Jon in Theory: What Makes a Movie Character Likable?

Have you ever heard a film critic or general film-loving person tell you the characters in a movie were “likable?” I’ve done this too many times to count in reviews and podcasts, but what does it really mean? What do different people mean when they invoke “likable” characters?

I’m not sure if I thoroughly tackle the topic, but hopefully this quick recording lays out a guideline for how I think we should talk about movie characters in ways that are more useful for others. Whether you’re talking to a coworker about the latest Marvel movie or writing a think piece about Midnight Cowboy (which, admittedly, has some seriously unlikable characters).

My main point, which goes beyond general film discourse, is to stop assuming people understand what you mean when you say something that’s commonly said. This applies to basic communication on a whole range of topics, but when recommending a film or telling people what you dislike about a film, this can be especially useful to keep in mind. We all want to be likable ourselves, right?

Hope you enjoy the video, and you can find the Twitter thread I mentioned right here, as well as the video essay thread I brought up and the Marvel Symphonic Universe video.


 

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