"I Hated, Hated, Hated This Movie" has been a perennial favorite book of mine for years. "Your Movie Sucks" is in the same genre, and is as witty as Ebert has ever been. The book is essentially a collection of sub-two star reviews from the last few years, and is both enlightening and funny.
I am a devoted fan of camp, and some of the films in this book sound as if they will definitely fall into that arena. For those of us who value movies so bad they're good, parts of this book read like a shopping list. I am embarrassed to admit that I have seen several of these features, and in each instance of encountering a film I had seen Ebert was both accurate and amusing: his edicts were unerring and frequently hilarious. Fortunately, Ebert not only displays wit, but also good judgment: some of the films in this book are so awful, despair laden, and dark (e.g. "Wolf Creek") as to inspire only genuine loathing. I appreciate that Ebert makes it clear that there some movies so bad as to not be enjoyable on any plane.
These reviews are informative in another way: they inspire critical thinking about films and specifically about what makes a film bad or good. To be sure there are times in the past that I have disagreed with Ebert, and I'm sure if I sat through all the refuse that is this subject of this book, I would find something to disagree with him about here too. Having said all that, regarding the movies I have seen, including the utterly wretched "Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo" which serves as an introduction to the book in one of Ebert's strongest efforts, and "Corky Romano" which I saw in Iceland with Icelandic subtitles (the subtitles were by far more amusing than the movie) Ebert is squarely on target and more generous in his appraisal than I would have been.
This is a great book, and I encourage anyone who loves movies (bad or good) to read it and cherish it.
on April 10, 2007
For years I've wondered if Roger Ebert was going to release another collection of reviews of movies he hated hated hated. Along came "Your Movie Sucks". Ebert has always said that he'd rather enjoy a movie than not enjoy it. "Your Movie Sucks" is over 300 pages of reviews of movies that Ebert had to sit through, and didn't enjoy. Good thing for us, because his reviews of bad movies are entertaining to read. If we tend to watch a film based on a positive review, why do we want to rent films that get hysterically-bad reviews that much more? When "The Village" was originally released in theaters, Ebert's review got me looking online for spoilers to the movie's ending because I was so curious as to what he was referring to. I saved that review (among others) into a document on my computer. Now that "Your Movie Sucks" has been released, I have dozens of my favorite writings by Ebert in a book. One curious omission to "Your Movie Sucks" is "Life of David Gale", which became one of Ebert's most famous and controversial reviews, simply because of the film's last shot. One day I'd like a DVD to be released of Ebert's best moments with both Siskel, and Roeper. Until then, here is another book of reviews that will make you laugh laugh laugh!
on April 29, 2007
It used to be true that a "thumbs down" review for a particular movie by Siskel and Ebert was enough to make me want to see it. And often enough I would enjoy a movie for the very reasons that Ebert hated it, or it would seem to me that he simply could not think beyond his rigid preconceptions about what made an enjoyable movie.
Oddly, though, as I grow older I find myself agreeing more and more often with his assessment of what makes a given movie worthwhile, especially when it comes to the current crop of high concept would-be blockbusters, brain-dead romantic comedies,empty CGI fests and music videos pretending to be feature length films. So am I growing smarter, or is he??
But in any case, one thing was never in doubt - Ebert knows how a write a truly striking review...especially when he thinks a movie sucks. The prose here is to die for - he neatly skewers target after target with epigrammatic precision that would make William F. Buckley or Christopher Hitchens smile in admiration. I kept wanting to call friends up and share especially mordant and snarky passages from YMS with them, but I realized that I soon would exhaust their patience, since I'd be reading practically the entire book, line by line, over the phone. I kept wanting to underline really good quotable passages with a yellow underliner, but I soon saw that the book would soon have more yellow than white.
Etc. If you are a fan of movies, and if you enjoy good writing and well thought out critical analysis that might expand your understanding of storytelling, literature and film, get this book. Even if you disagree with his ratings, you'll learn a lot about why you love movies.
on September 8, 2007
You gotta respect someone that sits through an average of 500 films a year, especially when a huge chunk of those are absolutely dreadful. And when that someone is film critic Roger Ebert you also need to pay attention to what he has to say. As his former reviewing partner, the late Gene Siskel, once stated on The Tonight Show, they watch the good, bad, the mediocre and all the Friday the 13th movies, so they know what they're talking about.
"Some of these reviews were written in joyous zeal. Others with glee. Some in sorrow, some in anger, and a precious few with venom, of which I have a closely guarded supply", Ebert states in the introduction to Your Movie Sucks. This isn't the first time that he's gone to that well: I Hated, Hated, Hated, This Movie (2000)--its title taken from Ebert's review of director Rob Reiner's North (1994)--was his first collection of movie reviews with a rating of one and a half stars or less. The full-on skewering continues on Your Movie Sucks and it sure is fun.
Before jumping into the 175 film reviews from this decade compiled in alphabetical order, Ebert singles out three of them for the book's prologue:
- Deuce Bigelow: European Gigolo (2005), sequel to the contemptible Deuce Bigelow: Male Gigolo (1999). The last three words of the former's review give this book its title and is the funny one among the three in this prologue.
- Chaos (2005), which its producers billed as "the most brutal, horrifying movie ever made" and engage Ebert in an open letter discussion of the movie's merits. "...Ugly, nihilistic, and cruel--a film I regret having seen." A sobering review and exchange.
- Actor/director Vincent Gallo's The Brown Bunny (2004), which after Gallo cuts a half-hour from the original version and has a lengthy face-to-face with Ebert explaining his predicament and the circumstances leading to showing an unfinished film at Cannes, the latter gives the new version a 3 star review. The choice insults and name calling on both sides that precedes this is also included and together with the above titled The Brown Bunny Saga.
Your Movie Sucks is not only entertaining and often funny, but it frequently explains to the layperson why these movies don't work. If you ever walked out of some of these films thinking they just didn't feel right but couldn't really put your finger on it, you're in luck. Of course, the likes of Daddy Day Care, Dirty Love, The Dukes of Hazzard, Scooby Doo, and the inimitable Freddy Got Fingered are way too easy targets. But there are quite a few films that perhaps with a casting change here, a screenplay touch up there, and maybe with a more sympathetic and/or talented director they could've had a decent flick. But they didn't, and we have Mr. Ebert to thank for sitting through them so we don't have to. Then again, some of these films are so unbelievably bad your curiosity may be piqued. (We personally do not enjoy horror/slasher films but plan on seeing the aforementioned Chaos at some point.) Just don't say Roger Ebert didn't warn you.
Roger Ebert, movie critic extraordinaire, is a legend in his own time -- the Dorothy Parker of his age. And, while this isn't his first published collection of reviews, "Your Movie Sucks" certainly has the best title.
As the name implies, "Your Movie Sucks" is a collection of reviews that suggests to the actors, directors and the rest of the movie-making lot, "Gee, fellas, this film isn't quite up to par." Of course, it says it much better, with all the barbed wit and truly educated background that Ebert can bring to the fray. Love him or hate him, he knows his stuff. And he doesn't pull punches; when Ebert likes a movie, he is unstinting with his praise, but when he's not impressed, you might want to check your ego at the door.
Who knew you could get a Pulitzer Prize for reviews?
by Tom Knapp, Rambles.(n e t) editor
Roger Ebert's reviews of bad movies are well worth reading, even if you've never seen the movie, and never want to see the movie that he's reviewing. His humorous zingers and well-aimed sarcastic strikes at awful movie-making are laugh-out-loud funny, and if you've been 'lucky' enough to sit through some of these awful movies you'll appreciate the reviews even more.
For example: I saw Fantastic Four and enjoyed it immensely. Roger didn't. Even though I wouldn't say I agree with his review, I do see his side of the review and recognize that what he says has merit.
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen was one of the most absurd movies I ever had the displeasure to sit through. My friend thought it was good. I was rolling on the floor (metaphorically, not literally) reading Ebert's review that totally backed up my opinion of the movie.
This is a great book to have around the house, but I don't think you should read it in one sitting.
on January 25, 2008
Roger: Your Book ROCKS! This book is for anyone who loves movies--bad movies included. It provides a hilarious, razor-sharp look at some of the movies that make you just shake your head and wonder "how did that clunker get made?" If you're new to the planet and haven't read a movie review by Mr. Ebert, then let me fill you in. Nobody does it better. I became hooked on Roger years ago after reading his review of Lethal Weapon II (which he gave a good review to). After reading all the mainstream critics reviews and hearing how the movie lacked this and that, I finally saw a reviewer that felt an action picture deserved some praise and wasn't afraid to say it. From that moment forward, I was a fan. I knew that whether it was a serious drama, a low-brow comedy, a foreign film, Roger was going to tell it straight. He wasn't too artsy like the wonderful Gene Siskel could be. Or, somewhat superficial and a bit lazy in tone as Mr. Roeper can be. Or, completely random like many of the fill-in hosts on the tv review show can be. How we miss you on your television review show. More on that in a bit. The reviews in this book really say what people are thinking but often don't say out loud at a cocktail party because they might be singled out for being too opinionated. Big hint here. Read the back cover. Read the section on Rob Schneider a few times. IT'S HILARIOUS. Perhaps the funniest thing of all is how Mr. Schneider refers to himself as a "movie star" in his earnest reply to Roger. Rob Schneider is a gifted comic actor. But, he's no movie star. A movie star is George Clooney. Daniel Day Lewis. Adam Sandler. These are movie stars because they transcend generations. You can look back in time and hear the names Cary Grant. Marlon Brando. Charlie Chaplin. These were movie stars. The book is worth reading just for that anecdote and review alone.
Regarding the tv review show, we miss you dearly, Roger. We miss your wit. Your wisdom. Your uncanny intelligence. Your wonderful writing. We miss hearing you stand up for a film that nobody ever heard of in the mainstream press. Then, watching it and learning that it was a film that touches people's souls. We miss your no nonsense approach to the weird ways of Hollywood. Boy, do we miss your Oscar picks and pans. We miss your worst of Hollywood show. Hearing you berate a talented actor for not reaching his or her potential--not just trashing them because it's the trendy thing to do. Be honest. For all you fans of the TV show, have you noticed how "thin" the reviews have gotten. These guys barely look like they watched the film. I hear more intelligent conversation sometimes from the people who work out at the gym (not putting anyone down here). And, I wish he returns for that wonderful thumbs-up or thumbs down verdict. I read somewhere once that Roger trademarked that. So, he owns it. Disney, please pay Roger enough money, so you can return that signature to the show, please. It's call BRANDING for all the corporate folks in the suites who don't understand when a show is on for that long and has built that kind of fan base, they NOTICE when things change.
Here's hoping Roger's health improves. Saw a news item the other day saying he was going in for surgery again. Wish you well and a speedy recovery. You are sorely missed. We still read your columns on-line. We will buy your new book of reviews. And, keep reading the old ones as well. Curling up to re-re-read a review from an old edition to bust out laughing or nodding one's head in total agreement. Nobody is a better movie critic that Roger. Nobody does it better!
on October 11, 2007
This is my first Ebert book. I've savored it as slowly as I could and am almost ready to move on to the 2007 Movie Yearbook. I may not always agree with his take on a movie but I usually do, and I really appreciate his sometimes thought-provoking explanations of why the film failed. The cover photo is superb but don't expect 333 pages of the currently popular unalloyed, hostile snark. When called for, Ebert is surgically ruthless and makes great fun of that which is mockworthy, but underneath it all is a very hopeful and expansive view that, like most optimists, is disappointed when his favorite cinemacrafters and actors do much less than he knows is really in them, or when a potentially good story idea is somehow mangled and made impossible to choke down. He succeeds not because he's brutal and unforgiving but because he loves movies--highbrow, lowbrow, absurd, cerebral--and probably wanted to love each one he ended up having to write a bad review for. The description of his experiences with The Brown Bunny and its maker, Vincent Gallo, is well worth reading and deomonstrates his willingness to give art a second chance and revise his opinion. (I haven't seen The Brown Bunny and probably won't, but I like that Ebert went back for seconds in the spirit of fairness.)
His body of work must be a wealth of instruction for anyone involved in making movies. As someone who simply loves to watch movies, I find reading his reviews every bit as pleasureable as chatting about films with a good friend. For the last six weeks I have limited myself to 2 or 3 reviews before turning off the lights and can relate to the reviewer who was worried about exhausting his friends by constantly pestering them with especially fit passages; my poor husband has been enduring this since I started the book, fortunately taking it all in good humor (how else to take it?).
Looking forward to many more years of this Good Stuff. Stay well, Roger!
on August 18, 2007
If ever there was the golden voice of sanity and culture crying out in the wilderness, Surely it belongs to Roger Ebert. Despite what thin-skinned movie makers and actors think, Mr. Ebert has the cred (Pulitzer Prize, anyone?)to lay the movies bare with one scintillating slash of his rapier-like pen. As another review said, when a movie is good, he's unstinting with his praise. Let me put it another way: how many times have you sunk into your movie seat, deliciously hot, oily popcorn at the ready, soda and candy poised, only to start checking your cell phone for the time, and it's only 10 minutes into the movie? You've paid nearly $50 for you and your companion to see a first-run movie, including the aforementioned snacks, and you realize that most movies put out today are utter krappola. Mr. Ebert glares an icily candid look at the gar-bahge foisted off on the paying public. When we refuse to support this twaddle, perhaps the movie makers and actors will make movies with great stories, fabulous character development, judicious editing and brilliant acting. And as he points out, there is space in the universe for 'fluff'. There is room for slapstick. But please, quit making movies that are vapid, unfunny comedies, labored dramas, meaningless or distorted documentaries. If you've wondered what movie to rent, get this book and make a list of both the best and worst for your next trip to Blockbuster. And read his reviews before plunking down half a day's wage on yet another movie that just plain sucks.
on July 28, 2007
This collection of 1 and 1/2 down to zero starred reviews, ranging from roughly 2000 through 2006, usually kept me interested, but there were more than a few instances of phoned in reviews. The 'one and a halfs' were often as much -- Movies not so bad that he could really pull out the whetstone and start slashing away, but movies bad enough that I really didn't care about them or the reviews about them. Essentially, these reviews were filler to make the book big enough to sell.
That said, there were many instances of zero-star and half-star films where Ebert just lets loose and lands a haymaker, so I had no problem reading through front to back. The "Your movie sucks," line and background story is just one example of the zinger that made this all worthwhile. (And, it was good to see Ebert as an early hater of what's coming to be known as Torture Porn.)
Another thing -- Here in 2007 and thereafter, the likelihood that I'm going to actually go out and see (rent) any of these clunkers is essentially nil. (Remember -- These aren't movies that are 'so bad they're good' -- They are essentially 'don't waste your money' movies.) So, it might have been a nice touch to go ahead and append notes to each of the reviews where he then gives up the spoilers that he necessarily had to withhold back at the time of the original review.
Happily for him, and for all of us, Mr. Ebert has recently returned to work after an extended absence. No doubt that means he will find even more instances of junk in the new releases. If he chooses to fill yet another book with reviews of the worst-of-the-worst, I hope the editors will consider a few of the above ideas.