Gelf Magazine - Looking over the overlooked

The Blurbs

December 1, 2006

The 'Gone with the Wind' of Rock Comedies

Our roundup of misleading review blurbs in ads for movies takes on Casino Royale, Happy Feet, Deck the Halls, 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 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.

Déjà Vu (Buena Vista)

Joel Siegel, Good Morning America: "The kind of movie you want to see over again."
Actual line: "Technically, Déjà Vu' is the kind of well made movie you want to see over again, but the middle of the film is a physics lecture. If Albert Einstein were a movie critic, his one word review would be, 'What?'"
If you're worried that the famous punster is dialing back his signature stuff, have no fear. Later in the review, Siegel says: "The surveillance thing they use is called Snow White because it uses seven small satellites for gathering information. But it made me feel Sleepy and Dopey."

Casino Royale (Columbia/Sony)

Peter Travers, Rolling Stone: "The hippest, highest-octane Bond film in ages."
Not quoted: Sad to say, 'Casino Royale' is also weighed down by action-business-as-usual.
Travers must be feeling his British oats, as he also trots out this gem: "Craig reinvigorates a fagged-out franchise."

Henry Fitzherbert, The Sunday Express: "Daniel Craig could be the best 007 yet."
Not quoted: "Here are some words I never thought I would write—Daniel Craig is a terrific James Bond."
Why didn't Fitzherbert think he'd like the new Bond? Maybe because, after he'd seen the trailer, he wrote, "But, in the view of this critic, Craig looks ill at ease in the role, lacking Bond's customary urbanity and wit."

Leah Rozen, People Magazine: " 'Casino Royale' delivers exactly what you want in a Bond movie: stylish fun and thrills."
Actual line: "Okay, so the card playing drags on a bit and later action scenes can't match that early one, but 'Royale' delivers exactly what you want in a Bond movie: stylish fun and thrills."

Fast Food Nation (Fox Searchlight)

The New York Sun: "Engaging and thoughtful."
Actual line: "The problem is, of course, that while the movie is as stuffed with engaging and thoughtful asides as a bulging sack of White Castle burgers, it is as similarly packed with empty calories."
Not quoted: "Inevitably, Mr. Linklater's collaboration with Mr. Schlosser on a fictional version of the book proves misguided…this long-winded treatment plays out with a clunky, multilayered story that jostles uneasily between satire that isn't quite funny enough, righteous speechifying that rings canned rather than fresh, and social drama that feels as prefabricated as those all-beef patties that oppress our souls."
Why the PR folks decided to mine for blurb gold in a review as shitty as this one isn't clear—there are plenty of good reviews out there. For its misguided attempt at fecal alchemy, this blurb wins Gelf's Bogus Blurb of the Week award.

The Queen (Miramax)

The Boston Globe: "A Crowning Achievement."
While 'The Queen' received almost universal praise from its reviewers, it seems that those scribes are stuck in a rut when it comes to cliché choice. Dozens of writers, from Roger Ebert to Lou Lumenick to the folks behind the reviews at Rolling Stone, the Detroit Free Press, the Sacramento Bee, and the San Jose Mercury News decided that 'The Queen' was a "crowning achievement."

The History Boys (Fox Searchlight)

Glenn Kenny, Premiere: "Nobody writes English dialogue as sharp as Alan Bennett, and hearing the cast deliver it expertly is a pleasure. This is grand and juicy entertainment."
Actual line: "But there's no one today writing English dialogue as sharp as Bennett's, and hearing it delivered expertly is a pleasure worth sitting through some dodgy montages for."

Happy Feet (Warner Bros.)

Dan Jewel, Life and Style Weekly: "Adults and kids alike will be dancing in the aisles."
Actual line: "Despite a strangely serious ending, adults and kids alike will be dancing in the aisles."

The Architect (Magnolia)

Ella Taylor, the Village Voice: "An experience to savor. Anthony Lapaglia is excellent and Viola Davis is a joy to behold."
Not quoted: "Morally and politically irreproachable, the movie is dramatically dull and overly wedded to its tidy dual structure."

The Fountain (Warner Bros.)

Bruce Handy, Vanity Fair: "Aronofsky has a genuine gift for pop poetry."
Not quoted: "If you're in a generous frame of mind, you may even be moved."

Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny (New Line)

Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly: "Jack Black drinks deep from the well of classic rock 'n' roll style."
Not quoted: "But Black, a true star, and Gass, who squeezes more faux-star wattage than you'd expect out of his complete lack of star quality, are stuck in a movie that could have used a little more ragtag trippiness and a lot less excellent adventure."

Jonathan Takiff, Philadelphia Daily News: "It's the 'Gone with the Wind' of rock comedies."
Actual line: "From our humble perspective, it's the 'Gone with the Wind' of rock comedies—especially when Gass cuts one."

Deck the Halls (20th Century Fox)

Janet Stokes, Film Advisory Board: "A family comedy that's a true holiday treasure."
It seems that no one else has much nice to say about this putridly-reviewed Christmas movie, so Gelf called up Stokes to see what she liked about the movie (and to ask her why we weren't able to find the rest of her review anywhere). As it turns out, the Film Advisory Board doesn’t review movies per se, it just determines which ones are suitable for children. "We're not critics," Stokes says. "Critics are people who say the 'yay' or the 'nay'. We don’t do that. If we can't say something good about a film, we don’t give them an award." For certain movies that the Board is invited to prescreen and decides to bestow its award upon, Stokes will submit a positive blurb to the film's publicity team, as in the case of 'Deck the Halls.' Complicating this relationship, though, is that the Film Advisory Board relies on donations from the movie studios to stay in business. Stokes maintains that the funding plays no role in deciding which movies to grant awards or blurbs.

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 Mar 18, 07
robert

hi all. nice blog. its very ineresting article.

- The Blurbs
- posted on Apr 13, 07
alex

hi nice site.

- The Blurbs
- posted on Jun 14, 07
robert

hi all.

- The Blurbs
- posted on Jul 05, 07
robert

hi. nice blog.

- The Blurbs
- posted on Sep 19, 07
alex

hi all. nice site. by.


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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