Film Title: Speed Racer
Released by: Warner Bros,
Tomatometer: 34% (as of May 9, 2008)
Respected Critics Say:
"135 minutes of noisy, infantile and shockingly boring mind rot that will inspire only partial epilepsy in viewers whose ages remain in the single digits and complete ennui in those who have passed the big 1-0.." - Peter Sobczynski, eFilmCritic.com
" It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that the entire movie was paid for by the makers of Tylenol.." - Scott Weinberg, Cinematical
"At an exceedingly long 135 minutes, the film needs more than what might result from the explosion of a Crayola factory, and Speed Racer has nothing extra to offer — no heart, no excitement, no moments to cherish." - James Berardinelli, ReelViews
What I Said:
"Speed Racer devolves into one of the most painfully ill-conceived borefests to ever grace a summer movie season and an easy candidate of one of 2008’s worst films." – Erik Childress, eFilmCritic.com
That’s what the negative reviews of Speed Racer look like. Critics who don’t like it, REALLY don’t like it. And more sympathetic – I could not be. 34% actually seems high at Rotten Tomatoes with 81 reviews clocked in Friday morning, but the number has been going down day-by-day and will probably be somewhere between 25-30% by Sunday. Possibly, unfathomably, lower than What Happens In Vegas. Warner Bros. is not using any of that 33% though. They have trotted out a lineup of whores like a menu at the Chicken Ranch. Starting with last Sunday’s ads, it seems new ones kept popping up on the TV spots and even more for this weekend’s ads.
"The creators of the Matrix trilogy have revolutionized moviemaking." - Earl Dittman
"Spectacular! Visually stunning. It will blow your mind." – Mark S. Allen
"A spectacular adventure for all ages." – Dean Richards
"A visual masterpiece. Great entertainment." – Janet Stokes
"Beyond incredible. You’ve never seen anything like it." - Bryan Erdy
"One of the most exhilarating movies you’ll ever see." – Jim Ferguson
"It’s the coolest thing I’ve seen." - Carrie Keagan
Bryan Erdy must have been given the Jedi mind trick into thinking he was seeing a Disney film. Dittman has given us some seriously old news and you can read below to find out who Carrie Keagan is. David Poland at MovieCityNews has been pimpin’ this movie since late April. And has been giving them some gem quotes that don’t sound like the crap just above. Now, like anyone who likes this movie I think he was either drunk or a recipient of the McMurphy treatment when seeing it, but why not use someone willing to write thousands of words about your film and continue to defend it then these 15 words-or-less jokers?
This weekend 20th Century Fox, the creators of Meet the Spartans, Jumper, Shutter and Deception is sneaking the latest film from the writer of The Wedding Date. At 10 PM Saturday night you can choose to catch What Happens In Vegas so you can say that you saw it even before the critics; most of whom haven’t been invited until Tuesday morning. (Chicago is even further behind the times with a Tuesday evening screening.) No matter what city you’re in though, there’s no way you can be the first or even the second one in line for the Cameron Diaz/Ashton Kutcher marriage-off. Sorry, Paul Fischer and Sara Edwards have already beat you to the punch. “Hilarious!” says Fischer, getting only his second quote of the year (after Smart People). Edwards is getting her first quote of the year, whipping out a whore’s greatest hits calling it “Laugh-out-loud funny!” and “Sweet, smart, sexy.” Apparently, it “Works on every level.” Wow, Sara! And, of course, we believe you because in the past you recommended we see Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Unaccompanied Minors, Home of the Brave, Stick It and Monster-In-Law. What Happens In Vegas, Sara, stays shut in your unqualified mouth!
Catching up on something I missed in last week’s Chicago papers was the ads for the Robert Englund/Jenna Jameson breastfest, Zombie Strippers. The film got a one-theater engagement in the Windy City and, much to our most pleasant surprise, was actually screened for critics. A pretty hefty accomplishment considering how many already haven’t been this year including the recent Prom Night and Pathology. It’s actually a better film than either of them. But better does not equal good. Certainly not “so hot, it hurts,” as said by No Good TV’s (NGTV) Carrie Keagan (seen right) who also said that 10,000 B.C. “rocks!!” and 27 Dresses gave us “27 more reasons to love Katherine Heigl!” But despite some really horrible taste in film, I’ll at least give her a pass as being the kind of galpal who may force you to go see chick flicks in January but will gladly get it on for a film called Zombie Strippers.
I’m not going to say the same for one Luke Yelasdi Thompson. The L.A. Weekly critic has gone on record in the ad as saying, now stay with me here, that Zombie Strippers is “Easily the best movie of the year, so far. Really.” He even added the “really” before we had a chance to question him. Granted, the film may be rocking more positive reviews (15) at Rotten Tomatoes than 88 Minutes, Deal (still mired in an 0-for-26 slump) and this week’s Made of Honor combined but I’m afraid it’s come to this. Luke, I know we’re facebook friends and I wish you all the best - but you have to give up your credentials. I’m sorry. It may sound rash, but we can’t have a critic saying this. It’s not helping our argument. That’s officially your last review outside the pages of AVN. Carrie, on the other hand, call me sometime. We can go see Sex and the City and then to make it up to me I’m sure Luke can recommend something juicy from Vivid.
Universal this month pulled a very dirty trick on members of the Chicago Film Critics Association and, from what I’m told, some other markets as well. Early reports from colleagues that the studio was going to withhold their latest film, Baby Mama, from online critics until the last possible moment seemed, in a word, silly. Since we know the old-fashioned consciousness about the internet critic are mama’s fanboys in their basements with Jolt Cola I.V.’s connected to their crotches - you can understand their trepidation. After all, why would they be interested in a leading lady MILF who makes constant science-fiction references on one of the funniest shows on television? Silly.
(NOTE: Earlier in the week the Rotten Tomatoes score for Baby Mama was at 90% - 9 out of 10 of those "early reviews" that Universal hoped to avoid by inviting the onliners were positive. Since then, as we get closer to print, the score has dipped to 57% with 8 of the last 11 posted reviews negative. Good call, Universal.)
So, despite having (at least) three confirmed screenings in the Chicagoland area in public theaters with more than enough space to accommodate the membership, more than half of the CFCA were relegated to a screening the night before. And not just online critics. Print and radio were also reduced to this treatment while only a handful of select media were invited as early as April 8 and some were invited to all three (including the 10th & the 17th.) 60 members of the CFCA and, give or take, a third were invited to anything allowing a review before their deadlines.
This is the same studio that screened Forgetting Sarah Marshall at least three times before its opening in the city as well and no one, to my knowledge, was left on the chopping block; a film which got Universal its best reviews of the year - including multiple CFCA members who said it was the funniest movie they had seen so far this year. (I don’t know if its the funniest ever, Mr. Roeper, so let’s scale it back a little - but very funny nevertheless.)
Speaking of chopping blocks, the reason for this lengthy introduction is so we can congratulate Universal for getting precisely what they wanted. Few CFCA members would be so bold as to speak out loud such ostentatious prose for a studio to plaster on the film ads. But WGN Radio’s Dean Richards has let it all hang out and called Baby Mama:
"The freshest, funniest comedy of the year."
WOW! Fresh AND funny? That combo has never been utilized together in film before; and certainly never mentioned here on Criticwatch as the mark of the unintelligible blurb whore. I’m sorry, but this is more embarrassment than anything else. One of Windy City’s own who has done little, if anything, to support the organization, when asked, stays in Universal’s favor by either speaking or e-mailing those words to one of their representatives looking for a reaction to the screening that about two-thirds of his colleagues were denied. How does one sit down to write those words? Is that an honest reaction?
Having not seen the film, I cannot attest to how funny it may very well be. But exactly how fresh is it, four months removed from a year known frequently referred to as the “year of the pregnancy.” Does Knocked Up, Waitress and Juno ring a bell? Baby Mama is about as “fresh” as a Maury Povich episode. But maybe it IS the funniest comedy of the year, but how would I know as I stand with my CFCA brothers and sisters who weren’t invited.
Besides, I have it on good authority from Shawn Edwards that Drillbit Taylor was “the freshest and funniest comedy in a long time.” Good company, Dean.
The latest in a six-week string of films that are coming out without any screenings for critics is Dimension’s Superhero Movie. For those keeping track, dating back to March 14 we’ve had Doomsday, Shutter and Tyler Perry’s Meet the Browns and upcoming we have The Ruins, Prom Night and Pathology. When I opened up the papers on Friday and saw that there were actually quotes for the latest spoof I thought one of two things - either (1) the studio went the lazy, unfunny route with a group of gag quotes from superheroes saying how much they loved the film or (2) Earl Dittman had struck again with another piece of his soul going to the Weinsteins on a film they wouldn’t dare show to legitimate critics.
Turns out I was wrong on both counts. This week’s soul seller got two of the three quotes on the ads. We’ll briefly embarrass Sheila Roberts from Moviesonline.ca for using the ol’ stand-by "Laugh-out-loud funny!" But the other two quotes belong to Steven Chupnick, a whore we spotted last year on Reign Over Me ("Incredible!"), The Condemned ("Non-stop mayhem!"), Hannibal Rising ("An edge-of-your-seat thriller!"), and Mr. Brooks ("Brilliant! Awesome! You’ll be on the edge of your seat!"). Chupnick now is credited with (no joke) JewReview.net which turns out to be neither a joke nor a service for shiksas looking to drive maternal wedges. Billed as the entertainment website for the chosen people, Chupnick’s quotes make it the equivalent of the lineup at the Chicken Ranch. And we’re pointing at you, Steve. Your money is on the night table.
But this week’s "who the hell said that?" quote comes courtesy of no specific voice. Just some idiot who spoke on KOSI 101, Denver (the lite?) I’d like to say that the quote speaks for itself, but can we take a moment to just let that settle in. "Shaun of the Dead meets Wedding Crashers???" I sure hope people aren’t going to be expecting zombies and overrated comedy. Seriously, is this just about the dumbest thing ever said about a movie? Someone figures they have the star of Shaun and the film begins with a shattered wedding (when the groom panics and runs.) There are no flesh-eaters and no one is showing up uninvited to anything. I’d like to offer KOSI 101 a few quotes for some upcoming blockbusters that they may like to use. After all, we don’t want them thinking too much now would we?
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - "Masterpiece Theatre meets Die Hard."
Speed Racer - "The Matrix meets Into the Wild."
Baby Mama - "30 Rock meets Welfare."
Sex and the City - "Whore Meets Cocoon."
The Incredible Hulk - "Hulk Meets Shit"
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?