On the surface, become a professional movie critic may sound like a dream job. It is true that he or she does get paid to watch movies every week, but that's only part of the actual job. A movie critic views movies in the way a restaurant critic views a new restaurant or a travel critic views a new hotel. The product may look promising on the surface, but a critic's role is to provide a brutally honest assessment before the movie is released to a general audience. His or her evaluation of a film is based on a number of elements, including the previous work of the director, the level of acting, the overall casting, the faithfulness to source materials, the editing and the quality of the screenwriting.
A professional movie critic is not obligated to be completely impartial when it comes to criticism of a new film, but he or she should be fair. He or she may not care for horror films, for example, but he or she should be able to tell the difference between a good or bad slasher film about to be released by a studio. Most critics understand that their personal opinions carry a lot of weight with potential ticket buyers, so they make an effort to offer both the pros and cons of the films they review.
Criticizing a movie professionally is not simply a matter of voting yes or no on a new movie release. Sometimes a professional movie critic may have to do a significant amount of research in order to put the movie in a proper context. A very complex movie may need to be critiqued on psychological, dramatic and sociological levels, which means a critic also has to possess very strong analytical and literary skills.
The working conditions for a professional movie critic can be challenging. Movies are often screened in cramped rooms filled with other critics and studio executives. Viewing several films in a single day can also be physically and mentally draining, especially when the critic also has other obligations such as television and radio interviews, newspaper deadlines and personal appearances at film festivals.