Is It Right to Nitpick?
July 16, 2013
(The shortened opening)
NC: Hello, I'm the Nostalgia Critic. I remember it so you don't have to. (holds up both hands) Some of you might find it hard to believe... but I am a nitpicker. (the sound of people gasping is heard) I know, I know, it's sad but true, and I'm not always proud of it. (long pause) But sometimes, I'm proud. (smiles)
NC (vo): Because there's certainly films out there that have it coming; movies that so obviously do not think at all about the obvious flaws that most people would find distracting.
NC: But... how far is too far?
(Cut to Douchey McNitpick)
NC (vo): We've all come across those people who let what seems like...
(Cut to footage of Tron: Legacy)
NC (vo): ...the tiniest of errors ruin an entire film for them.
(Cut to Douchey again, then to footage of Batman)
NC (vo): These are the people you just want to shout, "Good God! It's just a movie!"
(Cut to footage of Batman & Robin)
NC (vo): But then, ironically, we go on and find our own little pet peeves in movies that we hate.
NC: So then... when is nitpicking justified and when is it not?
(Cut to a clip of Jurassic Park)
NC (vo): Because when you look at any film close enough, you quickly discover that there really is no such thing as a perfect movie.
(Cut to a clip of Tombstone)
NC (vo): Every film has some mistakes or some miscalculations.
(Cut to footage of The Incredible Burt Wonderstone)
NC (vo): It's not surprising, seeing how film is an illusion, and whether it's telling a story or performing a magic act, at some point, not every trick is going to work.
(Cut to footage of the climax of Star Wars: A New Hope)
NC (vo): Some of the most famous and loved films of all time have huge mistakes in it. For example, in Star Wars, the destruction of the Death Star is caused by sending one tiny torpedo into a tiny little hole that somehow blows up this entire base! Wait a minute, how can a little torpedo do that? Why is it they have to do most of the traveling in the trenches? Why don't they just fly around space until they're closer to that hole and then go in closer? Why didn't the Empire just cover that hole up to begin with? They seemed to know to keep the Rebels away from it. Why didn't the Death Star just blow up the planet in front of them to destroy the Rebel base, just like they showed on How It Should Have Ended? All of these are major problems with the climax, but for the most part, nobody lets it bother 'em.
(Cut to footage of Citizen Kane)
NC (vo): Citizen Kane, said to be one of the best movies of all time, has a major mistake in it. The movie is about everyone trying to figure out what Citizen Kane meant by his last word...
Kane: (about to breathe his last) Rosebud... (drops snowglobe, which shatters on the floor)
NC (vo): The problem? NOBODY WAS THERE TO HEAR HIM SAY IT! Yeah, the room was empty when he died! So how does everyone know that's the last thing he said, putting this whole journey into motion? That's a huge mistake! And yet people still see it as one of the standalone greats.
NC (vo): But still, how come in, say, an Uwe Boll film or an M. Night Shyamalan film, we're much more open to criticizing these mistakes and say that they ruined the story they were trying to tell? Is it just because we don't like the movie and thus we look for even more reasons to hate it? Well, kind of.
(Cut to footage of The Wizard of Oz)
NC (vo): I started to think about a movie like The Wizard of Oz, and how not too many people would attack it because... well, it's a kid's movie. But not just because of that, but because it's a good kid's movie, a really good kid's movie. Yeah, it's filled with things that don't add up, like, why did Glinda think Dorothy wouldn't believe her when she said to click her heels, or how could the Wizard possibly project those holograms from that tiny machine, or how could the Witch go all her life without getting any water on her? Dude, not even a shower? She must smell like rhino ass! But, we still accept it for two reasons: one, it created an environment where the focus is on the emotions and not the logical; and two, we're just so sucked in by those emotions and the characters and the visuals to really notice those mistakes.
(Cut to footage of Edward Scissorhands)
NC (vo): The same can be said for Edward Scissorhands. I rarely hear people ask where the hell did he get those giant blocks of ice from, or even how an inventor can make a man from scratch, but it's just the kind of fairy tale world it's creating, and the heart and drama of Edward is so good that we don't feel the need to question it.
NC: Then you start to think about films like, oh, Cool as Ice.
(Cut to footage of Cool as Ice)
NC (vo): This is a film that does not draw you into its characters or its environment or its own unique world. And because it fails to keep our attention with these elements, it's much harder not to notice the problems of the movie: the inconsistencies, the mistakes, the nonsensical motivations. So maybe when we're nitpicking about the little problems of a movie that we think add up to big problems, we're actually focusing on the wrong issue.
(Cut to footage of Son of the Mask)
NC (vo): It's not that a movie has mistakes, it's that it failed to distract us from those mistakes, with good characters, story and environment.
(Cut to footage of Iron Man 3)
NC (vo): Now, that doesn't mean, as long as you have those three elements, you never have to worry about mistakes. Film is still an illusion, and one that needs to hold the audience's attention for a while. The more plot holes or inconsistencies a film has, the more it has to try even harder to create engaging characters, environments and stories to distract you.
(Cut to footage of Sin City)
NC (vo): The goal is still to convince the viewer that they are witnessing a story that is unfolding before their eyes, so much so that they carry investment for what happens in the end.
NC: So, is nitpicking good or bad?
(Cut to footage of the Wizard from The Wizard of Oz)
NC (vo): Well, it'll always be a fun pastime to look behind the curtain and reveal the Wizard for the illusionist that he is, but the judgment on what we find depends on whether or not he put on a good show.
(Cut to footage of Man of Steel)
NC (vo): Nitpicking leads to great comedy and clever acknowledgement of how to make a piece of art better, but what should be realized is that what we are nitpicking is not the problem. The problem is that we're noticing it at all.
(Cut to a clip of the climax from Star Wars: A New Hope)
NC (vo): I doubt many people thought hard about the problems in Star Wars after they first saw it, but after seeing it so many times that they know the film inside and out, then they probably start to notice them more. So it all comes down to how much a movie can grab you and keep you in its world. The better it's done, the more you'll enjoy the illusion and the world it's created around you.
(Cut to a clip of Ed Wood)
NC (vo): The more poorly it's done, the more likely you are to notice the strings.
(Cut to footage of Cool as Ice)
NC (vo): So keep nitpicking all you want. Make jokes about it, laugh at it, even get angry if you feel it insults you enough.
(Cut to footage of After Earth)
NC (vo): But remember that your anger doesn't lie within the weak manipulation of the facts, as film is already a manipulation.
(Cut to footage of Son of the Mask)
NC (vo): Your anger lies in not being given a strong-enough world, people or dilemma to get lost in. So remember...
(Cut to a shot of a person dressed all in black operating a puppet)
NC (vo): ...don't complain, in a puppet show, that you can see the puppeteer. Complain instead that you focused more on him than you did the puppet.
NC: I'm the Nostalgia Critic. I remember it so you don't have to. (gets up from his chair and leaves)