Saturday, April 25, 2009

Everybody's A Critic: A Sampler of Rotten Reviews

Imagine you've just completed a long-cherished film project. You wrote it, produced it, directed it, maybe even acted in it. This film is your baby, your cinematic declaration of independence. Then, after the big opening night premiere, you open the newspaper to find not rose petals tossed in your honor, but rotten tomatoes.

For fans of informed viciousness, nothing is more entertaining than reading a hilarious, caustic review. Listed below is just a sampling of the cornucopia of memorable critical brickbats.

  • "As uplifting as a whalebone bra--and just as dated."--Arthur Cooper of Newsweek on "Lost Horizon" (1973).

  • "Myra Breckinridge' is about as funny as a child molester. It is an insult to intelligence, an affront to sensibility and an abomination to the eye."--Time (1970).

  • "The Omen' is certainly all dog from snout to tail."--John Simon, New York (1976).

  • "The most godawful piece of pseudo-romantic slop I've ever seen! Even a director who had made no movies would have a hard time making one as bad as this."--Roger Ebert on the Faye Dunaway/Marcello Mastroianni tear jerker "A Place for Lovers" (1969).

  • "One of the biggest piles of pretentiousness ever made. Laughlin's once quiet Billy Jack has turned into an unbearably preachy Billy Jerk."--John Barbour in Los Angeles on "The Trial of Billy Jack" (1974).

  • "If one must spend the better part of two hours following the adventures of a bird, far better that the hero be Daffy Duck than Jonathan Livingston Seagull."--Jay Cocks in Time on "Jonathan Livingston Seagull" (1973).

  • "To criticize it would be like tripping a dwarf."--Wilfrid Sheed passes judgement on "Hurry Sundown" (1967) in Esquire.

  • "A flop. Omar Sharif can no more interpret the fiery revolutionary than Elvis Presley could portray Lenin."--Sherwood Ross in Christian Century in "Che!" (1969).

  • "Mr. Stallone and Ms. Stone (in) a meeting as disastrous as the Hindenburg crashing into the Titanic."--Caryn James commenting on "The Specialist" (1994) in The New York Times.

  • "A trashy, violent action film that will appeal to comic readers, curiosity seekers and prison inmates throughout the land."--Janet Maslin of The New York Times on Pamela Anderson's big screen debut "Barb Wire" (1996).

  • "It looks as if it wanted to be 'Basic Instinct', though it winds up more like 'Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS'".--Vincent Canby in The New York Times on Madonna's 1992 fiasco "Body of Evidence."

  • "It's offensive on every level I can think of...No, it's not particularly dirty or sexy or anything fun like that, it's just merely, totally, thoroughly disagreeable, like a closet full of smelly underwear."--Peter Buckley in Films and Filming on 1971's "Such Good Friends".

However, the award for The Worst Reviewed Film Ever goes to 1975's "At Long Last Love" written, directed and produced by Peter Bogdanovich. Just imagine how Bogdanovich and his cast of Burt Reynolds, Cybill Sheperd, Madeline Khan and Duilio Del Prete (who?) felt when they read these missives:

  • "If this Peter Bogdanovich fiasco were any more of a dog, it would shed."--John Barbour, Los Angeles.

  • "Sitting through this movie is like having someone at a fancy Parisian restaurant who neither speaks nor reads French read out stentoriously the entire long menu in his best Arkansas accent, occasionally interrupting himself to chortle at his cleverness."--John Simon, Esquire.

  • "Staring Cybill Shepard and Burt Reynolds, who have, between them, four left feet and who sing with the gallantry that reminds me of small children taking their first solo swim across the deep end."--Vincent Canby, The New York Times.

  • "In dancing (the stars) resemble a troop of hikers trying to extinguish a campfire."--Jay Cocks, Time.

  • "(Cybill Sheperd's) singing voice, which is as sing-songy as her speaking voice, causes one to yearn for the days when Marni Nixon dubbed in the songs of every tone-deaf Hollywood leading lady. As for Sheperd's dancing, the best to be said is that it may not be recognizable as such: when this horsey ex-model starts prancing around, she tends to look as if she's fighting off a case of the trots."--Frank Rich, New Times.

  • "Burt Reynolds sings like Dean Martin with adenoids and dances like a drunk killing cockroaches."--John Barbour, Los Angeles.

Considering these reviews, is it any wonder that "At Long Last Love" has yet to be released on either VHS or DVD? Or that Bogdanovich's career, which includes such films as "The Last Picture Show", "Paper Moon" and "What's Up, Doc?", has never recovered? Perhaps star Burt Reynolds sumed it up best: "I think we bombed!"

1 comment:

  1. OK, you had me at "she dances like she's fighting off the trots" !!