In order to be a good critic one has to rise above one's personal biases. Period. If one cannot get past hating love stories or action films, then one should not practice the craft, because there are good films that are mere love stories or action films. It is the excellence of the film, and how it achieves its excellence, that is more important than what sort of a film it is. This basic lack of understanding how to separate one's likes from the objective ability of art to effectively communicate, is why most critics fail in their task. On a related plane is the inability of many critics to distinguish between when a film is something, and when it is merely about something. A good example of this is the 2001 independent film by actor/director Frank Whaley, called The Jimmy Show (nothing at all like the Jim Carrey vehicle, The Truman Show); his second directorial effort after 1999's lauded Sundance Festival film Joe The King. It is a very good, albeit not great, film about the depressing life of a working class loser. Yet, the film itself is never depressing, despite its being damned to obscurity by critics for that very fact. Again, the point is that film critics claimed something about the film that is about what the film portrays, not how it portrays it.... In many ways, Jimmy O'Brien is like George Bailey, from It's A Wonderful Life, save for two things- the first is that he's a miserable person whose own misery has cost him everything. He has no Mr. Potter as antagonist, and although George Bailey's choices also result in his depression at the end of that film, all of his choices have been selfless, not selfish. Jimmy O'Brien, on the other hand, has been behind all of his failures, because he has tried to please no one but himself. The second is that Jimmy O'Brien is beyond help and hope. Even were a guardian angel, like Bailey's Clarence Oddbody, to intervene, Jimmy would never pay attention long enough to learn. He has no need for others' counsel, and cares not to hear it.
In this way, The Jimmy Show is the ultimate realist film, for there are far more Jimmy O'Briens in the world than George Baileys. But, it is the life of the fictive Jimmy O'Brien that depresses one, not the film about him, for this little film can make one feel much better about the lives they've lived, not only because how well the portrait of him is crafted, but if only because a viewer is not as badly off as the lead character. How many DVD viewers lead lives that have far too much truck with aspects of the characters from this film? I would say too many- most of whom would not want to admit it, which is the answer as to why this film was so unfairly panned upon its release. Looking into a mirror, when one does not like what one sees, is always a downer, and The Jimmy Show is a filmic mirror for far too large a portion of an American audience for it to have ever had any great financial nor critical success. But, it is the failure to look at what the mirror reflects, rather than what the mirror is, that was the cause for much of the hostility that this good little film engendered. But, with that knowledge in mind, take a second glance into the looking glass of The Jimmy Show, and Jimmy O'Brien's life. It's worth a bit of redemption, if not for him nor you, then for art.