Someone is going to call my a hypocrite for this one, but allow me to explain myself.
Last Friday, I went on a li'l Twitter rant (as I am sometimes prone to do) about the critical response to Cars 2. What specifically set me off was this article from Cinema Blend titled "5 Ways Pixar Can Move On From The Critical Failure Of Cars 2."
I have a problem with this because the article was published at 10:30 in the morning on THE DAY of the film's release. General audiences haven't even had a chance to see the movie yet and sites like Cinema Blend were already calling it dead on arrival.
To his credit, my good friend Joe Dunn from Joe Loves Crappy Movies tweeted "Tom I love ya but you are just as guilty of this as they are. It's the nature of the world we live in. " This gave me pause. Mostly because, well, he's not wrong. I've been MORE than guilty of this in the past.
Except (and I'm not trying to justify myself here) but when I react negatively to a film before it lands in theaters, I'm usually reacting negatively to the marketing. If I'm 50/50 on a seeing a movie, bad marketing combined with bad reviews will usually keep me away. But if it's a movie I want to see - like Green Lantern - I'll probably go regardless. And if it's a movie I'm wrong about - like X-Men: First Class - I'll be the first to admit it.
What Cinema Blend is doing is basically saying "The movie is terrible. Critics have already weighed in. Don't bother. What's next for Pixar?" I found the assessment premature.
I totally understand WHY they ran the story. Journalism (such as it is) is all about Getting There First. In entertainment journalism particularly, it's all about citing the trends early and (in some cases) creating them.
American's also have a weird relationship with their heroes. We love to celebrate their successes and we love to watch them fall. More importantly, we love to watch them get back up. We love a good comeback story. To make that happen, Pixar had to stumble and Cars 2 was easy pickin's.
Let's face it: the original Cars didn't exactly set the world on fire. Kids love it, but most adults loathe it. I used to be one of them. Of course, having a 4 year-old who is in love with the cast of characters from Radiator Springs kinds of forces a perspective shift. But that's neither here nor there.
In some ways, returning to the well for Cars 2 smacks of greed. The licensing and merchandising revenue from the original film was HUGE. Cars toys haven't left store shelves for the last 5 years. To leave money like that on the table would be pretty stupid from a business standpoint.
I think that's what critics are picking up on and they're punishing Pixar for it. Because here's the thing: I saw the movie this weekend and it's not that bad.
I'll write a full review later over on the Bonus Materials blog, but my point is this: All the doom-saying going on? It's trumped up. Is Cars 2 a great movie? No. It'll never hold a candle to Wall-E or The Incredibles. But here was the deciding question for me - "Is it worse than the original Cars?" Not at all. To that end, it's not worthy of the scorn it's received.
In my view, critics just got tired of talking about how great Pixar is all the time. They saw their shot and they took it.
What's been your reaction to the critical backlash against Cars 2? Do you feel it's justified or is this an industry hit job? Leave your comments below! (and look for my Cars 2 review later in the day!)
In the meantime, I wanted to draw everyone's attention to a little site-related business. I've been making efforts to spruce up the Theater Hopper store and am offering a few new products.
I have officially made available "Artist Editions" of all three of my books. For $3.00 more than the "standard" edition, I'll draw whatever you want inside the book's forward pages. For a sample of these sketches, check out the Facebook gallery I put together for all the Theater Hopper: Year Three illustrations I completed. Over 60 to thumb through!
If you already own all of my books, but would still like some custom artwork, I've recently made available commissioned sketches for $5.00. I'm deliberately keeping the price low so it gives everyone an opportunity to own an original piece of art. Plus, it helps keep me loose creatively. Some of the stuff people have asked for so far has been really inventive! I'm also building out a Facebook gallery of commissioned sketches as well, if you want to check that out.
Sorry to bog things down with site business, but I've realized that I don't talk much about the business side of Theater Hopper anymore and things have suffered for it. Considering I only talk to you in this space once a week, I need to do a better job of folding that back in.
That's all for now. Have a great week, everyone!
I'm in mourning.
Cars 2 is officially the first Pixar film to receive a "rotten" rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Yeah, I'm in mourning, too.
...OVER THE DEATH OF INDEPENDENT THINKING!