So, last week for Aleteia I took a look at Brad Bird’s Tomorrowland and, even though my review readily admits the film has a few story problems, I found the experience an enjoyable enough way to spend an evening. That’s a lonely position to take, apparently. Siding with the majority of mainstream critics, Steven Greydanus gave the movie a less-than-stellar review, seeing in it some kind of Ayn Randian nightmare full of child abduction. And, as you know, if SDG pans a movie, most of the Catholic blogosphere is soon to follow.
I just can’t do it though. As I opined on Twitter, along with Tomorrowland, my viewings last week included such offerings as Leprechaun: Origins, Bloodfist IV, and Project: Metalbeat. Trust me, I know what a truly bad film film looks like, and Tomorrowland just isn’t it. Of course, just to play devil’s advocate, my steady diet of lousy movies could just mean I have a greater tolerance for middling crap than my fellow critics. If that’s the case, that would make me Ebert in the first half of the following clip from The Critic. Given SDG’s reaction to Tomorrowland, however, he would probably see me as Siskel’s adversary in the second half…
The big joke in the preceding clip is actually the one sheets on the office walls. There’s Benji: The Hunted on Ebert’s and Carnosaur on Siskel’s, movies the critics actually gave positive reviews to in real life. No, really. Kind of makes it hard for me to feel too bad about giving Tomorrowland a positive review.
In all seriousness, I believe Greydanus always makes an effort to be very conscientious in his reviews, just as I hope I do. I’m sure he as aware as I am of Pope Pius XI’s Encyclical, Vigilanti Cura (On Motion Pictures), in which the Pontiff entreats those involved in the motion picture industry (of which critics are a part of the promotional arm whether they like to admit it or not) to do their best to promote the faith. His Holiness wrote…
“Let them take serious thought of their duties and of the responsibility which they have as children of the Church to use their influence and authority for the promotion of principles of sound morality in the films which they produce or aid in producing. There are surely many Catholics among the executives, directors, authors, and actors who take part in this business, and it is unfortunate that their influence has not always been in accordance with their Faith and with their ideals. You will do well, Venerable Brethren, to pledge them to bring their profession into harmony with their conscience as respectable men and followers of Jesus Christ.”
So as long as I feel a Catholic reviewer is trying to carry out the spirit of that Encyclical, I really don’t mind if they (wrongly) don’t like a movie as much as I do, ala Greydanus in this instance, or if they seem to like it better, as did Joseph McAleer of Catholic News Service. The main thing is that we’re all trying to advance the cause through the discussion of the art form. If we disagree on a particular film’s merits from time to time, well, that’s just part of the fun, isn’t it?
Especially since my opinion, of course, is always the right one.