Wednesday, December 26, 2018

A rotten tomato hurled at Sherlock Holmes?

A friend of mine took a stance a couple of years back. He had decided that in order to encourage Hollywood to make quality films, he would only go to movies with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 75% or above. My other movie buddy and I scoffed at this position for good reasons, and eventually our 75% friend relented. Because, when it comes to Rotten Tomatoes, below 75% is where the real fun is.

Action movies, most comedies, genre films of all sorts except that "Oscar-bait" genre . . . critics see so many movies that they occasionally need to relieve their stress by bashing a flawed film about, overlooking the fact that those "flaws" might be what the audience bought their ticket to see. Which brings us to my new favorite Sherlock Holmes movie, Holmes and Watson.

Since the makers of the film didn't allow critics pre-release screener copies, and the movie opened on Christmas Day, one might suspect an actual plot to keep anyone from seeing the movie before audiences had a first chance to buy tickets . . . and you might be right. In this age of Rotten Tomatoes dominance, where that site's score can kill a movie's box office, that strategy is legitimately necessary sometimes. Movies we all saw in the 1970s and 1980s would never have survived their first week had RT existed back then. And while haters of a given movie will always go, "Yeah! Kill those weaklings of the litter!" the truth is that some movies would actually find a larger, satisfied audience without the influence of that single percentage. 

So, a day after the film's release, we find ourselves still awaiting that verdict from Rotten Tomatoes the way a Moriarty on trial waits for his final verdict. As individual reviews started coming in, things weren't looking good for our hero's latest outing. Even ousted governor of Wisconsin Scott Walker had felt the urge for a Christmas Day Twitter review to bash the film. (Which might actually be seen as a positive for the movie in some circles.) Waiting. Watching. Thirteen reviews in. Zero positive ones. Of the about three thousand critics that RT looks at, eighty reviews have to be in for a "Tomatometer" critical consensus, and of those eighty, sixty percent have to be positive for any kind of "Fresh" rating. But a "Rotten" still seems to be coming Holmes and Watson's way.

For those of us that like to make up our own minds, though, the movie theaters are open and it is still there to be seen. Sherlockians who had the time available and were either curious, looking forward to it, or just completists, could still get a viewing in. You could still gather firsthand evidence before Scotland Yard muddled up the crime scene, so to speak. Because once that all-powerful Rotten Tomatoes rating comes in, you're either jumping on to a winning team after they reach the Super Bowl or swimming upstream against the current and racing to see it before it gets yanked from theaters.

It's a weird business, seeing movies in 2018. But make up your own mind, and try to have some fun along the way.

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