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POPCORN CENTRAL:Defining a film critic’s role

Some people don’t like film critics. That’s cool. After all, what do we know?

We’re just people who sometimes get to see movies for free, and then bash them in reviews.

We’re not here to change the world. We don’t write the important stories in a newspaper – that distinction is usually reserved for news writers.

But sometimes, we serve a purpose. Sometimes, we weave words together on the subject of movies and entertain a reader or two. Sometimes, we may even sway an opinion on whether to see a particular film during the weekend.

But we’re not special. (Pssst … Not all of us realize this.)

So that’s what I want to talk about this week. There is a perception that film critics are supposed to be the all-seeing, all-knowing judges of the movie world.

The truth is that we only really have a small window of opportunity to make a difference with our job. That lies on whether you – the reader – haven’t decided to see a certain film yet.

For example, I saw Serving Sara last week. I had read reviews that said it was bad, and basically unfunny.

But I went anyway. And I liked it.

Granted, Elizabeth Hurley is nothing more than a glorified line-reader who is only on the screen because she’s also a model. And most of the humor either relies on Cedric the Entertainer dancing around like a goofball or on sexually demeaning jokes that are sure to offend even the most casual of feminists.

But I went, and laughed, because I like Matthew Perry. That same reasoning defends my desire to see any films featuring Jon Lovitz and/or Adam Sandler, or ones directed by Michael Bay (Armageddon).

No film critic can sway me from seeing a film that is surely going to be a bomb.

It’s not my place to tell anyone not to see a Serving Sara or an Armageddon. Or the next Star Trek flick, for that matter, which will surely appeal to most Trekkies but only a limited number of filmgoers beyond that.

My role, rather, is to be a guide, if you will, for those moviegoers who are still “on the fence.”

When I read a review, I am basically asking a question: What does this reviewer think about this movie? I have been burned too many times by reviews giving away too much about a film that I actually want to see. But if I want to be pushed in a certain direction – as we all do at times – then a film review has a purpose.

That’s pretty much all I’m doing – judging a film on its merits as a piece of cinematic art and simply reporting on the experience.Some films are good, some films are bad, and some films are like Dude, Where’s My Car? – just don’t let me prevent you from enjoying it.

My job then is simply to say, “I told you so.”

But hey, that’s just like my opinion, man.

Contact Will Albritton at