Monday, March 7, 2011

The greatness scale


Rango was quite good.

But that's as far as I'm willing to go.

It has a dynamite first half full of exciting set pieces, and it loses the plot a little bit in the second half. That averages out to ... quite good.

See, I was thinking about how I would characterize it to my wife when I got home. At first, I thought it was the best animated film I'd seen since Tangled (and with the Owls of Ga'Hoole and Delgo as the only competition, it certainly is), and had these wild thoughts about how it could be the best movie I will see all year in 2011, even though that's ridiculous. As it went along I started to downgrade it, and eventually I felt comfortable with the phrase "quite good."

And then it occurred to me that we have several familiar rating scales when it comes to movies. The most common is probably stars, either one to four or one to five. Slightly less common is letter grades, which work well when you want a quick summation ("I'd give it a B."). Then there's the good old "thumbs up, thumbs down," known for its lack of precision.

But what about a system that reflects the words people actually use when they talk about movies?

Forthwith:

What they say: "It was one of the best movies I've ever seen."
What it means: "It was one of the best movies I've ever seen."
What it could also mean: "It was not one of the best movies I've ever seen."
Star rating: 5 stars.
Letter grade: A+

What they say: "It was awesome."
What it means: "I am unreservedly in favor of this movie, and it may have a special place in my heart."
What it could also mean: "It was schlock, but it was really fun schlock."
Star rating: 4.5 stars
Letter grade: A

What they say: "It was great."
What it means: "It was extremely well made, but it's possible I don't have a specific passion for it."
What it could also mean: "It was awful." (Must be said sarcastically.)
Star rating: 4 stars
Letter grade: A-

What they say: "It was really good."
What it means: "It has some flaws, but not that many."
What it could also mean: "It was not really good, but you the person I'm talking to had some role in making it, and I want you to think I really liked it." (Must be said with a rise in inflection at the end of the sentence.)
Star rating: 3.5 stars
Letter grade: A-/B+

What they say: "It was quite good."
What it means: "It's slightly less than really good, but better than good."
What it could also mean: "It was excellent." (Must be said by a British person.)
Star rating: 3.5/3 stars
Letter grade: B+

What they say: "It was pretty good."
What it means: "It was only okay, but I don't have the heart to say that." (Emphasis on the word "pretty.")
What it could also mean: "It was really good." (Emphasis on the word "good.")
Star rating: 3 stars
Letter grade: B/B-

What they say: "It was good."
What it means: "It was happy with it." (Tone dropping from high to low on "good.")
What it could also mean: "It was excellent." (Tone solid on "good.")
Star rating: 3 stars
Letter grade: B+/B/B-

What they say: "It was okay."
What it means: "You won't wish you hadn't gone."
What it could also mean: "You might wish you hadn't gone."
Star rating: 2.5 stars
Letter grade: C+/C

What they say: "It was not that good."
What it means: "It disappointed me in a specific way that I can and probably will tell you about."
What it could also mean: "It's good, but not as good as most people say." (Emphasis on the word "that.")
Star rating: 2.5/2 stars
Letter grade: C

What they say: "It was pretty bad."
What it means: "I'm shocked at how much worse it was than I expected it to be."
What it could also mean: "It was offensive to some minority, and also not very good."
Star rating: 1.5 stars
Letter grade: C-/D+

What they say: "It was really bad."
What it means: "I did not like this movie much."
What it could also mean: No secondary meaning.
Star rating: 1.5/1 stars
Letter grade: D/D-

What they say: "It sucked."
What it means: "It was made terribly and fell way short of my expectations."
What it could also mean: "And it insulted my family."
Star rating: .5 stars
Letter grade: F

What they say: "It was one of the worst movies I've ever seen."
What it means: "It boggles my mind that someone approved this movie, and no one involved with it will ever work in Hollywood again."
What it could also mean: "It's awesomely bad. Everyone needs to see it to appreciate the art form it makes of badness."
Star rating: 0/3 stars
Letter grade: F- or ironic C+

There, that should pretty much cover it.

So, B+ and 3.5 stars for Rango. It's slightly less than really good, but better than good.

2 comments:

Daddy Geek Boy said...

Way too much calculations involved to truly use this scale. But I'll agree with you that Rango was quite good.

Vancetastic said...

I should have said "Scale not intended for actual use; for the purposes of humor only."

(Although, the star ratings and grades were intended primarily as an approximate means of comparison, nothing more.)