A brief rant about Rotten Tomatoes and an even briefer review of Terri

Friday October 21st 2011

The Rotten Tomatoes ‘Tomatometer’ has been labelling movies either ‘shit’ or ‘brilliant’ for more than ten years now, and for the most part it’s done a great job. With a certain type of film, however, it remains utterly useless.

Take Terri, the breakthrough film from indie director Azazel Jacobs that premiered at Sundance earlier this year. On the surface it looks completely identical to Win Win, and judging by their respective RT scores (Terri 86%, Win Win 94%) you might even come to the conclusion that it’s some kind of ‘Win Win Lite‘. But delve into the actual reviews behind those scores and you’ll find that while 94% of critics thought Win Win was, you know, ‘not bad’, Terri‘s 86% were surprised, charmed and even (dare I say it) moved by the film. SO FUCK YOU ROTTEN TOMATOES, YOU DON’T REPRESENT US AND OUR VIEWS.

Basically, the point I’m (somewhat clumsily) trying to make is that Terri is not Win Win. Despite what the quirky date-friendly marketing might have you believe, it’s not even remotely similar. That film traded exclusively on the unquenchable thirst of your average Sundance audience member for ‘Unconventional Friendships’. (Seriously, they can’t get enough of that shit. All they think about day and night is where the next hit is coming from. Charitable organisations have made great progress in weening some of them off the Unconventional Friendships and onto Animated Flashbacks but it’s always going to be a slippery slope.) Terri, on the other hand, has far more to offer.

Yes, it’s got your standard adult-bonding-with-teenager relationship (well handled by John C. Reilly in a comic role that might easily seem dislocated from the rest of the film) but at its core Terri is a decidedly inward portrait of adolescent isolation with a tragically authentic performance from newcomer Jacob Wysocki as the obese teenager of the film’s title.

Funny and perky but unlike most Fox Searchlight films (including Win Win) never saccharine, the film even attempts the notoriously impossible ‘attractive girl sees the inner beauty of fat kid’ trope and comes away with most of its integrity intact.

Aggregate that, you fuckers.