Movie Article

Dumb Struck

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 | HAIR-RAISING ''There's Something'' about a well-made Farrelly brothers flick
HAIR-RAISING ''There's Something'' about a well-made Farrelly brothers flick

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 Sep 01, 2003 Published in issue #726 Sep 05, 2003 Order article reprints
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