Christian Movie Review Editing Lesson: An ‘Appreciative’ critique

Since it’s my job to read every Christian-press movie review every week, I am constantly reminded that Christian media is in dire need of TRAINED EDITORS, writers who know how to use the English language.

I include myself in the lot of those who need watchful editors to catch mistakes.

After all, if God cares about the number of hairs on our heads, and if he watches over the sparrows, surely he cares about split infinitives and ending sentences with prepositions.

So, here is the first installment of my Christian Movie Review Editing Lessons.

Periodically, I will lift sentences directly from Christian movie reviews and challenge you to point out the problems in the examples.

I will not include the names of the writers or the links. You can hunt them down if you wish.

The point is not to ridicule, but to draw more attention to the need for good editors. It’s to IMPROVE THE WORK, not MOCK THE WORKER.

In the interest of fair play, I will, occasionally, include mistakes I myself have made. I have two helpful volunteer editors who regularly catch my mistakes. If I made any profit from Looking Closer, my first move would be to pay editors.

So, here’s today’s lesson, from a review of “I Heart Huckabees”….

So much of the movie is philosophical ranting and raving and overwrought humorous drama that it really is a fun piece for these actors, providing most of the entertainment.

With hints of “Magnolia” and dashes of “Rushmore,” this film does carry some appreciative originality. The dialogue is well written and the characters well played. However, while the laughter is there, it is usually short-lived and overall doesn’t give you much to walk away with.

So, how many mistakes do you count, and what are they? I count at least five problems. You?
 

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  • Martin

    Neither “well written” nor “well played” needs a hyphen in this instance. Compound adjectives are hyphenated only when they directly precede a noun. Check the Chicago Manual of Style.So, Jeffrey, if there’s such a great need for editors in this field, why am I not doing that sort of work?

  • Anonymous

    I know who published it, I know who published it…

    And I’m not surprised.

  • Anonymous

    Given the prepositional problem, I suggest the end of last sentence be rewritten as:

    “…and overall doesn’t give you with away much to walk.”

  • Anonymous

    - the entire first paragraph is unclear
    - it’s my understanding that a paragraph should contain more than one sentence
    - ‘appreciable,’ not ‘appreciative’
    - should both well written and well played be hyphenated?
    - as Alan mentioned, ending the final sentence with a preposition

  • Martin

    ‘So much of the movie is philosophical ranting and raving and overwrought humorous drama that it really is a fun piece for these actors, providing most of the entertainment.’

    First, this is a run-on sentence. Second, the writer doesn’t know what point he/she wants to make. The sentence starts out sounding critical, then dismisses its own criticism by claiming that the film is a fun piece for the actors. Finally, I think the writer wants to say that the actors provide most of the entertainment, but syntactically he/she is still referring to the film, not the actors.

    ‘With hints of “Magnolia” and dashes of “Rushmore,” this film does carry some appreciative originality.’

    Whether the film titles should be in quotes or italics depends on which stylebook the editor used and where the piece was published. Magazines and Web sites usually use italics; some newspapers still use quotes. However, the biggest problem here is again that the second half of the sentence contradicts the first half. You don’t start out comparing the film to “Magnolia” and “Rushmore” and then praise its originality in the same sentence — UNLESS you use an appropriate transition word, such as “despite” or “nonetheless.” “Appreciative” is a malapropism; perhaps the writer meant “appreciable.”

    “The dialogue is well written and the characters well played.”

    Close, but should read “the characters ARE well played.” The singular verb does not carry over to a compound noun.

    “However, while the laughter is there, it is usually short-lived and overall doesn’t give you much to walk away with.”

    Syntactically, the writer is saying that the LAUGHTER doesn’t give you much to walk away with, when he/she should be making that comment about the FILM.

    The writer is guilty of ending a sentence with a preposition. I will, however, merely observe that Winston Churchill dismissed that rule as “the sort of arrant pedantry, up with which I shall not put.”

  • Anonymous

    - “Magnolia” and “Rushmore” should be italicized, not it quotes. also ‘hints…and dashes’ is too much.
    - There should be a comma after “overwrought”
    - the phrase “providing most of the entertainment” modifies the noun “actors.” oops.
    - ditto on the ‘appreciate originality’ phrase. What does that *mean* ?
    - The last sentence is too long, and ends with “with”

    Is the following any better? I’m still not happy with the first sentence.

    So much of the movie is philosophical ranting and raving and overwrought, humorous drama that it really is a fun piece for these actors. It is this element that provides most of the entertainment.

    With hints of Magnolia and Rushmore, this film does carry some much-appreciated originality. The dialogue is well written and the characters well played. While the laughter is there, it is usually short-lived. Overall the film does doesn’t give you much to carry away.

    – Alan T.

  • Anonymous

    What does “appreciative originality” mean? Can originality appreciate?


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