Gelf Magazine - Looking over the overlooked

The Blurbs

March 14, 2008

'Like a Dose of Crack for Its Intended Audience'

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 'The Bank Job,' 'Horton Hears A Who,' 'College Road Trip,' 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 here.

"I don't want to oversell 'The Bank Job' as some kind of cinematic revelation, which it certainly is not."—Bob Strauss, Los Angeles Daily News

The Bank Job (Lionsgate)
Metacritic Score: 69

Manohla Dargis, New York Times: "A wham-bam caper flick!"
Not quoted: "…the caper itself is pretty much a yawn."

Bob Strauss, Los Angeles Daily News: "Fascinating! A very well-done job of its kind, and that's a rare thing these days."
Actual line: "I don't want to oversell 'The Bank Job' as some kind of cinematic revelation, which it certainly is not. There's nothing groundbreaking or particularly spectacular here. But it is a very well done job of its kind, and that's a rare, good thing these days."

Never Back Down (Summit Entertainment)
Metacritic Score: 39

Earl Dittman, Wireless Magazine: "A total knockout! Sensational!"
Dittman, the blurb whore who starred in the inaugural Blurbs column, also loved Penelope in the last Blurbs.

Horton Hears A Who (Fox)

Shawn Edwards, WDAF-TV: "**** An instant classic! It's visually awesome, totally fun and tremendously entertaining."
As we've noted before, "instant classic" is one of Edwards most common phrases. He's also applied it to the newer (and crappier) version of Charlotte's Web, The Wood, and Get Rich or Die Tryin'.

College Road Trip (Walt Disney)

Bryan Erdy, Insight Cable: "Hysterically Funny! This is the perfect family movie."
As several folks have pointed out, this Erdy fellow seems to be especially fond of Walt Disney flicks. He's also given raves to Cinderella III ("Just as magical as the original!", and Bother Bear 2 ("Even more fun than the original!").

Flash Point (Third Rail)
Metacritic Score: 38

Ross Chen, LoveHKFilm.com: "An entertaining action blowout."
Not quoted: "The result could probably not be called a good film, but for its intended audience, Flash Point is like a dose of crack."

Funny Games (Warner Independent)
Metacritic Score: 39

The Boston Globe: "Fasten your seatbelts—This director doesn't play nice, fair or easy."
This quote comes from critic Ty Burr's preview of the film several months before he had even seen it. Once he did watch it, he deemed it "infuriating and moot." For taking the imagined good(ish) and ignoring the real bad, this blurb wins Gelf's coveted Bogus Blurb of the Week award.

Icon: "The most terrifying film I've ever seen!"
Again, this blurb is technically correct, but it comes from an (incredibly pretentious) interview in the architecture magazine in which guest-editor (and architect/celebrity) Peter Eisenman chats up director Michael Haneke over lunch.

Sleepwalking (Overture)
Metacritic Score: 39

Andrew Sarris, New York Observer: "One of the most rewarding emotional experiences of the year…"
Actual line: "…one of the most rewarding emotional experiences of the year thus far."

John Adams (HBO)

Perhaps the promoters of the HBO miniseries wouldn't have been so eager to buy three full ad pages chock-full of blurbs in the Weekend Arts section had they known that the Times would lead the section with a review of the series that notes that "Paul Giamatti is the wrong choice for the hero."

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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Comments

- The Blurbs
- posted on Jul 08, 08
Jim Ross

Thank you! I've just viewed the DVD "Funny Games". The cover announced "The most terrifying movie I've ever seen" (very LARGE print) by Peter Eisenman (in extra, extra small print). Well, the movie was so tame I had to wonder how someone could put such a quote on the label. Thankfully, your site helped clarify this issue.
My question is how are they legally allowed to put such bullshit on labels?? I feel taken and saddened. At least it was only an hour of my time (I fast-forwarded through large sections of the movie).

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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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