As this truly wicked Year of our Lord 2014 draws to a close, the most popular characters in the year's highest-grossing film are a space raccoon wearing people clothes and an ambulatory tree of few words. The fourth highest-grossing film, meanwhile, is a cartoon that combines the beloved interlocking plastic bricks of our childhoods with a bevy of licensed characters owned by parent company Time Warner.
And that's fine. Popular stuff is popular, and there's no reason why Guardians of the Galaxy shouldn't be the biggest film of the year. If anything, I'm surprised that The LEGO Movie is only the fourth-highest grossing film, considering how deeply fellated it was from the start — and how protective its fans are.
The LEGO Movie has always hovered at 96 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, and the few critics who kept it from 100 percent got flamed to a crisp. The very first comment on one of the first negative reviews to be linked on Rotten Tomatoes read: "wow...out of 91 reviews so far on rottentomatoes, you are one of 2 you didn't like the movie. hey at least you will get people to read your review just to see what an idiot you are. [sic]"
The higher-grossing Guardians of the Galaxy is at (only!) 90 percent, and many of the critics who didn't like it also got seared. The fact that US Weekly's reviewer is female was not lost on the commenter Omegaman, who posted this the night before the movie opened: "90 percent on [Rotten Tomatoes] you ditzy broad." (No doubt Mr. Omegaman would argue that the real issue here is ethics in film criticism.)
Look, we all know that critics are horrible, joyless curs who hate love, life, and happiness. Movies as current as Big Eyes, as charming as Ratatouille, and as bugfuck as Lady in the Water have all made that clear. It doesn't matter that Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver and Raging Bull were written by a film-critic-turned-screenwriter-turned-director, and the legendary French directors François Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard were both critics before they became started making movies. Success stories like those don't excuse today's few brave critics from not thinking The LEGO Movie is the best thing ever.
My middling-to-meh review of LEGO was parsed as "Fresh" by Rotten Tomatoes, thus sparing SF Weekly's servers from an uptick in hate-traffic, and I didn't see Guardians until it hit video. Neither of them are my kind of movie — a young man discovers he's Special, goes on a mission, melts the heart of the girl, yawn — and though I chuckled a few times, I have no desire to see them again. I still consider the denouement of LEGO to be horribly sexist, in spite of how many boys have assured me that the joke isn't "Girls ruin everything!" but rather "Younger siblings ruin everything!" Uh-huh. And, Guardians' dancing baby Groot? No. Just, no.
It's not that I don't like colorful fantasy movies, either; two of my favorite films of 2014 are My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Rainbow Rocks and The Book of Life. For that matter, when I mentioned to a fellow film critic that my most favoritest movie of the year is Stuart Murdoch's low-key musical God Help the Girl, she hissed and made the sign of the cross with her index fingers, then explained why the movie sucks. So, even us killjoys can seldom agree on anything, though neither she nor I cared for the much-lauded Boyhood.
Critics and fans have always been at odds and always will be, and the only new wrinkle is that Rotten Tomatoes — which famously disabled its own comments system in 2012 not long after the first negative reviews of The Dark Knight Rises rolled in — has made it much easier to troll heretical critics.
But here's the thing, fanboys: You've won, okay? The mainstream now caters to you, and what were once B-movies are now where all the money goes. You're going to get plenty of superhero and LEGO and Star Wars movies for the foreseeable future, and nothing any critic can say is going to change that. It's difficult, I know, but maybe try showing a little grace in your victory.