San Francisco Chronicle film editor Mick LaSalle recently wrote: “movies and theater, at their best, are equally great. But at their worst, theater is much worse. This is why: When a movie is bad, it’s usually because it’s imitative. It’s cheap. It’s trying to please in obvious ways and not succeeding. When theater is bad, it represents the collective effort of people to say every single thing they’ve ever wanted to say. It doesn’t try to please an audience; it begs the audience’s indulgence. Bad theater assumes that sincerity gives it the right to bore an audience to death for 2½ hours.”
I quote him only in order to disagree, and to express my long-held personal view of the difference between the two media. I have always found films to be entertainment first/about something second, and theater to be about something first/entertainment second.
And, although the hundreds of movies I’ve seen in my life don’t match Mick’s output from last year, I must say I’ve seen a lot more rotten film than rotten theater. Ask me to gamble on an unknown movie versus an unknown play, and I’ll pick the play every time.