The Popcorn Dialogues project (2010-2012) began as a historical survey of romantic comedy films with the purpose of helping two novelists, Jenny Crusie and Lucy March (aka Lani Diane Rich), better understand what story elements worked and what didn’t in their own writing. The project quickly evolved into a weekly podcast program featuring discussions (sometimes arguments) between the authors and their guests analyzing films, not to review or criticize but to better understand how that story succeeded or failed.

Popcorn Dialogues was intended to be a limited run of nine months, but they learned so much that they made it into a continuing podcast series that ran for two years.

The Pop Rating System

Story ratings were given for both genre (and sometimes more than one genre) and craft using “Pops”. Genre: If it was a comedy, was it funny, truly funny, laugh-out-loud funny? If it was a mystery, was it truly a puzzler, did the suspense work? If it was a romance, did the relationship ring true, was the commitment at the end satisfying and believable? What did this movie teach us about this genre? Story Craft: Was the story well-constructed, the characters drawn carefully and never violated, the conclusion satisfying and logical?

1 Pop = BadThis movie is so badly crafted, it will haunt your dreams and kill your brain cells.
2 Pops = PoorThis movie has a couple of great moments but in general is seriously flawed as a story.
3 Pops = FairThis movie is an okay story. You could do worse.
4 Pops = GoodThis movie is close to perfect but not quite there. Watch it anyway; perfect story is rare and this movie is a lot of fun.
5 Pops = ExcellentThe standard by which all other stories shall be judged.

Note: Sometimes Jenny and Lucy would pan a movie with the phrase “Lord, it wasn’t good,” (aka The Penguin of Disapproval) taken from this Bloom County comic strip:

The PopD Hosts

Jennifer Crusie is the New York Times, USA Today, and Publisher’s Weekly bestselling author of twenty novels, one book of literary criticism, miscellaneous articles, essays, novellas, and short stories, and the editor of three essay anthologies. Find out more about her at JennyCrusie.com.

Lucy March is the pseudonym of bestselling author and award-winning podcaster Lani Diane Rich. You can find out more about Lani at Chipperish.com.