Posted by: Trisha Leigh | March 14, 2011

When Your Inner Critic Escapes…People Will Think You’re Annoying

I didn’t have that many friends in college. I know, shocker, right? I had a fantastic roommate (who unfortunately I don’t have a digital photo of), a best friend I’ve had since second grade, and a group of four friends I still see on a regular basis.

So I didn’t have that many friends, but the friendships I made have stood the test of time. Which, if you knew the extent of my truly horrifying N’Sync obsession during college, you’d find more astounding than ever.

In addition to a completely inappropriate boy band fixation, I majored in film. While this did not cause my friends to stop hanging out with me entirely, it did stop them from going to movies with me.

Once I started learning about the many nuances of movies, how many people and parts have to combine to put a truly great film into theatres, I couldn’t stop bashing on pretty much every movie I went to see. I couldn’t watch them without picking them apart and ruining the experience for everyone else along the way. It was like Cady’s word vomit in Mean Girls – I could hear people getting bored and annoyed with me but I couldn’t stop.

I’ve pretty much cured myself at this point, and try to go into movies not expecting much, and enjoying them for what they’re meant to be – entertainment. Once in a while a film surprises me, and those moments are truly a gift. I get to write reviews for Poptimal, so I can vent lots of my snarkiness there, where people are asking for my opinion.

I went to see Beastly with a friend, her 13yo daughter, her 7yo daughter, and another teenaged girl. Apparently I’m not totally cured, because I couldn’t help but literally crack up throughout this film. The 13yo said I was annoying. ME. That’s like, impossible to fathom.

I realized afterward the problems with this film that made me laugh at its ridiculousness were not anything I learned in film school.

It’s things I’ve learned since committing to writing.

The screenplay for Beastly is horrifically cheesy.* This coming from a woman who sets her DVR to record ABC Family Movies. I like cheesy. It even makes my little heart pitterpatter and tears spring to my eyes. Seriously. Another Cinderella Story is one of my favs.

In Beastly, The “beast” takes the “beauty” to the zoo, and when she asks him why they’re there, he replies, “this place is important to me.”

I leaned over to my friend (who is also one of my crit parters), and whispered, “show me it’s important to you.” And yeah, we laughed more and earned (deserved) irritated glances from her daughter.

Movies typically don’t have the “show don’t tell” issues you find in some novels. They shouldn’t, given that the entire medium is based on us watching, and not hearing. We shouldn’t have to be told the “beast” is vain and superficial and mean. He should just be those things. He doesn’t have to tell us the zoo is important to him, because he’ll let us know why he brought her here. There are other issues as well, but I’ve not seen a movie in recent memory that feels the need to tell me what’s going on.

If you want an excellent lesson on what failure to show your audience how characters feel and what their motivations are looks like in action, go ahead and plunk down your $7.50.

Do you find it’s harder to enjoy books, movies, television shows, etc the more you understand about how they’re written and/or made? How do you disconnect from your inner critic in order to enjoy them?

*This is in no way a comment on the novel, which I haven’t read.

What I’m watching right this second: Empire Records, for the fourth time in as many weeks.




  1. This is funny. Personally, I love your critical eye on poptimal.

    I haven’t seen Beastly, but have met the author who wrote the book, read it because I enjoyed talking to her so much, and will support her indefinitely.

    BUT I’ve also learned to expect NOTHING of the movies based on books I love. And Beastly is a cute book.

    Anyway, this is a great post about story showing in all it’s forms. You didn’t TELL us, “My friends have put up with a lot from me.” You showed us in the examples.

    Love you.

    • Thanks! Yes, I wanted to make it clear my judgment of the film was not my judgment of the book, since I haven’t read it. Maybe I should!

      Love you too. 🙂

  2. I’ll bet you’re a hoot to go to the movies with! I would love to hear your running commentary during a film — the snarkier, the better. 😉

    • Oh, I think it can get old pretty fast – especially if we disagree. Then again, we both have excellent taste, so how would that happen? 😉

  3. The Mexican. ‘Nuff said. 🙂

    • Seriously, though. I maintain that was a horrible movie.

  4. I’m with Linda; would love to see a movie with you – I bet you’re FUN!

    • Fun means so many things to different people. I do my best, but I do have the tendency to not let up even when I can tell I’m bugging people. It’s a flaw. We’ve all got to have one, right? 😉

  5. I know what you mean! I’m so much harder on movies, books, even poetry and songs than I was before I learned how to show not tell.

    I’ll put Beastly on my to-be-not-watched list.

    • I definitely wouldn’t waste your precious time. Still, I think it’s important to still be able to sit back and enjoy things, especially because the really great pieces of art are so rare. I’d feel so lost if I couldn’t get pleasure out of the simply good ones.

  6. Great post! I’m curious – which movies have you seen recently that impressed your inner critic? And did you like Pan’s Labyrinth?

    • LOVE Pan’s Labyrinth. In 2010, there were a couple movies I really enjoyed – The King’s Speech, 127 Hours, and Harry Potter 7 all really blew me away. You?

  7. Very good information! I have been searching for anything like this for a time now. Excellent!

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