Two Thumbs Up
Josh Larsen '96 adheres to
that trust principle. Since February 2002, he has reviewed movies for Sun
Publications, a chain of primarily weekly newspapers in the western and
southwestern suburbs of Chicago. Trying to be objective in such a subjective
arena can be complicated, but he uses an interesting strategy.
"When people decide to see
a movie, they usually base that decision on their personal tastes," he
observes, "so I try to give them as much information as I can. I don't
see movie reviewers as being equivalent to Consumer Reports, where we try
to sway viewers make a decision on whether or not to buy the film. We want
to inform you about the product so you can make a better decision before
you buy it."
For as long as he can remember,
movie-watching has been a great thrill for Larsen, who grew up in Crestwood,
Illinois. As a student, he wrote reviews for The Regional News, a local
newspaper. While majoring in both English and communication arts, he spent
a semester at the Los Angeles Film Studies Center. He joined Sun Publications
in 1999 as its entertainment editor before becoming the movie critic.
"The College gave me the
freedom to explore where I wanted to be after graduation," recalls Larsen,
who lives in Chicago with his wife, Debbie (Groenewold '96), and daughter,
Adeline. "It helped me find where my interests would lead me because I
was heavily involved in many things. Working for Trinity's campus paper,
The Courier, allowed me to make some mistakes before moving to a real job.
"While in L.A., I learned
the business side of the film industry, but it also convinced me that I
didn't want a career in filmmaking. It's more fun being on this side of
Reviewing movies allows Larsen
to stay connected to the industry without being immersed in it. He watches
four to ten movies in a given week, but he doesn't "grade" them. He sees
himself more as a discussion initiator than an evaluator.
"I try to emphasize the interesting
points of the films instead of critiquing them with a report card, so to
speak," Larsen says. "I don't want to harbor any preconceived notions before
I see them. I want to give the films a chance to make an impression on
me, and then I can develop my opinion.
"You'd be surprised how the
studios try to manipulate the public when they market their films. They
do what they can to get a little extra coverage from movie critics so we
will sell their movies in our print space. I have to be on guard that my
opinion isn't a paraphrase of what the studios may want me to say."
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