Maybe it's good enough? Maybe not?
My wife and I spent Saturday night watching a cute new romantic comedy on Netflix called "Always Be My Maybe". I was really interested in seeing it, because it starred two incredibly funny actors in Ali Wong and Randall Park. We both enjoyed it, but I thought that the third act kind of felt rushed and fell apart at the end.
Now, normally when I watch a movie, I'm super excited to talk about what I enjoyed and what I didn't, especially if there were thematic or narrative elements that hindered the experience. I didn't do it right away after watching this movie, for I didn't want to be a wet blanket if my wife enjoyed it. I waited a good fourteen hours before I brought it up again in conversation with my wife to see if she agreed with me on my thoughts, which she responded with, "Ted, it's just a silly romantic comedy. Just enjoy it for what it is."
She had a great point, but it did get me thinking about what movies we should view more with a critical eye and which ones we just accept as mindless fun. Technically, you could say that you should treat all film as mindless fun, since it's entertainment and doesn't have any massive impact on your life one way or the other. Then again, the forms of entertainment that not only work on a basic level but end up making a more profound impact on the viewer can have a lasting impact on them. With that in mind, if there's the potential for a piece of entertainment to go to that next level but fails to do so, should that loss of an experience for the viewer be noted?
There is a part of nerd culture that practically evolves around over analyzing entertainment, to the point where it can steal enjoyment from others because one may be overly critical of something that another person enjoys. “Game of Thrones” is an excellent example of this, as there were fans that seemed to enjoy the final season of the show, while there was a very loud group of detractors that were not shy of sharing their displeasure of the show’s apparently flawed ending. This ended up with many who enjoyed it seeming to have to apologize for enjoying it (and if you don’t believe me that this happened, check out Twitter, the breading ground of irrational arguments).
I know that I have been incredibly guilty of being someone who has detested a piece of entertainment, and to the point of practically intentionally trying to ruin other people’s enjoyment of that entertainment. When I saw the movie adaptation of “Fifty Shades of Grey”, I thought it was the vilest film I had ever seen, and went out of my way to tell others that I thought it was the worst movie ever made. When people would say that they enjoyed the film, I showed a great deal of contempt for them for feeling the way that they did. Looking back, I do think I did overreact somewhat, yet I do still very much have a great deal of issue with that movie and am still perplexed on how it became the blockbuster literary and cinematic success that it was.
So when is critical analysis acceptable, and when should it be set to the side? Should we allow art to be art and allow it to find its audience, forgoing critical analysis so that it doesn’t prohibit it from reaching the largest possible audience? Should it be a constant, so that when greatness is achieved it can be celebrated while also working to prevent future calamities from occurring? Or should it be determined based off of the audience member and what they are hoping to obtain from the experience?
At the end of the day, I’m glad that my wife and I watched “Always Be My Maybe.” It didn’t break any new ground, and it was kind of a mess at time, but I know that we both laughed while watching it and enjoyed the time we spent together watching it. There’s a big part of me that wishes it could’ve reached its fullest potential, but at the end of the day, we still enjoyed what we saw, and maybe that’s good enough.
Originally published on June 3, 2019