Comedian-scribe Steve Tatham has tackled a worthy, if elusive goal; take the info from a Leonard Maltin-type guide to films and punch it up with attitude and humor, while matching real video-hound needs with appropriate film choices. The result is this hefty tome broken into sections like “Feeling Romantic,” “Feeling Your Age,” Feeling Kinda Gay” etc.
These sections are broken into subsections like “We’ll Always Have Paris” and “Pity Party: The Tear Jerkers.” Sometimes the section titles are funnier than the entries, but Tatham’s aiming for middle-brow movie fun, not Cahiers du Cinema profundity.
Is the book useful? Sure, if you’ve ever gone to the video store stumped for the perfect title for the mood of the moment. Is it sharp? Sporadically, but that’s tolerable because most of Tatham’s descriptions are one-liners, so there’s no huge investment of time. When he hits, as in “Thelma and Louise” (“If this were a song it would be the Feminist National Anthem”), he takes a perfect snapshot that is both insightful and helpful as you scan those towering video racks.