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Best Of The Worst Ebert

Last year, in honor of Roger Ebert’s 70th birthday, someone collected 50 of his nastiest remarks from reviews of bad films [1]. It’s wonderful, from start to finish. I especially loved these two:

“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?”


“I hope 13 Ghosts plays mostly at multiplexes, because it’s the kind of movie you want to watch from the next theater.”

I thank Alex Ignatiev [2] from (tornado-struck!) Hattiesburg for putting this into my Facebook feed. It made me happy.

14 Comments (Open | Close)

14 Comments To "Best Of The Worst Ebert"

#1 Comment By David J. White On February 11, 2013 @ 7:56 am

I remember hearing his review of the French movie Little Indian in the Big City (which was later remade, with Tim Allen, as Jungle 2 [sic] Jungle). Not only was the movie awful, but apparently, at the screen he attended, a reel was missing. He said, “Even if the missing reel had contained the legendary lost footage from The Magnificent Ambersons, this movie would still suck.”

#2 Comment By Heather On February 11, 2013 @ 8:23 am

Ebert deserves his laurels. Especially because I think most people would think that systematically excelling at movie reviews does not really demand the same level of talent that other categories glorify themselves with, like news reporting or fiction writing.

This was an excellent idea (grouping the best of the worst). I noticed that I only watched one film out of the 50 (Blue Lagoon), well, maybe the Elvis one, most of them you wouldn’t remember anyways.

Regarding what Ebert claims is the worse movie he ever saw, Caligula, it was written by Gore Vidal, you know, “people with a history.”

“At Capri, Caligula finds his great uncle has become depraved, showing signs of advanced venereal diseases, and embittered with Rome and politics. Tiberius enjoys watching degrading sexual shows, often including children and various freaks of nature. ” And so it goes.

I think it’s amusing that these are the people who point fingers at Phelps, the Pope, socons, etc., and who pretend to dictate what is right and wrong regarding sexuality in society.

#3 Comment By Tom S On February 11, 2013 @ 9:59 am

I am relieved that I have seen only two of the films on this list, although I must admit that I rather liked one of them. Also, Ebert left out “Babe,” the biopic of Babe Ruth that starred John Goodman. That was the only commercial release that I have ever walked out of.

#4 Comment By MBunge On February 11, 2013 @ 10:03 am

I watched 13 Ghosts. Was it a good movie? No. Was it bad enough to deserve that kind of commentary from Ebert? No. That’s the great weakness of mass critics like Ebert. It’s easy to trash a horrible flick or praise a great one, but what do you do with a “meh” film or something that’s flawed but markedly unique? Usually, it’s over-the-top negativity or ridiculous hyperbole.

I mean, Ebert just decided to put The Tree of Life on his list of best movies of all time. ALL TIME. And the other candidate he considered was Synecdoche, New York. Ye gods.


#5 Comment By cka2nd On February 11, 2013 @ 11:31 am

I’ve managed to avoid almost all of them. I do think Stargate is a pretty good little film, though, and there’s one or two other guilty pleasures on the list, but guilty pleasures are usually unique to a person.

#6 Comment By David J. White On February 11, 2013 @ 11:50 am

Also, Ebert left out “Babe,” the biopic of Babe Ruth that starred John Goodman. That was the only commercial release that I have ever walked out of.

I never saw it, but I heard it was awful. I heard an interview with John Goodman, and he said that working on this movie was what made him realize he that he should start dealing with his weight. Apparently he had to lose weight for the movie; he said, “You know you’re really fat when you have to lose weight to play Baby Ruth!”

#7 Comment By EngineerScotty On February 11, 2013 @ 2:32 pm

I enjoyed most of Ebert’s comments, though his criticism of Pixar’s Monster’s Inc. struck me as bizarre. It’s a children’s movie (not great, but certainly not terrible) that takes place (primarily) in a fictional world occupied by monsters of all shapes and sizes. Two characters therein are identified as having a romantic interest (one of whom is a giant walking green eyeball voiced by Billy Crystal)… and Ebert’s unable to suspend disbelief because he can’t imagine how this particular couple has sex?

What does he want–anatomically correct monsters?

#8 Comment By EngineerScotty On February 11, 2013 @ 2:33 pm


#9 Comment By Charlie On February 11, 2013 @ 2:34 pm

I think it’s amusing that these are the people who point fingers at Phelps, the Pope, socons, etc., and who pretend to dictate what is right and wrong regarding sexuality in society.

If it’s down to a choice between Fred Phelps and Gore Vidal, our civilization really is in terminal decline.

#10 Comment By GCR On February 11, 2013 @ 3:50 pm

Funny list! I also loved this follow-up on “The Brown Bunny”: “[Director Vincent Gallo] called me a ‘fat pig’ in the New York Post and told the New York Observer I have ‘the physique of a slave-trader.’ … It is true that I am fat, but one day I will be thin, and he will still be the director of ‘The Brown Bunny.'”


#11 Comment By Jim Atherton On February 11, 2013 @ 6:09 pm

Psyhique of a slave trader is a better put down than Ebert was ever able to muster. Gallo is truly an intersting guy especially his anecdote about how the Colts-Jets/ Unitas-Namath Super Bowl made him a conservative.

#12 Comment By Kit Stolz On February 11, 2013 @ 6:46 pm

Ebert is a great film critic (and a great tweeter too) but actually too nice a guy for the kind of Oscar Wilde/Addison DeWitt list that this pretends to be. He’s just not a hater, despite an occasional outburst of temper. For example, he could never call a film “fascist,” as Pauline Kael termed “Dirty Harry” — a brilliant remark that Clint himself took to heart, and went on to use as the premise for a sequel.

#13 Comment By Paul Emmons On February 11, 2013 @ 6:50 pm

I enjoyed reading these snippets. It must be an unenviable job to to sit through hours of stultifying dreck and then try to say something interesting about it. Alas, dreck has predominated in Hollywood productions, at least ever since Indiana Jones made suspension of disbelief an irrelevant desideratum and producers began paying such outsize attention to the market segment of young males with more money and time on their hands than sense. We who can be (or even must be) more selective in our movie viewing, and then write only about what we like, should thank our good fortune.

This compilation reminds me of “A Lexicon of Musical Invective” compiled by Nicolas Slonimsky. The difference is that the latter consists of hilarious insults of then-new pieces of music which have gone on to be generally acknowledged masterpieces. I very much doubt that Mr. Ebert’s ghost will ever have such reason for embarrassment over the verdicts he has issued on these movies.

#14 Comment By RDF On February 12, 2013 @ 9:49 am

My favorite:

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