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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Things that make you go BLEAHHH!

When was the last time you saw a really, REALLY bad movie?

Last weekend? Hey, me too!

I saw Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (aka P-Cab Three) and it was SO completely and totally horrendous that it rocketed to the top of my worst movies of all time list (bumping Casper starring Christina Ricci from the number one spot it has held for over a decade and shifting A.I. down to spot number three). Seriously, the movie was awful in every way. And for the record I liked P-Cab One and Two. And I'll watch pretty much anything with Johnny Depp, whose career I've championed since his 21 Jump Street days.

Anyone? 21 Jump Street?

Okay, now I feel old.

Anyhow, when I got home from the movies, I eagerly pulled out The New Yorker and the NY Times. I feel that the only thing that mitigates wasting time and money on bad things (entertainment, literature, meals) is reading that professional critics agree with me. That’s probably pretty universal – who doesn’t get a real charge out of having her contempt vindicated? It’s like when your friend dates some guy you can’t stand and then a mutual friend confesses that he annoys her to. It’s that feeling of thank you! I love it.

Well, no thank you! The New Yorker refused to weigh in. Well, at least it has so far… though I’m still holding out hope that Anthony Lane trashes it… he did such a fine job reviewing Pirates Two. But get this: The NYT actually kind of praised it. I mean, the praise was lukewarm, but they didn’t state the obvious: This Film Sucked. What’s more, the NYT followed up its review with a gushing article about how the film had pulled in more than $400 million dollars in less than a week.

That’s right: More than $400 million dollars in less than a week.

Apparently, tens of millions of people did not do as I did and call to warn their friends while still standing under the theatre marquis. It’s possible – difficult though it might be for me to fathom - that some of them might even have liked it.

Am I this out of sync with popular opinion?

Apparently, I am. At least when it comes to Hollywood blockbusters. But children’s books… hmmm… I like to think I have my finger on the pulse of quality or lack thereof in that arena.

Or do I?

To find out, I went straight to the source of all information. Google. As Gene Weingarten reported this week in his reliably hilarious Washington Post magazine column, there is very little that does not exist on the internet. My search term: I hate Rainbow Fish.

The news? People, I am not alone.

Yes, thank you!, it turns out that lots and lots of people hate Rainbow Fish as much as I do! Not perhaps as many people as hate Rachel Ray, but quite a few. As you probably know, The Rainbow Fish is a children’s book by Swiss author Marcus Pfister. It is about this fish with sparkly scales whose friends hate him for being pretty and bully him into giving away his scales until he looks like he has fin rot. I hate everything about it: the cheesy shiny art, the fact that it is a “message” book, the content of the message, the inept plot and, now that I am a published author, the fact that the author’s last name starts with a PF so the stupid Rainbow Fish swims right next to my books on many a shelf.

Here are some of the 173 Amazon reviews:

The book is so bad, destructive, immoral, and wrong that I have trouble figuring out where to start.

To give this 'book' to a child should be considered abuse.

Why isn't there a zero star option?
(from a reviewer who gave it a single star out of a possible five)

It is unclear how this managed to get published in the first place.

Okay, thank you! Yes!

After reading negative review after negative review, with a few positive ones interspersed (hey, positive reviewers, have I got a movie for you!) I was feeling really great. Really, really vindicated.

Until I noticed something else on the Rainbow Fish’s Amazon page:

84% of people who viewed the page bought the book anyway.

Do you hate The Rainbow Fish? Did you also hate Pirates of the Caribbean Three? Omigod, we’re soulmates! Okay, all kidding aside, is there a kids’ book that you hate even though everyone else seems to love it? Give me your two cents. Or better yet, give me back the nine dollars and fifty cents I spent on P-Cab Three!

I'm totally with you on Pirates Three. It was so boring! I couldn't believe how little happened during most of the movie, and even when there was action going on, it didn't make sense or make me want to root for anyone in particular. I wouldn't say I totally hated it, because I don't think I cared enough to feel that strongly. I give it a mega-meh.

I'm also not a big fan of Rainbow Fish. It's definitely very popular, but so is a lot of crap. To each their own on that front (ie: I'm all for having it in the library so those who want it can find it, but I'm not going to read it myself). Love You Forever is another on that list, along with any number of imitators (the book that is handed to you with the hearty recommendation that it "will make you cry!").
I'm definitely with you on Pirates 3 .. The first hour and a half was so boring that I just wanted to claw my own eyes out to make it stop
Hello Erica,

Was reading your blog and had to comment! I actually haven't seen ANY of the "pirate" movies (if you can believe it!) but I was just having a conversation (can't remember with who or where I was...that's what happens sometimes to folks old enough to remember 21 jump street!)Anyways,I had been asked about my favorite picture books and if there are any I don't like. I responded that Rainbow Fish is one of the worst children's books ever and a close second is Eric Carle's Will You Be my Friend. The later is about a mouse that approaches an elephant, lion, kangaroo, etc, asking each time if they would be his friend. Each time the animal says no. Only when the mouse approaches another mouse does he find his friend. In other words, if someone looks different or is different from you, they can't be your friend!
Felt the need to add the Eric Carle title...though some of his other books I think are wonderful!
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