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CaptainADD

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Heckler (2007)
15 out of 19 people found the following review useful:
Here's My Constructive Criticism, 21 July 2010
3/10

In this documentary, Jamie Kennedy says that movie critics should make a point of giving "constructive criticism," that is, instead of just saying that a movie sucked, say why it was bad and what could have been done to make it better. This is one of the parts that I agree with, so I'll try to do that here.

The first 20 minutes or so were exactly what the DVD cover and title claim to be- a documentary about how stand-up comedians deal with hecklers. Listening to the comedians' war stories and methods of dealing with hecklers is hilarious and a fascinating subject.

But then the movie veers off course when Kennedy makes a ham-fisted comparison equating movie critics to hecklers. Plenty of others here have explained why that's a bad comparison, so I don't need to explain why again.

From that point on, it feels like the movie is nothing but JK whining that no one liked Son of the Mask. I'm a bit bitter about the bait-and-switch done here. He shows us a brief clip of SotM that's supposed to convince us that the whole thing is funny, and assumes that this gets us 100% on board with his belief that everyone who criticized it is totally wrong and/or mean-spirited. And EVERYONE he finds either didn't watch it or didn't like it. He mopes around between sadness and anger, never once stopping to consider that just maybe Son of the Mask really was a bad film.

In fact, he seems to be really stuck on the idea that there is no such thing as a bad film whatsoever. Kennedy argues that because every opinion on a movie is just an opinion, not a fact. However, most people would agree that if a film is universally hated by both professional critics and the viewing public, tanks at the box office, and gets singled out by Rotten Tomatoes as one of the 100 worst films of the decade, as Son of the Mask was, then it's a pretty safe bet to call it a bad movie. There is such a thing as a bad film.

He has some valid points about how mean-spirited and personal-level criticisms of films are excessively cruel, but these points seem to get lost in the mess of the post-heckler part of the movie. It's unfocused and has a lot of logical leaps. One minute all movie critics are scum, the next minute Roger Ebert is a great and well-respected exception (even though he's just as famous for tearing into truly bad films as writing great reviews), the next we see some kid saying that Ebert is an idiot and an out-of-context clip that makes Beyond the Valley of the Dolls look really bad, completely missing the point that that film was intentionally schlocky. One minute a professional movie critic is a valid career with a legitimate purpose, the next they're all scum again. One minute he's accepting of the idea of constructive criticism that doesn't attack on a personal level, the next 25 minutes, no one should ever have a negative opinion about anything.

We're treated to a parade of famous flop-makers that we're supposed to feel sympathy for, but don't, because we're still not convinced that there's no such thing as a bad movie. Bringing in people involved with incredibly bad movies like Joel Schumaker, Carrot Top, and Uwe Boll to argue your point only further cements the idea that your movie was bad and that you're just being bitter about everyone's natural reaction to it.

However, I thought that the part about how the Web has made everyone into an elitist critic with a tendency to hate everything was interesting ("0 out of 4 waffles?"). I find people who come to IMDb, give a good-but-not-great movie 0/10 stars and a review of "THIS WUZ The WURST MUVEE EVER LOLz!" to be some of the biggest morons on the planet, and their opinions to be about as worthless as he says they are. JK also has an interesting idea where he confronts some of his harshest, most personal-level critics to see if they'll say the same things to his face. But his reaction to one of those is so terribly immature and unfunny (and I'm no prude) that it ruins the whole exercise.

In conclusion, I think that Kennedy made this film too soon. His emotions about everyone's reaction to Son of the Mask were still too raw, and that got in the way of his ability to make a coherent documentary. Had he made it two or three years later, he probably would have been thinking clearly enough to leave out some of the moments that I'm sure felt gratifying to him, but just alienated his audience, like his contradictory opinions on Ebert or his treatment of the last critic he met in person.