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Does Age Matter for Movie Reviewers? Film Blog Water Cooler 8/12/10

By Christopher Campbell | Spout August 12, 2010 at 10:03AM

Is the 11-year-old critic obnoxious or unwelcome? That's a big debate this week following the circulation of a clip from CBS' "The Early Show" in which Emmy-winning preteen reviewer "Lights Camera Jackson" (aka Jackson Murphy) gives his opinion on "Inception," "Ramona and Beezus" and "Salt." Many people are having issue with the kid's opinion of the Christopher Nolan pic just because it's against their own. Others seem to find it inappropriate for a little boy to be a critic. I think he's no more annoying than most TV news-based movie reviewers, though it's a little creepy how mature and lively he is. This is beyond precociousness. I honestly believe an old man has inhabited his body, a la "18 Again" or "Dream a Little Dream."
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Is the 11-year-old critic obnoxious or unwelcome? That's a big debate this week following the circulation of a clip from CBS' "The Early Show" in which Emmy-winning preteen reviewer "Lights Camera Jackson" (aka Jackson Murphy) gives his opinion on "Inception," "Ramona and Beezus" and "Salt." Many people are having issue with the kid's opinion of the Christopher Nolan pic just because it's against their own. Others seem to find it inappropriate for a little boy to be a critic. I think he's no more annoying than most TV news-based movie reviewers, though it's a little creepy how mature and lively he is. This is beyond precociousness. I honestly believe an old man has inhabited his body, a la "18 Again" or "Dream a Little Dream."

As for Jackson's claim that "Inception" is not for people his age and that (therefore?) it's too confusing, I see this as a legitimate reason for why the kid should be reviewing movies. He has the perspective to see a movie through kid eyes and decide if other young people will enjoy it. I guess that sort of contradicts the idea that he might in fact have an elderly man's brain inside that buzzed noggin of his, but otherwise it should make sense to any movie blogger not feeling jealous or threatened. Look at who goes to the movies: mostly kids. Maybe you find it frustrating that many moms go to "mom critics" and likely many kids are interested in what other "kid critics" think, but there's really nothing wrong with it. No, it's definitely not the end of civilization.

Meanwhile there's a somewhat relevant hullabaloo concerning the elder critics who don't get "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World," with a number of people arguing that this movie isn't for adults anyway (while others defending it's appeal to broader-minded adults). So, is it necessary to have reviewers of all ages in order to fairly judge movies geared to specific demographics? Should we all be glad that the kids have "Scott Pilgrim," the adults have "Inception" and those of us who can't decide if we're child or grown-up soon get "Enter the Void," which is kind of like a stylistic bridge between those films? Eh, I loved and hated different elements of all three, so whatever. Opinions aren't age-exclusive nor should any films be. And I will personally sneak Jackson into "Void" just to hear what he thinks of it.

See what they're saying around the film blog water cooler after the jump.

S.T. VanAirsdale at Movieline:

We at Movieline know a thing or two about the tsunami of bile that accompanies even the slightest dissent from the cult of "Inception" — the taunting, abusive, bullying, emphatic hate ignited by a negative review. And then along came Jackson Murphy, a/k/a “Lights Camera Jackson,” an 11-year-old online movie critic who dared to take his own "Inception" disappointment live on CBS. All I can say is, “Welcome to the club, Jackson!” And also: “Who the hell are these people?”

Gabrielle Dunn at Moviefone's Inside Movies:

The precious gimmick behind Jackson's whole deal is his tender age, but it wouldn't work if Jackson wasn't also pretty precocious and good at what he's doing. His review of Angelina Jolie's spy thriller 'Salt,' for instance, was actually kind of informative; and the kid clearly loves and knows about current movies. Still, he's got a long way to go when it comes to classics and some of the heavier movies he'll surely watch when he's old enough (like 'The Godfather' and 'Raging Bull,' for example).

Scott Jordan Harris at Movies Area:

Movie studios spend millions of dollars, and hundreds of hours, trying work out what kids really want from a film. The trouble is that very few children could really tell them – but here’s one who can. there is, quite literally, no one in the world better able to answer the question ‘what do kids want from a film?’ than Lights Camera Jackson.

Gabe Delahaye at Videogum:

Regardless of whether or not you agree with him that Beezus and Ramona was better than Inception, I think we’re all on the same page that this kid is terrifying.

Lindsey Weber of Universal Record Database:

This is the opposite of a cute baby video. This’ll make your ovaries (or your testicles) shrivel up & disappear. I literally want to invent a Time Machine so I can go back in time to before LIGHTS CAMERA JACKSON was born and convince his parents not to procreate.

Matt Kiebus at Death + Taxes:

Violence towards 11-year-olds in today’s culture is normally frowned upon. But I challenge you to watch this video of L.C.J. reviewing “Inception,” “Ramona and Beezus,” and “Salt” without seriously wanting to punch your computer screen and toss it out the window.

Morning talk shows are built on cute kids, celebrity interviews, vacation tips, and exposés on 10 deadly household products for your pets. So the fact that they have an 11-year-old kid reviewing movies isn’t a surprise. But he’s not a cute kid, he’s the kind of kid that’s pumped for math homework and hates dogs.

Yes, I just spent 900 words ragging on an 11-year-old, but if we don’t stop him soon we could have a problem of Joel Siegel (R.I.P.) proportions on our hands.

Matt Cherette at Gawker.TV:

11-year-old movie critic Jackson visited The Early Show recently to review summer films. While Jackson liked Ramona and Beezus (and "favorite" Toy Story 3) and loved Salt, he hated Inception for being "confusing." Uh, you're 11?

MovieFill:

I'm not sure what the point of this is, unless the point is to make you hate children as much as possible. While the cute kid acts like a grown up cliche works in movies (no it doesn't), it's twice as annoying in real life. And someone stop giving this kid so much cocaine, he's only 11!

Monika Bartyzel at Cinematical:

For DVD covers, he's a studio's dream, but really, the all-out desire to mimic rather than be genuine comes off as quite annoying. The kid's obviously passionate about film, but he's about rehearsed style over substance or thought. I'd much rather hear a smart kid genuinely talk about his thoughts on a particular film instead of one trying to be an adult and talk like something he isn't. In fact, I think it'd be pretty cool to see kids honestly discussing movies. But a tyke shouting critic quotes? Not so much. Let's hope one of his critical idols helps him dial it back a notch ... or ten.

Dave Copeland:

Would it be “cute” if tomorrow morning you woke up experiencing chest pains and one of the EMT’s responding to your 911 call was 11? What if you drop your second grader off on the first day of school next month and her teacher is only a few years older than the students he’ll be charged with educating?

What if – and this is where I start to get into the crux of my argument – you were a contractor who lost out on a bid for a job because the home owner thought the crew of 12-year-old laborers hired by a competitor were adorable? What if you were down-sized from your corporate treadmill job because kids will work for the thrill of playing grown-up in lieu of a salary and health benefits?

Or what if you were a film reviewer? One who spent years studying film and theory and perfecting skills to convey those ideas in a way that is both entertaining and informative to a general television audience? One who suddenly finds himself ousted by a new reviewer who flails his arms and asks if Angelina is a Russian spy in a Brogue accent because he’s too young to know that Russians don’t speak with an Irish affect?

Or maybe you’re the award-winning director who has made critically acclaimed films like Memento and The Dark Knight who has your latest piece of work dismissed to potential viewers as “really confusing”?

From her great article in response the critics complaining that "Scott Pilgrim" is for kids, Linda Holmes at NPR's Money See:

Here's what I'm saying: I'm a woman, I'm in my late thirties, I can't handle first-person shooters, I'm afraid of Comic-Con, and I really, really liked "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World."

I hope I'm not, you know, blowing your mind.

Jen Chaney at The Washington Post's Celebritology 2.0:

Critics: tell us whether the movie was good. Share your cinematic wisdom and perspective. It's so, so needed in the world. But stop being snobby and condescending, especially when it comes to moves that are for and about young people. That's a film critic cliche. But sadly, even now, it remains a cliche because too often, it's true.

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This article is related to: Film Blog Water Cooler





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