Ever disagreed so strongly with a movie review that you were convinced you could change the critic’s mind if only you had the chance? Movie review aggregating site Rotten Tomatoes gave a room full of cinephiles that chance at last weekend’s New York Comic Con. “Your Opinion Sucks!: Rotten Tomatoes Critics Vs. Fans” leveled the playing field by opening up the dialogue between professional and armchair reviewers. Every member of the audience received a Tomato Meter paddle (“Fresh” on one side, “Rotten” on the other) to vote, and the bravest lined up to defend their unpopular opinions. Once that person made his or her passionate case, the panel, including Entertainment Weekly‘s Owen Gleiberman and Salon‘s Andrew O’Hehir, had the opportunity to give a rebuttal.
What followed was a rowdy back and forth, but all respectful and in good fun. Gleiberman offered his support to a brave teenager who nearly caused a riot by daring to dislike Wall-E. Opinions are your own, he assured the kid. That’s the beauty of the variety we’re lucky enough to have. An audience member who declared Twilight to be “Fresh” was greeted by a roomful of “Rotten” votes and a long silence from the panel. Cinema Blend’s Katey Rich did eventually concede that at least Bella’s high school friends were “pretty fun.” (As usual, Anna Kendrick is the best part of anything she’s in.) We found the one person in the country who actually liked Speed Racer (O’Hehir: “Some people get migraines and enjoy them.”) and we’re all still pretty divided on Man of Steel.
The critics were understanding of varying cinematic tastes, but rallied against one common enemy: mediocrity. When another participant defended The Purge as a “summer movie” that “did what it was supposed to do,” Gleiberman insisted that we have to raise our standards. Democratized critical dialogues like this one will do just that.