I'm not exactly proud of the fact that I ruined the 100% rating for "Get Low" on Rotten Tomatoes, but if you read my review in indieWIRE, you can pretty much guess that I'm no fan of the movie, either.
What I find most interesting about the overwhelming praise for "Get Low" is that I don't exactly disagree with it. Yes, Robert Duvall puts on a fairly involving performance (although I agree with Time Out's Keith Uhlich that Duvall did the bearded loner bit much better in "The Road," where he appeared for about two and a half scenes). Bill Murray is acceptably smug, and the backwoods setting looks just fine. But none of that has any impact on the bland, formulaic plot or overwrought sentimentalism. I'm amazed that so many critics have chosen to wear blinders when it comes to these shortcomings, which are apparent in nearly ever scene. I saw it twice: The first time, during the Toronto International Film Festival, I was a bit fatigued and allowed for the possibility that I wasn't paying enough attention. So I saw it again last week, and...nope, same obvious problems.
I don't really care about a movie's Rotten Tomatoes score. It never guides my judgment and I don't advise that you let it guide yours, either. The specific arguments in reviews vary, and often don't fit the yay-or-nay paradigm. Yes, duh, this is self-evident. But it begs mentioning time and again, because there's no doubting that supposedly "objective" measurements of quality do catch the eyes of potential consumers and eager marketers. We're all prone to simplistic judgment calls. Presumably, the 100% rating for "Get Low" provided a surefire bet that many people would immediately consider it a must-see. And that's why, I suppose, the current 89% rating that has resulted from pans written by me, Uhlich and Slant's Nick Schager matter. They matter for other reasons, too, but the Rotten Tomato world adhere to its own logic.
As I mentioned in my review, there's another, far greater movie about a living wake that was released earlier this year. It's called, appropriately enough, "The Living Wake." Watch the trailer below, and -- if you like what you see, and find the reviews convincing enough -- check it out on DVD this Tuesday.