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One of the great no-nos of popular movie criticism is revealing the ending. Telling the reader how a movie concludes is so bad it’s called a spoiler. It spoils a movie, like bacteria spoils warm milk, or a drunk clown spoils a child’s birthday party. A spoiler ruins everything; it turns something appetizing into something rancid.

I think that’s crap. One of the distinguishing features of great movies is the way repeated viewings enriches your experience and understanding. Besides, how many movies truly have surprise endings? Have you ever seen a romantic comedy where the guy didn’t get the girl? An action movie where the villain didn’t die? A Woody Allen movie where everyone didn’t end up miserable? If knowing the ending spoils it for you, you’re not asking for much in the first place.

Revealing the ending is often essential to a full critique. How can movie criticism aspire to sophisticated analysis if its hamstrung by the restriction that you can’t write about plot points beyond the 90th minute?

I don’t fault newspaper critics for abiding by the commandment “Thou Shalt Not Spoil.” It’s an ingrained convention, and I think many publishers see movie reviews as little more than a text version of a trailer. Most movie critics would get fired if they habitually revealed the ending.

But you can’t get fired from something you’re not paid for, so I’m going to reveal endings if I think it’s necessary. Consider me a groundbreaker, consider me a trailblazer, consider me an explorer in the undiscovered country.

Or you can just call me a drunk clown with a mission.

Drunk clown

I couldn’t find a picture of Scott Wolf as the inebriated clown from Party of Five, so this was the next best thing. I think he stole Ronald McDonald’s shoes.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. October 19, 2007 4:26 pm

    You’re a drunk clown with a mission. I hate spoilers (when I’m not looking for them anyway). It’s true that you should have your site as a resource out there for people who want it, but it’s also good of you that you preface your reviews with the spoiler warning.

    I hate when a great new movie comes out and they’re talking about it everywhere (on the radio, in the breakroom).

    My problem is that I can’t enjoy a movie where I see everything coming (like the Lion King). Knowing the plot before hand makes it far less fun to watch. How woul you feel if you figured out (or were told) the ending of Sixth Sense before you had a chance to see it?

    Oh, and:

    Villain didn’t die: Sandman in Spiderman 3, The Karate Kid, Kickboxer, The Fugitive
    Didn’t get the girl: Shakesphere in Love, My Best Friend’s Wedding

    I won’t argue the Woody Allen one…

  2. February 12, 2012 8:09 am

    Hello, terribly skilled high level blog! thank you for sharing. As a result of of excellent writing, and I learned a lot, and I am glad to determine such a beautiful thing. Sorry for my bad English. ?

  3. you're critique is flawed, bla bla bla permalink
    September 1, 2014 4:44 pm

    ha ha, you only have two fans in 7 years. i just felt like insulting you a bit more, not personal. also, it is a fact

  4. September 1, 2014 5:00 pm

    mais uma coisa, tomei a liberdade de escrever este texto em crioulo, na esperanca que o fosses traduzir, so para descobrires que foi uma grandessissima perda de tempo. cumprimentos e que Ala esteja contigo
    PS- crioulo e um dialecto, e a parte em que referi o mesmo e mentira, mas se revelasse de inicio o verdadeiro idioma descobrias logo e assim nao tem tanta piada. continua a escrever, mas tenta nao por as merdas na net, que se calhar e melhor. hashtag liberdade de expressao nao devia ser para todos. borrego

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