How To Tell If A Movie
Stinks Before You See It

by Robert Delaney

Save yourself some time and money by heeding these simple warning signs.
  1. It was based on a true story.
    Life is pointless. Therefore, any movie based on real life will be equally pointless. Exception: Gandhi

  2. There are more than two writers in the credits.
    There's an old saying that the definition of a camel is a horse that was made by a committee. Hollywood makes a lot of camels. A writer writes a script that's pretty good, or it wouldn't have been purchased. Then the producers, executives, director, and actors insist on rewrites, and each bring in their own writers to do it. Disney's Tarzan had 26 writers in the end credits (Yikes!). After enough rewrites have passed, everyone has forgotten what it was that made the original script good in the first place - just like that game of telephone that we all played in elementary school. Even if the number of writers in the credits is small, it can be deceptive because the Writer's Guild has complicated rules as to who is entitled to screen credit. Not every writer is credited, sometimes not even the original writer who started it all up. Exception: None

  3. It was based on a television series, video game, or Saturday Night Live sketch.
    'Nuff said. Exception: Stuart Saves His Family. It bombed because it wasn't a brainless comedy - not even a comedy really, but a grueling look at alcoholism and family dysfunction. The brainless people who like SNL movies hated it. People smart enough to hate SNL movies assumed that it was more of the same and refused to go see it. (The lack of other exceptions is a painful admission from a long time Star Trek fan)

  4. The commercial ends with "Featuring music by... " and lists several bands or singers. Or it includes a credit for Music Supervisor.
    This means that the creators were more interested in making auxiliary profits from soundtrack album sales than in the impact that inappropriate pop music would have on the artistic and emotional integrity of their film. Music is the soul of a film and should be written by real composers. As the late, great film composer Bernard Herrmann said: "Be grateful if a doctor makes you well; don't expect him to make you rich too." Almost as bad are directors who insist on compiling their own scores from classical music and other sources because they think they know better than any real composer could. Exception: None

  5. It stars Clint Eastwood, Julia Roberts, Steven Seagal, Jean Claude Van Damme, Chuck Norris, or anyone who has ever starred on Saturday Night Live (except the original cast).
    Not that these are bad actors. They just always seem to end up in bad movies. Either they have terrible taste in projects, or they aren't ever offered any good films. Exception: None

  6. It was directed by Stanley Kubrick or Robert Altman.
    Talk about flamebait, but what can I say? Members of their respective cults need not email me. Discussing these directors with them is like discussing evolution with a Fundamentalist Christian. Kubrick Exception: Spartacus, Dr. Strangelove, Clockwork Orange. Altman Exception: None.

  7. It's a horror film.
    There's no reason why all horror films have to stink. They just always do. The few that don't always cross over into another genre: Nightbreed (fantasy), Aliens (science fiction, action), Dawn of the Dead (disaster, social satire).

  8. The first word of the title is a pronoun.
    Another of those weird but true warning signs. Exceptions: My Dinner with Andre and My Favorite Year.

  9. It's about a person with a fatal disease.
    Life stinks enough as it is without having to see movies about people who have it even worse than we do. What kind of masochist would volunteer to watch someone going through something we hope we'll never have to watch anyone going through? Subtract even more points if the sick person is a child. Exception: None

  10. More to come as I think of them....

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