NOW WITH ANSWERS . . .
I stole this idea from Stars in Margins, a commenter on io9’s Observation Deck. She’s a librarian, and they use this game as an icebreaker for teen programs, which means it should be right up Argh’s alley. It’s called “Guess the Classic Based On Its One-Star Amazon Review.” I love this game because it pretty much proves that nobody ever made a movie or wrote a book that everybody liked. Also, some reviewers are nuts.
I’ll get you started with one of my faves, reproduced exactly as the writer posted it on Amazon:
“I bought this for my three year old and was shocked to see how violent and filthy it was. The “F” word was used many times and there were many scenes with shooting and death and violence. Terible. By the way, I’m posting my name the way it is so nobody will know my E-mAil address.” (Movie.)
Now you play. Here are five classic movies and books (classic in the sense that they’ve been around for awhile and are generally considered terrific examples of their genres). I’ll come back in tomorrow and post the titles if you all haven’t gotten them by then.
1. “This was a silly attempt at a Fairy Tale spoof, which at the same time told seriously a mushy story about sentimentalized “True Love.” (At least, I guess that was the movie maker’s intention.) The love story worked pretty well, but the spoof didn’t. The dialogue reminded me of spoofy intellectual dialogue such as in “Pirates of Penzance” by Gilbert and Sullivan, but it wasn’t nearly as clever. (I think that some viewers didn’t realize that the intention of this movie was to spoof vengeance and violence, thieving and piratry. I realized that humor was intended, but the effect that came across was just–for me–a feeling of repulsion with the worst violence, as in the torture scenes, and I found the vengeful intentions of the likable Spaniard were just irritating. True, unforgiving thoughts obsess a person and play over and over in the mind, but the repetition here came across as pointless.”
The Princess Bride. Because he should only have said, “Prepare to die,” once instead of nattering on about it.
2. “I wanted to like this film. Really, I did. But there’s not a scary frame in the film. The suspense falls flat, the dialogue is ugh, the characters to me were nothing more than fish food, and it’s vastly overrated. I wanted SO much to have a GREAT time watching this film, but I just couldn’t. I apologize, but I can’t lie. I hated this movie.”
Jaws. Also, the music was boring. And what was with all the water?
3. “This is one of those books I pushed myself to get halfway through, thinking it would get interesting, only to force myself to finish it since I already read half of it. While there may be no accounting for taste or I’m just missing something, I’m not sure how anyone can enjoy reading this. It ultimately boils down to some sisters trying to marry (up, for the most part) in the world. I guess, if I try real hard, I can see some people imagining themselves in the scenes and enjoying the idea of living in the same town, wearing the same clothes, going to the same events, etc., but nothing really ever happens. It just goes on and on and on, only to lead this sister ending up with that guy, this sister ending up with that guy, etc.”
Pride and Prejudice. There should have been explosions. And a dog.
4. “How psychologically disturbed is he, let me count the ways. Inferiority complex, obsessive attachment to uninterested female ([she] turned him down whatever her “real feelings” might have been) that borders upon incest (they’re not blood kin but they are raised together); inability to “forget the one that got away” and MOVE ON; child abuse/neglect with clearly murderous intentions; wife/spousal abuse; kidnapping and coerced marriage and even theft of personal assets… Give me a break this is no alpha male, this is a psychopathic CRIMINAL!” (Book)
Wuthering Heights. If there’s one thing I hate, it’s a complex anti-hero.
5. “Let’s move on to the actual story. This is where the “unoriginal” trait comes in. Can we say “Cinderella”? [The story] is too contrived. We’ve all seen the main storyline before: kind orphan boy/girl who just so happens to be whisked away to someplace “magical” for them; is great at everything and wins the admiration of practically everybody, with the exception of a few jealous enemies here and there. This storyline has been DONE TO DEATH, and [this book] doesn’t make it any better.”
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. This book is going to tank for sure.
UPDATE: The titles are after the reviews now. Those of us who are writers suddenly feel better about some of our own reviews.