A couple days ago I watched the movie Funny People and was left with this 'blah' feeling when it was over. I was mulling over it yesterday and I figured out what the problem was. I couldn't connect with the main character.
Brief blurb of the movie so you know what I'm talking about:
A successful comedian/actor finds out he's dying, takes some experimental drugs, gets well, gets a second chance at life, and decides to return to his 'roots' of doing stand-up comedy. Along the way he apologizes to people he'd wronged in the past and he contacts an old (married) flame he cheated on twelve years before. Now, he wants a second chance with her. It's a lot more complicated than that, but in a nutshell, that's what happened.
After watching it, I felt like I'd just wasted two and a half hours of my life. It was AWFUL. It actually started out okay, which is the really depressing part. The pacing was slow, but it wasn't an action film so I knew what I was getting into. As I watched it, I kept waiting for this pivotal moment that never came. The main character had so much room for growth, but by the end, he was still the same self-involved asshole he was in the beginning. He slept with this married woman with her kids still in the house. They were in the guest house when they did the deed but still, come on people, that's disgusting! He had no concept what his love-interest was contemplating giving up when she considered leaving her husband, he had no interest in her kids, and I doubted his interest in her other than the fact that she reminded him of a simpler time in his life. Seriously, I could go on for a while about why I detested the movie, but I'm getting to a point.
In books (and movies) I can let a meh plot go and I can even forgive glaring plot-holes (I'm an easy reader in that respect). However, the one thing I need when reading is good characterization. I need to like the main characters. I don't have to like them all the time or even most of the time, but by the end of the book, I want to be rooting for them to get their happily ever after. I should not be voting for them to be kicked off the island. If I don't like them, then what's the point in reading about them?
What are your pet-peeves in books (or movies)? What can you let go and what makes you snap your book shut and vow never to read that author again?