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An EW critic on movies made for laughs, not Oscars

An EW critic on movies made for laughs, not Oscars -- ''There's Something About Mary'' better than ''The Hours''? Lisa Schwarzbaum explains

Cameron Diaz, There's Something About Mary

An EW critic on movies made for laughs, not Oscars

Are you harsher in your criticism of a film that strives for greatness and misses than of a film that strives for mediocrity and succeeds? – Rich Aroian
Whoa. Allow me to free-associate on your excellent question. I’m always grateful for a goal of greatness; it’s phony movie notions of how greatness is supposed to look that make me despair. (That’s why I’m so hard on ”The Hours.”) Conversely, mediocrity is mediocrity, however well executed – but a finely made Farrelly brothers movie is a thing of beauty.

If you give a movie an F, does that mean it has absolutely no redeeming qualities – or just that it isn’t worth the price of admission? – Jamie D. Heine
Ah, Jamie, return on investment at the multiplex is a far more subjective transaction than any grade can predict: One critic’s stinker is another ironist’s happy ”Showgirls” (or ”Gigli”?) experience. A lack of any redeeming qualities – or no damn reason to exist – is a far more reliable interpretation of an F.

Send questions to askthecritic@ew.com, or post them below.

Originally posted September 5 2003 — 12:00 AM EDT

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