The Blurbs

September 17, 2006

'An Amazingly Sloppy Movie'

Our roundup of misleading review blurbs in ads for movies takes on The Wicker Man, Beer League, The Protector, and more.

David Goldenberg

Blurb Racket
Paul Antonson
The critic blurb is a staple of arts advertising. Yet if you look behind some blurbs, you'll find quotes out of context, quote whores, and other questionable ad practices. Blurb Racket exposes the truth behind critics blurbs in movie ads from the New York Times. Movie titles link to, which compiles movie reviews in a far-more honest way than do movie ads. See the inaugural Blurb Racket column for background and useful links.

Keeping Mum (Thinkfilm)

Raven Snook, Time Out New York: “A delightful mix of screwball and Restoration comedy, peppered with puns, sex and a slew of stiffs. Thomas is Luminous!”
Not quoted: “...the film goes on a mite too long and the ending is shamelessly gimmicky...”

Beer League (Echo Bridge Entertainment)

Mark Bell, “Golf has Caddyshack, baseball has Major League and now softball has its own…classic!”
Actual line: “The raunchy sports comedy is a cinema staple, as respected as the greatest film classics. Golf has Caddyshack, hockey has Slap Shot, baseball has Major League or Bull Durham (depending on your tastes) and now softball has its own seminal classic, Artie Lange's Beer League.”
In the case of this critically-panned, lowbrow and misogynistic flick, the ellipsed out “seminal” probably means “pertaining to or containing or consisting of semen.”

Haven (Freestyle/Yari Film Group)

Jeffrey Lyons, NBC's Reel Talk: "Tense, intriguing and picturesque!"
Not quoted: "I like this film with some reservations. I think it was trying to do too much. There were too many plotlines involved and they didn’t quite mesh them correctly."
In the Reel Talk clip, Lyons' co-host Alison Bailes has a slightly different take. "I came away thinking, ‘What just happened?' " she says. "The stories never come together, they never mesh. They overlap with no significance or meaning." It seems that most reviewers agree with her.

Al Franken: God Spoke (Balcony)

A.O. Scott, New York Times: “hero to partisans…anathema to foes.”
Not quoted: “But even his fans may find themselves frustrated, since the film observes Mr. Franken closely without generating much insight into him.”

David Edelstein, New York Magazine: “Franken is a brilliant original!”
Not quoted: “With the transformation of Al Franken from comedian to activist, Nick Doob and Chris Hegedus stumbled onto a good subject, but in the documentary Al Franken: God Spoke, they stumble around in it.”
After reading the review, it's pretty obvious that Edelstein is referring to the man, not the film. (As is Scott's blurb, but it seems less insidious.) In fact, Edelstein brings up Franken's brilliance to point out that the filmmakers have messed up what should have been a great documentary. For that, this ad wins Gelf's Bogus Blurb of the Week Award.

The Protector (The Weinstein Company)

Roger Moore, Orlando Sentinel: “Tony Jaa is the most electrifying martial artist in the movies today.”
Not quoted: "But for all its martial-arts prowess, The Protector (with Team Ong Bak behind the camera) is an amazingly sloppy movie. Images blur in the corners of the frame, colors don't match and the lighting cameraman plainly had a hard time communicating with Aussie crews. It's ugly to look at. The plot is slapdash in the extreme, perhaps a product of the Weinstein Co.'s cutting this down from 109 minutes to a brisk and nonsensical 80 for U.S. release. They mix subtitles and dubbing for the dialogue, which doesn't make it any more comprehensible.”

The Wicker Man (Warner Bros.)

Jeff Otto, IGN Film Force: “An unmistakably engaging remake!”
Actual line: “A truly odd, yet unmistakably engaging, remake.”

Post a comment

Comment Rules

The following HTML is allowed in comments:
Bold: <b>Text</b>
Italic: <i>Text</i>
<a href="URL">Text</a>


- The Blurbs
- posted on May 12, 07

Nice website! You mention the film review show "Reel Talk" which airs on NBC. The co-host Alison Bailes is often dismissive of Jeffrey Lyons' comments. Its a subtle rudeness that takes away from the overall show. Jeffrey needs a new co-host!

Article by David Goldenberg

Contact this author