There are definitely ways to tell if you are going to have a terrible experience before you see a movie without giving away too much of the plot. Sometimes when you pick a bad movie and insist your friends go, they are irritated at the end and you feel like you fail at life. Or worse, what if you pick a movie to see with your family and you did not know about that nude scene (like when I saw 300 with my dad). If you do not completely trust critics or if you just find yourself sitting through more bad movies than good ones, you are in the right place. Hopefully my six steps will help you have a good time at the movies and put your ten dollars toward the right filmmakers. The steps may not be foolproof for every movie, every time, but it will narrow your choices and reduce the chances of seeing a stinker.

Who are you and why should I read your site?

I am a college student who loves movies. If I had no legs, no arms, one eye, no future prospects, no one to love, was bald, could not talk, could not sleep without nightmares, and my least-favorite politician ruled the world, I would STILL live just to watch movies. I have over 300 dvds and I used to see every movie that came out. That is, until I decided I was done wasting my time on movies I knew were going to be lame. There are enough good movies on Netflix (which I have) to waste my time watching something like Alexander. That was the movie that broke my will to see everything. I walked out of it and vowed to get smarter. Now, I have become good at choosing movies to see. At the end of this year, I can honestly say I only saw six bad movies out of about 100 in all. I pondered what my technique and rituals would look like if I put them online and came up with this six-step method. I do a combination of these steps every time I choose a movie. It works for me and my friends.

A lot of award-winning movies bore me. What do you say makes a good movie?

I am not going to rant about proper camera angles or existential philosophies, but would say if a movie has three or more of these elements, it is worth your time. I like to see good acting, direction, plots, and visuals. I also like the screenplay to have funny, clever or touching dialogue. An example of this is Pulp Fiction. Developed, interesting, and multidimensional characters are a plus. If this is not possible, I recommend including a character. Originality is rare, but always welcome. Humor and fun are essential to any comedy and sometimes to action movies and family dramas.

My main criteria for a good movie is one that draws you in and stays with you for days after you see it. If you connected with it emotionally or mentally, it was a good use of your time. If you would own or recommend it to just about anyone, it is a good movie according to your standards. As for camera angles and such, unless you are a film student or the camera work is distracting from the movie, I am not too bothered with them as a viewer. I personally also go for a movie that has either some satire or commentary about our world or personal issues, but some people just want to have fun at the movies. It is up to you. I like to see something deeper than a puddle, but if you are just there for entertainment, that is perfectly alright with me.

I like a lot of bad movies. How do I know if a movie is good or not?

You need to see more movies and start being selective if you want to change this. The more good movies you see, the more you are going to notice when you are in a terrible one.

It is my time and money, so why do you care what I see?

If lots of people spend money on a movie, that same movie will be made (with a few variations) again and again. Examples of this are the horror movies where the plot consists of people being tortured to death. There have been five Saws (and there are rumors of more) and two Hostels. And then Turistas and Captivity followed. Because the two first-mentioned franchises did so well at the box office, it spawned several like movies and redefined what horror should look like in Hollywood these days. I am not picking on these movies here, they are just an example of how popular movies can multiply. So if more people avoid movies that insult our intelligence, more intelligent movies will be made. When you go see bad movies and then complain there is nothing playing, it is partly your fault.

What movie critics do you recommend?

All of them! Most critics have a personal taste that is never going to match yours perfectly. That is why I consult RottenTomatoes before I see a movie. This site includes hundreds of critical reviews. The site compiles them and averages the approval rating. A movie that 60 percent or more critics liked is deemed a fresh tomato by the site. If it is lower than that, the movie is rotten. Each critic has his or her own bubble where a clever line from the review about the movie is quoted. These are often very funny or smart. This site is also a great place to go after you see a movie so you can see what you agreed with that you could not quite put into words. This site does not put spoilers or plot summaries up, so you can read the site contents without learning anything about the plot or characters you do not want to.You can also just look at the overall rating critics gave it. I never saw a movie that scored under 20 percent on that site that I liked. I cannot recommend this site enough for movie selection. It is about the best predictor there is for this topic.

Made 4 December 2008
by Erin Hughes. If you have any questions or comments, email me at Photo credit mconnors -8-16-2003- retrieved from