Gelf Magazine - Looking over the overlooked

The Blurbs

September 14, 2009

'Extract' Is 'Modest, No Big Deal'

In this week's edition of The Blurbs—the feature in which we take a close look at those critic blurbs that are a fixture of ads for movies—see breakdowns of blurbs for 'Extract,' '9,' 'No Impact Man,' and more.

David Goldenberg

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 metacritic.com, 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, and find out what critics think of the racket.

"The film doesn't really go beyond surface funny and fans might expect more from Mike Judge."—Tom Long of the Detroit News on Extract

Extract (Miramax)
Metacritic Score: 61

Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune: "The funniest American comedy of the summer! It's deceptively clever and the jokes are plentiful. It's about first-rate, off-the-cuff ensemble acting. Ben Affleck has never been better."

Actual line: "The box office has already declared 'The Hangover' the winner, but for my money, writer-director Mike Judge's 'Extract'—modest, no big deal but very savvy—is the funniest American comedy of the summer. … The plotting is deceptively clever, the jokes are plentiful and off-center enough to keep things fresh, no matter how antiseptically drab the settings are … Is the movie about anything? I suppose so. It's about a milquetoast whose decency outweighs his weaselly temptations. It's about first-rate, off-the-cuff ensemble acting. And if you set your expectations correctly, it's about 10 to 15, maybe 20 laughs—not the blockbuster kind, but sly and wry and a little bit truthful. … All this is brokered by his bartender pal down at the Marriott. He is played, with Jesus hair and beard, by Ben Affleck, who has never been looser, or better."
Not quoted: "[Director Mike] Judge doesn't really know what to do with the camera, and, certainly, you wish [Kristen] Wiig (who's awfully good) had another scene or two to flesh out her role …"

Tom Long, Detroit News: "It has all the ingredients for cult immortality! Jason Bateman is absolute comedy gold."
Not quoted: "… the film doesn't really go beyond surface funny and fans might expect more from Judge …"

Claudia Puig, USA Today: "Jason Bateman is perfect."
Actual line: "Bateman plays his low-key straight man/protagonist to perfection."
Not quoted: "More farcical than satirical, some extended gags are hit and miss, and a few characters verge on caricature. … Judge may not have the workplace comedy down as smoothly as, say, Judd Apatow does with relationship comedies …"

9
9 (Focus Features)
Metacritic Score: 60

Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times: "Spellbinding!"
Actual line: "The first images are spellbinding."
Not quoted: "One might question the purpose of devising a life form in a world otherwise without life, only to provide it with an enemy that wishes only to destroy it. The purpose, alas, is to create a pretext for a series of action scenes, an apocalyptic battle that is visually more interesting than, but as relentless as, similar all-action-all-the-time movies. This is a disappointment. … the dialog is mostly simplified Action Speak, with barked warnings and instructions and strategy debates of the most rudimentary kind. Since this movie is clearly targeted not at kiddies but at teens and up, is it now Hollywood theory that eloquence and intelligence are no longer useful in action dialogue?"
The praise of the first images is in stark contrast with Ebert's other comments about this animated film. For the familiar trick of taking an adjective applied to a part and implying it applies to a whole, this ad wins Gelf's Bogus Blurb of the Week Award.

Christy Lemire, Associated Press: "Breathtakingly original! '9' brings us someplace daring and new!"
Actual line: " '9' is breathtakingly original. … [director Shane] Acker isn't taking us over the rainbow, but he has brought us someplace daring and new, and he makes you anxious to see what other destinations he has in mind.
Not quoted: "If only as much complex thought had gone into the script. The animation is so breathtaking in its originality, so weird and wondrous in its detail, you wish there were more meat to the screenplay from Pamela Pettler, who previously wrote 'Monster House.' … About halfway in, you realize how thin this expanded story really is …"

No Impact Man
No Impact Man (Oscilloscope)
Metacritic Score: 65

Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times: "Compelling and extremely funny. A balanced blend of information and humor."
That first line comes from a capsule review by Sharkey; the second is harder to find. In a longer review, Sharkey wrote, "… the film ultimately is more practical than profound, a slightly smartened-up 'Dummy's Guide to Green Living' …"

Crude
Crude (First Run Features)
Metacritic Score: 73

Scott Foundas, Village Voice: "Gripping. Berlanger is a master of true-crime vérité."
Not quoted: "… at a key moment in Crude, the advocacy-minded Mrs. Sting develops a passionate interest in the plight of the Cofán, and her involvement leads directly to a flurry of increased U.S. media attention, including a splashy Vanity Fair profile of Fajardo. Consequently, some have deemed Berlinger's film a touch crude itself in its essentially uncritical view of this showy sort of celebrity consciousness-raising."

Amreeka
Amreeka (National Geographic)
Metacritic Score: 70

Kirk Honeycutt, Hollywood Reporter: "Terrific!…Universal in every single instance."
Not quoted: "… it obviously will have an uphill struggle in theatrical distribution. Critical acclaim and fest honors could pave the way for it to become a modest indie hit."
The trade papers' reviews are always an odd hybrid of a critic's take and a critic's prediction of the film's box-office take.

David Goldenberg

David Goldenberg is the co-founder and editor of Gelf, and the host of Geeking Out, Gelf's monthly science speaking series.







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Article by David Goldenberg

David Goldenberg is the co-founder and editor of Gelf, and the host of Geeking Out, Gelf's monthly science speaking series.

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