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The People vs. Roger Ebert, E.O. Scott, et al.

July 19, 2006

In the wake of Pirates of the Caribbean II’s phenomenal box office, there have been a number of pieces (including my own) about the gulf between popular taste and critical preference. The best one I’ve read is this one from the New York Times. (Many thanks to avid MOWC reader Bill Musto for sending me the link.)

The irony is that as much as I know this movie will be trash, I’m going to spend $10 just so I can talk knowledgeably about its shittiness. Sort of like why I tried to read The DaVinci Code. To feed my hate.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Brad Glaser permalink
    July 19, 2006 7:08 pm

    I like A.O. Scott quite a bit and regularly read his reviews, but I have to say that my main reaction to this piece is, “Duh!” Of course critics see movies differently, and for different reasons. Of course some segments of the general population will always critique critics for being out of touch or elitist. Of course blockbuster releases are critic proof. So what? Almost everything in this piece is both self-evident and overtrodden ground. Finally, Scott’s concluding thought, “We take entertainment very seriously, which is to say that we don’t go to the movies for fun. Or for money. We do it for you,” is self-aggrandizing, cloying and, in my opinion, ingenuine.

  2. Phil permalink
    July 19, 2006 7:45 pm

    Kevin Smith just lambasted Joel Siegel in today’s “Page Six”. It’s actually pretty funny so I copied it below.

    July 19, 2006 — DON’T joke about women, donkeys and bestiality if you expect Joel Siegel to watch your movie. That’s what director Kevin Smith found out when the pun-loving “Good Morning America” film critic stormed out of a press screening of Smith’s “Clerks II,” which opens Friday – an act that’s sparked a vicious war of words between the two.
    “Time to go!” roared Siegel to his fellow critics. “First movie I’ve walked out of in 30 [bleeping] years!” His tirade came 40 minutes into the long-awaited Weinstein Company sequel to Smith’s 1994 cult classic about two foul-mouthed Long Island convenience store clerks who razz customers and goof off.

    In the scene that sent Siegel to the exit, the characters graphically discuss hiring a woman to perform sexual favors on a donkey. Siegel told Page Six: “It was so foul and mean and repulsive. I finally realized I could not say anything positive . . . I wasn’t ready for this kind of smut . . . I hope he doesn’t make any more movies.”

    An apoplectic Smith fired back on his MySpace blog: “Getting a bad review from Siegel is like a badge of honor. This is the guy who stole his mustachioed-critic shtick from Gene Shalit years ago, and still refuses to give it back. This is a guy who seemingly prides himself on his own nyuk-nyuk wordplay. For ‘Pirates 2,’ he made us all titter with ‘Yo, Ho, Ho and a Bottle of Fun’ . . . He made us squeal with delight when he wrote, ‘Wheelie Good Time for “Cars.” ‘ I mean, Fozzy [bleeping] Bear laughs at this guy.”

    And there’s more: “I don’t need Joel Siegel to [bleep] my [bleep] the way he apparently [bleeps] M. Night Shyamalan’s, gushing over his flick [‘The Lady in the Water’] before he’s even seen it, but [bleep] man, man – how about a little common [bleeping] courtesy? You never, never disrupt a movie, simply because you don’t like it. Cardinal rule of moviegoing: Shut your [bleeping] mouth while the movie’s playing.

    “I don’t come down to your job and slap the taste out of your mouth for coming up with a line like, ‘ “Shark Tale” Is a Halibut Good Time’ – so don’t [bleep] with my stuff while it’s still screening . . . What are you, a 12-year-old boy cutting loose with your pals at a Friday night screening of ‘Scary Movie’ 4′ while your parents are in a theater down the hall watching ‘The Devil Wears Prada’? Leave the diva-like behavior and drama-queen antics to the movie stars, not the movie reviewer, ya’ rude-ass [bleep].”

  3. July 19, 2006 7:58 pm

    On Opie and Anthony this morning, Kevin Smith was a guest and they called Joel Seigel, who, to his credit, answered the phone and did the interview. And they just reamed him, asking him to resign, asking him how he comes up with all his puns, asking him if his behavior was unprofessional. It was quite amusing.

    But any coverage of Joel Siegel also demonstrates how there are way too many hacks–like him, Gene Shalit and Michael Medved–out there doing just glib, shallow movie criticism. Which makes me appreciate the Owen Gleibermans and Wesley Morrises of the world that much more.

  4. H.I. McDunnough permalink
    July 20, 2006 3:25 am

    Own Worst Critic,

    Will you dare pay $10 to see “Nacho Libre?” Please do so… I am waiting to go head to head with you about how Jack Black is a terrible leading actor. Don’t get me wrong… I love him in supporting rolls (e.g., High Fidelity), but he sucks as a leading roll.

    Come on! When are we going to do battle over this movie? I want to see you support some of those drunken claims you made about Jack Black being a genius.

  5. Phil permalink
    July 20, 2006 11:21 am

    From Kevin Smith’s comments on Opie & Anthony, my favorite part is when he talks about the mustache:

    “You jackass. It was unprofessional,” Smith yelled at Siegel. “If you were sitting there enjoying [Oscar-winning Ray Charles biopic] ‘Ray,’ as you did enjoy ‘Ray,’ and somebody got up and started shuckin’ and jivin’ and talkin’ about how horrible it was, you would write about it the next day going, ‘How could that dude be so disruptive. I’ve never walked out on a movie, how about that? But, if I had walked out on a movie, I haven’t been like, hey everybody, I’m walking out on the movie. Look at me and my mustache! I’m leaving, everybody! That’s not the way to do it.’ “

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