DEAR MISS MANNERS: I was invited by a friend and his girlfriend to a movie about which I knew nothing. I had no idea as to whether or not this was a preplanned occasion, but I paid for myself, and then sat with them as we watched the movie.
Needless to say, I found the movie tiresome and laughable, and, as did many of the other observers, laughed openly during the movie, which by its very nature entailed some obligatory jibing at its fantasy components.
When we left the theater, about five minutes passed, and he asked me what I had thought of it. I told him that I felt the film was horrible, that the characters were not developed, that the acting was hackneyed, the ending incomprehensible, etc. While I was not exactly "attacking" the film, I made my opinions known.
He expressed, later followed by his girlfriend, that he liked the film. I continued to debate the finer points with them for about five to 10 minutes in the parking lot. It turned into a larger discussion of movies proper, and then we all left. Later, I sent an e-mail to him of a review of the same movie which included many of the criticisms I had offered.
A month later, over lunch, he informed me that he felt I behaved in a rude manner, and that others he consulted had concluded the same. I stated that I had not felt, and do not feel now, that I was rude, that he had asked me what I felt about the movie, that I paid for the film myself, etc.
He said that the sending of the e-mail was not appropriate, whereas I felt it was a thoughtful reminder of where I was coming from, which was not just one man's subjective opinion.
What should have transpired here? I do not feel that I was rude, either by laughing at a movie which required some laughter at it, or by my criticism afterwards. Instead, I feel that he took my criticism of the film itself as a criticism of him having liked it, which I saw as patently internalistic.
GENTLE READER: You and your friend do have much in common, however. Miss Manners notices that neither of you knows when to let something drop.
So you didn't like the movie, and they did. Is this something you had to fight out to the finish? Furthermore, some people like to dissect films, and others just want to be left to enjoy popular entertainment at face value.
Such people should not attend the, ah, cinema together. If you didn't realize the mismatch when the others failed to join in your derisive laughter, you should surely have noticed their reaction to your parking-lot critique.
It was time to stop haranguing them; the e-mail was excessive. Yet to be so offended as to poll others and still be smarting a month later is also excessive.
And now it is time to be big about it and say, "I'm sorry I carried on about the movie," while suggesting you get together again, but for a different sort of entertainment.