Friday, April 22, 2011

Your Movie Sucks

I was reading David Denby's film reviews in this week's New Yorker and his opening line about Arthur (2011) caught my attention:

"Arthur," a remake of the sloshed "classic" from 1981, has so many things wrong with it that one can only stare at the screen in disbelief.

I was reminded of the famous opening line of Greil Marcus' 1970 Rolling Stone review of Bob Dylan's Self Portrait album:
"What is this shit?"
(It was an awful album. Though it had a few gems buried in the muck.)

Which got me thinking about Roger Ebert's book and ongoing web site section that collects his most brutal reviews: Your Movie Sucks. Critics always seem to save their most entertaining work for the least entertaining films. Here are a couple of excerpts from recent dogs:
"Battle: Los Angeles" is noisy, violent, ugly and stupid. Its manufacture is a reflection of appalling cynicism on the part of its makers, who don't even try to make it more than senseless chaos. Here's a science-fiction film that's an insult to the words "science" and "fiction," and the hyphen in between them.

"The Green Hornet" is an almost unendurable demonstration of a movie with nothing to be about. Although it follows the rough storyline of previous versions of the title, it neglects the construction of a plot engine to pull us through. There are pointless dialogue scenes going nowhere much too slowly, and then pointless action scenes going everywhere much too quickly.

And now I am faced with this movie ("Atlas Shrugged"), the most anticlimactic non-event since Geraldo Rivera broke into Al Capone’s vault. I suspect only someone very familiar with Rand’s 1957 novel could understand the film at all, and I doubt they will be happy with it. For the rest of us, it involves a series of business meetings in luxurious retro leather-and-brass board rooms and offices, and restaurants and bedrooms that look borrowed from a hotel no doubt known as the Robber Baron Arms. . . .

There are conversations in English after which I sometimes found myself asking, "What did they just say?" The dialogue seems to have been ripped throbbing with passion from the pages of Investors’ Business Daily.

There's also a special section called Ebert's Most Hated, which has a number of enjoyable reviews.
I hated this movie (North, from 1995). 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.
I have to say, though, Ebert's never been as gleefully vicious in his reviews as others. He likes too many films, giving some pretty bad movies decent ratings. I mean, he awarded two stars to "Batman & Robin," the 1997 motion picture turd with George Clooney as Batman. Even the teenage boys at IMDB gave it a 3.5 rating.

I've been enjoying the reviews of Andrew O'Hehir at Salon for the last few months. He's a good writer. And he does get gleefully vicious:
"Your Highness" must have seemed like a great idea at the outset -- and by "the outset," I mean the six baked minutes it took co-writer and star Danny McBride to scribble the basic concept on the back of an unpaid invoice from the swimming-pool guy. That basic concept appears to be "Cheech & Chong make 'The Princess Bride,'" or perhaps "Beavis and Butt-head meet 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail.'" Except, two things: Both of those concepts sound way funnier than this movie is in practice and, no, it shouldn't take six minutes to write that. I'm thinking there was a lot of giggling and high-fiving and talking in junior-high Shakespeare accents involved. . . .

Gingival surgery would be more fun than watching this brain-draining, spirit-sucking attempt at a stoner spoof, which combines the cutting edge of frat-boy wit, the excitement of a mid-'80s made-for-TV action flick and the authenticity of a Renaissance Faire held in an abandoned field behind a Courtyard by Marriott. A bus trip from Duluth to Sioux City would be more fun, and don't think I didn't do my research: That takes 13 hours and costs 96 bucks. . . .

For a few hours after having seen "Your Highness," I considered the possibility that it was the worst movie ever made. The image of McBride as the dim, smug and beefy Prince Thadeous, who begins the story as an irritating lardass loser and ends it as an even more irritating hero, was burned into my brain. . . .

Almost a full day of near-sobriety later, "Your Highness" no longer looks like the worst movie in history (although it might make the top 1 percent). . . . It's not a criminal act, exactly, that [Danny McBride] has dragged a once-promising director and several talented co-stars down the cannabis-scented rathole that is this epic, unwatchable disaster. I can only assume that his parents and friends and various other people genuinely enjoy his work as a writer and performer, and do not wish as fervently as I do that he would find some other occupation.
Anyone have a favorite brutal review?

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