Dreck? How Do You Know?

If someone has seen a movie or television program and starts a thread proclaiming the show or movie “dreck”, I fully support their right to their position.

I’ve seen posters discuss TV shows and films that they haven’t seen. I’ve read phrases here on the Dope like, "… I can’t believe that people spend money to see that stupid movie… or read that idiotic book… or watch that ridiculous TV show.

I’m curious. How does one determine the idiocy of something without seeing it? Do movie reviews make a difference to you, or is it word of mouth. Certain types of movies don’t really interest me, but it doesn’t mean that they’re garbage.

I’ve seen movies I’ve hated based on raves from people I know (Independence Day), so the judgement of others doesn’t weigh much in my decision to see a film.

It’s hard to determine exactly how good or bad something will be, and sometimes things surprise you. But are you asking how you can tell if even obvious stuff is going to be bad? Here’s one method: if it’s called Leprachaun in the Hood, it’s going to be bad.

There are lots of signs. In a movie store, does the box have a hologram on it? Probably bad. What’s the title like? Does it use a pun? Is it part of a long series?

In terms of reviews, you just have to find someone who has similar taste in movies to you. Or read reviewers that give lots of detail and explain their positions thoroughly so you can see if what they’re ragging on sounds bad to you or not.

Moving thread from IMHO to Cafe Society.

After nearly fifty years of reading books and watching movies, my dreck-detection instincts have become finely honed.

I do concede that some people have different opinions than I do, so I will happily let them waste their time and money on reading, watching and discussing dreck, and I will only rarely call them idiots for it.

If a movie trailer, which presumably shows the best parts of a film (or at least enough to entice me to see the rest) looks profoundly stupid, boring or irritating, I will not hesitate to label that film as dreck.

Similarly, if the promos for a TV show are dung-nacious, I feel justified in concluding that the show is a festival of manure. I do not have to see Jesse Ventura’s new conspiracy program to know that it will be crapola, nor view an episode of “So You Want To Be A Porn Star”* to determine it’s garbage.
*if this doesn’t already exist as a reality show, it’s bound to be produced.

Tired premises that have been done to death, or the presence of Julia Roberts are good indicators.

I have a good friend with the exact opposite taste to mine. I can generally get a review from him, and the more he hated it, the more I’ll love it. And vice versa. It’s a very reliable process.

For example, he hated “Fellowship of the Ring.” Why? I asked. “It didn’t even have an ending!”

A movie based on a book is very likely to be same-to-worse compared to the source material. It is VERY rare for a movie to improve on the book (“The Godfather” is the only example I know of).

So when one is familiar with the underlying book, and judges it to be appallingly bad, one is reasonably justified in pre-judging the movie, especially when the trailers give you no cause to believe otherwise.

Sometimes the premise is so dumb that no amount of good acting/writing will be able to compensate.

Two words: sparkly vampires.

Dreckigkeit is often visible to the eye of the beholder, even indirectly.

But it can be done and done well. See Jurassic Park, Jaws and Forrest Gump for more examples.

Witness the newest John Travolta/Robin Williams crapfest. The trailer screamed “suckage!”, and reliable reviewers have now panned it. One said that the movie should not so much just be called “bad”, but should be sent back in time so the puritans can officially shun it. They gave it an F-.

I had never heard of such a movie, but the simple presence of Travolta and Williams together is a bad start. I don’t mind either of them, but i just can’t envision a good movie in which they star together.

Jesus Christ, i just looked it up, and it also has Kelly Preston and Ella Bleu Travolta in it. It’s a Travolta family affair.

Repeated fart jokes, smacks to the groin and incessant mugging for the camera do not a classic make.

Add “Gorky Park”.

Not that it was a great movie, but it was better than the book (having Joanna Pacula in it helped).

There are some movies/books that one knows inherently are VERY unlikely to be good, based on title/subject matter. Other times, one learns to trust certain reviewers (for instance, I have about a 95% certainty that if Roger Ebert loves a movie, that I will dislike it) or friends or relatives (my son can predict, with about 95% accuracy, what I’ll like.)

Sometimes, one is pleasantly surprised, of course, but usually a title such as SON OF THE WOLFMAN MEETS DAUGHTER OF DRACULA isn’t going to leave much room for doubt.

And, the OP is right: sometimes there’s unfounded objection, usually religious or political. I hate that Disney’s SONG OF THE SOUTH is not available in the US because of perceived racism (it’s actually not all THAT racist, there are some stereotypes but then what movie doesn’t have some stereotypes?) So, there’s just plain assholeism that condemns something that the reviewer hasn’t actually seen.

Bob Geldof used to be a chick?

If I haven’t actually experienced the work in question, I just say it sounds terrible or that it’s been very badly reviewed. I may be quite confident that it is in fact terrible, but it’s more honest to make it clear that I haven’t actually watched/read/heard the work in question. It also helps to avoid potential “But have you SEEN it? I didn’t think so! Everyone is just prejudiced against my favorite movie!” arguments. Although sometimes you’ll get that anyway. When Independence Day came out a guy I knew actually called me un-American because I said it looked dumb and I had no interest in seeing it.

I confess that on three occasions I have read a hugely popular but awful-sounding bestseller largely out of spite – I wanted to be able to say with authority that it really was that bad. All three books were in fact terrible, and one was even worse than I’d expected.

I’ll go with clues like the trailers for a film and the reviews (by real, paid film critics). Generally, they’re a good guide.

I’ve occasionally be surprised, but not by much – something that sounds like an utter piece of crap may be watchable, but no great shakes (e.g., The Proposal or Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs).