Rating People Like Movies? Using a Metascore for Your Neighbor and Spouse

Profile in Courage--If only...

Profile in Courage–If only…

In the land of The Newsroom‘s Aaron Sorkin, everything ends up as it should be–Karma works and Yins and Yangs co-exist happily.  (For example, the Obamacare websites would be working on day one.)  In Sorkin’s final scene in The Social Network he portrays the Facebook founder as a miserable billionaire with no friends, cyber stalking his ex-girlfriend who started the whole ball a-rollin’–all to the Beatle’s tune, “Baby You’re a Rich Man.”

But unfortunately for us, Zuckerberg’s not really that sad and Martin Sheen isn’t in charge of the Affordable Health Care Act.  Hollywood isn’t real–but maybe a piece of Hollywood could be real–the Metascore.

Bloodsuckers in Washington?  Who Knew?

I’d finally caved and started a Netflix viewing of the terribly bad, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.  

“Now that’s a mistake,” I complained.  “The White House didn’t have that second floor porch until Truman was president.”

“They also didn’t have vampires,” pointed out my wife,

Axe not what you country can do for you...

Axe not what you country can do for you…

In short, the film didn’t know what it wanted to be when it grew up.  The trailer was fun.  It had the right level of cheesy-campy that made me drift toward it in the first place.

But unlike that neighbor you meet briefly when you’re dragging boxes into your house, movie trailers are often not accurate portrayals of the real thing.  The movie did have the silly action of a summer blockbuster horror film, the historical gravity of a period piece, the sexy romance that Mary Todd Lincoln has sometimes the campy comedy I was really hoping for.

Strike one.  Two more bad movie picks and I was going to lose control of film-choices for a while.

Schindler’s Least

For the next night’s viewing I was more confident.  I’d been waiting for Liam Neeson’s Taken to make it to my cheap Netflix/Hulu offerings, but it never arrived.  Finally, I caved and purchased it through Amazon.  It was, after all, a box-office hit and I liked Schindler’s List so I figured it was a good call.

Dumb dad gives dumber daughter dumb gift.

Dumb dad gives dumber daughter dumb gift.

But as the title suggests bluntly, I’d been taken out of my $3.99–an extra dollar for the HD version, you see.

Neeson plays a former rock-star super-spy who, while using a disposable film-camera for old-time’s sake, caves in to his whiny daughter’s request to go to Europe with her trashy friend.  Within moments of getting off her plane, his instincts are predictably accurate  as she is kidnapped at the airport taxi-stand and whisked away into white-slavery and daddy arrives just in time at the auction as she is sold for top-dollar as a virgin to an evil Arabian about to board his speedy Thames raft.  It was so far-fetched and silly that I was expecting to see Abe Lincoln jump with Neeson off the Thames bridge wielding his silver-tipped axe.

A clever guy actually edited the film together into a four-minute synopsis that highlights all the lowlights perfectly:

Strike 2.

The Metascore

In Taken‘s case I wanted my money back.  In both cases, I wanted my time back.  I should have looked more carefully at my favorite feature of my favorite website–IMDB.com.  It’s one of the first websites I found and answers the age-old question we’ve always had when watching an old TV show:

  • “What else have I seen that guy in?”

Click a film title, you get the cast.  Click the cast member, you get all his movies.  What a godsend to a trivia fiend like me.  But IMDB also provides the Metascore:  a composite number of 1-100, based upon a large bushel of critics.

Let’s take a look at composite for the the Abe-Biopic:

A good place to start before you hit the "play" button on any movie...

A good place to start before you hit the “play” button on any movie…

If you skip to the right side you’ll see the 93K folks who have chimed in their opinions.  You also can see the 374 critics reviews.  But the 42/100 is what we’ll examine…

Someone's got a friend in St. Louis...

Someone’s got a friend in St. Louis…

Mr. Williams’ statement of “best action movie of the summer” may have been clipped from the “involving a bearded ex-president” that followed.

But down at the bottom, where I like to dwell sometimes, you can read…

Save your money!  Save your time!

Save your money! Save your time!

And in Taken‘s case, you’ll also find New York chiming in…


Ah, Paycheck.  The John Woo superflop that was Ben Affleck on his downward Gigli spiral.  I was given a free pass to that film and once again regretted my lost evening.  Even today, it is our family’s code word for a bad, bad, bad film.

But I wonder how long it will be until we get a Metascore for people?

An Extra Feature on the Real Estate Listing:  “Neighbor Metascore”

I’m wondering if, deep in the Facebook labs, there are a few Zuckerbergian interns working on an algorithm that is processing all of the “Likes” we attract, the hits or cat pictures get or how many times we write negative blogs about mediocre action films.

Perhaps we’ll see ratings for such important people as…


Cup of Sugar Metascore

  • Likely to lend you a cup of sugar, a snow blower or hose in a house  fire.
  • Likely to yell at you for walking on his sidewalk.
  • Doesn’t notice his dog barking at 2 AM for an hour.


Worse Half Metascore

  • Lets you know he’s working late–particularly if it involved a trip out of town you didn’t know about.
  • Knows how to load a dishwasher.
  • Buys flowers, birthday cards, gasoline, tuition.
  • Understands that the TV can’t really hear him yelling at it.

Facebook, these are just some suggestions, in case Mr. Zuckerberg is reading this and not checking out the Metascore on The Social Network.

95/100 for a Metascore for Aaron Sorkin's script of Mark Zuckerberg's life.  A look at the only "low" score found (again from New York).

95/100 for a Metascore for Aaron Sorkin’s script of Mark Zuckerberg’s life. A look at the only “low” score found (again from New York).

But he knows, as of know, there is no Metascore for life and Jesse Eisenberg is looking for his next job, not him.

Strike three, by the way, was the first 45 minutes of New Year’s Eve.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

About Kevin Walsh

Kevin began MyMediaDiary.com in 2013 as an experiment that was as simple as "What's a blog?" and ended up becoming a forum for fellow writers. He's been a high school teacher for 28 years and worked as an administrator and instructor in colleges for 10 years since then. Contact him at: kevin@mymediadiary.com He is also the producer of the web-series and blog, www.DiggingDetroit, founder and producer for MMD Productions at www.mmdphotovideo.com which offers quick, professional photography, video and multimedia solutions for individuals, organizations and businesses. His high school media production text, "Video Direct," has been used in 40 states--and he occasionally still sells a few. He is the current president of the non-profit DAFT (Digital Arts Film and Television) which sponsors the Michigan Student Film Festival. He lives in Royal Oak, Michigan, is married to Patrice and is tolerated by his two kids Aidan and Abby who have all graciously allowed him to write about them on occasion.

4 Responses to Rating People Like Movies? Using a Metascore for Your Neighbor and Spouse

  1. Kale says:

    Taken is awesome.

    It wasn’t the 90’s action movie we deserved last decade, but it was the one we needed. The 90’s action movie is as much of a dead genre as disco. If Die Hard or Air Force One came out today, we’d think it’s really dumb (see White House Down/Olympus Has fallen). Where Taken differs, and why it was popular, I think, is because it’s well-acted, the action sequences are fantastic (stunts don’t get the same kind of credit as, say, dance choreography gets, but when it’s good like it is in Taken, you have to give credit where credit is due) and it is a story that is steeped in some disgusting realities of our world, where, in a fantastically unrealistic fashion, we get to root for a hero who brings justice in a way that no would ever really could. It’s fantasy, it’s fun, and the stakes are high. And it’s Liam Neeson beating people up, which I would just pay to see, regardless of plot.

    You gotta hand it to Taken, in that, it’s one of the only straight up action movies in the last 15 years to be quotable and leave a mark in pop culture:


    If Taken didn’t do it for you, I suggest “The Grey”, which is on Netflix and is a film that I truly believe is one of the most underrated things to come out in the last few years.

    • Kevin Walsh says:

      Hi Kale,

      I’d put “Casino Royale” and the “Bourne” trilogy right there with”Die Hard” which still holds its weight these days with some great plot twists and one of the best super-villains. “Taken” had some of the least-believable plot advancements I’ve seen and the silly spoiled daughter gets rewarded for her recklessness by being spoiled one last shot at private lessons at the Christina Aguilerish star that Neesen’s character conveniently saved at the beginning.

      I think that stunts can kill a decent plot (e.g. “King Kong’s” giant bug scene and brontosaurus-race) much more than help it. As we discussed, that was the problem with “Man of Steel”‘s unending ending.

      Most of Shakespeare’s biggest stunt-scenes, such as MacBeth’s beheading, happen offstage and it’s still playing in theaters. My two-cents.

  2. Dick Rockwell says:

    Kevin, You’ll like this: “Taken with a Real Dad.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b9wfJO58OLU