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Monday, October 1, 2012

"The Letter" tops Gail's list of cruddy movies

Winona Ryder and James Franco in "The Letter"
I'm new at Redbox. I swear I pressed the wrong button.

I wanted to rent the recent movie about a plagiarizing writer. Even though the film got mixed reviews, that subject is always interesting to writers like me.

What I wound up with - by mistake - was "The Letter." Within its first five minutes, I said to my husband, "Man, this is moving slow - I bet it was a Sundance movie."

Why do I not listen to myself? I know that the minute I think, "Maybe it'll get better," that's the time to turn off a video. Run while you can!
(There are no spoilers in this review.)

There were only two reasons I kept watching: Winona's beautiful eyes and James Franco's beautiful dimples. There's a reason they hire good-looking actors.

The movie wasn't a total loss. While it felt like torture that would never end,  it was a great sleeping pill. I had a coupon that brought down the cost of the film to 79 cents. Between the sleep value and a blog post, I should get my 79 cents worth.

I'm going to start Gail's list of cruddy movies. For now, "The Letter" is at the top. The main qualification for a cruddy movie is that the movie makers are self-indulgent and don't give a darn about their audience.

My husband's complaint about "The Letter" was "You couldn't tell what reality was." But that alone would not qualify the film for Gail's list of cruddy movies. For instance, you couldn't tell what reality was in "A Beautiful Mind," but the presentation was enjoyable and didn't put you to sleep. The movie-makers respected the audience.

There are others I will add to the cruddy list as soon as I look up their titles. The two I'm thinking of were both Sundance films, I think: one about a homeless woman and her dog and one about a lawn-mower guy. They each had great actors, but the movies felt like they'd never end. Oh, and "The Swan" is way up on the list - I have to think about that. The schlockiness of "The Swan" may put it right at the top.

This is a new thing for me, this cruddy movies list. I will consider all suggestions. Warning others about cruddy movies is performing a public service.

Consider yourself warned about "The Letter." Run while you can.

Teacher Gail movie grade: F

Gail Grenier is the author of Calling All Horses, Dog Woman, and Don't Worry Baby, all available from


  1. The Curse of the Golden Flower.

    Watch the trailer. It's the best part of the movie and consists of the last 15 minutes. Everything else is an episode of Jerry Springer in Chinese.

    1. Best comment ever! Why can't I think of lines like that? Great one. Thanks!