Review a Reviewer: Stephen Whitty


This is Stephen Whitty, writer for The Star-Ledger, a New Jersey newspaper, and a man with whom I have a love/hate relationship.

One of my favourite websites to visit for my movie fanatic needs is Rotten Tomatoes. It is there that I came across the reviews of one Stephen Whitty, a film critic who is always finding ways to surprise me.

Although the website insists Whitty agrees with the “Tomatometer” 74% of the time, I seldom find him agreeing with the site’s ratings. In addition, his ratings are erratic and his reviews are never what I think they will be. For example, recently he has given “rotten” ratings to at least half of the movies nominated for the Academy Awards this year. I’ve browsed through most of his reviews, and he seems to dislike almost all of the movies that have been given positive reviews from the website, in the same way that he often likes movies that have received mostly negative feedback from other critics.  A great example of this is Whitty giving The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 a “fresh” rating.

Not only does Stephen often disagree with the majority, but more importantly (to me) is that he tends to have a difference of opinions with me almost all the time. Most recently, he gave a bad review of Pitch Perfect, the comedic film about an a cappella competition starring Anna Kendrick in the lead role. Not only does he criticize Kendrick’s acting (which I thought was a huge – and great – step in her career from her small Twilight role), but he goes as far as calling the film “a not-very-funny college comedy for tweens, full of unappealing characters…” I personally felt that this was one of the first heavily female comedies that had me laughing out loud the whole time (I hated Bridesmaids), and I’m not the only one who thinks so. Fellow Rotten Tomatoes reviewer Laura Beck says “the girls, for the most part, are genuinely funny, weird, real, and, most excitingly, confident,” and Connie Ogle even goes as far as warning readers that “if you’re not grinning by the end of this light, funny crowd-pleaser, consider yourself tone deaf.”

That being said, there is something about his writing style, as well as his dry sense of humour, that keeps me coming back for more. And we don’t always butt heads, anyway. He gave a “fresh” rating and positive review of The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Silving Linings Playbook , thank god.  Although most reviewers did praise the latter, Perks has been criticized for being predictable and “populated by characters who are just too good to be plausible,” says reviewer Mark Jenkins. Whitty however, bless his soul, calls it a “smart teen movie” and has mostly positive things to say about the Stephen Chbosky film.

He also speaks very highly of the Harry Potter franchise in several of his reviews, so that alone makes him okay in my book.

I think the reason why Whitty is a critic I enjoy following is that reviews are much more interesting to read if they are negative. Whether or not the review is of a movie you love or love to hate, you have to admit that having someone make fun of a movie and its actors is a much more entertaining read than someone who only praises every little detail. As for Stephen Whitty, whether I love him or hate him, I’ll always be looking to him to see what movie he’s going to – probably – hate next.

Link to Stephen Whitty’s Rotten Tomatoes page