Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Netflix: A Rating Dilemma

Netflix is a terrific service - let me just get that out of the way first. I've used it for roughly three years now and have had only the rarest complaint. My complaint today has nothing to do with their service, but in the dilemma I face each week in rating movies. They ask you to rate the movies you return (and others you've seen) with 1 to 5 stars. 3 stars is "I liked it." 2 stars is "I didn't like it." 4 stars is "I really liked it." 1 and 5 stars get into the areas of hate and love, respectively, and are used with fear and trembling, as you can imagine. Anyway, here's the problem - I'm pretty laid back about movies. Most that I ever want to see enough to rent or that are recommended to me are so-so. Thus most of my movies get 3 stars. Unfortunately a 3-star rating says relatively little about how I feel about the movie. I could give it 3 enthusiastic stars, yet it isn't a film I'm ready to step out on a limb and say, "I really liked it." I could give it 3 stars meaning that it was comparatively stupid, but I wouldn't go so far as to say that I didn't like it - that there was nothing enjoyable about it or that I have some aversion to it being ever made into a film. (Sometimes I don't rate the movies because I never watch them, just send them back because I don't have much interest in watching them at the moment. Though that's rare, or is the result of a particularly busy time of life. Sometimes I don't rate them because I've watched them and am not sure how to rate them - a good or fun story, but kinda smutty [those are usually those action films that Laura insists upon watching].)

I also have other people in my family, and I often rate the kids' movies based on how often I find them watching them. If I rent a kids' movie and it gets watched once, then I know someone screwed up big - either the filmmaker or the father who thought they'd be interested. Or the advertisers who thought they'd be interested. For instance, Donut Man has 4 stars. Now I think it's on the cheesy side of things, but my kids really enjoy it. Again and again.

All of that to say, If you like movies, subscribe to Netflix. Enjoy some excellent documentaries that you would have never watched otherwise. Spend less time watching TV by watching more TV. How cool is that? If you subscribe, we can even be friends, and you can compare our likes and dislikes and see just how far you have to go before either of us can take you seriously.

This week happens to be a week I'm looking forward to in my at-home queue. I'll be watching The Dark Knight, Mamma Mia! and Innocent Voices

1 comment:

alison said...

We have a similar dilemma. I wish Paul and I could have separate rating systems on the same account. Together, our opinions make a rather confused statement, without the juvenile contribution - with it, our rating is deranged.

One of us (Paul, I think) has been known to change the other's rating of a movie.

Thanks for posting. It reminds me to load up for the holidays.