Saturday, 6 April 2013

Film critic Roger Ebert (1942-2013): master of the howlingly funny critical put-down

‘Just as a bad novel can be made into a good movie, so can a boring movie be made into a fascinating movie review.’
from Roger Ebert’s review of A Taste of Cherry (1997)

How very true. Here’s a selection of Ebert’s wittiest – and cruellest - hatchet jobs, which, as Michael Deacon pointed out in this morning’s Telegraph (here), are no doubt far more entertaining than the films being eviscerated:

Armageddon (1998):
No matter what they’re charging to get in, it’s worth more to get out.

Battlefield Earth (2000):
Battlefield Earth is like taking a bus trip with someone who has needed a bath for a long time. It’s not merely bad; it’s unpleasant in a hostile way.

Freddie Got Fingered (2001)
This movie doesn’t scrape the bottom of the barrel. This movie isn’t the bottom of the barrel. This movie isn’t below the bottom of the barrel. This movie doesn’t deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence with barrels.

Godzilla (1998):
It was the festival’s closing film, coming at the end like the horses in a parade, perhaps for the same reason.

Jason X (2001):
’This sucks on so many levels.’ Dialogue from Jason X; rare for a movie to so frankly describe itself. Jason X sucks on the levels of storytelling, character development, suspense, special effects, originality, punctuation, neatness and aptness of thought.

Little Indian, Big City (1994):
If you, under any circumstances, see Little Indian, Big City, I will never let you read one of my reviews again.

Mad Dog Time (1996)
Watching Mad Dog Time is like waiting for the bus in a city where you’re not sure they have a bus line.

North (1994):
I hated this movie. Hated, hated, hated, hated, hated this movie. Hated it. Hated every simpering stupid vacant audience-insulting moment of it. Hated the sensibility that thought anyone would like it. Hated the implied insult to the audience by its belief that anyone would be entertained by it.

Pink Flamingos (1972/1997):
John Waters’ Pink Flamingos has been restored for its 25th anniversary revival, and with any luck at all that means I won’t have to see it again for another 25 years.

Revolver (2005)
You know when sometimes a film catches fire inside a projector? If it happened with this one, I suspect the audience might cheer.

The Skulls (2000):
The Skulls is one of the great howlers, a film that bears comparison, yes, with The Greek Tycoon or even The Scarlet Letter. It’s so ludicrous in so many different ways it achieves a kind of forlorn grandeur. It’s in a category by itself.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003):
I like good horror movies. They can exorcise our demons. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre doesn’t want to exorcise anything. It wants to tramp crap through our imaginations and wipe its feet on our dreams.

Spice World (1997):
Spice World is obviously intended as a ripoff of A Hard Day’s Night which gave The Beatles to the movies…the huge difference, of course, is that the Beatles were talented — while, let’s face it, the Spice Girls could be duplicated by any five women under the age of 30 standing in line at Dunkin’ Donuts.

The Frighteners (1996):
Last year, I reviewed a nine-hour documentary about the lives of Mongolian yak herdsmen, and I would rather see it again than sit through The Frighteners.

Dirty Love (2005):
Dirty Love wasn’t written and directed, it was committed. Here is a film so pitiful, it doesn’t rise to the level of badness. It is hopelessly incompetent… I am not certain that anyone involved has ever seen a movie, or knows what one is.

Crocodile Dundee II (1988)
I've seen audits that were more thrilling.

Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo (1999)
Deuce Bigalow is aggressively bad, as if it wants to cause suffering to the audience.

Brown Bunny (2003)
I had a colonoscopy once, and they let me watch it on TV. It was more entertaining than The Brown Bunny.

The Twilight Saga: New Moon (2009)
Sitting through this experience is like driving a tractor in low gear though a sullen sea of Brylcreem.

Seven Days in Utopia (2011)
I would rather eat a golf ball than see this movie again.

Masterminds (1997)
I stopped taking notes on my Palm Pilot and started playing the little chess game.

The Hot Chick (2002)
It is too vulgar for anyone under 13, and too dumb for anyone over 13.

An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn (1997)
The only way to save this film would be to trim 86 minutes.

The Dukes of Hazzard (2005)
It's a retread of a sitcom that ran from about 1979 to 1985, years during which I was able to find better ways to pass my time. Yes, it is still another TV program I have never ever seen. As this list grows, it provides more and more clues about why I am so smart and cheerful.

Tommy Boy (1995) one of those movies that plays like an explosion down at the screenplay factory. You can almost picture a bewildered office boy, his face smudged with soot, wandering through the ruins and rescuing pages at random. Too bad they didn't mail them to the insurance company instead of filming them.

Catwoman (2004)
She becomes Catwoman, but what is a catwoman? She can leap like a cat, strut around on top of her furniture, survive great falls and hiss. Berry looks great doing these things, and spends a lot of time on all fours, inspiring our almost unseemly gratitude for her cleavage. She gobbles down tuna and sushi. Her eyes have vertical pupils instead of round ones. She sleeps on a shelf. The movie doesn't get into the litter box situation.

The Village (2004)
To call it an anticlimax would be an insult not only to climaxes but to prefixes. It's a crummy secret, about one step up the ladder of narrative originality from It Was All a Dream. It's so witless, in fact, that when we do discover the secret, we want to rewind the film so we don't know the secret anymore.

The Green Berets (1968)
There is an Irishman named Muldoon, a doubting journalist, a Negro, a little refugee kid with a pet dog, a hard-bitten veteran and the rest of the stock characters who fight every war for us. Everybody is there except the Jewish kid from the Bronx and the guy named Ole with a Swedish accent.

Body of Evidence (1992)
We are asked to believe that Madonna lives on a luxury houseboat, where she parades in front of the windows naked at all hours, yet somehow doesn't attract a crowd, not even of appreciative lobstermen.

I'll end with a question that we've all asked ourselves while sitting through some abysmal turkey or other:

Last Rites (2006)
Was there no one connected with this project who read the screenplay, considered the story, evaluated the proposed film and vomited?

No comments:

Post a Comment