Saturday, August 2, 2014

A Website that Became a Book

Four Word Film Reviews - The Book by Benj Clews and Michael Onesi (et.al.)


I love movies, and I also enjoy reading on-line movie reviews, whether they are on IMDb or by some reputable, well-know film critic. Heck, I even write them myself. But sometimes I like to have a reference book at my side so when something shows up on TV that I'm unfamiliar with, I can quickly get an idea if I should change the channel or keep on watching. To do this on-line means getting up from my comfortable couch and doing an Internet search - such a bother! In addition, some of the reviews go on forever, and who has time for that when the opening credits are already rolling? For these reasons, I've been known to buy books like Leonard Maltin's Movie Guides, and have never regretted any of those purchases. However, sometimes I do find the print in these books to be a touch small (these old eyes aren't getting any younger). Finally, some of these reviews are far too serious, and I'm a fun-loving girl.

So what's the solution? What if I told you there's a book available that will not only give you really, really short film reviews, but will also make you laugh? It is Four Word Film Reviews and it came out of the website of the same name. Okay, I'll admit, I do have a vested interest in this book. This is partially because as an active member of the site and some of my own reviews are included here. But all prejudice aside (and no, I'm not going to get any royalties for my contribution), I think both the site and the concept are both pure genius, and here's why.

To start with, the physical book itself is a plain, unobtrusive looking thing in black, white and gray, and while it hardly looks like a coffee table book, it probably will end up there. Inside you'll find out all the background of the site and the book, but mostly you'll get lots and lots of Four Word Film Reviews. The films reviewed here have been placed in ten different categories, including action, comedy, animation, horror, silent films and more. Within each chapter, the movies included are listed alphabetically, along with the year they were made (since we know that remakes happen). Each film has a short blurb, mostly to help the readers "get" the reviews that are listed below. You'll find that all the movies will have a minimum of four reviews (which furthers the "four" theme). Obviously, there were some movies that inspired a glut of really great reviews, so they have more representation than others, but that only seems fair. Finally, if one of the reviews included gives away part or some of the ending, there is a spoiler alert notice. Personally, I've never been able to look away when I saw these, but for those with more self control than I, you'll be glad to know it's there.

There are a couple other things with this book that make it even more fun than just listing of a bunch of funny reviews. Like the four-word chapter headings such as the one for science fiction films of "Use the Fours, Luke." Another bonus here is that there's a game here as well. At the bottom of every other page, you'll find "guess the movie" with one of the sites reviews below that. On the following page, printed upside-down, you'll find the answer! Finally, just for the fun of it, on some pages you'll find have graphic watermarks that are relevant to the films on the page.

You can see there's a lot more than just a bunch of phrases going on here. What's more, if you buy this book, you'll be promoting a phenomenon that just doesn't happen much these days - that is, getting a real life book that came out of a website. That alone should be something that piques anybody's interest - if only for its novelty factor. More importantly, these reviews are really very funny, and I mean laughing out loud funny or major groaning over a pun. Of course, I'm thrilled that some of my own reviews appear here (the first of which is the last one on page 5), but since we contributors are only credited at the end, and not with each review, some of the fun for me will be in finding where else I'm represented. But more than anything it's fascinating to see how clever some of these reviews are, and that all this wit and intelligence is bundled up into reviews that are only four words or less.

In sum, this is truly a fun book to have that is sure to fascinate and bring you hours of enjoyment, even if you've never visited this acclaimed website. I'm proud to have been even a small part of this effort, if for no other reason than we all need something to bring a smile to our faces in this too troubled world. Who knows, but this book could inspire you to start writing some four word film reviews of your own, and then your reviews could be in a future edition! 


"Four Word Film Reviews"
is available from Amazon US, Amazon UK, Barnes & Noble, Kobo Books (USA, Canada & Australia), iTunes, The Book Depository (free worldwide delivery), new or used from Alibris or Better World Books. (A version of this review originally appeared on {the now defunct} Yahoo! Voices on July 17, 2010.)

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