Critiquing the Critics / Judging the Judges / Rating the Raters
Movie Review Review:
Betsy Sharkey’s review of Ivan Reitman’s No Strings Attached promises mo’, but delivers quite a bit less.
Fourteen words into Betsy Sharkey’s latest movie review for the Los Angeles Times, and I felt like the actress in that one movie with Tom Cruise and the little kid who says “fuck”:
She had me at “rom-com.”
That’s rom-com as in, Ivan Reitman’s film starring [what’s-his-name] and [who’s-her-face] is a sporadically intriguing rom-com ultimately tainted by [yada-yada-yada].
Emphasis mine. Same goes for those bracketed parts.
Rom-com, I quickly ascertained, is short for “romantic comedy.” But what a way to say it! It’s fast. It’s hip. It’s sleek and sexy. It says to the reader, “Hey – I’m too busy to write all these letters, and you’re too busy to read them, so let’s stop kidding ourselves and just move on to the next word already.”
That’s exactly what I wanted to hear. These six simple letters (plus one oh-so-delicate punctuation mark) announced to the world that this was going to be no ordinary movie review. This would be the review that speaks to an entire generation of attention span starved, needlessly abbreviating even the shortest of words, texting while sexting while drinking while driving tweens all across the country. Or at least a few of them between Encino and Tarzana.
If this was how her article began, then surely she had even more amazing feats of slangy, pop culture infused brevity to bedazzle us with in the ensuing paragraphs. Or so I thought.
Paragraph two: …studio suits worried that the movie’s strong female/sentimental male might not bring in bubbas…
Bubbas, huh? Not bad, I suppose. The word choice here does boast a bit of a sassy edge – but at this point I’m expecting to discover new and inventive ways to save time and keystrokes during my fast and furious, next-round-of-Angry-Birds-is-about-to-start instant messaging sessions. Does Sharkey have something against saying “Bubs”?
Paragraph three: That doesn’t happen in “No Strings”…
I’ll admit, shortening the title of the movie you’re reviewing by cutting out it’s longest word does satisfy one’s desire for succinctness. But honestly – such tactics are hardly original, and they do little to get any modern, snark-craving audience’s adrenaline flowing.
And things completely fall apart after that.
Sharkey abandons any further meaningful attempt to abbreviate, resorting instead to simply replacing the occasional conjunction with a hyphen (funny-sweet, hi-bye). The final paragraph is perhaps her most unforgivable, as she writes: “No Strings Attached” gets better. After having established quite clearly earlier in the piece that the word “Attached” is no longer necessary when naming this movie, here Sharkey regresses. A more consistent writer would have avoided this obvious blunder. A true visionary would have shortened the title even further, simply referring to the film as “No.”
It is missed opportunities such as this that result is an ultimately disappointing review. Though Sharkey initially captures the attention and imagination of middle schoolers everywhere, she loses them just as they presumably lost their virginities – all too quickly, and without joy.
Andy Ankowski, January 28, 2011
Did she really write “hi-bye”?
The last line of this review of a review is golden. And, funny ’cause it’s true…sigh.