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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.