Any time you invest a lot of yourself into something creative and put it out there to the masses, it really hurts when the audience thinks it fucking sucks. The only thing you can do is grow a thick skin and let it bounce off, because criticism isn’t going to go away, it’s just a part of life. You’d think people in the movie and TV industry would be used to it, but that’s not always true. Dan Fogelman may have a hit show in NBC’s This is Us, a show I’m sure takes its share of heat each week, but the reviews for his new movie are what have him fuming, and he wants the world to know how pissed he is.
See, Life Itself is getting hammered by critics. Right now it sits at just 12% among Rotten Tomatoes critics and fluctuating. It was 9% just 10 minutes ago, I swear. And any time you have a movie this universally reviled, critics like to really flex their muscles, max out on the amount of shit they can dump on it. Of the quotes listed on the front page that made me chuckle, USA Today’s Brian Truitt scores with “A stuffed turkey that wastes most of its noteworthy ingredients…”. And National Post’s Chris Knight nails it with “Never trust a movie that uses the term “unreliable narrator” more than six times.” Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers was clearly not a fan, asking “How do you rate a cinematic black hole that doesn’t deserve a single star? Do you simply give it five eyerolls?”
Another guy on the front page that I’ve learned to really trust is Travis Hopson of Punchdrunkcritics.com, who says “Life itself may be unpredictable yet sadly Life Itself is anything but.”
I like that guy.
Anyway, in an interview with TooFab, Fogelman blames white male critics for the bad reviews and the total destruction of film criticism as we know. I blame white men for a lot of shit, too, but this seems excessive. Here’s what Fogelman had to say…
“I think that something is inherently a little bit broken in our film criticism right now. I also think it’s somewhat broken in our television criticism, I think that the people with the widest reach are getting increasingly cynical and vitriolic and I think there are a couple of genres and a couple of ideas that they [attack, which] doesn’t speak to not just a mainstream audience, but also a sophisticated audience.”
“I think a couple of the early reviews that have come out about this movie [‘Life Itself’] feel so out of left field to everybody who’s a part of this movie and to people who have been screening this film for the better part of a year now to both fancy filmmakers, critics, and audiences. There’s a disconnect between something that is happening between our primarily white male critics who don’t like anything that has any emotion.”
To be fair, there’s been a lot of talk recently about white male film critics reviewing movies they have zero cultural connection to. This subject reared its ugly head with Ava DuVernay’s panned A Wrinkle in Time, and we’ve seen Rotten Tomatoes try to correct course by flooding their ranks with every critic under the sun, all in the name of diversity.
But if Fogelman thinks it’s only a bunch of white dudes who think his movie is shit…well, he’s got another think coming. I’m African-American and my review is probably one of the harshest out there. I wanted to rip my eyeballs out.
Of the 50 listed critic review for Life Itself, 20 of them are by women. The film only has 6 positive reviews in all, which means ladies think it’s shit, too. Men and women can’t agree on much, but thinking Life Itself is a terrible movie? That’s something we can all find common ground in.