Warning: The following might have been written with tongue firmly in cheek.

Recently, when a few critics offered mixed reviews of Fireproof, someone responded by saying,

Ultimately, it is the people who aren’t paid to review films who will determine the success and value of the movie. Judging from the ratings and reviews of it online by ordinary people, Fireproof is a clear winner.

I was reminded of this when I discovered that Beverly Hills Chihuahua is, for the second week in a row, the most popular big-screen choice among “ordinary people” in the United States.

So… who needs critics, when the majority sends such a clear signal of what is honorable, excellent, and worthy of praise?

Okay… let’s allow for the possibility that perhaps American moviegoers were fooled by a handsome marketing campaign that led them to believe they would get ten dollars’ worth of excellence from the dog movie. Or perhaps they’re worn out with the worrying headlines, and wanted to go see something frivolous, something that would turn their brains off.

Let’s give Americans a second chance to find “a clear winner.” What was the second-place selection at the box office this week?

Why the choice is obvious: The R-rated horror-and-shlockfest Quarantine!

I’m confident that certan Christian media pundits will point to the box office success of Beverly Hills Chihuahua as more evidence that what Americans really want is “good, clean, family fare.”* What they won’t mention is that Quarantine, a film that they’ll condemn as further evidence of our societal corruption, opened higher than such “wholesome” choices as The Express and City of Ember.

Meanwhile, I just received this note from a reader:

Beverly Hills Chihuahua is the most popular movie in the country. I want a new country.

Aw, what an elitist!

(By the way, in all seriousness, I don’t mean to imply that Beverly Hills Chihuahua is a complete waste of time. Chances are that I’ll see it someday, as I have a lot of air travel in my future, not to mention my 22 nephews and nieces who watch a lot of DVDs. And heck, it’s getting a 43% approval rating at Rotten Tomatoes… equal to that of Fireproof! I’m sure that both of them are not only successful, but valuable in one way or another. I only mean to question whether it’s really so simple as to say that critics are elitists and unnecessary, and that we can trust our neighbors to point us to what is best in the world.)

*Update: “Dr.” Ted Baehr welcomes Chihuahua, giving it FOUR STARS! “Media-wise viewers will want to take advantage of a good, clean movie that’s well made.”

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