Ann Hornaday: Movie Critics Have a Relationship With Their Readers

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


Critics: Bigger Than ...

To director Michael Bay, we might look like so much roadkill he passes on his way to the bank, but there are several reasons why movie critics still matter. With the demise of American manufacturing, we're the only people qualified to use the word "riveting" in a sentence. We keep legions of retired English teachers off the streets by continually misusing words like "bemused" and "petard."

Who else will make sure that if you see one shopping-mall security guard comedy this year, it will be "Paul Blart: Mall Cop"? Who else will tirelessly champion a dinky documentary about a struggling Canadian rock band, thereby sending it into the mid-six-figure stratosphere at the box office?

Who else will sit through a two-part, four-hour, Spanish-language biopic about Che Guevara? Twice? And like it?

And, even if it's electronically, who else will keep the endangered art of letter-writing alive in the 21st century? I still get e-mails excoriating me for my tepid review of the Beatles tribute movie "Across the Universe" ("You must be a very sad, lonely person . . . "), a response second only to the outcry that greeted my less-than-worshipful review of "The Passion of the Christ." Which only goes to show that it took a movie critic to prove that the Beatles were, indeed, bigger than Jesus.

-- Ann Hornaday

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