See, this is why it doesn’t pay to have ideas. This is why you shouldn’t try to get creative at your job. Because creativity blows up in your face. And then you have to write pieces in praise of Dennis Dugan — the guy who made “The Benchwarmers,” “Grown Ups,” and “Jack and Jill.”
Here’s what happened: back in September, I proposed an unusual bet to Criticwire assistant editor Steve Greene. We spend so much time collecting other critics’ reviews, I wondered if we could use that knowledge to predict what those reviews would look like before they got written. And thus The Great Criticwire Fall Movie Wager was born.
Steve and I would each pick a film in five different categories: Best Reviewed Sequel, Best Reviewed Blockbuster, Best Reviewed Literary Adaptation, Worst Reviewed Movie, and Best Reviewed Movie. We’d average out the Best categories then subtract the Worst category. Whoever had the highest total would be declared the winner; whoever had the lowest total had to write a critical appreciation of Dennis Dugan. In other words: this was not a bet you wanted to lose.
We made our predictions in a blog post, wished each other the worst of luck, and prayed. And when it was all said and done, here were the full results:
Best Reviewed Sequel: “Skyfall” – 92%
Best Reviewed Blockbuster: “Wreck-It Ralph” – 88%
Best Reviewed Literary Adaptation: “Life of Pi” – 89%
Best Reviewed Movie: “Django Unchained” – 88%
Bests Average: 89.25
Worst Reviewed Movie: “Here Comes the Boom” – 38%
Final Score: 51.25
Best Reviewed Sequel: “This is 40” – 50%
Best Reviewed Blockbuster: “Rise of the Guardians” – 74%
Best Reviewed Literary Adaptation: “Les Miserables” – 73%
Best Reviewed Movie: “Zero Dark Thirty” – 93%
Bests Average: 72.5
Worst Reviewed Movie: A”tlas Shrugged: Part II” – 5%
Final Score: 67.5
Now I could sit here and tell you I was robbed. That I clearly outpicked Steve in three of the four “best” categories. That my average in those four categories was almost 17 points higher than Steve’s. That if I hadn’t let Steve have “Atlas Shrugged: Part II” as the worst movie of the year — we both wanted to pick it — I might have run away with this thing. I could stomp my feet and cry and scream that if Kevin James hadn’t delivered the best reviewed movie of his career as a leading man it would have been a runaway victory for yours truly.
I’m not going to say any of that (uh, again). Instead, I will be gracious in defeat (uh, starting now) and concede that the better man won. When the boom came, it came for me, like a oafish biology teacher turned inspirational MMA fighter with a killer right hook. Steve won, and won handily. There is no joy in Mattville. Mighty Singer has struck out.
I will keep my word. I will honor our bargain. I will happily revisit “Happy Gilmore” and “You Don’t Mess With the Zohan.” I will endure “Beverly Hills Ninja” and “National Security” for the first time. God help me, I may even try to track down the pilot of “Shasta McNasty.” And then I will find a way to praise Dennis Dugan as an auteur. Just as soon as I stop uncontrollably sobbing.
Damn you, Kevin James. Damn you to hell.