Gelf Magazine - Looking over the overlooked

The Blurbs

February 15, 2008

Hudson and McConaughey Embark on a Fool's Errand

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 'Fool's Gold,' 'Jumper,'Welcome Home, Roscoe Jenkins,' 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, 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 here.

Matthew McConaughey stands shirtless in the critically panned 'Fool's Gold'

Fool's Gold (Warner Bros.)
Metacritic Score:29

Heather Newgen, "The first great romantic comedy of the year."
Gelf was unable to find Newgen's review of the film online, but we did come across this post on the site's forums:
93Civic: I saw a full page color ad in the newspaper on Friday for Fool's Gold that listed Heather Newgen of as loving the movie and breathless (sic) exclaiming, "Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey light up the big screen in the first great romantic comedy of the year."
First of all, who is Heather Newgen and will she ever be allowed to review a movie again considering she was the only "critic" in America who gave it a favorable review?
We have many intelligent and noteworthy movie viewers among us and I hate to see Heather Newgen ruin our great reputation as a movie expert community.

Jumper (20th Century Fox)
Metacritic Score: 36

Stephen King: "This movie rocks!"
As King admits on his website, the reason he couldn't write about the movie for Entertainment Weekly is that the executive producer of the film is the same guy who got him his job at EW. For a more objective take on Jumper, check out Joe Morgenstern's review in The Wall Street Journal, where he writes that it "re-defines—downward—the notion of dreadful."

Definitely, Maybe (Universal)
Metacritic Score:59

A.O. Scott, The New York Times: "A sparkling comic enchantment. Viewers walk away with our faith in soul mates and happy endings confirmed."
Actual line: "How do you preserve the fairy-tale elements of the genre—the beguiling fantasy of permanent bliss—in the face of certain prosaic and unavoidable facts? In the real world, after all, people divorce, sleep around, fall in love too soon, too late or too often.
It’s a mess, and a movie like this one has to acknowledge the mess without falling into it, in which case it would be a sad little melodrama rather than a sparkling comic enchantment. In spite of everything, viewers, like Maya, have to walk away with our faith in soul mates and happy endings confirmed, rather than compromised or shattered.
So Will decides to tell Maya a slightly edited, PG-13 version of the story of his life and loves before she was born. At first the ending seems predictable enough: after various false starts and digressions, he will finally meet and marry her mommy. But neither the girl nor the audience knows which of the women his younger self meets the mother will turn out to be. (And for a while we forget that, after their happy ending, Mom and Dad will end up divorced.)
Not quoted: While Definitely, Maybe is hardly perfect, it navigates the choppy waters of modern courtship with commendable, understated honesty.
Gelf wishes we could say the same about the way the blurb writers navigated the nuanced review by Scott. Instead, they simply took Scott's generic description of the romantic comedy genre and turned it into a blurb for the film. For that transgression, this wins Gelf's Bogus Blurb of the Week award.

The Year My Parents Went On Vacation (City Lights Pictures)
Metacritic Score:69

"****" Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out New York
Overall, it's a pretty positive review, but it should be noted that Time Out uses the rare six-star formula for its ratings calculations.

In Bruges (Focus Features)
Metacritic Score:66

David Ansen, Newsweek: "Undeniably fun and refreshingly un-P.C.!"
Actual line: "It was a refreshingly un-P.C. movie for the highly P.C. [Sundance] festival, where socially conscious movies spread like kudzu, but also a very mainstream headliner for a festival that positions itself on the cutting edge. While only half as grisly, and half as funny, as McDonagh's play The Lieutenant of Inishmore, In Bruges was undeniably fun…"

U23D (National Geographic Cinema Ventures)
Metacritic Score:83

Edna Gundersen, USA Today: "In many ways delivers and experience that's even better than the real thing."
Gundersen genuinely likes the film; her gushing review is even the subject of part of the Daily Teaching Guide for students [PDF] produced by USA Today. One of the discussion questions asks, "Why was Gundersen fighting urges during the film?" (Here's a hint from Gelf: It has something to do with Jujubes.)

Chris Riemenschneider, "It makes you feel like you're floating above the fans and riding their energy wave like a surfer during hurricane season."
Not quoted: "Just when you thought Bono's head couldn't get any bigger…"
For more jokes about Bono's ego, check out the last edition of the Blurb Racket.

Welcome Home, Roscoe Jenkins (Universal)
Metacritic Score:48

Shawn Edwards: "Totally hilarious! Martin Lawrence has never been funnier!"
Shawn. Shawn. Shawn. Won't you ever learn? That said, it's possible that Lawrence has never been funnier, yet the movie still sucks.

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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