Oscarwatchers generally don’t have much love for the MTV Movie Awards.  And hey, when Twilight and High School Musical 3 dominate the list of winners, it isn’t hard to feel that the distaste is warranted.  But I actually have a lot of respect for the MTV Movie Awards and think they have something to teach the Academy:  It is OK to be passionate about movies.

I certainly hope members of the Academy like movies, but sometimes I’m left with the impression that they don’t really love films.  Oh, sure, they may wax rhapsodic about cinema, but can you imagine very many of them waiting in line for a midnight screening of something?  Say what you will about Twilight and HSM3, but they inspired mass hysteria in a pretty sizable chunk of moviegoers.  That shouldn’t be a bad thing.  No one is suggesting the Oscars should switch to fan balloting or only nominate movies seen by lots of people.  But how many people loved Frost/Nixon or The Reader?  The fact that you are coming up with a name for each only proves my point.  The Dark Knight met with riotous fan approval, but also near-universal acclaim.  It shouldn’t have been punished because its supporters were loud.

The MTV Movie Awards recognize that movies are allowed to be fun.  Comedic Performance gets its own category, but comedies are sprinkled throughout the nominations, including Role Models, Baby Mama, and Pineapple Express.  Even if you disagree with the choices, it is nice to see someone saying it is OK to laugh.  Similarly, the MTV Movies Awards is perfectly OK with action films receiving nominations in all categories, not just tech ones.

The Academy tends to be very rigid about its categories, only rarely adding or removing one, where the MTV Movie Awards is more OK with tailoring the awards to the movies eligible to nominated.  But I think this flexibility gives the latter a leg up in terms of acting performances.  The MTV Movie Awards has Male/Female Performance, Male/Female Breakthrough Performance, Villain, and Comedic Performance, where the Oscars obviously have Male/Female Actor and Male/Female Supporting Actor.  Both groups take a far from sacrosanct view of the categories (witness the shenanigans with Kate Winslet in the Oscar categories or how some HSM stars end up in Performance and others in Breakthrough Performance).  But the MTV Movie Awards are pretty open about it, and their categories allow enough breathing room to allow everyone to be nominated who should be, and no haggling over what counts as a supporting performance.

Finally, the MTV Movie Awards is a fun show.  I don’t love everything about it, but I appreciate that they don’t take themselves so darn seriously.  They shill for movies (like the previews for upcoming films) or products (like Orbit and the WTF Award), but then joke about it.  Plus, is it really wrong to pimp a movie like Transformers 2 or New Moon when pretty much everyone in the audience is clearly excited for it?  The show maintained a good pace, mixed in music and skits, and namedropped plenty of celebrities in attendance.  Most importantly, though?  People enjoyed it.

Some thoughts on the actual proceedings:

The banter between presenters really needed some rewrites.  Too many jokes fell flat…Andy Samberg was a decent host, even if he faded to the background too often and I felt his contributions weren’t as funny as I was expecting.  I wasn’t a huge fan of the opening short or monologue (even if I did love that Taylor Swift and Aziz Ansari got involved)…Popcorn Man!…when Megan Fox and Michael Bay presented an award, someone yelled out, “I love you, Michael Bay!”  I’m 98% sure it wasn’t me…When Robert Pattinson accepted the Best Fight award with Cam Gigandet, one of the first people he thanked was his stunt double and named him.  Classy move.  Indeed, I was struck by how many of the relatively young stars, like Zac Efron, managed to appear humble…I enjoyed the Cool Guys Don’t Look Back at Explosions song, even if I didn’t think it was all that funny.  Which maybe had something to do with Will Ferrell being involved.   The J.J. Abams keyboard solo was great…The funniest banter may have been when Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds were presenting Best Kiss.  Bullock was noting how there were two male on male kisses nominated and said something along the lines of, “If you want to win one of these awards, Ryan, you should consider kissing a dude.”  Reynolds responded, “Well, I kissed you, so…”….I liked the Taco Bell commercial where people came up with their own lyrics to the Pina Colada Song, Rupert Holmes rocks…Leann Rimes and Chris Isaak singing “Jizz in my Pants” and “I’m on a Boat” respectively was OK, even if I think it kinda missed.  But getting Forest Whitaker to sing “Dick in a Box” was fantastic…Two things near the end were quite brilliant.  When Ben Stiller received the Generation Award, they had Zac Efron, Triumph, and Kiefer Sutherland present it, doing a parody of the ridiculous way the Oscars handled the acting awards this year.  Went on too long, but was right on the money.  And second was a Samberg short of Doubt for the Sega Genesis.  The sound effects was superb…The worst moment was, unsurprisingly, Danny McBride and Will Ferrell presenting an award.  They made a joke about euthanizing cats…There’s been some controversy over whether Eminem’s reaction to Bruno’s rear end being dropped in his face was real or not.  Have to say, I really don’t care…And finally, as staged as everything else was, Kristen Stewart dropping her award just made everything seem so real.

Nominees I love: “The Wrestler”, The Wrestler; Christian Bale, The Dark Knight; Robert Downey, Jr., Iron Man; Amanda Seyfried, Mamma Mia!; Kat Dennings, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist; James Franco, Pineapple Express; Steve Carell, Get Smart; Angelina Jolie and James McAvoy, Wanted (Best Kiss, and seriously, I didn’t love the movie, but that should have won); Seth Rogen, James Franco, Danny McBride, Pineapple Express (Best Fight, also should have won); Everything in the WTF category