20 years ago they were rival teenage movie critics. So what brings them together now?


Who: Griffin Van Malssen finally got fed up with the movie reviews in the Charlotte Observer. He was getting ready to start seventh grade and he didn’t think Observer critic Lawrence Toppmann understand these movies meant for kids. So he decided to do something about it, which led to the KidFlix movie column.

Joanne Spataro, then 12, finally got fed up with reading KidFlix movie reviews by Van Malssen. So she called the Observer and convinced them to make her the second kid movie critic. And the rivalry was born.

“She was a middle school enemy of mine,” Van Malssen said. “And she didn’t even know it.”

Now, nearly 20 years later, the rivals have become friends and cohosts of the I Was a Teenage Movie Critic podcast.


Van Malssen and Spataro joined us on this week’s CharlotteFive Podcast to talk about their show and their days as move critics.

What: Each episode of I Was a Teenage Movie Critic centers around one of the pair’s reviews. They re-watch the movie before the podcast, read the full review during the show, and re-review the movie now as adults. Episodes have featured “Stepmom,” “RocketMan” and “FairyTale: A True Story.”

Anything else?

– Despite being rivals, Van Malssen and Spataro had never met before last year. But they both stayed close to their movie critic roots — Spataro is a writer (for this site and others) and Van Malssen is a producer at NASCAR Productions.

– The two talk about their favorite movie theaters in Charlotte and the worst movie they had to review.

– And they tell the sad story about how it all came to an end.

– Also on the podcast: We talked about two great trips you can take this Labor Day weekend. And we broke down some of the city’s most popular college football watch parties, so you know where to go to watch your favorite team this fall.

You can find I Was a Teenage Movie Critic on iTunes, Google Play and SoundCloud. Follow the show on Facebook and Twitter.

The CharlotteFive Podcast — presented by The Charlotte Observer and powered by OrthoCarolina — is a weekly podcast that aims to get you Charlotte Smart, Fast with fun, interesting and useful news about the city. It’s hosted by Corey Inscoe and Sallie Funderburk, and produced by Richard Brooke and 2Waves Media.

You can find The CharlotteFive Podcast on SoundcloudiTunesGoogle PlayStitcher and TuneIn. You can follow us on Twitter @Charlotte_Five, on Instagram @cltfive, and on Facebook, and you can shoot us an email to charlottefive@charlottefive.com.

Photos: Courtesy of I Was a Teenage Movie Critic


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