Updated on December 10, 2021
Besides the well-known Bechdel Test, another possible set of rules for movie-viewing, though way more lenient than the Bechdel Test, might be the ones that were proposed by Jay Sherman in the 90s animated series The Critic. While the show had some flaws (too many forced attempts at being “wacky” at times, especially after it moved from ABC to Fox), it did have its moments. In an episode where he’s forced out of his job as a film critic and winds up hosting a show on public access TV, Sherman finally tells the public that it’s up to them to think for themselves and avoid watching bad movies. His listed criteria for movies to avoid:
- If it’s based on a TV show, just don’t go.
- After Roman numeral II, give it a rest.
- If it’s a remake of a classic, rent the classic.
Granted, Jay was forced by his job to watch his world’s awful film fare, such as “Dennis the Menace 2 Society” (Dennis the Menace-as-a-gang-member type) and “Robo-clapper” (Robocop with “the Clapper” built into him), plus he was generally cranky and dismissive about popular culture as a whole. Still, the above set of rules, as well as Jay’s closing with a plea for his viewers to ask for “stories about people, not $100 million of stunts and explosives,” would be interesting to apply to Hollywood cinematic far, especially if they think they can justify charging $10+ for a ticket (or more for a 3D movie ticket).
Thought I’d look over the list of this summer’s animated/comic based movies to see which ones pass or fail the Sherman Test. Of course, I’d have to watch them first before seeing if they pass the Bechdel Test (though I suspect most of them don’t):
- Thor: Pass.
- Kung Fu Panda 2: Pass.
- X-Men: First Class: Fail, I assume. “The Critic” came along before the current spate of movie prequels, but since Sherman took a dim view of an excessive amount of sequels, I imagine this would apply to attempts at prequels as well. Since rule #2, which allows for only one sequel, could be seen as also only allowing for one *prequel*, and assuming all of these films fall under the “X-Men team” label (versus specifically about the individual characters), then it still fails, since we already had a prequel, “Wolverine.”
- Green Lantern: Pass.
- Cars 2: Pass.
- Captain America: The First Avenger: Pass.
- Cowboys and Aliens: Pass.
- The Smurfs: Pass, if we assume it’s just an adaptation based on the original Belgium comic strip (a la any number of superhero movies), though I’m sure its producers (and the general public) are more familiar with the 80s TV cartoon.
- Conan the Barbarian: Pass, assuming it’s based on the original books (and/or comics), though the description I read (like its Hollywood producers) were probably only thinking of the old Arnold Schwarzenegger movie.
- Winnie the Pooh: Pass, as an adaption of A.A. Milne’s books.
Seems most of this summer’s animated/comic book fare passes, despite stuff like “The Smurfs” looking and sounding rather awful.