Thursday, August 18, 2011

It's a failing of mine that I persist in bringing logic to movies where it is not wanted

I'm a fan of Roger Ebert's movie reviews. I can't remember when I started reading them, but according to Gmail I signed up for his weekly emails* in May of 2006. I know it was sometime back in high school I started reading his reviews because that's when I first heard about IMDB. I would look up movies I had seen, go through the trivia and check out the external reviews. Ebert's were usually at the top of the list. I like his reviewing style. I wish I could review like him. So when Amazon was running a special sale on a number of their Kindle books and Ebert's Your Movie Sucks was on the list for just $1.99, I went for it. Actually it was a friend that told me about the sale and the book, because my love is not really a secret.

Your Movie Sucks, like his earlier book I Hated, Hated, Hated This Movie, is a collection of reviews about the worst movies he saw. I haven't read Hated, Hated but from what I can tell You Suck covers the awful movies that came out since Hated, Hated was published. His positive reviews are good, but he can really let loose when the movie is awful. While I may like reading these reviews, I only read them under a couple circumstances: I don't plan on seeing the movie, I've already seen the movie. I know, it doesn't seem like I'm really getting anything out of the review that way. I'm clearly doing this wrong. But I don't want my experience with the movie to be too tainted by someone else's opinion. So I'll look at his star rating, I'll read the first paragraph, but otherwise I don't want to see the details of why he hated or loved something, for fear I'll spend the movie looking for those items instead of deciding for myself. Luckily the movies in the book fall into those two categories (I've seen or I won't see), so I could just enjoy his exuberance in describing exactly how bad these movies are.

The title of the book was inspired by the movie Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo. A reviewer named Patrick Goldstein wrote a negative review of DB:EG. Can you believe it? Because apparently Rob Schneider couldn't and he took out full-page ads in Daily Variety and the Hollywood Reporter attacking Goldstein for his (fairly tame) review, threatening to beat him up and claiming that his lack of awards** especially his lack of a Pulitzer Prize means he shouldn't be reviewing movies. Ebert responded to Schnieder's ad: "As chance would have it, I have won the Pulitzer Prize, and so I am qualified. Speaking in my official capacity as a Pulitzer Prize winner, Mr. Schneider, your movie sucks." (location 216).

Ebert has a talent for some scathing one-liners and they are arguably the best part of the book, so I figured I'd share a few of them with you:
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. 
The movie [Bride of the Wind] has three tones: overwrought, boring, laughable.  
Charlie's Angels is eye candy for the blind.
I liked his reviews even when I didn't agree with them. I happen to like Wet Hot American Summer but I appreciate the fact that he wrote his review as a song. If you're not really a fan of Ebert, I wouldn't bother with the book. All of the reviews are online so you can get to them without buying this. However, if you are a fan, the book is entertaining and puts some of his best reviews about the worst movies all in one place.

*The emails include the opening paragraph from 3 reviews for current movies and links to the full story. And for whatever reason IMDB has been falling down on getting the links up to his reviews so for the last year or so I usually go through my email to find the review.

**Goldstein has a few awards. I guess you can't be too surprised Rob Schneider didn't check that first.

Title quote from Location 4610, referring to the movie Romeo Must Die.