I don’t consider myself to be a meathead when it comes to movies. Back in the day, my propensity for going to the video store and returning with movies such as “Heavenly Creatures” and “Lost Horizon” — cinematic offerings with an insufficient number of explosions and/or boobs — was a boundless source of exasperation for my roommate and our drinking buddies. I still recall the looks of wounded accusation that greeted me when I returned from work one evening to find them screening a video of “Last Tango in Paris” that I’d rented the night before. Seems they’d spotted the “X” rating on the box, and expected a very different kind of film.
That being said, one of my problems with a lot of film reviewers is that they’re a bit too much into movies as serious art. Look, I’m sure that 12-hour-long, avant garde version of “King Lear” released by the Icelandic Film Board is a masterpiece. You know what? I only get one Saturday a week. I’m not going to devote a significant chunk of it to watching a movie that doesn’t entertain me.
That’s what I like about Roy Sexton of the blog “Reel Roy Reviews,” who is now officially my favorite film reviewer. The guy’s obviously a hardcore film geek, who’s seen a ton of movies and has a good sense of what makes for a quality film. But there’s an element of populism to his approach that I see lacking in a lot of film reviewers. He understands that sometimes you’re just not in the mood for a transcendent redefinition of the cinematic art form. Sometimes you just want a fun night at the movies.
He also understands that even a movie that’s not “good” by any objective standards can still have elements that make it worth watching. Like when you’re flipping around on cable, see a movie and think: “Oh yeah, this movie. Damn, this movie sucks.” Then 90 minutes later, you’re still watching.
In other words, he doesn’t review like a serious student of cinema, so much as a regular person who just happens to really like movies. And since that description fits me and — I’d venture to say — the vast majority of movie viewers, that makes his reviews enormously engaging.
I just finished reading a collection of his reviews in book form, titled “Reel Roy Reviews Volume 1: Keepin’ It Real.” Most of the book covers films released from mid-2012 to early 2014. To tell you the truth, I’m probably not going to see most of the films he reviewed. Even the good ones. Much as I like movies, I just don’t have a lot of time on my hands these days. Had to prioritize, and books won out.
So why bother reading them? Because the guy can write. As an added bonus, he’s freakin hilarious. Even if you’re not planning on seeing the movies, the reviews are a pleasure to read.
My favorite part is a section where he goes back and reviews movies he loved as a kid, to see if they still hold up. If I wasn’t already a fan, the fact that this section included “The Black Hole” — Disney’s brilliantly twisted, how-the-fuck-did-this-get-made peyote trip of a kids’ movie — would have sealed the deal.
Added bonus? He likes the 1980 movie “Popeye.” Why the hell does this movie have such a bad reputation? Sure, it tanked at the box office. So did “It’s a Wonderful Life.” You’re telling me that a movie directed by Robert Altman based on one of the best comic strips of all time, starring Robin Williams and Shelley Duvall, with a screenplay by Jules Feiffer and a soundtrack by Harry Nilsson has NO redeeming qualities?