We know making a movie is not easy. You creators out there have our empathy! There’s the time, the money, the pressure — you’re corralling so many moving parts as you take an idea and try to make it something compelling or, at the very least, watchable.
But there’s also a particular art to making an awful movie — and, in turn, to writing a scathing review of said movie.
According to critics, “Serenity,” the new release starring Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway, is the latest “Wow, i can’t believe this exists???” work of art.
Sometimes, a movie is so bad it gets ascribed to the bad-movie genre. But that’s not all bad; such movies can develop cult followings or, heck, even inspire separate, Oscar-nominated movies (“The Room,” anyone?).
The clouds have been ominous for “Serenity” for some time. Writer-director Steven Knight was behind such well-received movies as “Dirty Pretty Things” and “Locke.” But his latest project got bumped from an October (read: awards season) release date to January, the dumping ground of cinema.
Billed as a neo-noir thriller, “Serenity” also involves large tuna; unsexy sex scenes; domestic violence; murder for hire; McConaughey’s butt; and a bonkers plot twist we can’t write about without spoiling everything. And as of Friday afternoon, it had a 21 percent Rotten Tomatoes score, based on 68 critic reviews.
The actors who starred in “Serenity” aren’t immune to the mostly negative feedback. The movie “asks a lot of the audience. It exists outside cut-and-dry, black-and-white moralizing, beyond the realm of ‘thumbs up’ and ‘thumbs down,’ ‘it sucked,' " Hathaway wrote on Instagram last week. “It will need some analysis and conversation after. Good.”
The actress also directly addressed the reviews, writing Thursday on Instagram that “some critics get” the movie “and, like me, find it interesting, moving, ambitious and different, and for some it just doesn’t work. That’s cool- there is no failure, only learned events, not everyone has to like everything, and the critical response doesn’t change my feelings about the movie. However, other people’s time and money are not to be taken for granted, so I just want to be clear: I endorse the movie, many critics don’t.”
All the buzz, however overtly negative it may be, could still inspire moviegoers to want to see what the fuss is all about. Here’s a rundown of some of the most scathing lines about “Serenity."
- “All will be revealed in the fullness of time — assuming you don’t get so annoyed that you walk out after 15 minutes and slip into a screening of, say, ‘If Beale Street Could Talk.’ (If it could, it might say, ‘Don’t watch “Serenity." ')" — Michael O’Sullivan, The Washington Post (0.5 stars)
- “ ‘Serenity’ is unburdened by logic or a single good reason for existing.” — Peter Travers, Rolling Stone (1.5 stars)
- “If you had told me the plot machinations of ‘Serenity’ outright, I’d have politely asked to check your kitchen cabinets to ensure nothing was somehow laced with LSD.” — Miles Surrey, The Ringer
- “McConaughey and Hathaway share a mesmerizing anti-chemistry, not only implausible as lovers but as occupants of the same dimension.” — Charles Bramesco, The Guardian (3 stars)
- “I’m no actor, but I’d like to think if a script ever came my way with lines like, ‘Wouldn’t it be funny if nobody knows anything?,’ and ‘Just how many years have I been here, Jack?,’ and ‘How dare Old Joe feed my cat,’ I’d know that the movie would probably open in the middle of January when the studios leave their garbage on the curb.” — Wesley Morris, the New York Times
- “Whatever they pay these movie stars to keep a straight face, it’s not enough.” — Anthony Lane, New Yorker
- “There aren’t enough maritime puns in the world to describe the roller coaster that is Matthew McConaughey’s latest showboating project, but even if there were — ‘Serenity’ already used them all.” — Jude Dry, IndieWire (C+)
- “ ‘Serenity’ is actually two different movies — two different movie genres, in fact — oddly pressed together, like a grilled roach and cheese sandwich.” — Kurt Loder, Reason
- “ ‘Serenity’ sinks from lack of suspense, point” — Boston Herald’s headline on James Verniere’s review (C)
- “People who can enjoy laughing at something made in dead earnest, who can appreciate, in a perverse way, a phenomenal, jaw-dropping mess, may find an experience close to pleasure in this strange, misbegotten, three-headed freak of a movie.” — Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle