05/29/2012 06:01 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Dear Movie-Going Friends: 'It Wasn't as Bad as You Think' No Longer Qualifies as a Good Review


My dear long-term friends: I have known you since college, and along the way we have shared many deep conversations, many milestones and many intimacies. In the process, we have often discovered an intersection of tastes in the arts and entertainment, and so we have debated long into the night about the merits of certain bands and motion pictures. As the years have passed, perhaps we have not been as vitriolic in our disapproval, or as passionate in our praise, of certain films as we were in the more volatile days of our youth.

But, to be quite honest, I had hoped that a few of you might have retained not only your deeply felt opinions, but your sense of discernment when spending your hard-earned money and valuable time on whatever piece of disposable dog and pony show Hollywood upchucks into our cinemas each week. So you can imagine the disappointment that arises whenever you confess to having attended a film so mediocre that it makes CSI: Miami look like Richard III and, with a shrug of your shoulders, you actually then half-heartedly recommend that I also invest in it. And so I must now publicly declare, my friends, that the phrase, "you should see it, it's not as bad as you think," no longer qualifies as either a ringing endorsement or a good review.

This also applies to such phrases as "it is what it is" and "it was okay." I am not getting any younger, and I do not have two hours to waste on "it was okay." Perhaps the next time I get gastric disturbances from a restaurant, I will suggest that you order the same dish just to see if you get any less sick. Now, "very good," "it was quite good," "it is a masterpiece," these are phrases that will entice me to give up 120 minutes of my time to people I don't know moving about on a screen and trying to convince me that their dilemmas are interesting. "It is what it is," huh? Well, so is a poorly-maintained public restroom, but that, at least, may actually end up losing some patrons via bad word of mouth.

Remember, your friends count on you to enhance and invigorate their lives. The summer movie season is now upon us, and it is bound to have a sizable portion of execrable effluvium best given a pass. So be honest. Tell those close to you, proudly and unapologetically, that you were, in fact, monumentally underwhelmed by a lackluster cinematic offering, and that it was every bit as bad as you expected it to be. This will save them countless hours, perhaps even days, of needless pain, whereas beating around the bush will only send them into the gaping maw of multiplex hell that they could have otherwise avoided.

Of course, there is a chance that your noncommittal pseudo-recommendation of a terrible movie was motivated by the simple desire to make your friends suffer as agonizingly as you did when you made the mistake of shelling out for yet another lame ass film. If so, then I guess I would have to concede defeat and commend your vengeful but sharp-witted strategy. Yes, that was very clever of you. No wonder we're friends.

James Napoli is an author and humorist. More of his comedy content for the web can be found here.