Friday, October 17, 2008

Roger Ebert's funniest, sharpest review in a long time....

Roger Ebert has been back as a full-time writer since reviewing Shrek The Third in May of 2007. And while it's great to have him back, many of his reviews have had a certain rote quality. Not bad, but almost like they could have written by many other critics. And he has been sloppy here and there. For example, his four-star Dark Knight review blatantly revealed the climax of the movie and got a key plot detail wrong (that of The Joker's back story about his father being a lie). It's not the first time he has tossed off a film ending spoiler (thank goodness I had seen Frequency at a sneak preview the week prior to opening), but I expect Ebert to get plot details right.

It's a little like seasons 10-15 of The Simpsons or seasons 5-7 of Scrubs... still good stuff, better than most, but far below their own obscenely high standards. Although this probably isn't his fault, the headlines for Ebert's reviews on the Chicago Sun Times page are really terrible. They are on the noise, lengthy, and often juvenile.

Fortunately, I'm not here to complain. I'm happy to report that his review for Sex Drive is a whiff of the ole, a concise, sharp, and hilariously adult and snarky review of a movie that probably doesn't deserve the effort. And, of course, it also gives me a solid idea of whether or not I would like the movie (a good review doesn't just say whether I liked the movie, but whether you would). The second to last paragraph is especially droll, and the final sentence almost feels improvised, if such a thing is possible in the written word. It's the first time in a long time that I have laughed out loud while reading film criticism.

Also of note is his one-star review of Tru Loved, arguably the only film review I've ever read that actually contains a plot twist at the end. Follow that up with his blog entry dealing with certain ethics of film criticism. Enjoy and discuss. It's good to have the most famous and finest film critic in history back in prime form.

Scott Mendelson

PS - Truth be told, the shocking nature of his current appearance is less his slight facial deformity and more the fact that he no longer wears his trademark glasses. It would be like Gene Siskel suddenly sporting a toupee.

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