The Wrong Movie

Years ago, the incomparable Ron Rosenbaum wrote a terrific essay called “My Theater Problem — and Ours,” in which he postulated the concept of “the wrong performance.” Instead of paraphrasing, I will quote directly:

I always seem to be seeing plays that seem utterly unlike what everyone else seems to have seen. I’m forever going to things that have been raved over by critics, chattered about by the chattering classes, awarded prizes and grants, and finding myself thinking — in those moments when I can keep myself awake from the industrial-strength tedium they induce — that this is the most cliched, empty, contrived piece of ranting I have ever seen.  Afterward, I’d find myself wondering, Is it possible I went to the wrong theater; this second-rate, self-satsified, soporific contrivance can’t be the same stuff that people are taking seriously, can it?

My husband and I are such fans of this essay that its nomenclature has been adopted into the house lingo. If one of us reads a book, sees a movie, or experiences another such cultural event in a way different from the mainstream of opinion, we don’t say we disagree with the conventional take, we say, for example, we saw “the wrong movie.”

The latest wrong movie viewed by this unfortunate blogger: Kung Fu Panda. Manohla Dargis at The New York Timessaw a “diverting and visually arresting” film, “a grab bag of gentle jokes, sage lectures, helpful lessons and kicky fights.” Other reviewers were equally as wowed. The film I saw? An incomprehensible melange of fat jokes, violence, father-son issues, violence, Cain and Abel allusions, violence, buddy film and, yes, violence.  I must have been in the wrong auditorium. Bleh.

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