No Brothers

August 28, 2005
A thought by James Berardinelli

Contrary to how it may appear, I do not have a prejudice against movies with the word "brothers" in the title. I never intended to review Four Brothers - the press screening was held at a theater I avoid and I didn't feel like spending $8 of my own to catch the film during its general release. Had other critics believed it to be fanstastic, I would have seen it, but the reviews were lukewarm and I was assured by a couple of friends that it wasn't worth my time.

I had intended to watch The Brothers Grimm. Originally, I was going to see it at a publicity screening Thursday night, but I opted instead for The Exorcism of Emily Rose, which opens while I'm in Toronto. (This way, I can provide a timely review). My plan was to see The Brothers Grimm Saturday afternoon and provide the review Saturday evening. Keen-eyed observers will note that I have removed The Brothers Grimm the "Now Playing" tables. I will not be writing a review. Sorry to those who were awaiting it.

Critics are not immune to the everyday problems that plague everyone else. When the well pump goes on the fritz (I'm talking literally, not figuratively, here), other issues must be pushed aside. So, faced with an emergency plumbing problem, one of the first things to be crossed off the "to-do" list was The Brothers Grimm. Since it's Terry Gilliam, I'll probably see it, but too late for a review to have meaning. (90% of my hits come on the first weekend of a movie's opening.) Besides, I have a ton of reviews coming in the next few days, and Toronto is looming less than two weeks away.

When I started reviewing in 1992, I imposed a policy to see everything I possibly could. Good, bad, or indifferent. I did not attempt to isolate myself from likely duds or films that held little interest. That policy held for about three years. After that, I figured I had paid my dues and I decided to become more selective. It's one thing to see 250 movies a year if you're being paid. It's another thing to see 250 movies a year if you are paying. With gasoline around $2.50 per gallon, a "free" movie costs me between $10 and $15, which is more than the price of a full-admission ticket anywhere in the vicinity. So the value of filling all my weeknights with movies is putting a strain on my wallet. If I see 5 movies per week, that costs about $70. Not too shabby if the product is a quality one, but a horrendous waste of money if it isn't.

Not every movie I miss is bad. I miss some mediocre ones. I probably miss a few good ones. But there are reasons for every movie I see and avoid. Sometimes, it's a case of opportunity. On other occasions, I don't feel like going out. In the next few days, reviews will appear of Pretty Persuasion and Assassin. Neither is very good, but both had an advantage: they were provided to me as screeners. When I can watch something at home without paying the 2 1/2 hour trip penalty and the associated $12, it becomes more attractive as a review candidate.

All things considered, I would have preferred sitting in a theater watching commercials, trailers, and The Brothers Grimm than trying to decide whether to spend $3000 or $10,000 on various plumbing options. But that wasn't to be.