Some Great Putdowns From Roger Ebert

April 5th, 2013
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We recently lost Roger Ebert, who had been struggling with cancer since 2002.   Although modern medicine did manage to give him another decade, he lost his ability to speak and eat normally due to surgery on his throat and jaw.  Roger Ebert is best known as a film critic, but he was also a great editorialize, a humanist, a skeptic, a promoter of the arts and, of course, a champion for the great artistry of cinema.

Of course, as a film critic, Roger Ebert had to sit through many movies that he would not have watched by choice and did not exactly find much to like about.   One of his greatest talents was his ability to putdown movies which were sorely in need of it.   It’s an often unrecognized talent, requiring creativity, wit, masterful communications and an excellent vocabulary of insults.  Ebert was able to quickly, in just a few words, capture the sheer awfulness of two hours of garbage and communicate it to his audience in a way that was sharp and on point.  His insults not only captured the very stench of the crap he had to review, but were clever and funny in their own right.

As someone who so often reviews crap online, I find Ebert to be a high standard to aspire to for his ability to cut down those who need it.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Last Rites, 1988
“Many films are bad. Only a few declare themselves the work of people deficient in taste, judgment, reason, tact, morality, and common sense. Was there no one connected with this project who read the screenplay, considered the story, evaluated the proposed film and vomited?”

Stargate, 1994
“The movie Ed Wood, about the worst director of all time, was made to prepare us for Stargate.”

Mad Dog Time, 1996:
“Mad Dog Time is the first movie I have seen that does not improve on the sight of a blank screen viewed for the same length of time. Oh, I’ve seen bad movies before. But they usually made me care about how bad they were. Watching Mad Dog Time is like waiting for the bus in a city where you’re not sure they have a bus line.”

Little Indian, Big City, 1996
“There is a movie called Fargo playing right now. It is a masterpiece. Go see it. If you, under any circumstances, see Little Indian, Big City, I will never let you read one of my reviews again.”

I Know What You Did Last Summer, 1997
“After the screening was over and the lights went up, I observed a couple of my colleagues in deep and earnest conversation, trying to resolve twists in the plot. They were applying more thought to the movie than the makers did. A critic’s mind is a terrible thing to waste.”

Godzilla, 1998
“Going to see Godzilla at the Palais of the Cannes Film Festival is like attending a satanic ritual in St. Peter’s Basilica.”

Battlefield Earth, 2000

“Battlefield Earth is like taking a bus trip with someone who has needed a bath for a long time. It’s not merely bad; it’s unpleasant in a hostile way.”

13 Ghosts, 2001
“The production is first-rate; the executives included Joel Silver and Robert Zemeckis. The physical look of the picture is splendid. The screenplay is dead on arrival. The noise level is torture. I hope 13 Ghosts plays mostly at multiplexes, because it’s the kind of movie you want to watch from the next theater.”

Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles, 2001
“I’ve seen audits that were more thrilling.”

The Brown Bunny, 2003
“I had a colonoscopy once, and they let me watch it on TV. It was more entertaining than The Brown Bunny.”

A Lot Like Love, 2005
“To call A Lot like Love dead in the water is an insult to water.”

Revolver, 2007
“Some of the acting is better than the film deserves. Make that all of the acting. Actually, the film stock itself is better than the film deserves. You know when sometimes a film catches fire inside a projector? If it happened with this one, I suspect the audience might cheer.”

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, 2009
“If you want to save yourself the ticket price, go into the kitchen, cue up a male choir singing the music of hell, and get a kid to start banging pots and pans together. Then close your eyes and use your imagination.”

The Twilight Saga: New Moon, 2009
“Sitting through this experience is like driving a tractor in low gear though a sullen sea of Brylcreem.”

Valentine’s Day, 2010
“Valentine’s Day is being marketed as a Date Movie. I think it’s more of a First-Date Movie. If your date likes it, do not date that person again. And if you like it, there may not be a second date.”

Seven Days In Utopia, 2011
“I would rather eat a golf ball than see this movie again.”

The Human Centipede II , 2011
“The film is reprehensible, dismaying, ugly, artless, and an affront to any notion, however remote, of human decency.”

Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie, 2012
“As faithful readers will know, I have a few cult followers who enjoy my reviews of bad movies. These have been collected in the books I Hated, Hated, Hated, HATED This Movie; Your Movie Sucks, and A Horrible Experience of Unendurable Length. This movie is so bad, it couldn’t even inspire a review worthy of one of those books. I have my standards.”

Of course, Roger Ebert gave much praise to well deserving movies as well, but the way he managed to put down some of the worst was truly amazing.  He will be missed.


The 50 Harshest Roger Ebert Movie Review Quotes
Funniest Roger Ebert Quotes: His Best Movie Take Downs
Roger Ebert’s 13 Best, Most Scathing, LOL-Worthy and Infamous Movies Reviews
Roger Ebert’s Worst Reviews
Roger Ebert’s Twenty Best Reviews

This entry was posted on Friday, April 5th, 2013 at 5:05 pm and is filed under Culture, media, Misc, personal. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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6 Responses to “Some Great Putdowns From Roger Ebert”

  1. 1
    DV82XL Says:

    It is not that he had good taste in cinema – we all understood the movies he panned were bad, it was that he was a master wordsmith and for that I remain in awe. In a world where mastery of language does not seem to be held in the same high esteem it once was, he will be sorely missed by those of us that still do.

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  2. 2
    drbuzz0 Says:

    My favorite are definitely Battlefield Earth and The Twilight Saga: New Moon.

    I did not see the Twilight Saga but I saw Battlefield Earth in the theater. I saw it primarily because I was interested to find out if it had any weird Scientology themes in it.

    It was just terrible. I agree with his quote on it. It was just unpleasant in a way that you wanted it to end. It was much like being on a long bus ride with someone who had not showered in a long time

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  3. 3
    Q Says:

    Yeah he was great. One quote I remember, and I am going to butcher this, was that he said of a movie “it was a waste of very good electricity… but not that there was electricity between the actors, there was none at all. It was a waste of the electricity to run the projector”

    Sorry I can’t source it.

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  4. 4
    Chris Says:

    I liked Ebert as well, but people should remember all those crappy Russ Meyer movies he wrote in the 1970s. Just goes to show nobody is perfect.

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  5. 5
    Nich Says:

    Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls is pretty cool.

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  6. 6
    mildredroberts Says:

    A lot of these movies are great.

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