Gelf Magazine - Looking over the overlooked

The Blurbs

July 5, 2008

Smith's Schlumpy Superhero Flick Is 'Far From Perfect'

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 'Hancock,' 'WALL-E,' 'Wanted,' 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 movie starts to falter just when it begins to deepen."—The New York Times' Manohla Dargis, on Hancock

Hancock (Columbia Pictures)
Metacritic Score: 49

Rogert Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times: "'Hancock' is a lot of fun…"
Actual line: "'Hancock' is a lot of fun, if perhaps a little top-heavy with stuff being destroyed."

Manohla Dargis, New York Times: 'Hancock' speaks to fundamental human fragility that makes the greatest heroes super."
Actual line: [Charlize Theron] helps Mr. Smith enrich the story's emotional texture, which is no small thing, since the movie itself starts to falter just when it begins to deepen. That's too bad because while "Hancock" is far from perfect—it feels overly rushed, particularly toward its chaotic end—it has a raggedness that speaks honestly to the fundamental human fragility that makes the greatest heroes super."

WALL-E (Pixar)
Metacritic Score: 93

Ty Burr, Boston Globe: "A major visionary work. Simply the best."

Actual line: "The nagging, almost misanthropic vision at the core of "WALL-E" may ultimately cause it to be Pixar's most admired movie rather than its most well-loved. For now, it's simply the best."
In a review that dubs the movie, "the best American film of the year to date," you'd think that the blurbers wouldn't have to stretch anything. You'd be wrong.

Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle: "The most profound animated film ever made—"
Not quoted: " In the moment, it's intermittently transcendent, heartrending and beautiful … and busy, repetitious and boring."

Wanted (Universal Pictures)
Metacritic Score: 64

Peter Travers, Rolling Stone: "I love it. Sexy, built to thrill."
Actual line: "It's trash, but I love it anyway."

For tossing the refuse reference, this ad wins Gelf's prestigious Bogus Blurb of the Week Award.

Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times: "'Wanted' slams the pedal to the metal and never slows down."
Not quoted: "The way to enjoy this film is to put your logic on hold, along with any higher sensitivities that might be vulnerable and immerse yourself as if in a video game."

The Wackness (Sony Pictures Classics)
Metacritic Score: 62

Peter Travers, Rolling Stone: "Hilarious and heartfelt! A potently witty look at Giuliani Manhattan circa 1994. Josh Peck and Olivia Thirlby are terrific!"
Not quoted: "But for all its wicked delights and tasty acting, The Wackness hangs back when you most want it to sting."

Get Smart
Metacritic Score: 54

Peter Travers, Rolling Stone: "Steve Carrell and Anne Hathaway spark off of each other."
Not quoted: "I would not call Get Smart in any way a classic comedy…"
Gelf also poked fun at the movie's blurbs in the last Blurb Racket.

Diminished Capacity IFC Films
Metacritic Score: 52

Erik Davis, Cinematical: "The kind of film that just leaves you with good vibes."
The other reviewer at Cinematical wasn't so impressed, calling the film "cluttered" and too full of "sad-sack" characters.

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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