My Grading Rubric


Hey guys! I thought I would just do a quick post explaining how I come up with my grades and what they mean.

The first thing is there is a difference between my regular film grades and my Disney Canon reviews. If I was judging the Disney Canon on the same level as other films I would give even more A’s (I gave 22 as it is).  The fact is I like something about all of the Disney Canon movies (yes all).  So for example, Peter Pan got a C+ on my Canon review.  I also just gave The Pirate Fairy a C+.  Clearly the original Peter Pan is better than the Pirate Fairy but you can’t look at it that way.  Peter Pan when looked at in comparison with the other 54 films in the Canon is a C+- meaning I think it is right in the middle. This is why it got #32 in my ranking.

For another example, The Hunchback of Notre Dame is certainly better than Pirate Fairy despite it getting a D from me. Again, the D is in comparison with the other Disney Canon films.  For me Hunchback is on the lower end of the spectrum.  Same thing with Pocahontas, Pinocchio, Bambi. All would get much higher grades if I was comparing them to the general films.

The same is true for my Scrooge Month reviews.  I didn’t give grades for those reviews but my praise is in context within the 37 films I saw not movies as a whole.    I love Christmas Carol so much nearly every version would get a decent grade.  I hope that makes sense.

This is why it is important to read the review not simply look at my score.  I try to be as clear as possible about the strengths and weaknesses of all the films I tackle.  There may be a film which doesn’t ring as special to me but in reading the review you may think it sounds like your type of film.  For instance, I often read reviews of Christian films where the criticisms the writer gives actually sound like strengths in my worldview and preferences.

Another point to quickly bring up is I try to only review films I have at least one nice thing to say about.  If they are total garbage it isn’t worth my time.  I know some people like those kind of reviews but I personally am kind of sick of the ‘angry critic’ shtick, and I don’t think I’m particularly witty at writing those type of reviews.  This is why you will rarely see an F on this site.  The one exception is the Disney Canon and other Disney releases such as Maleficent.  Given this is a Disney focused blog I will post reviews of Disney’s rare F’s.

But when I’m trying to decide what grade to give a film here is what I take into account.

A+  Had a top notch viewing experienced.  Flaws were few and far between, as good as it gets.

A  One or two minor quibbles but loved it

A- 3 or 4 minor quibbles but loved it

B+ Maybe a scene didn’t care for or character but overall loved it.

B  Really good movie if not perfect

B-  Strong movie, really enjoyed it but several aspects didn’t care for.

C+ Above average.  Strong recommendation if imperfect.

C Average film. Didn’t love it, didn’t hate it

C- Mild recommendation but major flaws

D Really did not care for it but a few strengths. Still worth a watch

D- Hated it but liked one or two scenes

F  Hate it. Don’t waste your time.

The fact is I love movies so I’m not inclined to be super critical.  It’s just the way I see things.  I think you also have to consider what the filmmakers had to work with.  For example, I was pretty praiseworthy of Flintstones Christmas Carol.  Does that mean it was a masterpiece?  Heck no but I do feel like given huge limitations what they came up with was pretty clever, so I give  them some props for that.  I’m going to be much harder on a movie like Maleficent or Brother Bear because they had every resource and potential to be great and squandered it. The same is true with the recent SpongeBob Movie.  It should have been awful but they were creative and made it pretty good.  I give them props for that.

I try to not let nostalgia come into play but if I do I will state it openly in the review (another reason to actually read the review not just look at the grade).  If there are other mitigating factors like high expectations or a difficult audience which effect my enjoyment I will talk about that in my review.

My grades are also a fluid thing because my opinions are not set in stone.  I may be tough on a film one year but when approaching it at a different time in my life really respond to it (Atlantis is a good example).  I actually think that is a good thing to be open to seeing films in new ways, with a new perspective.

In the end, I try to be fair and keep an open mind.  I want to be an advocate for film because I believe movies are the great storytelling device of our era.   A lot of bloggers seem very negative and quick to judge rather than praise.  I take the opposite approach.  Praise first, criticize last.  I guess that doesn’t make me a very good ‘critic’ because I’m not.  There are of course  movies I completely hate but they are few and far between and usually I won’t blog about them. Recently I was interacting with a friend and he seemed to feel such vitriol and anger over certain popular movies it surprised me. When this happened once it was understandable but when we got to our 4th or 5th conversation with him ranting about how stupid everyone was for liking this movie or that movie,   I wondered to myself why not start reading or writing or doing something else that gives you joy? It certainly didn’t seem like the movies was making him happy but to each their own.

I know we can all have passionate feelings about these films and I hope you all know I respect you.  I hope you can respect me as well even when we disagree.  I am probably a little too free and loose with my A’s but that’s just the way I see the world.  Good to have all kinds of perspectives.  Never worry about offending me or bothering me and unless your language becomes negative or you are personally insulting me I will engage.  I want to talk with you and hear your point of view.  There is no right or wrong way to see a film.  It is an opinion and they are all valuable.  There is a point when we start making the same points over and over again, which is when I will typically call an ‘agree to disagree’ truce.  Nevertheless, please comment and thank you for reading my silly thoughts.

As the great Roger Ebert said:

“We all are born with a certain package. We are who we are: where we were born, who we were born as, how we were raised. We’re kind of stuck inside that person, and the purpose of civilization and growth is to be able to reach out and empathize a little bit with other people. And for me, the movies are like a machine that generates empathy. It lets you understand a little bit more about different hopes, aspirations, dreams and fears. It helps us to identify with the people who are sharing this journey with us.”

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