Critic Confessions: What Too Many Film Critics (Including Me) Forget

A random Twitter DM leads to re-evaluation of a reviewer's core duties

It’s common for people to complain about lousy service before anything else.

How many diners rush to the manager to let him know the server did a fine job? It’s more likely they’ll kvetch about cold food or lousy service.

Just ask James Corden.

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So it felt good to receive a Twitter DM earlier this week tied to a new film release. The actor in question co-stars in the movie, and he thanked me for my thoughtful praise.

I’ll leave the movie and actor in question a mystery. It’s not the point.

The exchange proved civil, with the actor noting a common thread we shared as well as his appreciation for the positive review.

What if the opposite had happened? Perhaps I hated the movie and his performance, and I said so in no uncertain terms. It’s hardly uncommon.

It’s one reason I avoid getting personal in my reviews. I never comment on a star’s appearance beyond how it suits the role and overall mood. And I do my best to leave an actor’s personal life out of it. I don’t always succeed, but I try.

Still, the back-and-forth left me uncomfortable. 


It takes me 90 minutes to two-plus hours to screen a film, often from the comfort of my home. I write fast, so compiling the review can eat up as little as an hour of my work day. Or, about the time it takes for an actor to finish her lunch before cameras start rolling again.

One hour versus weeks, and weeks, on a film set. It hardly seems fair.

It also puts a film critics’ review into sharper focus. What if I’m in a bad mood that day, or the genre is one of my least favorites? Did that impact the review’s tone?

There’s so many intangibles that go into a film critic’s work. That’s why it’s wonderful how the web opened up the gig to so many amateurs — some of whom pen better critiques than the pros.

And this critic juggles plenty of balls in a given week. I write for OutKick, The Daily Wire, Newsbusters and Just the News, among other outlets. I’m prepping the return of my podcast, too, plus side gigs like my “professorial” stint at PragerU.

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The temptation to pen a review without considering the talent involved is … considerable. Let me just wrap this up and get to my next assignment. Those deadlines don’t meet themselves.

It’s just a review, right? Sure, except for the people who made the movie possible.

Those actors deserve my full attention. Always. Even the lousiest movies involve endless dedication, long hours and sacrifice. The very least I can do is give each review my very best effort.

It’s why I’m glad the actor reached out with his two cents. The exchange reminded me of not just the consumers eager for some guidance, but the artists directly be impacted by them.

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