They weren’t in the Sunday papers, but I was tipped off that two-time Whore of the Year recipient, Earl Dittman, was out pimping for 88 Minutes in the television ads.
It took a few days, but sure enough there he was calling it "sensational" and a "must see" giving it 4 stars.
Oh, but what’s this? He’s not alone. There’s 2008’s rookie whore of the year, James Thomas, saying that "Al Pacino is electrifying."
So here you have a movie completed way back in 2005 with an electrifying movie star, released a full year ago overseas and widely found for download over the internet. Variety’s review called it the worst film of Pacino’s career (yes, even Revolution) and seven of the nine current reviews at Rotten Tomatoes are negative. (One of the positives belongs to one of last year’s "whores to watch", Prairie Miller.)
But there’s Dittman and Thomas, up front and personal, giving it their full recommendation (each their fifth of 2008.)
Here’s the intriguing thing though. While Dittman has put his stamp of Penelope and Never Back Down and Thomas’ lineup includes Over Her Dead Body and 10,000 B.C. (13% & 9% RT approved, respectively), their other three recommendations are I-dentical. And they are all for the specialty divisions of Sony Pictures. Both are down for Screen Gems’ First Sunday and Untraceable and they are now showing their love for Tri-Star.
Does anyone imagine seeing Dittman and Thomas arrive at these screenings joined at the hip Requiem for a Dream-style?
DITTMAN: "It’s hip…and…hilarious…"
THOMAS: "The first laugh-out-loud comedy of the new year."
DITTMAN: "An electrifying, cat-and-mouse thriller."
THOMAS: "Untraceable is the Silence of the Lambs for the internet age."
DITTMAN: Sensational…****…A must see.
THOMAS: "Al Pacino is electrifying."
Film Title: The Ruins
Released by: Paramount
Tomatometer: 36% (as of Apr. 5, 2008)
The Ruins is the 12th film this year that the studios withheld from the press in 2008. The other ten are: In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale, Meet the Spartans, Rambo, The Eye, Strange Wilderness, Step Up 2 the Streets, Witless Protection, Doomsday, Shutter, Tyler Perry’s Meet the Browns and Superhero Movie. Chances are if you were invited, it was to a 10 PM screening on Thursday night. While reviews haven’t been stellar, Paramount/Dreamworks may have dropped the ball on letting critics see this. Oh wait, they did let a few. At least horror sites Bloody-Disgusting and Shocktilyoudrop got previews early enough to have quotes in the film’s ads as early as this past Tuesday.
"Intense, Disturbing, and gut-wrenching." – Brad Miska, Bloody-Disgusting
"A nightmarish spectacle. It’s a true original." – Ryan Rotten, Shocktilyoudrop.com
Granted, The Ruins is hitting 36% currently at Rotten Tomatoes (higher than ANY of the previous 10 non-screened titles this year) - but that’s still only with 25 reviews while Clooney’s Leatherheads is pulling a 54% with 105 reviews. I love a good horror film as much as the next guy, but I tend not to take the advice of the hardcore (and sometimes exclusive) horror geeks. Many believe they have some further insight into the genre they love so much, when mostly it’s just overt enthusiasm in hoping to prop up the films that generally get nothing but scorn from the critics at large. A bad film is still a bad film though and us perceived snooty critics will support horror when it works. (May I remind everyone that Slither got an 84% RT rating - and I recently sent out an e-mail telling colleagues how much I actually enjoyed the straight-to-video Wrong Turn 2.)
The Ruins is ultimately a failure and a disappointment considering how relentless the book was. (What’s the point of rationing stuff if you’re not going to play it out to its dwindling necessity?) It has its moments but Carter Smith was NOT the right director for the project and The Ruins is a story that absolutely depended on a director who could deliver a 90-minute B-picture that would beat the audience into submission once it got going. Never really happens. But that doesn’t mean that the studio should have held the film from us. As colleague Brian Tallerico told me last evening, "A horror film with a 30%+ rating at Rotten Tomatoes gets me excited."
Rambo will probably in the long run win the dubious title of highest critic percentage on non-screened titles for the year, but The Ruins is going to be up there. The studios usually tend to know when they have a crapburger on their hands, but considering they screened First Sunday, Untraceable, Over Her Dead Body, College Road Trip and 10,000 B.C. in enough time for Friday opening reviews (all films that haven’t hit 20% at RT), The Ruins deserved more of a chance than it got. It’s certainly better than the shit set to top the box office for the second straight weekend. And you can double down on that!
Film Title: Leatherheads
Released by: Universal
Tomatometer: 56% (as of Apr. 4, 2008)
Respected Critics Say:
“Leatherheads is laid-back, amiable and terminally tepid.” – David Ansen, Newsweek
“Leatherheads labors so strenuously to approximate some of the old screwball spirit of the ’30s and ’40s that it winds up in traction.” – A.O. Scott, New York Times
“There’s a flatness about the whole enterprise — like drinking champagne, but from an old house slipper.” – John Anderson, Washington Post
What I said:
“It seems as if the MPAA unfairly upped a clear "PG" movie into a "PG-13". But adding numbers can’t even the score on the edge that Leatherheads lacks in the sharpness of its humor delivery and the hits on the field.” - Erik Childress, eFilmCritic.com
Seen On Newspaper Ads:
"Clooney throws us a rowdy party of a movie." – Peter Travers
"Smart!" – Sandie Newton
"Charming!" – Andrea Vecchio, NBC-TV (WKYC)
"A real treat." – Jim O’Brien, ABC-TV
"Witty!" – Rusty Gatenby, ABC-TV
"Original. Pure fun!" – Rachel Smith
"Funny! A winner!" – Mose Persico
Leatherheads certainly isn’t getting horribly reviewed. It’s pretty close to split right down the middle. Just not enough to hit the "fresh" mark on Rotten Tomatoes (which is 60%.) Universal clearly had a tough time getting the cream of the crop to say anything nice about the film though and they had to go into their daisy chain of whoredom to throw out such insightful comments on the ads today.
There’s ol’ Travers on his two-quote-a-week minimum (he’s also the solo performer on Shine a Light Friday). I don’t know how a film that purports to be "screwball" and yet is so lethargically passive can be described as a "rowdy party." But I guess "lethargically passive" wouldn’t really get your name in the papers. There’s Sandie Newton & Andrea Vecchio, who among their brief appearances in 2007 dropped their panties for Universal’s Evan Almighty. Welcome to the 2008 party Mose Persico! It’s your first quote of the year!!! Took you longer than it did last year when you whored up for Universal in January for Smokin’ Aces. The last film Mose called "a winner" by the way - The Game Plan.
Film Title: Drillbit Taylor
Released by: Paramount
Tomatometer: 24% (as of Mar. 22, 2008)
Respected Critics Say:
“Because the filmmakers plant their laugh-generating derrick over the same comic well that’s been pumped out twice before, Drillbit Taylor hits a dry hole.” – Larry Ratliff, San Antonio Express-News
“With ‘Drillbit Taylor,’ however, Apatow hands the reins over to his protégés and replaces his delicate balancing act with a steep, sudden fall.” – Dan Lybarger, eFilmCritic
“I’d call it a pointless endeavor, except now we might finally be able to pinpoint the source of Wilson’s recent depression.” – Pete Vonder Haar, Film Threat
What Roger Moore said at Rotten Tomatoes:
“Movies such as this remind us that Owen Wilson is nothing less than a national treasure.” - Roger Moore, Orlando Sentinel
But we’re not here to talk about Roger Moore. Although that quote at RT was too precious to ignore from that tool. It actually began with seeing Shawn Edwards as the sole quote provider on Friday’s newspaper ads for Drillbit. "Awesome! The freshest and funniest comedy in a long time," said 2007’s Whore of the Year taking in his 8th quote of the year. (His 9th is right around the corner with next week’s Stop-Loss which he calls "honest and brave." Currently 76% of quoted critics are in direct opposition with the guy who called another Owen Wilson film "refreshingly funny." (That would be 2004’s Starsky & Hutch.) But there was something far more disturbing in store for us on Saturday’s ads.
"Big laughs with a lot of heart." – Pete Hammond, Boxoffice.com
PETE HAMMOND IS BACK??? You can almost here Harry Potter saying those words at the end of the Goblet of Fire. Sure, he’s already been quoted on two other ads this year. One, for Charlie Bartlett, could be attributed to that film being screened for him when he was pimped out by Maxim last August when it was originally supposed to open. But forget all that. Boxoffice.com? Most websites would want to up their profile as opposed to inviting national scorn from respected critics and net-savvy bloggers. Why in Sam Hell would you want to invite this guy to be writing film reviews for you? From what I can tell you have a pretty decent set of critics over there. Certainly a lot more objective than the cash prospective reviews of Variety, which Hammond already blogs for.
A quick look at the films of March you have reviewed on your front page and Hammond already has two four-star (out of five) reviews for Drillbit and Horton Hears a Who? but also a three-star review for the unscreened Doomsday (which I will also admit a certain guilty pleasure for.) But one guilty pleasure doesn’t make up for three-and-a-half years of fluffer quotes for all films good and bad. To the editors of BoxOffice.com - save yourself now before Hammond grows out of control again. We’ve had a good thing for the first three months of 2008 with only three Easy Petey sightings. We need to get our focus back on Shawn Edwards and shame him out of existence.
Film Title: Jumper
Released by: 20th Century Fox
Tomatometer: 16% (as of 15 Feb 2008
Respected Critics Say:
“A herky-jerky mess of a movie, Jumper leaps about so erratically you get the feeling bent pogo sticks were employed in the editing room.” – Tom Long, Detroit News
“This movie is paced for an audience that grew up multi-tasking and its aesthetic sensibility and depth of story-telling is equivalent to a beer commercial.” – Nell Minow
“Expect critics to make a lot of ‘we wish we could have teleported right out of cinemas showing it’ remarks…” – James O’Ehley, Sci-Fi Movie Page
What I said:
“A lethargic, incomprehensible event picture that is the action film equivalent of Phil Collins’ Take Me Home video.” - Erik Childress, eFilmCritic.com
Seen On Newspaper Ads:
“It’s Bourne meets The Matrix" – Total Film!
“This movie rocks!” – Stephen King
“Like nothing you’ve seen before!” – Anne Craig, Good Day NY
This can’t be the same Stephen King who called No Country for Old Men the best film of 2007, can it? Was he hit by another car?
Actually, we’ve seen a lot of bad films released by Fox over the last few years, so Anne we have seen such crap before. And often.
Taking Leia's gold bikini a step too far, don't you think?
Film Title: Fool’s GoldReleased by: Warner Bros.
Tomatometer: 11% (as of Feb. 8, 2008)
Respected Critics Say:"It was co-written by the authors of "Anaconda 2" and the director of "Hitch" and the Drew Barrymore version of the Amy Fisher story and even by those less-than-robust standards, they are playing well below their respective high-water marks" - Peter Sobczynski"There’s more continuity in an episode of Teletubbies." - Phil Villarreal, Arizona Daily Star"I can’t imagine why on Earth anyone would want a movie to fail so spectacularly on every level — perhaps there’s some sort of tax shelter thing involved, or a Springtime for Hitler scam scenario — but here it is." - MaryAnn JohansonDefinite Quotewhore Sightings: (5)"Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson are this generation’s most engaging on-screen couple." – Shawn Edwards
"Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey light up the big screen in the first great romantic comedy of the year." – Heather Newgen, Comingsoon.net
"Everything a romantic comedy should be!" – Mark S. Allen
"The adventure comedy is back!" - Mark Seman, Sirius Satellite Radio
"Solid gold fun! Fool’s Gold will make you feel like you’re on vacation!" – Mark Hyman, FOX-TV
Shawn Edwards is on two ads this week, getting in on all the milky-white fun with two of the whitest people in America to counter his unsurprising love of the African American non-laughfest, Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins.
If this is what Mark S. Allen believes is "everything a romantic comedy should be" then I’d love to see him in a symposium putting Fool’s Gold up there with the likes of The Apartment, Jerry Maguire, and His Girl Friday.
And are the Warner Bros. marketing people really serious in trying to sell us a film by using critics named Hyman and Seman? Mr. Mark Seman, you may remember from being the standout critic on the ads for last year’s glorious romantic comedy, Good Luck Chuck, with Dane Cook and Jessica Alba - certainly a pair that should be in the running for this generation’s most engaging on-screen couple if McConaughey and Hudson are (and they aren’t).
Poster blurbs from Seman and Hyman? I guess Philip K. Dick was busy.
The last supper?
Film Title: Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins
Released by: Universal
Tomatometer: 36% (as of Feb. 8, 2008)
Respected Critics Say:
"A rancid, unfunny disaster full of embarrassing performances and shamefully simple-minded comic notions." - Eric D. Snider
"If the idea of watching Martin Lawrence getting used and abused appeals to you, then Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins is the movie for you." - James Berardinelli
"One of the absolute worst movies ever produced by the hands of humans…." - MaryAnn Johanson
Definite Quotewhore Sightings: (3)
"Totally hilarious!" - Shawn Edwards
"Hilarious. Laugh out loud funny." - Steve Oldfield
"A family affair." - Greg Russell
Geez, whaddya know; Shawn Edwards liked a film with an entirely African-American cast. Ice Cube, Tyler Perry, The Wayans Bros. - don’t matter, Edwards is there to lend his support. I don’t even know what the hell his one-time co-host, Greg Russell, is saying with his quote that’s splashed on the commercials. Does Universal really think that "a family affair" is going to see people rush out for a ticket?
"Oh my god! It’s a family affair! No, seriously Cindy, the guy in the paper said it’s a family affair! I’m not going to miss THAT on a big screen!"
Steve Oldfield becomes the token white guy at the party, reminding us that laughter is an audible occasion and not the kind of event shared by Seinfeld’s wannabe menage-a-trois partner and Mandy Moore’s guest appearance on Scrubs.
Memo to Shawn Edwards… does having your name on this ad make you proud? When people come out of it saying, "that sucked ASS!", and they walk past the poster and see your name there next to "Totally hilarious!", do you feel honored that they’ll think you a giant douchebag and blame you for their wasted $11?
I Am Sam.
Film Title: I Am Legend
Released by: Warner Bros:
Tomatometer: 68% (as of 4 Feb 2008)
Respected Critics Say: "I liked it better when it was called 28 Days Later." - Duane Dudeck
Borderline Quotewhore Sightings: (4)
"Explosive"- Kirk Vanderbeek, Real Detroit Weekly
"Intense" - Bonnie Laufer, Tribute-TV Canada
"Moving" - Gebbad Hall, Reelz Channel
"Stunning." - David Sheehan
Definite Quotewhore Sightings: (4)
"Magnificent." - Earl Dittman
"Unbelievable. Remarkable…" - Ben Lyons
"One of the greatest movies ever made" - Ben Lyons (again!)
"Dynamic. Exhilarating. Exciting. Entertaining." - Shawn Edwards
"One of the best films of the year" - Shawn Edwards (again!)
"Suspenseful. Gripping. Oscar worthy" - Kelli Gillespie, FOX-TV
I Am Legend marches right into the Criticwatch Movie Hall of Shame for this marketing mess o’quotewhore fluffery. Long time whorebag, Shawn Edwards, doesn’t hold back, dishing out the reacharound to his homeboy Will Smith, and Earl Dittman’s usual multi-line floral bouquet goes missing in favor of the less obvious, but no less incorrect, ‘magnificent’.
But it’s E!’s Ben Lyons who really takes the cake here. Not satisfied with two single-word blurbs that would be almost guaranteed a trailer spot, he goes for the big kahuna of pullquotes - the ‘greatest ever’ line - and Warner Bros, not knowing when to stop puffing up their poster, just goes right along with it.
Here’s a tip, Warner Bros marketers; if it’s too much praise, we know we’re being sold a bill of goods. Next time ask Lyin’ Lyons for something a little less obvious.
Uh.. honey? You have something in your ear.
Movie Title: PS: I Love You
Released By: Warner Bros
Tomatometer: 21% (as of Feb 4 2008)
Respected Critics say: "You could go see P.S. I Love You, or you could hit yourself on the head with a meat mallet." - Andrea Chase
Confirmed Quotewhore Sightings: (2)
"Tis the joy of the season." - Joanna Langfield
"The best romantic comedy in a very long time." - Bill Bregoli
It doesn’t open until Dec. 21, but Warner Bros aren’t taking any chances that negative word might get out, so the TV ads already boast a couple whorebag blurbs for PS: I Love You.
Joanna Langfield gives up some easy cheese with a Christmas riff, but ‘Dollar’ Bill Bregoli really sells the farm with his "best romantic comedy in a very long time" routine.
Seriously? How long does Bill think is a ‘very long time’? Long enough to bake a cake? Long enough to get to the video store and rent any other romantic comedy ever made?
Of course, Bregoli is also a dude who recommended The Heartbreak Kid, No Reservations and Failure To Launch, so it’s not like we couldn’t see him coming.
Welcome to the Hall, PS: I Love You.
Apparently Nicole's rack points due east.
Film Title: The Golden Compass
Released by: New Line
Tomatometer: 41% (as of 4 Feb 2008)
Respected critics say: "The worst crime of a film like this is that not only is it retarded, it expects its audience to be retarded as well." - Walter Chaw
Suspected Quotewhore Sightings: (2)
"A stunning epic. State-of-the-art special effects make this gripping odyssey unforgettable." – Jeanne Wolf
"A visual knockout, extremely captivating and a sci-fi feast." – Roger Friedman
Definite Quotewhore Sightings: (2)
"Beyond spectacular! Transports you to an alternate world of jaw-dropping awe and unforgettable adventure." – Pete Hammond
"The Golden Compass takes its place amongst the great fantasy films of all time. In the tradition of The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia" – Ben Lyons
While most press in the country have already seen The Golden Compass thanks to screenings Monday night, or in some cases even earlier than the national sneak preview on Saturday, New Line somehow allowed the majority of the Chicago press to be relegated to a screening as late as this Wednesday evening, way past most print deadlines and up against other necessary screenings that qualify for Chicago Film Critics Association awards. Real smart, though it didn’t seem to stop the Whores of Quotetania from seeing the film early and giving their big fat thumbs up.
While Pete Hammond was picking his jaw up off the floor, Ben Lyons was creaking open the superlative vault with a ridiculous claim that this is among "the greatest fantasy films of all time."
We suspect maybe Ben hasn’t actually seen any other fantasy films, if he honestly thinks that’s the case. Either that or he’s genuinely insane. Or very, very stupid. Like, ‘walking into walls’ stupid.
Either way, New Line gets a mention in the Hall of Shame for using a couple of hacks like Lyin’ Lyons and Pete "the walking erection" Hammond.