Most helpful critical review
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Hit and miss
on June 12, 2003
This book, as the title makes clear, is a compilation of reviews for some really bad movies. The only problem is, Roger Ebert isn't the best man for this particular job. If anything, he's simply too "good" of a critic to really delve into the joy of trashing some of the worst movies of all time. He's like a distinguished restaurant critic who's been asked to review fast food. In short, Roger's too "Old School", too well trained in the art of "conventional" criticism and of seeking out true greatness in films to really appreciate that sometimes there is genius in garbage.
That said, he does get in his shots, especially at movies he finds morally repugnant. I've never seen "I Spit On Your Grave", but to hear him relate how a certain middle aged pervert actually cheered on multiple rape scenes in the theater while he watched it is to get a grasp on the potential for movies to feed diseased and sick minds. His review of "Caligula" is almost perfect, it ends with a quote from a a woman who stated simply that it was "The worst piece of s*** I've ever seen". And finally, in his review of "The Doom Generation" he quite rightly attacks the whole "Detatched Irony" attitude of modern filmmakers who give us scenes of nihilistic violence then try to pretend they're "above" their sordid material. There are plenty of movies like this, movies like "Se7en" and "Fight Club" that, once you get past their pretentiousness, are little more than sadism and brutality artfully rendered.
But ultimately, the problem is that Ebert is just the wrong person to undertake this enerprise. He just has too much respect for truly good movies to invest a whole lot of effort and thought in reviewing the bad ones. And most of these movies are eminently forgettable anyway. A project like this is more suited to the likes of Joe Bob Briggs, a man who revels in low budget trash with a heart, movies like "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre", and who can reach an audience that loves "movies so bad, they're good". Ebert couldn't understand why a movie like "Death Race 2000" could become a cult favorite. It's sadistically violent, and stupid. Joe Bob (and millions of fans worldwide) would agree, but also see the movie as being the live action version of the old Bugs Bunny and Roadrunner cartoons. In short, it's so stupid it's brilliant. It's that very spirit that Ebert fails to grasp in his review of history's most notoriously bad movies.