The Mystery of My Movie Taste

thinking

I usually try to go to a movie on Monday night and today there wasn’t’ anything new I wanted to see so I saw The Good Dinosaur for the third time.  I watched it cognizant of the many of the complaints I’ve heard over the last few months and you know what?  I freakin loved it! None of the things that bother other people bother me, and it’s got me pondering.

As a writer I hope to be able to quantify why something works and why it doesn’t work, but sometimes that can be easier said than done.  Sometimes it is confusing even for me why the same problem in one film drives me crazy, while in another I don’t care the slightest.

For example, everyone it seems went ga-ga for Bridge of Spies and I was left a little puzzled.  To me I nodded off and thought it was fine but thoroughly conventional.  It was a part courtroom drama I’ve seen before and part diplomatic film I’ve seen before.

But then in contrast look at Good Dinosaur which is also conventional in some ways, and some also think it is slow, and yet I loved it.  How do I explain the differing reactions? Both are well made movies and yet one’s conventionality or lack of originality bothered me and another it didn’t?

There are other examples I could use.  Like I thought Spectre was a disappointment because it went back to the old school Bond I don’t really like.  I didn’t like Terminator Genisys and was lukewarm about Jurassic World.   I loved The Peanuts Movie, which pulls a lot from existing source material.  Why does one work and another not?

Many have criticized Star Wars: Force Awakens for a lack of originality and I loved that movie. I’ve seen it 4 times and like it more each time I see it.   Hmmmm…

Is it all just random?

I’ve always said that most movies are like giving the director a movie kit.  This kit can be an action movie kit, or a comedy kit and a good director will take that kit and do something clever, charming, startling whatever with said kit.

Star Wars was definitely a ‘star wars kit’ but it did new and different things with it.  For example, having a storm trooper defecting was new.  Rey’s vision was something new (we’ve never had a flashback of any kind in Star Wars).  All the new characters were just that new. Also the look and feel of it was something we haven’t seen in a long time so in many ways it felt like a combination of new and old.

The Good Dinosaur is kind of the same way.  They took a hero journey dinosaur movie we’ve seen before and added an emotional complexity I wasn’t expecting that moved me.  There were characters that are mean and scary and that surprised me.  There’s humor and I loved Arlo and Spot.  Then you add the new visuals which blew me away you have something that dazzled me.

The Peanuts Movie may be familiar to some but it kept things simple and sweet and the core of who Charlie Brown is.  I loved the animation and it was a funny, lovely movie.  I think I didn’t mind it was unoriginal because I don’t want original thinking when it comes to Peanuts for goodness sakes!

There are so many movies I loved this year which you could say come from kits.  Cinderella, I loved and does it really do anything that revolutionary?  No, it tells it’s story well and that’s all it had to do.

I still maintain that Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ant-Man both executed a comic book movie kit well.  Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation delivered the Mission Impossible kit well.  Brooklyn gave me the old fashioned romantic drama kit perfectly.  I didn’t any of these films to reinvent the wheel- just execute the movie kit you are given well and they did.

I guess after all one of my favorite writers (not just movies) of all time is Nora Ephron and her movies definitely use kits but she does it so well.  I love You’ve Got Mail and When Harry Met Sally despite the formula.  I love the characters, writing, commentary on life, romance and stories.

In fact, if you go down my favorite movies of all-time many of them aren’t all that ‘original’.  Let’s look at them:

  1.  Up
  2. Breakfast at Tiffany’s
  3. Little Mermaid/Beauty and the Beast
  4. Wizard of Oz
  5. To Kill a Mockingbird
  6. It’s a Wonderful Life
  7. Sound of Music/Singing in the Rain
  8. When Harry Met Sally/You’ve Got Mail
  9. Empire Strikes Back/Star Wars
  10.  Perks of Being a Wallflower
  11. The Apartment
  12. Spirited Away
  13. Back to the Future
  14. All About Eve
  15. Raiders of the Lost Arc
  16. Boyhood
  17. Inception
  18. Where the Wild Things Are
  19. Lord of the Rings
  20. Gravity

They all have original elements to them but most of them are based on previously existing novels. I love these movies so much and yet people bring up negative things about them all the time.  I shrug and say ‘doesn’t bother me’.  Because it is true!

Maybe it is foolish of me to try to explain my opinion at all when it is so random? All I know is what I like and don’t like, and I enjoy sharing it with all of you.

When it comes down to it, I don’t mind kit movies.  I don’t mind stock characters.  I don’t even mind a Mary Sue from time to time (there I said it) but it all has to be within the picture as whole working and having enough good pieces for me to enjoy it.

There it is.  The answer- Does the good outweigh the bad?  Indeed does it make me forget, not even notice the bad? Good Dinosaur, Peanuts Movie, Mad Max: Fury Road, Star Wars: Force Awakens, all did that for me this year.  Terminator Genisys, Spectre, Jurassic World, Bridge of Spies did not.

Maybe it’s not so complicated after all?…

Advertisements

Is Animation for Children?

Today I want to talk about a topic that is constantly at the forefront of the online animation fandom discussion.  Is animation for kids?  In fact, just last week I called in with a question to the Rotoscopers about why Hotel Transylvania 2 would have Mel Brooks, a star probably not familiar to children, for only 15 minutes of the film?  To me that makes no sense.  They had some insight but Mason said ‘animation isn’t for kids’.  So evidently Mel Brooks in his mind was brought into the film for the adults watching not the children.

Fair enough.  I can buy that but I do have a few things to say on this topic.

As far as I can see it you have 3 groupings of animated films. 

You have films made for just children.

movies for kids2
This collage is just 4 movies made primarily for children. Whether the are good movies is up for debate. The target demographic is why I picked them.

These are movies you drop the kids off and they have a great experience.  But they aren’t made for adults nor should they have to be.  There are even different ages of children films like say Sesame Street is made for kindergarten aged children and it won’t appeal to older kids.  Not everything should have to be everything to everyone.  That said it is not an excuse to be lazy just because ‘it is for kids’.

Then you have movies that are made for adults. 

OneDrive24These movies are often rated R or a hard PG-13.  They are pretty rare but they can be a beautiful part of the animated landscape.  In these films typically there is little to no attempt to appeal to small children as the content is not appropriate for them.  Whether they are fine for older children and teenagers is up to parents, but the primary audience is mature adults. These films I treat like any live action film for adults. Some of them have content I can tolerate and others are too much.

Then we get to movies that are made for both children and adults.

adults and childrenI would say this is the majority of animated films.  It certainly includes all the Disney Canon films, all Pixar, Dreamworks and Studio Ghibli.  None of these studios have made films that are exclusively adult that I am aware of.

Hunchback_of_Notre_Dame_gargoylesLet’s take a film like Hunchback of Notre Dame.  I got a lot of flack in my review for pointing out the marketing of the film.  I showed the Hunchback nursery rhyme tape and the Burger King kids meal tie-in.  Why did I do this?  Because it was to counter anyone who might claim ‘well that movie was made for adults’.   My response is ‘no it’s not’.  It was clearly made and marketed  to children; therefore, I have the right to call it out when I feel like the content is not appropriate for children.  If they wanted to make a movie like Akira or Chico and Rita that is for adults I would applaud them but that’s not what Disney did.  They added singing gargoyles to appeal to children so when I see disturbing violence and sexuality frankly discussed it is within my rights to say ‘wait a minute…’.

If you are fine with that content for your kids no judgement from me, but I at least think it is worth discussing the value of such content in a film aimed at children.  It was made with kids in mind therefore it should be judged as such.

return to ozReturn to Oz is another one people claim ‘it wasn’t made for kids’. Hogwash.  You don’t make a movie with a moose sled that sings if you aren’t trying to appeal to children. Therefore, it is appropriate to ask questions of whether the content is reasonable for kids.  Some say yes, I say no.   I guess that’s not animation but it scared the begeebees out of me as a kid. You’ve got a Dorothy tied down and given electro shock therapy and wheelies and a hallway of heads marketed and made for kids…Are you kidding me?

minions2Minions is another recent example.  It is a film clearly aimed at children.  They are the one’s who love the Minions most and yet we get boob, butt and torture jokes.  That’s not okay in a film for children in my book.  Perhaps I would have been less annoyed if the movie had been funny but it wasn’t so the inappropriate stuff bothered me even more.

But I feel like when I point these things out some are quick to say ‘but Rachel animation isn’t just for kids’.  I say some is, some isn’t and when something is made at least partially for them there are boundaries I don’t think should be crossed.  I just don’t.

Kids have a very limited time period to mold their intellects, moral centers and judgement, so the entertainment they see should be carefully chosen.  That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be challenged by a film like Wall-e or Fantasia that is artistically difficult or have an occasional joke that goes over their heads, but we should error on the side of caution.  It is also okay to introduce them to difficult topics like death, depression, or anxiety without it becoming unseemly.  Song of the Sea, Inside Out even Lion King are great examples of films for kids that helped them contemplate adult topics in an appropriate way.

over the garden wall5The other day a friend was asking me if I thought her kids would like Over the Garden Wall and as completely brilliant as I think the series is it was hard for me to answer.  It is pretty scary for a child under 6.  Scares are perhaps the area with the most leeway and variance depending on the kids.  Some kids would have no problem with Return to Oz but I did.  I hated The Rescuers because the idea of being abducted and forced down a cave was scary.  Other kids love that movie so that’s where careful parenting comes in.

The truth is I ask the same question of live action films like Marvel or Harry Potter but most of those films are made for teenagers over 13.  Most animated films are PG or lower and that means sometimes parents need guidance (Parental Guidance is what PG means after all!).  So as bloggers we can provide a service to parents to help them know what elements of a film are not appropriate for children.  I think that is a very good thing and I hope I help out my friends with kids in that department.

Regardless, I don’t think it is wrong to ask the question of an animated film ‘is this appropriate for kids’?  With the exception of the adults only films, most animated movies are made with kids at least tangentially in mind. I don’t know how that can even be argued.  As I see it, it is a fact and one the studios make billions of dollars on in merchandising and marketing.

So I will continue to ask if these animated films are for kids, and if they aren’t, I’ll tell you.  That’s my commitment to all of you!

Perils of Original Ideas

original2Often in the world of movie fandom you will hear complaints about Hollywood’s lack of originality.  That all we get are sequels, prequels, remakes and reboots.  I include myself in that number.  If it isn’t a direct remake it is an adaptation of a popular book or a close copy of a popular franchise.  It seems like it is pretty rare that something truly original comes along. Or so the argument typically starts out.

But wait, lately I’ve been wondering if that is actually the case?  This year we have seen original ideas in Tomorrowland, Chappie, Jupiter Ascending, Strange Magic, Pixels and of course Inside Out (as well as I’m sure others I am overlooking).  Last  year we had Snowpiercer, Grand Budapest Hotel, Locke, Song of the Sea and more.  Come to think of it last year was actually a pretty good year for original stories.

What’s the problem then?  Well, most of those movies didn’t do very well at the box office and had often be hunted down rather than the big name sequels, and reboots which are so prominently marketed.  Obviously something like Pixels, Tomorrowland and Inside Out get a lot of marketing but it does seem to me the tried and true franchises are more shoved in our face than the original ideas (Amazing Spiderman 2 great example of that kind of obnoxious marketing).

Franchises can also have original ideas.  Christopher Nolan has certainly proven that with his Dark Knight saga.

But I was thinking about particularly this year.  Aside from Inside Out we’ve seen original concept films tank at box office and with critics. I had fun with Jupiter Ascending but it isn’t a good movie. I just watched Chappie and it was terrible.  Tomorrowland was a disappointment.  We will see how Pixels does but I don’t anticipate great numbers   George Lucas’ Strange Magic came and went with few people seeing it, making only 12.5 mil at box office.

So what’s the problem?  Why aren’t audiences flocking to see these original ideas but showing up in droves to see Jurassic World? This year I think it is simply the original movies haven’t been that good.  If Tomorrowland had been great it would have gotten tons of buzz and people would have gone to see it.  Most were disappointed including myself and I’m certainly not going to give something a pass just because it is original.

The problem with Jupiter Ascending is it was trying to be a soap opera (or space opera) and was very campy and silly but it also has too much exposition and is full of dopey ‘so bad it’s good’ style dialogue.  The filmmakers didn’t even seem to have a handle on the type of movie it was premiering it at Sundance of all places.  That is not the right spot for a silly space opera.  So it got booed at Sundance and the bad word spread till it did very poorly.

A lot of these original concepts are also difficult to market because they don’t have the established characters or worlds we know.  Something like Mad Max Fury Road is in many ways an original movie but it had the benefits of a franchise that while many hadn’t seen the originals they recognized all the tropes and style of what a Mad Max film is.  Tomorrowland in particular was very tough to market.  Is it an AI movie?  Is it sci-fi?  Is it fantasy?  A comedy? A coming of age story?  An action movie?  It’s kind of all of it but none of it completely.

Chappie didn’t work because it has some of the most obnoxious characters I’ve seen on screen in a long time.  Pixels and Strange Magic had good ideas but the scripts were so lazy and characters so stupid.

Could it be that original concepts can be too caught up with their concept and forget to craft a compelling script?  With a franchise you already have a framework to help you write said script and an eye for what works with the audience.  In an original feature film you are throwing concepts out to see what sticks.  You don’t know how the audience will respond because it is original so the pass fail ratio is naturally going to be higher. That’s why Hollywood loves franchises.  They are safe and fairly predictable.

But then you have an Inside Out or The Artist- original concepts that people enjoy and tell their friends about.  I still want to take anyone and everyone to see Inside Out.  It inspired me so much with the original story and writing.  So brilliant.

Maybe Pixar does it right spacing out their sequels with original movies in between?  This gives a mixture of the predictable for both us and them and the new exciting risky concepts.

What do you think about original movies vs reboots, remakes and sequels?  Why do you think at least this year so many original conepts have not worked (at least at the box office)? What’s the key to making an original movie a success both in content and at box office?

Regardless of the reason I hope the studios take heart from success stories like Ex-Machina and Inside Out and continue carving out room for new ideas.  I hope they keep taking risks even if a lot of them don’t pay off critically or monetarily.  Let’s hope!

Turn Your Brain Off?

turn brain offToday I found myself thinking about big budget studio movies (intended blockbusters).  Typically if I am anywhere on the ‘it’s ok’ to ‘I hated it’ track I will hear “why can’t you just turn your brain off and like the movie?”.  The answer is that I can turn my brain off- kind of.

I can be entertained by a stupid movie.  For example, Furious 7 I gave a B and that is a definite turn your brain off movie.  Fast and Furious Tokyo Drift on the other hand would get a D and I was not able to turn my brain off for that one. What’s the difference?

I don’t know…

Why did Amazing Spiderman 2 drive me nuts but Guardians of the Galaxy dazzled me?  On an individual level I can explain it.  AS2 was cluttered, poorly written and felt like it wasn’t trying to make a good movie just preparing for the sequel.  Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone were pretty good but I found Jaimie Fox to be unconvincing as a villain and nothing else engaged me in the story.

Guardians in contrast is about a group of vigilantes who each have a backstory that is interesting, with good writing, small nods and puzzle pieces to the MCU, great music, and likable characters. It has a lot of smaller roles that are done very well with great actors like John C. Reilly, Glen Close and Benicio Del Torro.  I also loved Gamora and Nebulla and felt their stories had real heart (as well as Starlord and his mother).    It was something new and different and very funny too.  For me it had enough layers to not be a ‘turn off your brain’ movie but again a space opera adventure mystery.

I don’t want to get too bogged down on individual movies but that’s just an example of why one version I could enjoy and another didn’t work.

I know a lot of the turn off your brain movies I don’t like don’t deliver what they are promising.  Lone Ranger for instance was sold as a fun Western movie . We knew the show and wanted something like Mask of Zorro with Antonio Banderas.  Instead we got a tedious story of unlikable characters arguing. It’s also insanely long and the attempts at humor fall flat.  It was a brutal time at the movies.

Furious 7 on the other hand worked because it has likable characters, it never stops with the silly action and the humor works.  It never takes itself too seriously.  In contrast, the Transformers movies have action that is supposed to be epic but feels plodding, terrible dialogue, unlikable characters, pointless explosions and it feels so long.  It wears out my patience.

I think the key is the pacing, likable actors, new special effects, and not too much that is cringe-worthy.  I can ignore some bad dialogue or plot holes but give me bad dialogue, plot holes and be 3 hours long you are pushing it.  I could ignore a lame romance or cliched character but give me lame romance, cliched characters and boring special effects or bad dialogue forget it.

A movie like Jurassic World has just enough of the likable aspects for me to give it a pass but not enough for me to LOVE it like some people.

It’s like I have some kind of scale in my brain where I tick off good things and bad things and overall I walk away either liking it, thinking its ok, or loving it.  Here’s what I came up with:

good-badThat’s the best I can think of to explain why some movies work for me and others don’t.  It can have the silliness.  It can have items on both sides of this chart but when it tips the balance on the left side and not enough of the right it’s a problem.

So I’m not really turning off my brain but ignoring my brain.  I’m certainly aware of all the bad things in a movie.  My brain knows the flaws of a film (no perfect movie) but there’s enough good things to still be entertained, even enamored with a movie.

What do you guys think?  Can you turn off your brain for a movie?  What’s the factor in allowing that to happen and not?  What would you have on your chart? What’s a turn off your brain movie you like and one you hated?

In Defense of Mary Sue and Gary Stu

As I’ve been doing reviews I keep hearing the same criticism about characters ‘he’s a Gary Stu” or for a girl “she’s a Mary Sue”.  I have to admit I always thought this was a way of describing a boring, uninteresting character in a story.  Turns out the official description is:

(fandom slang) A fictional character, usually female, whose implausible talents and likeableness weaken the story”

So this is basically what we call in Mormon circles a “Molly Mormon”.  Someone who is so perfect it doesn’t seem realistic.  Well, as someone who has been accused of being a Molly Mormon on occasion I suppose I have a unique perspective on this topic.  In fact, I have a little bit of a defense of this much maligned character in stories.

First of all, implausibility is completely in the eye of the beholder especially when we are talking about morality.  For example, being a virgin to some may be seen as impossible or as an ‘unrealistic’ character trait in a story but amongst me and my unmarried Mormon and Christian friends it is very common.

What personally annoys me much more than a character that is ‘too perfect’ is the tendency in especially modern novels to tag on negative traits because the authors are afraid of being accused of Mary Sue’s and Gary Stu’s.  I can think of less examples of this in movies than in books but you will frequently have a novel where a character has an affair tagged on to their story because ‘no marriage is perfect’.

1447133

For example, a book called the Fair and Tender Ladies by Lee Smith drove me crazy because it was about a sweet girl named Ivy who grew up, learned and had a happy family.  At the end of the book she is standing in a field and a man comes up to her and she sleeps with him in the field.  The message in the book is ‘now she is fulfilled’ . Groan.  It ruined it.  Another book with that message which ticked me off is The Awakening by Kate Chopin.  A lot of feminists love it but I hated it.  She is living a perfectly happy life but it’s not ‘enough’ and she has to leave her family and have meaningless flings and suddenly her soul has all of this purpose and meaning.

Give me a Molly or Mary Sue any day over this kind of ‘modern’ character.  Even the ultimate Gary Stu, Superman (who is basically supposed to be a Jesus type) was all ‘modernized’ and made a wounded conflicted character in Man of Steel and I hated it.  Where was the fun? It was so bleak and violent and in the end so off putting. It was not a more complex character just a boring, obvious, everyday character without any of the cheeky fun of the comics.  He even rings the neck of Zod which was so out of place given the Messianic imagery throughout the film. Give me the original cheesy Christopher Reeve version any day over that modern dreck.

maxresdefault

 

So I hate the opposite of a Mary Sue but let’s talk about the trope itself.  It is often said the Mary Sue is ‘annoying’ in the story.  Again, that is totally relative.  Like beauty, annoyingness is in the eye of the beholder too!

First of all, it entirely depends on the kind of story that is being told.  For example, if I am watching a B summer action movie I don’t want my hero to be all conflicted and complex.  I want him to save the day!  Let’s think about Indiana Jones.  He is handsome, charming and he always figures out the clues that others have spent generations toiling over in a manner of minutes.  Do we care? No, because he’s Indiana Jones and we want to see him fight Nazis, jump over cars, and find the Holy Grail.  That’s what made the 4th Indiana Jones movie so obnoxious (one of the many things) is they kept bringing up all of Indiana Jones frailties, how old he was, and that he wasn’t the same guy as before.  Also, they pushed the trope too far.  In the originals Indy always got beat up bad but would save the day . In the 4th he survives a nuclear explosion in a fridge…Too far!

Pictures1

Other examples of this type of character are Ethan Hunt, Jack Ryan, Jack Bauer, James Bond, and McGyver.  They are our heroes and we want to see them prevail and not be ‘realistic’.  Sure their talents are implausible and they are charming in the way no man is in real life, but it’s perfect for the type of movie we’ve signed up for.  That’s why  I didn’t mind Milo in Atlantis because it was this type of action, treasure hunting B summer movie that such a character works well in.  The same is true in Goonies.  Do we care that the kids find a ridiculous treasure easily under the city?  No because it’s a fun adventure with a charming troop of hunters.  I thought the troop surrounding Milo was a lot of fun and so I enjoyed the adventure.  The mythos, language and lore they created also compensated for a less interesting lead character.  I didn’t miss or need Milo to be anything more than what he was.

atlantis crew

The same is true with Hercules.  I enjoyed the stuff around Hercules enough that I didn’t need him to be all dynamic and crazy.  Megura, Zeus, Hadeus, Pain and Panic, the music was all fun enough for me to enjoy the picture.  I recognize that isn’t the case for a lot of you but again what annoys one doesn’t annoy another.  What charms one drives another nuts. I was okay with Hercules being an unrealistic guy because he’s a demi-God.  He’s supposed to be that way.  Like Superman, Hercules just have to have a modicum of flair and personality so that  all around him can shine.

atticusfinch

There are also dramatic characters that could be described as ‘unrealistically perfect’ that I are considered classics.  For example, Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird doesn’t make a wrong move the entire movie or book.  He is always loving, kind, honorable and virtuous but I have never heard anyone say that he was a bad character.  He is typically thought of as one of the greatest characters in English literature.  Sometimes we need a character to stand up for right and truth consistently in a story.  I feel like now writers would make Atticus an alcoholic or tag on some other vice to make him more “relatable”.  What a shame that would be.

BOB CRATCHIT

Another example of a Gary Stu that I love is in Christmas Carol.  Bob Cratchit is an implausible character in many ways.  Few men would put up with such treatment and certainly Tiny TIm is a rare angel on earth but they are needed in order for Scrooge to see the error in his ways.  Sometimes an ultimate contrast is what a story requires for the plot to move forward.  If Tim was just kinda sweet and kinda nice than Scrooge would have written him off but his goodness has an effect.   From the moment he see’s Tiny Tim, Scrooge begins to change.

Both Atticus and Tiny Tim are trying to teach us something within the story and they do it very effectively.  So maybe next time you see a ‘Mary Sue’ trope you can stop and say ‘what is the author trying to teach us here?’.  Maybe it will work, maybe not?

The truth is all characters are ‘implausible’ because if we wrote about real life it would be very boring.  Most of us do the same routine every day interrupted by moments of clarity.  A good screenwriter must make craft a tale that is not simply moments but a story and sometimes Gary Stus and Mary Sues are needed for the particular story to progress.

At the very least saying a character is a ‘Gary Stu’ is kind of like saying he is boring or food is gross.  It doesn’t really give me any information.  Why is he implausible?  Why are his traits unlikely and why do they weaken that particular kind of story? I will probably still disagree with you but at least we will understand each other’s perspectives better.

On the Wikipidia article on Mary Sue’s they have an interesting passage about how the fear of the ‘Mary Sue’ label is making some authors hesitant of including female characters at all.  “Smith interviewed a panel of female authors who say they do not include female characters in their stories at all. She quoted one as saying “Every time I’ve tried to put a woman in any story I’ve ever written, everyone immediately says, this is a Mary Sue.” Smith also pointed out that “Participants in a panel discussion in January 1990 noted with growing dismay that any female character created within the community is damned with the term Mary Sue.”

pocahontas-and-john-smith

For example, I did not respond to the character of Pocahontas.  I didn’t find her interesting because she doesn’t really grow and for the type of story they are trying to tell I found her selfish, a poor listener and stubborn in an uncharming way.  She also preaches to people when she talks instead of having conversations. This makes her less relatable and her actions predictable.  You see how that is a more fleshed out description than just attaching some label?

I think that fear is what causes writers like Smith to tag on the adultery or other flaws so they have a defense against the Mary Sue label.  That is not good! The fact is most people I know are probably Mary Sue’s so they exist and are real.  Let’s have stories about these people too!

So, I say think about the story you are watching.  What genre is it and are the character tropes and types appropriate to the story being told? You can still dislike the movie if it doesn’t do those things well but at least it won’t be an automatic Gary Stu or Mary Sue?

Then if a character rubs you the wrong way, if you find them annoying, think for a second about why.  Is it their voice, actions, mannerisms?  What? Let’s dig a little deeper than Mary Sue or Gary Stu.

I mean after all Jesus was the ultimate Gary Stu and he changed the world so let’s be a little more open minded when it comes to these things and not just stick a highfalutin label on things.

Sincerely your friendly neighborhood Mary Sue or Molly Mormon or whatever you want to call me… 🙂