Friday, January 8, 2010

The Times Devotes Its Entire Arts & Leisure Section to How Bad One Generic Romantic Comedy Is

Posted By on Fri, Jan 8, 2010 at 12:45 PM

Half of page C8 in today's Arts & Leisure section is devoted to A.O. Scott's 725-word takedown of Leap Year: "I vowed to break the habit of seizing on every bad movie as a sign that civilization was collapsing...then I saw 'Leap Year.'" "'Leap Year'...does not fail to make use of [its] performers' gifts. It doesn't even try." "His name is Jeremy, and the laws of Hollywood dictate that no romantic comedy heroine will ever wed a high-achieving Jeremy..."

And so on. It's all very tart, wicked and funny; among his many other talents, Scott is a gifted ridiculer. But mid-way through reading it on the subway this morning, I wondered, why am I reading this at all?

It's been asked a million times before, but shouldn't critics—or rather, their publications—devote more time and energy to singing the praises of strong work? I'm grateful that the Times reviews just about every theatrical release in New York, and I understand that the editors feel that they should devote more space to large releases than small. (Though we could reasonably argue that point.)

But right below Scott's review—which features an absurdly, unnecessarily large photograph of Amy Adams in the Irish countryside—is Jeanette Catsoulis' review of Daybreakers, another wide release. Her review, very positive and rife with clever wordplay, hardly occupies a column (it's roughly 200 MicrosoftWord words).

So why wouldn't the Times devote more space to advocate for a movie one of its critics actually enjoyed? (And why does it give Stephen Holden huge chunks of page to write plot summaries? Well, that's a question for a different day.) Probably because A.O. Scott is the paper's co-senior critic, and he only saw Leap Year this cycle, and he didn't like it, so...bitch bitch bitch!

But if all critics are good for is a witty derision of a major (predictably bad) release, it's no wonder that people don't read or trust critics anymore. By all means, let me know how bad Leap Year is. But don't take the whole fucking film section to do it.

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