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Unabashedly Lowbrow or Hopelessly Middlebrow, Which Is Worse?

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Last week, I wrote a piece on this site about Miss March, a raunchy teen sex comedy from two of the members of sketch troupe The Whitest Kids U' Know. Though I've long been a fan of the group, I wasn't kind to the movie, and I felt a little bad about trashing what was, after all, only intended as a mindless diversion. But then I saw the other reviews.

As it stands now, Miss March is at 4% on Rotten Tomatoes, with only 2 of the 46 reviews aggregated on that site considered favorable. On Metacritic, it has an overall score of 8, which puts it as the 13th worst reviewed film of all time, just below State Property, Meet the Spartans, and something called The Price of Air.

Now, don't get me wrong, I thought Miss March was a very, very bad movie. The hit-to-miss ratio is pretty poor, and many of the misses were either embarrassing bad or disgusting. But even in the critics' screening that I attended, with not a single teenager in the room, there was still intermittent laughter, even if it was of the head-shaking, I-can't-believe-this-was-actually-recorded-on-film variety. I wasn't fidgeting in my seat or staring at my watch, and at no point did I get the sense that I was watching one of the worst films of the decade.

Last week, I also caught an advance screening of I Love You, Man, a comedy starring Paul Rudd and Jason Segel. I really like both of those actors, and I tend to prefer a good-natured, observational comedy over sillier fare like Miss March. So while my expectations were a little higher, I wanted to like this movie and was ready to laugh.

Well, after about thirty minutes and only a handful of laugh lines, this movie lost me, and it became a dreadful, fidgety, watch-checking experience.  The bad jokes in I Love You, Man may not have been nearly as bad as they were in Miss March, but there just weren't as many jokes.  I guess we're supposed to find the premise, which has nice guy Rudd navigating the bizarre rules of dude friendship, inherently clever, but the movie has nothing interesting to say about male bonding, the characters aren't particularly well-drawn, and every performer in the film seems to be on autopilot.  All of this would be fine - it's just a comedy after all - if the movie had enough laughs in it.

Of course, I Love You, Man, which doesn't open until Friday, is already at 72% on Rotten Tomatoes. I'm not saying it's a critical darling (there are already a couple bad reviews up on RT), but I somehow doubt it'll be subjected to the same level of scorn as Miss March, probably only because it has fewer lowbrow jokes (which couldn't have hurt the movie, honestly) and there's some built-in goodwill for the talented cast.

I realize it's kind of silly to distinguish between two movies that I didn't like at all, and I don't mean to defend a crappy movie like Miss March or pile on a harmless snoozefest like I Love You, Man. I'm really more interested in asking the question I posed in the title of this post: would you rather watch something truly terrible and get some laughs out of it, or something bland and inoffensive but with far fewer jokes? Personally, if I were to stumble upon one of these movies on TV a couple years from now, I know there's one of them I wouldn't mind catching five minutes of and another I wouldn't be able to get away from fast enough.  Take a guess which one is the 13th worst reviewed film of all time.

--Tim Young

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