The Character of the Movie Star and the Movie Reviewer
Roger Ebert is the greatest film critic in the world. It's not even a close contest now that Pauline Kael has passed away. He is also, by far, my favourite.
Originally, like most people I would think, I read his movie reviews because I wanted to know what he thought of the movie. Over the years, however, I realized that there was something very special with Mister Ebert. I started reading all his reviews, including the movies that I would never see in a million years. In fact, I started enjoying the reviews of those movies much more than the reviews of the movies I would see. I don’t like being spoiled by a review, and even though Roger is not a movie spoiler, even knowing a little bit of the plot tends to taint the movie to some extent.
I don't always agree with Roger's opinion on movies, but I always love the way he reviews movies. So many movie reviews are just a recap of the movie with a few opinions to justify the score. Roger's long history with and love of movies shine through whether it's a review in his Great Movies series or a one star review of a horrible teen romantic comedy. I honestly laugh or learn something from every Ebert review, usually both.
Although it isn’t my favourite Ebert review, probably the most famous of his recent reviews was his review of Deuce Bigalow:European Gigalo. For those of you who have not read it, and I will assume that is most of you, some setup is required.
Deuce Bigalow II was apparently a terrible movie. I haven’t seen it (I missed the first one, and I’m sure I would have been lost on the continuity points).
Another reviewer named Patrick Goldstein panned the movie, and Rob Schneider, the star of the movie, took out a full page ad panning Mister Goldstein, asking what he had ever done to qualify him to comment so negatively on Rob’s movie. It was a hanging curveball over the center of the plate for Ebert, who does not usually name or award drop. In his own review, Ebert stated it about as well and as humourously as anyone could, when after listing several ways in which Mister Goldstein was indeed qualified he said:
But Schneider is correct, and Patrick Goldstein has not yet won a Pulitzer Prize. Therefore, Goldstein is not qualified to complain that Columbia financed “Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo” while passing on the opportunity to participate in “Million Dollar Baby,” “Ray,” “The Aviator,” “Sideways” and “Finding Neverland.” As chance would have it, I have won the Pulitzer Prize, and so I am qualified. Speaking in my official capacity as a Pulitzer Prize winner, Mr. Schneider, your movie sucks.
The review got a fair bit of press and a lot of laughs. Roger’s next book was titled “Your Movie Sucks.”
Roger has had a hard time the last couple of years, fighting poor health and complications from surgery. I admit, I have missed his reviews very much. There are many ways to get useful information on what movies to see, but there wasn’t anyone that I had found that I enjoyed reading on the topic of movies to fill the void as Roger recuperated. I admit, during this time, I thought little of Rob Schneider.
And then I read this story about how Rob sent Roger flowers wishing him a speedy recovery, signed, “Your least favourite movie star.” Rob didn’t announce this publicly, Roger did, and so there’s little doubt that it was a heartfelt gesture. I honestly like to think that I would do the same thing, but I don’t know if I could. Instead, I will just tip my cap to you Rob Schneider. I can’t promise that if you make Deuce Bigalow III that I’ll go see it, but I do promise that I’ll give something else you’re in an honest try.