The McRib Effect

Every year, McDonald’s offers the McRib sandwich for a limited time. This is a brilliant marketing strategy in my opinion because every few years, I will invariably order one even though I’ve eaten them in the past and thought they were disgusting. I begin to doubt my own assertions, my own taste buds. I even begin to question why I would have renamed this sandwich “The McPig Knuckle”. Why?

Because they’re bringing it back, people! By popular demand!

The McRib effect is when you know better from past experience. You simply need to convince yourself that it really was as bad as you remembered the first time.

I know better now. I’ve never really been one to jump on the bandwagon of anything just because it’s popular. However, I often do follow the recommendations of people whose opinions have proved reliable in the past. So when my Twitter friend Tony Alicea tweeted the following, I was intrigued:

So I watched the trailer:

And since all I had planned for Tuesday afternoon was laundry, and it was available via live streaming from Netflix, I decided I would indulge myself and watch it.

After the first five minutes, I was confused. After the first 20 minutes, I was in awe. Literally, in awe. At how BAD this movie was.

Like the McRib phenomenon, I began to question my ability to understand and/or appreciate what “good” is. I thought to myself, “Surely this movie gets better. What am I missing?” Then later, “This movie is incredibly awful on so many levels. Might be one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen Howard the Duck.” By the end of the movie, I was laughing. And not because anything in the movie is remotely funny. I was laughing at the sheer absurdity of the acting, the writing, the storyline and the cinematography. The only thing that could have saved this movie for me was if Tim Curry had come out in drag and lead the cast in a rousing rendition of “The Time Warp”, thereby letting us all know that the entire thing was supposed to be blatantly pretentious, sophomoric and cheesy.

On second thought, probably not even then.

Still astonished that anyone could actually like this movie, I googled “Ink movie reviews”. That’s when I REALLY became confused. At, I found outrageous, glowing reviews for this movie. Ten stars out of ten. Many of them reading much like this one:

This is one of the greats of cinema – rich, vivid storytelling, a journey deep into the imagination with simple but powerful cinematography. Intelligent, affecting, and thought-provoking. Most importantly, Ink is a parable for our time – a time in which we have lost sight completely of what’s important in life. As far as comparables – this movie is reminiscent of Pan’s Labyrinth. It is perfectly cast, carrying it’s weight through the story not the lightweight effects, and leaving you with strong after-thoughts. If you feel like letting go for 107 minutes and allowing this excellent piece of fantasy to carry you along, it won’t disappoint. No review I can write could do it justice.

I searched and searched for a bad review, but after 5 minutes, I couldn’t find one. I finally did a search within the reviews for “Hated It” and found common ground. People as astonished as I was that this movie was given such glowing reviews, most of them surmising that the creators of the movie had launched a behemoth positive spin campaign using review sites to get people to watch this stinker of a movie.

The title lines for these bad reviews restored my faith in honest movie reviews. Lines like “Good grief”, “Stunningly awful” and “One of the worst movies I’ve ever seen”. One reviewer suggested, “This film is the celluloid equivalent of the emperors new clothes. I watched it because of the buzz associated with it and its high rating on IMDb. It is without doubt one of the most pretentious , tedious pieces of film making it has ever been my misfortune to witness.”

And that’s exactly what I felt like I was witnessing: People wanting to like the movie so much that they convinced themselves it was good. That the emperor wasn’t standing there looking ridiculous and butt nekkid.

Reviewer tomodlin from the UK sums up the bad reviews nicely:

Pretentious Nonsense, 17 November 2009

Author: tomodlin from United Kingdom
I have trusted the rating system on IMDb for years, though I’ve never bothered to register before.

I do so today only to balance out the ridiculous reviews for this horse muck of a movie.

It’s terrible! There is literally nothing good to say about it. I duly stuck with it after the first 20 mins (as advised on other reviews). I’m not sure what they all think happened after 20 minutes, but whatever it is, I didn’t see it.

Ink is so bad, I felt the need to register to moan about it.

Don’t watch it. It’s just not worth it. Do some washing and watch the machine for a couple of hours. You’ll have more fun and the plot will be better.

The other reviewers must, must, must be part of some campaign to get this recognised. I’ve seen more entertaining stains in my bathroom.

I would happily sit and extract my own toenails with a taser rather than watch this again.

Seriously, I’m dead on the inside. I just want to adopt the fetal position and cry for my mummy.

I like Tony and respect and agree with many of his opinions. This just isn’t one of them. And that’s okay. We are all wired differently. It’s okay to agree to disagree.

Have you ever fallen victim to the McRib effect with movies, shows, books or artwork? Thinking that you have surely missed something everyone finds obvious?

And if you’ve seen this movie, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.

I’ll be here.

Quietly judging you.

Editor’s Note: This film was originally released in 2009. Had it been a new release, I probably would have suffered in silence. But something about all of those glowing, and in my estimation, highly inflated (Read: Mostly fake) reviews just stuck in my craw. Because suffering through that movie is 107 minutes of my life that I’ll never get back.

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21 Responses to “The McRib Effect”

  1. Jim H February 8, 2012 at 7:53 pm #

    On your recommendation, I’m saving those 107 minutes for myself – thank you!

  2. jake February 8, 2012 at 8:01 pm #

    I don’t know what you’re bellyaching about, it looks like a game-changer to me. You know, one of those movies that changes your life… Then again, I can honestly say that I’ve never heard of it until now, so it didn’t get any press, so far as I can tell… which really kind of does leave me wondering… Actually no, I think pretentious looks about right. I feel bad for the poor humans who acted in it. They clearly want to start or enhance their acting careers and have made poor decisions about it. Maybe they’ll be serving McRibs in a few years? I hope not.

    I’m trying to think of anything like this. I hated Moby Dick. HATED IT. Then again, I only know one man who loves it and he’s president of the Melville Society (no joke- there truly is one… sigh). I would love to have a book burning dedicated to the white whale and the demon of a book that it lives in. We can include Ink too, if you’d like 🙂

    • Tony J. Alicea February 9, 2012 at 8:27 am #

      Don’t be a sheep, Jake. I don’t get that from you. You’re a smart guy and an independent thinker.

      Don’t follow blindly and miss the greatest movie of your life.

    • katdish February 9, 2012 at 8:55 am #

      Jake – Watch the movie. Then tell me your honest opinion of it. I’m guessing it will make you want to punch someone in the neck.

  3. tandemingtroll February 8, 2012 at 10:22 pm #

    Thank you for the dis-recommendation. I don’t have a lot of time to waste, although part of me is now really tempted to watch it just to see how bad it is–at least for the first 20 minutes.

    I followed your recommendation about “Raising Hope” several months back and my husband and I are now regular followers. I think I watched the first season on Netflix in two days. The McRib made it into the first episode of “Raising Hope” when the serial killer mother of Jimmy’s child requested it as her last meal, along with a Shamrock Shake. The McRib has always looked disgusting to me, so I might have been one of the few people on this planet not to have ever bought it.

    • Tony J. Alicea February 9, 2012 at 8:31 am #

      Well that explains a lot! Kat loves Raising Hope and I watched it twice and wanted to gouge my eyes out.

      I guess it all evens out.

  4. Diana Trautwein February 9, 2012 at 12:05 am #

    Whew! I knew there was a reason I never read “Moby Dick!” LOVED this review, Kat. When it’s bad, you just gotta say so. And this one sounds like a real stinker.

  5. Allen February 9, 2012 at 7:54 am #

    Ever considered Tony might be sitting somewhere laughing hysterically that people are wasting two hours of their life watching that because of his recommendation? Maybe you were punked 🙂

    • Tony J. Alicea February 9, 2012 at 8:29 am #

      I take my recommendations pretty seriously but I’m totally not offended. I am laughing not because she wasted her time, but because we are in two different stratospheres with this one.

      I’m not really surprised though. This movie is kind of polarizing. Either you love it or hate it. I’m okay with that.

  6. James Williams February 9, 2012 at 8:18 am #

    This is very well said, and I cannot come up with examples better than Moby Dick, although I can come close with The Scarlet Letter, or, to be honest, most Performance Art. Or the movie Fireproof.

    But really, the best examples are in the Christian realm. We will embrace something if it’s somehow tied to Christianity. In the above-mentioned Fireproof, for example, we like the underlying message so much that we pretend it’s a well-written movie with stellar dialog, and we pretend that Kirk Cameron is a stellar actor. Because he’s “one of us”.

    The mos profound examples, though, have to be the way we treat our politicians. Fr the most part, folks who vote Republican will slam Democrat leaders and defend Rep one, often for the same actions. And many lefties do the same.

    In fact, I wrote about this very phenomenon at

  7. Tony J. Alicea February 9, 2012 at 8:23 am #

    *Approaches soap box. Steps up.


    So the only problem I see with both your review and the one you quote is this: you didn’t say specifically what you didn’t like. “Worst movie ever” is a very general statement.

    Honestly it could just come down to preference. Most people have been roped in to the Hollywood movie mentality and when they see something different they immediately think it’s bad or trying to be “artsy”. Some people are more comfortable movies where they don’t have to think deeply and if they do, they think the director was trying too hard.

    If that’s the case, I totally get it. We don’t all have the same taste. But with that said, let me tell you what I liked.


    On the surface, this movie is about the battle between good and evil but on a deeper level, it was about the struggle we all face in one way or another:


    I love that the main character isn’t a hero. He’s an anti-hero of sorts. You kind of hate him. But as the plot progresses and you get a glimpse into his story. He becomes human; relatable. You can see why he does what he does, why he became a jerk and a workaholic. You see the origins of his childhood where he was picked on and embarrassed for being poor. You see him compensating for that by being the best at his work. Then when horrific circumstances occur, his life begins to spiral out of control.

    I love how the Pathfinder tells how our life situations connect and flow into each other. The bad circumstances are unstoppable until there is something that breaks the flow. The scene where he changes the flow, starting with playing the music is my absolute favorite in the movie.

    I thought the little girl was absolutely incredible. Her acting was spot on and completely believable. I love the sub-plot with her and her dad. We can relate because we all just want a dad that will protect us from the monsters in our life. She believes in him, even when he can’t see it. Her belief in him is ultimately what brings him to see the situation for what it was.

    This was my 4th time seeing it. Every time I watch, I find something new in the story that I missed. It is a multi-faceted plot with layers of meaning.

    Some people might not like the sci-fi part of the story but I loved it. To me it is an interpretation of what the spirit world is like and what is actually happening in the unseen. I love the concept of the storytellers (angels) and incubus (demons). These visual interpretations help me imagine what the spirit realm could be like.

    Ultimately, this is a story of redemption. And I ALWAYS love a good redemption story.

    *Descends soap box. Waits for slow clap. Bows.

    • katdish February 9, 2012 at 8:46 am #

      Okay, Tony. I get your point. I’ve seen and appreciated many movies that didn’t fit the Hollywood prototype, and I also love a good redemption story. But in my opinion, the acting (or should I say overacting) was horrible (with the exception of the little girl who played Emma), the storyline was disjointed and preachy, and all the flashy, jerky cinematography just gave me a headache. And that dude with the black electrical tape over his eyes? Ugh! Was that supposed to be some type of deep, artistic statement? Horrid. The underlying themes in this movie were about as subtle as a sledgehammer hitting a watermelon.

  8. Richard Mabry February 9, 2012 at 8:30 am #

    Thanks so much. I was afraid I was the only person in America not following the recommendations of others like a lemming headed for the cliff. Long live independent thought–and I don’t care for the McRib, either.

  9. Allen February 9, 2012 at 8:57 am #

    This is what makes the world go round. If we all loved the exact same things, the world would be a boring place. I love Monty Pythons Holy Grail while my wife rolls her eyes at it. I’m cool with that. Different tastes make us all unique. But I still want to conduct a study and see how many people will try a McRibb just because of a tweet recommendation. Who’s in with me?

    • katdish February 9, 2012 at 9:01 am #

      My days of eating the McKnuckle are in the past. And Monty Python is most definitely a love/hate thing. I’ve watched the movie Raising Arizona on several occasions and thought it was brilliant and hilarious. Years later, I watched it again, only this time I was sober. Not nearly as funny.

  10. Cathy February 9, 2012 at 9:19 am #

    I’m confused. I need more information/examples.

    I haven’t seen this movie, but when I watched 500 Days of Summer (one of Tony’s favs), I LOVED it.

    Also…please tell me you are really creeped out by the I’ll Love You Forever book. Which everyone else loves. It was fine until it jumped the shark with the stalking.

    Oh, also…did you ever read the King edition of B.A.S.S.?

    • katdish February 9, 2012 at 9:23 am #

      I could write an entire book on how creeped out I am by I’ll love you forever. Don’t even get me started…

      King’s edition of B.A.S.S.? What’s that?

      • Cathy February 9, 2012 at 11:39 am #

        The Best American Short Stories edition that was edited by King. 2007, maybe?

  11. Simply Darlene February 9, 2012 at 10:45 am #

    OH my land. I was grossed out from the start, being a vegan and all. (To tell you the truth, I just skimmed through the It movie bit) AND THEN I saw that last image.

    Creeps me out along the same lines as clowns. It could be a clown mamma and not creep me out anymore, it’s that bad! I agree with Cathy’s op. on that book.

    Guess what? My mother-in-law gave it to my husband (yah, yah, he’s her son and all) after we got married. I re-gifted it to my son (secretly hoping he would eat it or rip it to shreds as a toddler). When he could read he brought it to me and said it was a weird and gross book.

    I’m going to start the fire with it tomorrow.

  12. randomlychad February 9, 2012 at 11:25 pm #

    That I’ll love you forever book is creepier than most things by Stephen King!

    Haven’t seen Ink. Not sure I want to.

    McRibs are mcnasty.

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