Video has helped restore some luster to movies once quickly and brutally dismissed.
There was a time, a generation ago, when "bombs" would have been forgotten, doomed to occasional television airings or revival theater showings. (You kids can look up "revival theater.")
Now you can rent movies, record movies, watch movies at your leisure and do so over and over again.
"I do think home video changed the landscape," says Dan Herbert, a film professor at the University of Michigan. "It's easy now to return to movies, and that wasn't always the case. Home video built up this more eclectic breadth of taste and options."
All this watching lends itself to our current pop culture moment, when nothing is really gone and every opinion is up for grabs.
"Taste has really been fragmented," says Herbert. "We use movies more and more to distinguish ourselves and our personalities and our identities. People who celebrate bad movies are using it to differentiate themselves from the mass and saying, 'I don't agree with the standards of evaluation.' "
So films once buried get revisited. It's happened before -- the French New Wave directors first made their mark as essayists who re-evaluated genres and filmmakers before entering the business themselves -- but now there are armies of bloggers who can watch a film on video and announce that it got a bum rap the first time around.
"There's much more of a participatory sense to film conversation now, in terms of a critic puts something out and people immediately start to respond," says Hitfix's McWeeny. He makes a distinction between a critic and a guy with a random opinion -- a good critic provides context and knowledge -- but it all becomes part of the stew.
So, want to defend "Ishtar"? (McWeeny believes it's underrated.) Think "John Carter" doesn't deserve its rep? (You have company.) Want to make the case for Adam Sandler, auteur? (Hey, the French pulled it off with Jerry Lewis.)
The fact is that the movie-loving world has plenty of room, including plenty of room for second opinions. Even if the first wave of opinions -- the one involving initial reviews and box-office performance -- aren't all that great.
There's just something about movies that engage us, says McWeeny.
"We are fascinated by our relationship to movies, by the fact that we don't always understand why they work on us the way they work on us," he says. "I'd love to get past being embarrassed by a film you liked. There's a lot more interesting conversations to be had about film when we look at why people attach themselves to them."