Do you take much notice of film reviews? The average film-goer doesn't. Nowadays word of mouth is the strongest factor in the box-office success or failure of a film.
If you want to get a real feel for the content and quality of a film you should really talk to a film distributor, not a film reviewer. You see, a successful distributor must always put aside personal opinion and think only of the film's target audience.
Have you ever read a scathing review of a rom com and then noticed that the reviewer was a 50 year old man? How about a review of an action-packed movie about giant transforming robots written by a 40 year old woman whose favourite film is "Casablanca". It would be silly to take any notice of such reviews, and the general public is not silly.
So how about the latest Australian film "The Boys Are Back"? Here are two reviews. Would you like to see the film now?
I saw this film at an industry screening, and here's what I saw:
One man in his late forties, a hardened businessman, crying so passionately that he was unable to hold a conversation following the screening.
A woman in her forties who proclaimed loudly to all around her (and the director was present at the screening) "This is the worst film I have ever seen."
Now do you see how difficult it is to properly review a film? A distributor, however, would have absolutely no problem with this situation. He/she would probably realise that the target audience for this film is a certain type of middle-aged male. Then he/she would start thinking of how publicity and advertising can target this quadrant, he/she might also keep in mind that it's women who usually make the decision about which film to see, which complicates the marketing of this movie.
My own personal opinion about the film? My initial gut reaction as the film ended? I felt very resentful and sarcastic. Here was a film which I had expected to be aimed solely at me as target audience, the trailer made it look like a type of chick flick, and yet it made me seethe with rage. Then I noticed the man who was weeping, and I realised that my personal opinion was not as important as the realisation that I was simply not the target audience for this film.
As "The Boys Are Back" begins, we read the line "inspired by a true story." Throughout the film I kept waiting for something momentous to occur, that elusive something which would astonish me and make me say "Wow, and this is based on true events!!! Unbelievable! How inspiring!" But nothing, nothing happened......a man manages to care for his two sons following the death of his wife....was THAT IT??? Is that the "true story"??? That's when I started talking sarcastically to myself "Stop the press, read the headline, man is able to parent his children, all by himself." Then I started talking to the film's protagonist in my head "Erin Brockovich looked after THREE children, without an education, without a fancy-shmancy sports journalist's job, without a loving mother-in-law who lived up the street...what did you do buster? HUH??? Did YOU then discover a huge cancer-causing cover-up??? No. You didn't. Didja????"
But this film makes men openly weep in cinemas, truly it does. That man I saw at the screening was the first of many who have been moved by this film. It would be unforgivable to discount the ability this film has to touch its target audience, and I so wish that film reviewers might be able to take a step back from their own world of high-brow, film-as-art philosophy and watch the film with an audience in a packed cinema on a Saturday night. Or better still, watch the FACES of the audience members as they LEAVE the cinema after the film has ended. If a film manages to move grown men to tears then it's a great film, end.of.story.