Rating: 3 stars
The intrinsic factor as to whether a book or movie is a success is quite subjective, and so it would follow that reviewing a book that is about reviewing movies, poses its own set of challenges–at least in my opinion.
Sure there are some books and movies that just about everybody would agree are the worst things to hit the public since the Black Plague and the authors/creators of such garbage should be brought up on charges, but thankfully they’re in the minority.
Still, for every book or movie that gets two enthusiastic thumbs up, others will happily give it a big fat thumbs down. So I did a little test to see where Mr. Maltin’s taste lies, by looking up my all-time favorite movies and see how they rate.
Whereas I don’t like to read chick-lit, I do enjoy funny, light-hearted rom-coms for my viewing pleasure—which is not to say I don’t love me a good sci-fi flick or deep drama for my cinematic experience.
Surprisingly, most of my faves garnered only two and a half stars out of four. I was especially surprised to see two of my top picks: “While You Were Sleeping” and “13 Going on 30” receiving such a low score (which coincidentally is the same score “Porky's” received) not to mention Mr. Malton calling “WYWS” “anemic” and “13GO30” a potential “rip-off of “Big”. Ok, yes, they both have similar themes, but both were well-executed. At least “Sleepless in Seattle” fared better with three stars—but I suspect it was because there was reference to golden oldie “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”.
Then I went to the other extreme by thinking of the worst movie ever made. “Ishtar”(which Maltin gave two stars despite his view that it was “flat” and unfunny) came to mind, but I went with something more current: “Gigli”. However, Maltin somehow deemed it appropriate to give it one and a half stars—although I did get a kick out the fact that the Anne Hathaway/Kate Hudson debacle “Bride Wars” was rated the same—I thought it rather generous.
Although I failed to come upon any one-star ratings, I did find many ratings of “BOMB”, which were mostly B-movies. However, given this genre’s massive level of cheesiness and the occasional, creative use of a fearsome rubber octopus, many of them should have gotten at least one star. I did notice that Brat Packer Anthony Michael Hall’s movie, “Johnny Be Good” earned a “BOMB” rating. I saw this movie, it wasn’t that bad. At least people can say the title without grimacing, which seems to be the universal reaction whenever “Gigli” is mentioned.
So, since our taste ratings were off, I went to Mr. Maltin’s list of favorites and readily agreed with many of his choices. I was actually shocked to see “The Hangover”, “Juno” and “Pan’s Labyrinth” in the mix, but I guess that just shows that Mr. Maltin isn’t as conservative as many might believe.
Being a reviewer is a tough job. Though you attempt to rise above your own likes and biases, sometimes it’s not possible and some things just doesn’t resonate. So many variables in a book or film depend on each other for cohesiveness. With both mediums, great stories are a good start, but unless they’re properly executed, success isn’t guaranteed.
Given the vast amount of information included and the space constraints to keep it all in one behemoth volume, the small font is a bit challenging to read and the vastly reduced “reviews” aren’t informative enough to draw any definitive conclusion.
In the end, Leonard Maltin’s 2012 Movie Guide is definitely a solid reference that has something for everybody and the inclusion of the IMDB-esque lead-actor and director index is a nice little bonus.
Paperback: 1643 pages
Publisher: Signet (September 6, 2011)