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Critic Breakdown

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Sometimes, a piece of 'entertainment' is so excruciatingly awful, so mind-numbingly boring or appalling, the only way that a critic or reviewer can find to fend off those considering seeing or playing it out of perverse curiosity is to... well, massively, comically over-react.

Don't just pan the film; walk out of the theater in disgust, in as dramatic a fashion as possible. Don't just give the game a low score, or even a sub-zero score - pretend you couldn't bring yourself to finish the review at all. Act out as if you are terrified of the show/game/book/whatever. Scream in outrage at the very existence of the thing. Speak as if it has pushed you over the Despair Event Horizon and that the memory of it will drain all the goodness out of everything else you have ever reviewed.


In other words, make it clear that, yes, it really is So Bad, It's Horrible, to And I Must Scream levels for anyone experiencing it, and no amount of Bile Fascination can make up for the awfulness.

While these sorts of theatrics are not limited to Caustic Critics, they are a favored tactic of several of them when confronted with something that is actually as bad as they usually make everything else out to be.

Usually, this is well rehearsed ahead of time, as the critic has, presumably, actually finished it, or at least isn't watching it as they perform the review. It has been known to occur in real-time, however, especially in game criticism with the rise of 'First Impressions'-style reviews which are being recorded as the critic plays for the first time.

Note that this a trope for critics, not the material they criticize, though it can appear in the reactions of fictional reviewers (in which case it it should be listed for the series or story where it appears).


A subtrope of Suckiness Is Painful. Usually involves a serving of Large Ham.

Examples of Critic Breakdown in Fictional Critics

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    Live-Action TV 
  • Terrible films are the bread and butter of Mystery Science Theater 3000, so this is a natural thing for the series. The protagonists aren't professional critics, but they are trapped in space and forced to watch bad movies (real ones; the fictional part is the setup of the series). The worst of the worst movies actually do drive the cast to the edge of breakdowns, or completely over.
    • Manos: The Hands of Fate, perhaps the most notorious of the Joel-era episodes, sent both Tom and Crow into a panic during the opening credits, because they were convinced that they were going to be forced to watch a Snuff Film. Later, both TV's Frank and Dr. Forrester approached the communicator when the other was away, to privately apologize to Joel and the bots for foisting something so awful on them.
    • Monster a-Go Go left the bots in a deep depression, which Joel unsuccessfully tries to cheer them out of. They also state that it was just as bad as Manos, which is a pretty severe criticism in light of their reaction to that.
    • Eegah! was so bad that Crow and Tom Servo had to take showers afterwards to wash the filth away.
    • Red Zone Cuba makes Mike think he's Carol Channing. Tom Servo and Crow have to sing a manic "Bouncy Upbeat Song" to keep themselves from complete despair.
    • Invasion of the Neptune Men leaves the cast sobbing and wondering what's the point of living anymore. A surprise visit from Phantom of Krankor pulls them back from a complete breakdown.
    • Hobgoblins was so bad, everyone walked out of the theater and left behind cardboard cutouts of themselves.


Examples in Real Life Critiques

Note that examples are given in the category of the review, not the reviewed items.

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  • When Melissa Mills reviewed Uriah Heep's first album for Rolling Stone in 1970, her critique began “If this group makes it, I’ll have to commit suicide”—a sentence which quickly attained the era's equivalent of Memetic Mutation status.
  • In Roger Ebert's review of The Human Centipede, which he disclaimed as not being "so much a review as a public service announcement," he outright refused to rate it:
    Ebert: I am required to award stars to movies I review. This time, I refuse to do it. The star rating system is unsuited to this film. Is the movie good? Is it bad? Does it matter? It is what it is and occupies a world where the stars don’t shine.

    Web Video 


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