length of time a movie has been out can effect your movie watching experience in several ways. The longer a film is out the less amount of criticism it will receive making you less biased on the film. If the movie has been playing a long time in a theater, there will be less people watching it, and even less people watching it for the first time. When I go to see movie premieres at 12:01 am the theater is packed with people who have never seen the movie before and are coming in with as few negative preconceived opinions about the movie as possible. The audience either big or small is a crucial factor in having a good time which brings me to #2.
- 2. Who are you going to watch it with?
Watching a movie on HBO by yourself at your home is completely different than going to see that same movie at the premiere. The audience can make a bad movie good and a good movie bad. Horror movies on premieres are a great example. You have no real idea whats going to happen, none of your friends has dropped any spoiler alerts yet, and chances are I even haven’t explained it yet. You have people yelling at the screen “DONT GO IN THERE!”, you have the whole theater jumping when something scary happens, and you hear the reaction when one of the cast members gets killed in some insane way. You can literally feel the entire room participating. On the other hand you can see a movie you really want to watch and have people talking on a phone or have kids kicking your chair or that hungry baby new parents bring to the theater. Having a fresh and enthusiastic audience is one of the most critical parts of having a good time which I think is what puts Drive-In’s at a disadvantage.
People go to the Drive-In’s for all sorts of reasons and one or two of those reasons might be to actually watch a movie lol. Although I think they are great (and necessary) Drive-In’s just don’t have that same ethereal quality that puts you in the movie. People are social creatures, and the ambient noise of people getting startled, or amped up, or even roaring laughter at a joke has a big effect on how you will feel about what you just saw. We’re almost hard wired to see what everyone else is doing and react to it, and the reaction from the room at a theater is no different.
- 3. What have the critic’s said?
What the “Professionals” have said about a movie is one of those preconceived opinions you will have when going to see a movie. If you put a lot of weight in their opinions you have a considerable hurdle to overcome to enjoy yourself if they give the movie in question a bad review. Let me be clear that I simply do not like movie critics. There has been too many times I will see a movie they have dragged through the mud and thought it was amazing to put any real confidence in what they are telling me.
The critic’s opinion isn’t even the popular opinion. In fact they don’t even watch movies in the same way we do! They don’t ‘watch’ movies, they ‘examine’ movies and their opinions are so out of touch with the average movie patron it astounds me. As an example when you get some time, check out the reviews from ‘The Expendables’ (2010) on RottenTomatoes.com. At the time of writing only 38% of the ‘Top Critics’ liked it while 65% of their users liked it. Seriously. ‘Resident Evil: Afterlife’ (2010) has a similar senerio with 29% on ‘Top Critics’ and 66% approval from the general users.
- 4. Why are you there?
It may seem like a silly question to ask yourself but sometimes this even comes into play. If you’re at a movie theater for any other reason besides a genuine desire to see that movie, you are probably not going to like it. I get dragged to movies all the time that I don’t really care to see. I’m not a huge fan of chick flicks or romantic comedies, but my girlfriend is. So there I sit eating my $98 dollar popcorn and drinking my $37 dollar soda to make somebody else happy. Granted a bad day watching movies is better than the best day at work (in most cases), but the reason you’re watching it does have some barring on how you will feel about it.
Remember these things the next time you go see a movie. Remember to see it close to when it comes out, preferably with like-minded people, and screw what the critics think.