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Do We Always Have to "Like" the Protagonist?

Discussion in 'Movies' started by JohnRice, Jan 16, 2020.

  1. sleroi

    sleroi Second Unit

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    Gavin Kopp
    "BUT, you specifically stated that Black's portrayal of him, his acting, was "annoying and one dimensional". Not a valid comparison to a well acted character."

    The original post said he hears a lot of criticism of films that there were no likable characters. While there are plenty of films I enjoy with unlikable characters, King Kong came to mind because in this instance that is what I usually tell people is my main complaint.

    I dont like any of the characters, nor their portrayals. And because there is no overarching thematic element, exciting action or anything else to compensate it comes across TO ME that I am watching a bunch of people I dont care about. I dont care if they live or die, what they are feeling emotionally, etc. Etc. And thus I dont like the whole film. (Tino, I did like the Kong vs. two T-rexes fight. The only scene in the movie I liked.)

    So maybe its more that I didnt like the screenplay, direction, acting. But ive also seen plenty of movies with a threadbare plot or minimal direction that ive loved because I like the character(s).

    Im not trying to hijack this thread into a Kong thread, just trying to explain how that particular criticism comes about.
     
  2. Tino

    Tino Executive Producer
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    Fair enough. Different strokes and all.
     
  3. Johnny Angell

    Johnny Angell Played With Dinosaurs Member

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    IMHO Jack Black is a much more greedy and venal character then the original.
     
  4. Tino

    Tino Executive Producer
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    I agree.
     
  5. Johnny Angell

    Johnny Angell Played With Dinosaurs Member

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    I have to agree with Gavin. Black is, IMHO, not very good in the role. I still like the film but it could have been so much better with a different actor.
     
  6. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer

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    I agree with the majority here that you don't have to like the characters. However, you have to be interested in them and their motivations -- especially if you find them unlikable. A good example for me was when I was reading Stephen King's novel "The Dome". I wasn't enjoying the book, but couldn't figure out why. Then it finally hit me -- I didn't like any of the characters in the book, and more importantly, didn't really care what happened to any of them. At that point, I put the book away and never picked it up again.
     
  7. WillG

    WillG Lead Actor

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    I wish they could have found a way to end Falling Down without Douglas being legitimately crazy. Because you’re kind of with him, it’s not hard to relate to and even root for a standard working stiff type who starts fighting back against the indignities of an underprivileged urban life, even if you know he’s not fully in the right morally or legally. But then at the end it turns out “oh he really was an unhinged menace who scared the hell of the people once closest to him” I enjoy the movie but I also find it to be a disjointed experience.
     
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  8. Dennis Nicholls

    Dennis Nicholls Executive Producer

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    I can't imagine why nobody has mentioned little Alex in A Clockwork Orange.
     
  9. Walter Kittel

    Walter Kittel Lead Actor

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    Sheesh, A Clockwork Orange is easily in my top ten favorite films of all time. I'm know I'm getting older, but damn. :) Excellent choice, Dennis.

    The mention of little Alex reminds me of another very flawed protagonist... Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver.

    - Walter.
     
  10. MartinP.

    MartinP. Screenwriter

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    Protagonists don't have to be likable, but you should be interested or have some stake in what they're up to. You might want to find out if they get away with something, perhaps, or if they get caught. What happens may or may not satisfy you, which will then influence how you judge the film.

    The film Marriage Story, for example, sets the two leads up as nice enough people who decide to get a divorce, but want it done amicably. It doesn't turn out that way for a lot of reasons. I found myself wondering why I wanted to see two people that I had no reason to side with one or the other, go through this. If one was despicable or something, I could take sides.

    In the simplest of terms, a protagonist wants something, has a goal, and the antagonist helps them get it or foils them.
     
  11. Jake Lipson

    Jake Lipson Lead Actor

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    I don't think we have to like them necessarily, but there has to be a reason for you to want to watch what they are doing so that you stay engaged and don't turn the movie off.

    Joker is a good recent illustrative example. You cannot root for that guy. The stuff he ends up doing in that film is abhorrent. But the movie was fascinating to watch because it made you understand his motivations, even when he was doing terrible things to almost everyone else in the film (with a couple exceptions.) I don't like Arthur Fleck, but I was invested in watching his story unfold.
     

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