Top Tens

Top Ten List of Worst Excuses Made for 'Bad' Movies

Haters gonna hate

Weak excuses being made for "bad" movies isn't a new thing. For as long as I can remember people have been combating thought out and reasoned film opinions with simple one sentence rebuttals. With the widespread growth of the Internet these excuses are now being "heard" on a much larger scale, often 140 characters or less at a time or in comment threads on sites such as this.

As someone that reviews movies on a weekly basis I probably see a larger variety than most people and I will admit it used to irk me to no end. Now, after almost nine years of writing reviews, it's just part of the job.

As for the reason for this particular top ten, it may surprise you it actually doesn't stem from frustration with commenters on my reviews, though most of the excuses listed here were directly lifted and/or paraphrased from comments found on this site. Instead it came as a result of a back-and-forth text conversation I had with my mother after she went to see Larry Crowne. I'd been thinking of putting a list like this together for some time, but when my own mother used one of these excuses on me I felt it was finally time to hit publish.

That said, here's my list of the ten worst excuses used for "bad" movies with a few comments for each as to why they made this list. I'm sure you'll have your own to add in the end...

10.
"You just don't get it."

Yes, sometimes people just don't get it, but that's not what I am referring to here. If you have to help someone out by explaining a film to them that's fine, that's called being helpful. However, there is also the thickheaded individual that would rather defend a film by telling someone they don't get it rather than explain what it is exactly they don't get. Not helpful. Annoying.

This can also come in different varieties, such as a recent comment I saw in relation to Sucker Punch when someone described it as "one of the most misunderstood movies ever." The problem here isn't with the opinion, but with the fact that was the end of the comment. What were people misunderstanding? Enlighten us? Share with us your theory.

The problem is, the people making this comment don't typically "get it" themselves, which is too bad considering well thought out opposing opinions are the life blood of cinematic conversation. Of course, this is top ten all about the comments that destroy that very conversation.

9.
"It's not as bad as people said."

How many times have you heard how bad a film is only to end up seeing it and say to yourself, "Eh, it wasn't as bad as people said it was"? A lot probably. This happens because your expectations have been lowered to the point it would be hard for a film to fail on the level you expect it to. The same can be said, and often is, for films people heap praise on. By the time you've seen critics hailing a film as the best of the year and then you go see it, chances are you're going to come out saying, "It was good, but I don't know why everyone is calling it one of the greatest movies of the year."

Truth of the matter is neither comment says anything.

8.
"You haven't read the source material! You're not judging it properly!"
or... You can't judge it based on the source material. The book is always better!

Okay, this one comes as a result of recent comments on one of my reviews where one reader felt I should read the backlog comics to get some form of understanding of the film's character before judging the movie. It's a ridiculous claim, and as you can see from the contradictory "OR" excuse, the exact same excuse can, will and is used in reverse.

No matter a film's source material, it must stand on its own. If you are looking to have a conversation about a film, the film must be judged purely on what is seen on screen, not based on comic issue #103 or page 97 from chapter six. Movies are meant to exist outside of their source material and if someone watching it needs to have read the book, comic or short story from which it is based to appreciate the film, the filmmaker has failed.

7.
"You went in wanting to hate it!"
or... Critics just don't like fun.

This is one that baffles me, an excuse in which people attempt to tell you how you are thinking and feeling because your opinion differs from theirs. Because you obviously couldn't have approached the film the same as them or you would be head over heels for it also.

The thing is, no critic worth their salt goes into a film "wanting to hate it" and I would hope no consumer pays for a movie and "wants to hate it." Why would anyone subject themselves to two hours of something they wanted to hate? And if you believe a critic truly wanted to hate a film why are you even reading or listening to this person's opinion in the first place?

6.
"Your expectations were too high."

To say someone's expectations for a movie were too high is to say they expected a good film when they should have expected a bad film. Certainly, in all cases we set expectations on a film, but this is something no one can help. If I expect a film to be good I can't arbitrarily lower my expectations. That's just not how it works.

This excuse can also come in the form of something like, "It's a movie about giant robots... what did you expect?" The answer is obvious, the person expected a good film. Whether it's a movie about giant robots, or Kevin James is peeing in a bush at a party or if Jim Carrey is being pooped on by penguins, people expect and want good movies. When they don't get them it's not that their expectations were too high, it's that they felt the movie wasn't any good.

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  • carrie

    so true! LOL

  • Adriano

    The excuse that irks me the most is the "you just didn't get it". Sometimes I go to see a foreign movie, or a so-called "art" movie, and when I say I didn't like it, some people will look at me like I'm just dumb and they say it:

    "You didn't get it!"

    Please. Take Irreversible, for example. Am I able to understand why so many people love the movie? Yes I am! So please, would you guys respect the fact that I find the movie annoying, forced, and the rape sequence almost put me to sleep? Thank you.

    Anyway, great article!

    • LumberJACKEDx9x

      There's something wrong with you if the rape sequence put you to sleep.

      • Adriano

        Or maybe there's something wrong with that loooooong sequence?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Will-Holston/33310951 Will Holston

    I immediately turn on ANY critic who uses the phrase, "Turn your brain off." That's one of the stupidest things you can say when reviewing a movie. It's just lazy. I'm not turning my brain off just because a movie is too stupid or too lazy to tell a coherent story.

  • carphalen5150

    Sometimes people overthink movies though...one person I know would not go see Super 8 because he thought the train derailing by the truck was too unbelievable. Excessive.

    • rick

      I saw Super 8 expecting to love it, but the train derailing was but one of many plot holes that left me wondering what all the hype was about. Maybe I just didn't get it.

  • http://blogofthenorthstar.com/ Emilio (blogofthenorthstar.com)

    I give this article two thumbs up!

    As a person who likes a lot of movies that have a reputation for being bad, I have to wholeheartedly embrace your disdain for these tired old phrases. Especially the "turning your brain off" one. I enjoyed the crap out of Action Jackson over the weekend, and let me assure you, my brain was entirely on the whole time.

    No service is being done to my cause or the cause of a movie that is perceived negatively by using glib, inarticulate nerd gibberish, which a lot of online movie discussion turns into.

  • Mason Williamson

    As a friend of mine and I just discussed, another one of the worst would have to be "It's a kid's movie". People really underestimate children, assuming they'll just watch anything on the screen in front of them. If anything, the fact that movies like 'Mr. Popper's Penguins' are made for children makes their existence all the more awful, because if this is the kind of entertainment we're raising our children to enjoy, then cinema is going straight into the ground in the future. A movie meant for children should be enjoyable for everyone (look to Pixar or early Disney's filmography, as well as my favourite children's film, 'Fantastic Mr. Fox'). The fact that the target audience was kids does not forgive the film's flaws.

  • Andrew

    "Yeah, but it's a classic!"

    I. Don't. Care.

  • Leandro Dubost

    The problem with excuses is that they are, well, EXCUSES!

    Say you want to defend Transformers, you say why you think it's good. Not why you don't think it's bad!! Simple as that.

    People protect their favorite movies too much the wrong way. It's like they don't even know why their favorite movie is their favorite movie!!

    Personal example: I used to love the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake. (I don't love it anymore... I just like it, but I had a moment in my life I thought it was a GREAT movie, now I think it's just okay).
    Most don't like it. Most have reasons to not like it. I have mines to like it. When I want to say why, I say "the villain is good", "the cinematography is brillant", "Jessica Biel is hot" and "the chases are very good".

    I don't defend the movie by saying "it's not that violent", "the script is not that bad", "it's funny, you're sad" or "Jessica Biel ir hot, you're gay!"

    One thing is using arguments. Even Mamma Mia! can be saved with proper arguments.
    But with excuses? Impossible.

    • http://blogofthenorthstar.com/ Emilio (blogofthenorthstar.com)

      "It's like they don't even know why their favorite movie is their favorite movie!!"

      I think you hit the nail on the head. Self-knowledge is an important part of reviewing, something I struggle with a lot, in fact.

  • Jimmy B

    This isn't a bad movie, but I was recently chastised by someone simply for saying that Deathly Hallows Part 1 doesn't feel complete unless it's watched right before viewing Part 2. He backed up his opinion by pointing out the differences in tone and style between Parts 1 and 2, which is a fair argument. But then he told me, "calling Part 1 'not a whole movie' is an insult to your cinephile status." Well, geez, I don't think I was that harsh...

    • rick

      I remember seeing the fourth(?)Harry Potter with my brother. He thought it was great, I was totally confused. He said "Well, you gotta read the books." I replied, "I don't appreciate movies that require homework before attending." Of course, he was right -- after I read the books the movie made sense, but that really is the point, isn't it?

  • Jim

    Yeah; I don't feel the need to protect the movies I like. The studios that made them have lots of money. They can defend their films themselves.

  • Jared

    I think my main problem is people far too often confuse them liking something with it actually being a well-made film. You have to be able to separate your feelings from the actual analysis. So you liked Transformers, ok, that's fine. But don't tell me that it is a great film, it's not.

    • john

      "I think my main problem is people far too often confuse them liking something with it actually being a well-made film. You have to be able to separate your feelings from the actual analysis."

      This hits the nail on the head perfectly! Very well said. I think this is the reason for pretty much every poorly argued opinion of a film. If you're defending a bad movie, you need to realize and be upfront with the fact that a part of you secretly likes it.

    • john

      "There's a difference between a brainless movie and an incoherent and poorly constructed one."

      Very well said, Brad. Great article.

  • Winchester

    I suppose it does perhaps come down to whether you feel the need to always explain why you don't like something or do like something to others and vice versa.

    I mean, I can usually give fairly specific reasons why for myself if I need to without really caring who agrees or not but to be honest I don't really care to write an essay about EVERY film I like or don't like, because someone else takes issue with whichever one I go with for a particular film and I don't necessarily need anyone else to either. Sometimes it's just the way you recieve a film yourself and I can see why it's easier to just dilute it down to a soundbite sometimes like some of the ones above.

    I've used some of them a few times in lieu of having to spend hours talking about a film I disliked so much that I was more intent on not wasting any MORE of my time talking about a film I didn't want to talk about in depth.

    I don't feel bad about the times I did.

  • Forrest Gump

    "You just don't get it" was the best haha

  • carphalen5150

    There are great bad movies though...Point Break and Gone in 60 Seconds come to mind...FACE/OFF as well.

    • Rashad

      Point Break is a great movie. Period. Not only is the plot interesting, but it's one of the most spiritual movies you can find.

  • Rashad

    "It's not as bad as people said."

    I don't think this is an excuse, more of a response to responses. Some movies do get unfairly criticized and it calls for someone to say it isn't as bad as you heard.

    And a lot of people do go into movies wanting to hate it. They don't work with a film, and have a clear aversion to it from the get go. I just know people were salivating to hate on Cars 2 from teh moment it was announced.

  • http://smartfilm.blogspot.com SmartFilm

    This could also be titled why Zack Synder is a terrible director.

  • m1

    Agree with all of this and I would like to add:

    "Go watch Twilight."

    Here's how I would respond to said comment:

    "Is that the best you can do?"

  • m1

    Also:

    "It could've been worse."

  • Matt

    Really interesting article and in general I agree. With two exceptions-

    1) I think "it's not as bad as people say" is a fine thing to say in some cases. When I saw "Sucker Punch" I thought it was a bad film, certainly, but not nearly as bad as some reviews suggested. To me, it was just a film that tried to do too much and became a bit of a mess. If someone I knew asked me what I thought about it I'd say "it's not as bad as some reviews would make you think, but it's still not a very good film." It's not an excuse, but it's how I'd describe the film.

    2) I will admit there are certain movies that I "turn off my brain" to enjoy. I definitely wouldn't use it as an excuse for a bad film- in fact the films I turn my brain off for I will openly admit are pretty bad films. But I don't see anything wrong with liking a film and saying "I turn my brain off to like it." I mean, saying to someone else "oh you HAVE to turn your brain off to like it" is stupid, because some people might not even find that type of film entertaining, but I see nothing wrong with using it as a reason to justify a guilty pleasure.

    Sorry for the long response, I tried to make it as short as possible.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/ Brad Brevet

      The problem with most of these are not the excuses themselves, but the fact people use them and that is all there is to their opinion. If you were to have a conversation with me about Sucker Punch and all you told me was "it's not as bad as some reviews would make you think, but it's still not a very good film" then you have told me nothing. How is Sucker Punch better than the reviews? That's the important part, otherwise it's just an empty excuse. The point is to explain yourself, not just use empty words.

      • Matt

        Hm... interesting point. I personally wouldn't call "it's not as bad as people say" to be empty words because I think it is an adequate way to describe some films, but I agree that it's important to explain yourself.

  • Grissom

    What irks me is when they use the excuse they liked it because their favorite actor/director was involved. I mean, many people may like the films of James Franco, but when they give Your Highness a pass because he was in it, they are not true fans. True fans would realize when someone makes a bad film.

    Other excuses that annoy me is "That's your opinion". Yes, people are all entitled to their opinion, but when they fail to see what's wrong with a film, shame on them.

    "Your expectations were too high" is also annoying.

  • RagingBull

    Nice list...and absolutely true...i have atleast heard five of these in conversations with my friends..

  • mfan

    Funny and so true. But...

    ..."Take, for example, Johnny Mnemonic (1995) in which 320 gigabytes of data are loaded onto a 160 gigabyte hard drive stored in the title character's head. Does it bother you this is impossible?"

    You just don't get it Brad! Johnny didn't have a hard drive in his head. He used the nuerons in his brain as memory storage. He used a doubler program which is a compression algorithm. Compression algorithms often cause problems in real computers, and maybe could lead to even more problems in a dynamic multi use neuronal network like the brain.

    "...just why exactly the guy in the movie doesn't do anything about the fact the zoo is keeping thinking and reasoning animals held captive."

    You just don't get it Brad! A study was recently completed concluding that black men in jail have a longer life expectancy than those not incarcerated (re Drudge report). I haven't reviewed the study, but that's definitely true for wild animals. Maybe the animals in the film even know this and are deciding it's best for their species survival.

    What I'm saying is that goodwill towards a movie will help you buy into it and look for reasons why what's on the screen is possible, whereas the opposite is also true. I think your attitude going into a film does matter.

    I remember the film "Being There" with Peter Sellers left the end of the film open ended. You were perfectely free to construct a scenario in your head where everything worked out perfectly well, or equally free to decide everything was going to come tumbling down.

    Maybe most of a movie is not up on the screen, but in what you are bringing to the viewing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Josh-Spoony-Ewald/543165438 Josh Spoony Ewald

    I know I have made some of these excuses, I am man enough to admit that.

    Also, I usually do not read reviews of movies. I can tell from the trailer if I want to see it or not. I do read reviews after I have seen a movie, just to see what some people say about them.

    That being said....
    ...My problem with many critics/bloggers is this; I believe they hate certain actors, directors, and certain genres of movies (horror movies are a great example of this), because of this they do not objectivity critique a film.

    I will uses the newest Transformers movie as an example. I believe your review and Harry Knowles (AICN) were fair reviews for the movie. While others seemed to just attack Bay for...and you can list whatever reason they happen to not like him..(I believe one or two critics attacked his love of using Military and Showing the American Flag waving in the sky). I did not read every single review, but the ones I did read you got the conclusion they hated the film, because Bay directed, and they will never give him a fair review.

    I could use Nic Cage, horror films, the new documentary Undefeated, or any numbers of the things I mentioned before...
    ...My point is this: I know critics have to watch movies and write reviews about them, but leave your prejudices aside and maybe you will actually enjoy what you are watching (maybe not...I could be totally wrong).

    On a side note. I do like your website the best when it comes to reviews and movie news. I also like you do not project yourself as someone who is better than everyone else (this my Ebert, and some of the other big name critics, rant).

    Also, anyone who is as excited to see DRIVE as I am, gets an A+ in my book!

  • Mickche

    One i get alot from my david when i ask him "How was the movie" = "slow".

    • Mickche

      sorry, not my david, my dad

  • Peyton

    Brad, that was almost verbatim what my mother texted me after she saw Larry Crowne, but without the Oscar comment. I believe she thinks it's worthy. Slap to the forehead for me, as well.

  • http://anonynoustheatre3000.blogspot.com/ Neutral3

    Are there ten worst excuses made for good movies? I'll give you an example:

    "It's boring. I don't get it"

    • Grissom

      "It had no action!"
      "Period films suck, i prefer teenage vampires"
      "If it wins an Oscar, it's obviously a long and boring film"

      See, these remarks are what make me wish the films of the 90's were still thought of.

  • http://www.hollywoodsaloon.com Andy

    "It's a movie that KNOWS exactly what it is" - I hate this one.

  • Viola

    No offense Brad, but i felt you were being a little smug and snobbish when you wrote this article. People are entitled to their opinions and when people like you make lists like these, it's a little disrespectful.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/ Brad Brevet

      The article has absolutely nothing to do with denying people their opinions. In fact, it is an article asking for opinions instead of empty excuses.

      • Grissom

        I can somewhat see what Viola is getting at. Like me, i'm pretty particular about what films i like (entertaining, mindless at some points but still able to deliver a clear story, engaging characters and great atmosphere). But when i ask someone if they found a film bad (Red Riding Hood for example), and feed me an empty excuse like i enjoyed it, not everything has to be good, i lose a little faith in the viewers of modern cinema.

  • Grissom

    Ladies and Gentlemen, i've just been alerted of this video:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9DxpgS3cao8

    this kid hated 2001: A Space Odyssey because he felt it was too long. Empty excuse

  • http://www.newshit.com.au News Hit

    I will add one for 'Bad Criticism.' It is frustrating when a reviewer argues that a film is 'meaningless'. I can understand a film being clumsy or poorly constructed, but I am bewildered with a critic can watch a film and conclude that it is meaningless - which says more about the laziness of the critic and his or her inaibility to construct meaning from the text.

  • http://drnorth.wordpress.com Dan North

    I agree that all of these excuses are lazy ways to avoid a detailed conversation about the film.

    But how do you explain the "excuse" of "pure entertainment" next to your inclusion of Transformers: Dark of the Moon on your list of 'Honorable Mentions', when it is self-evidently an obnoxious, disorganised, ignorant, sexist, right-wing screed of the most artless, witless kind. Doesn't this fall under the "turn off your brain" defence?

    • mfan

      Maybe you should re-read the article. Why is TDOTM obnoxious, disorganized, ignorant, right wing, artless, or witless?

      • http://drnorth.wordpress.com Dan North

        So you agree that it's sexist? In which case you might agree that it's obnoxious, even if most of the dialogue was delivered at coke-fiend pace and volume. That bludgeoning fury, with no modulation (where are the quiet bits that build up to the spectacular set-pieces?), is the best evidence of its artlessness, and the cheapest routes to comedy, such as defining characters by giving them little more than a comic regional accent to distinguish them, are taken every time, hence the witlessness. It's a modern American right wing fantasy because of its pornographic militarism, the violent punishment of a character who says the line "the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few", the valorisation of a brutal "kill-'em-all" hero in Optimus Prime, etc.

        But my point really was that, as long as we don't have an objective measure of what constitutes a "bad movie", you'll find any defence of a film you think is self-evidently terrible as an "excuse". Brad may have produced a lengthy, cogent analysis of Transformers 3, and he notes many of its flaws, but if his generally positive defence is based on the fact that the film is for entertainment, not for edification, finer feeling or subtlety, that's pretty much the same as saying, more succinctly, that "you need to turn off your brain" or "stop over-thinking it". I found it to be an unpalatable, depressing film, wholly unsuitable for the children at whom its been marketed. The problem with the "turn off your brain" aka "it's only entertainment" argument, whether in 15 or 1500 words, is that there's no comeback: it categorises the film as "light" and therefore not requiring analysis.

        • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/ Brad Brevet

          @Dan "But my point really was that, as long as we don't have an objective measure of what constitutes a "bad movie", you'll find any defence of a film you think is self-evidently terrible as an "excuse"."

          No, there is no "objective measure" which is why people need to explain themselves, which you are clearly proving in your replies as you have attempted to boil down reasoning into the "turn off your brain" aka "it's only entertainment" batch of excuses. You are actually disproving your point the more you write.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/ Brad Brevet

      @Dan North: That wasn't a review, click on the title in that article and you'll get your explanation. Or did you expect me to include all 1,500 words of my review in the parentheses?

  • John

    I don't know about excuses, but
    1) if someone describes the movie as "lyrical" or a "tone poem"... that means, get ready for some artistic masturbation that no sane human would enjoy.
    2) I once heard someone try to defend the arthouse masturbation which they had just salivated over by saying "not every movie is about plot and character". Yeah, it is, that's why Aristotle ranked them #1 and #2 of things your play better have if it's not going to suck!

  • Mike

    Great read, I agree with a lot of these points. There are quite a few "guilty pleasure" films that I enjoy from start until finish, but the fact still remains that they are poorly made movies. I would never try and defend these films because I know they are horrible movies, and I am in the minority for enjoying them. The task of reviewing a movie based on it's technical aspects, plot devices, script, and other criteria is completely separate from being entertained.

  • Ryan

    I recognize most of the above mentioned 10 excuses, and they're pretty true. I've found myself using some of those excuses myself even... heh.

    As a mere casual movie-goer, I can't say I'm really invested in locating the perfect movie, or even analyzing movies in terms of... well anything. I've stopped worrying about whether or not movies are good or bad. I just watch them and they entertain me or they don't. I'll watch them again, or I won't.

    I do find it helpful to read an occasional review to save me from a film's length of heartache and boredom (brings me here quite often), but reading them after I've seen the movie, I've had to remind myself that reviews are just opinions, or that I happen to like another bad movie. I'm not a film critic, so I suppose that's a good thing lol.

  • Dayanara

    I agree with all the other excuses, but I really *do* believe that some people over-think movies. I've seen plenty of reviews out there (mostly amateur) that aren't reviews so much as a list of complaints.

    What I REALLY hate is when someone pins the "terribleness" of a movie on someone who held no responsibility for the outcome whatsoever (save for accepting the part when they were cast). A couple of months ago, I read a bit where someone blamed the cheesiness and all-round bad acting of MK2 solely on James Remar; even going so far as to say (edited): "*Bleep* you, James Remar! *Bleep* you!"

    I admit that I'm a fangirl and I may view Jamie through...em..."sex-colored glasses"...but I do not believe for one second that the poorness of the movie can be blamed on his so-called bad acting. The writers made some bad decisions, the director made some bad choices and so on down the line. In fact, compared to the performances of some of the other actors, Jamie's was stellar. (Compared to the rest of his work, the performance was completely normal.) Just because you think Christopher Lambert is a god, doesn't mean you should curse the hell out of a gentleman who had nothing to do with the cast changes.

  • Drew Powell

    "You have bad taste in movies." I write reviews for a small neighborhood paper and I get this comment sometimes.

    I'm not sure if that's an excuse or if that's similar to what's been said but I'm putting it up here. I see this a lot and it's stupid. Because really who has good or bad taste in movies? Everyone has different tastes.

  • Drew Powell

    Also: "You don't go to...such and such movie for character development, you go to it for kick ass action sequences."

    Drives me up the wall everytime

  • josh

    I actually find it impressive that you took the trouble to make that list to cover your ass from disagreements. You try making it impossible for anyone to argue a point for a movie you personally dislike by creating a list incorporating the starting talking points you you dislike and labeling them bad arguments. Seems you just don't like anyones opinions but your own, and rather than discuss reasoning you would rather just try to discredit their argument. The fact you have written movie reviews for many years doesn't make your reviews beyond questioning. They are after all just your opinions on the movie. Anyone who comments on your reviews are essentially doing the same job as you. Just without holding their opinions in such high regard as trying to convince others that if someone disagrees with them, their opinion is wrong.