“So, what did you think of Whiplash?”
As a drummer, as a music critic, and as a sometimes curator of great films about music (via the occasional Sound Opinions movie nights), it’s a logical question to toss my way, and I started getting it long before J.K. Simmons took home the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor Sunday night, when the film began its limited art-house run last fall. My answer, then as now:
I hated, hated, hated, hated, hated this movie.
I do not invoke my heroic former colleague Roger Ebert’s infamous assessment of North lightly. While I never discussed that review with him, it should be obvious to anyone who reads it that his problems with the 1994 movie go far deeper than what he calls a lapse in director Rob Reiner’s usual skills as a filmmaker—“To call it manipulative would be inaccurate; it has an ambition to manipulate, but fails”—striking at the core theme that parents should slavishly dote on their child prodigy or face dire consequences.