The Blurbs

January 2, 2009

The Best Worst Blurbs of 2008

The 10 most egregious misquotes, blurb whores, and other movie-ad sins of 2008.

Carl Bialik

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.

For the second straight year, Gelf is unveiling its favorite blurbs of the year (see our favorites from 2007). Each one exemplifies a deceptive practice that is near the top of the blurb writer's toolbox. Don't like a review? Rearrange it, or cut out the negativity, or change a word entirely. Or even better, find a non-critic associated with a reputable publication who raved, and use that.

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.

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- The Blurbs
- posted on Sep 12, 11

"The Great Debaters" blurb does nothing to alter the reviewer's statement about the film itself. That film is better than most of the films on this list and does not deserve to be included amongst the more egregious cases of blurb fraud.

As for "War/Dance", saying the cinematography is striking *is* commenting on the film...cinematography is a key element in any film. It is a case of cherry-picking an adjective and they should have just said "The cinematography is striking", but it's not as completely dishonest as many of the other examples here (the reviewer's "unease" is not the same as expressing dislike, which was a feeling several reviewers had for the films listed here and were then completely misquoted).

- The Blurbs
- posted on Feb 18, 12

Metacritic doesn't mean anything.

Article by Carl Bialik

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