The Blurbs

July 29, 2006

'The Funniest Movie You'll See This Fiscal Quarter'

Our roundup of misleading review blurbs in ads for movies takes on Lady in the Water, My Super Ex-Girlfriend, Miami Vice, and more.

David Goldenberg

Blurb Racket
Paul Antonson
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.

Monster House (Sony)

A.O. Scott, The New York Times: " 'Monster House' is the best child-friendly movie of the summer so far...smartly written and a lot of fun."

Actual line: "If I say that 'Monster House' is the best child-friendly movie of the summer so far ('Ant Bully' and 'Barnyard' will expand the competition in the next few weeks), it may sound like extravagant praise—or maybe like faint praise.

Overall, this is a rave by Scott, but the actual line from the review truly is a backhanded compliment.

Ant Bully (Warner Bros.)

Francine Brokaw, LA Family Magazine: "This is the best family film of the summer."
Actual line: "It's the best family film of the year."

Perhaps one reason the Ant Bully PR crew decided to tone down Brokaw's compliment (besides the fact that we're barely halfway into the year) is that she's a movie-lover of Earl Dittman proportions. In the same issue as her rave for Ant Bully are ones for Pirates of the Caribbean II and Monster House. An earlier issue of LA Family has Brokaw gushing over the widely-panned movie Hoot. (She ends that rave with "HOOT is CUTE!")

Lady in the Water (Warner Bros.)

Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle: "Creative and imaginative."
Not quoted: "That a movie so riddled with relentless plot explanation can work as well as this one does comes as a revelation."

You, Me and Dupree (Universal)

Mark S. Allen, UPN-TV: "The funniest movie you'll see this summer! Funny, Charming and relentlessly honest!"

Gelf couldn't find the quote in any clip from Allen's video archives, but in a recent clip after Allen interviews Owen Wilson, one of the anchors ribs the reviewer by saying, "I want to get you quoted as saying 'It's the funniest movie you'll see this fiscal quarter.' "

Shadowboxer (Freestyle Releasing)

Stephen Holden, New York Times: "Smashes boundaries and blurs the line between comedy and melodrama."
Not quoted: "'Shadowboxer,' a gaudy thriller saturated in sex and violence, is an extravagance that leaves you with your mouth hanging open—partly in admiration of its audacity and partly in disbelief at its preposterousness."

Holden gave a more positive review to the 2000 women's boxing documentary, Shadow Boxers.

Miami Vice (Universal)

Shawn Edwards, FOX-TV: "The coolest movie of the summer is one of the best of the year! A seriously sexy, action-packed and completely intriguing tour de force."

He's back...

My Super Ex-Girlfriend (20th Century Fox)

Carina Chocano, Los Angeles Times: "Clever. Charming"
Actual line: "For a movie about an unstable superhero who dresses like Carrie Bradshaw after a gamma zap, 'Ex-Girlfriend' is cleverly attuned to the real-life nadirs of big-city psychosexual dynamics...Charming as he is, it's hard not to thrill at the sight of G-Girl tossing a shark through Matt's window."

That's right. The word "clever" originally described how well-attuned the movie is to psychosexual dynamics while the word "charming" was used to describe a character. Let's put them together to describe the overall movie! For taking words so far out of context, this ad wins our Bogus Blurb of the Week award.

Joel Siegel, Good Morning America: "Fun, Funny and Uma Thurman...The perfect trifecta."
Actual line: "The ending is obvious and sappy. But until then, this date film with revenge lived up to my expectations: Fun, funny and Uma Thurman as a superhero. As Wilson's buddy says, 'That's a trifecta, perfect!' "

This is merely a chance to bring up our punny friend.

America: Freedom to Fascism (Cinema Libre)

Jeff Craig, Sixty Second Preview: "See this cinematic call to arms..."
Actual line: "Is 'America: Freedom To Fascism' nonsensical extremist propaganda or a shocking indictment of the federal government? See this cinematic call to arms and decide for yourself."

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Article by David Goldenberg

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