The Blurbs

May 19, 2006

'Worst Piece of Star-Vehicle Crap of 2006'

Our roundup of misleading review blurbs in ads for movies takes on The Da Vinci Code, Just My Luck, Poseidon, 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.

Mission: Impossible III (Paramount)

Rolling Stone: "'M:i:III' will push your pulse rate past the danger zone!"
Actual line: "The thrills come mad hot and wicked sweet in 'Mission: Impossible III', the movie to beat this summer in the race to push your pulse rate past the danger zone. And please don't ask if the plot makes sense."

Just My Luck (20th Century Fox)

Giuliana Depandi, E!Online: "Funny and Charming."
Gelf couldn't find any mention on E!'s website where Depandi—an E! News anchor—wrote anything about this movie. She did sit down with Lindsay Lohan—the star of the film—for an interview recently, so she may have said something quotable then. Here's a line from the real review of 'Just My Luck' on E!Online: "Entering the running for the title of Worst Piece of Star-Vehicle Crap of 2006, this movie takes place in a bizarro world Manhattan where logic is irrelevant and real human behavior takes a back seat to shtick."

Joel Siegel, Good Morning America: "You'll love it! Moms, take your daughters."
Actual line: "Very well directed, nothing unseemly, 'Just My Luck' is a film moms can take their daughters to. They'll both love it.'s dry."

Poseidon (Warner Bros.)

James Verniere, Boston Herald: "Brilliantly realized and heart-pounding"
Not quoted: "That the film is fiction and not fact-based like 'United 93' means we can relax and enjoy the spectacle of destruction and death. That a heroic father figure struggling against the odds to lead a small band of survivors out of danger is a former mayor of New York City only reinforces the symbolism. If only it were a better movie."

Peter Hammond, Maxim: "A non-stop action film that doesn't come up for air."
Not quoted: "Sure, the storyline is run-of-the-mill fodder, a cheap excuse to dump 90,000 gallons of water on hysterical people—but when those people are soaking-wet babes like Mia Maestro and Emmy Rossum, it's a vast improvement over Shelley Winters doing the dog paddle in the original."

The Da Vinci Code (Sony)

Lou Lumenick, New York Post: "Ron Howard's splendid 'The Da Vinci Code' is the holy grail of blockbusters...A crackling, fast-moving thriller...Irresistible...A rare summer movie that you won't forget."
Actual line: "'The only thing that matters is what you believe,'" Langdon tells Sophie at one point. It's also the creed of 'The Da Vinci Code,' which is far more interested in being a rare summer movie that you won't forget an hour after leaving the theater than questioning the basis of anybody's religious faith."
Lumenick's review is fairly quoted in the rest of the blurb, though it's hard to understand if he's making fun when he writes this sentence: "Ron Howard's splendid 'The Da Vinci Code' is the Holy Grail of summer blockbusters: a crackling, fast-moving thriller that's every bit as brainy and irresistible as Dan Brown's controversial bestseller." The movie has been panned by most reviewers so far.

Mouth to Mouth (Artistic License)

Max Goldberg, San Francisco Bay Guardian: "Full of big ideas and impressive moments."
Actual line: " 'Mouth to Mouth' is English writer-director Alison Murray's first feature after a series of celebrated shorts, and it plays a bit like a good first novel: full of big ideas and impressive moments if a bit short of coalescing into a whole."

Russian Dolls (IFC First Take)
David Denby, The New Yorker: "Irresistible!"
Actual line: "His relationships blow up in an instant: in one, he holds a girl’s hand until they wind up in bed, and, after a quarrel, she runs stark naked out onto the Paris streets, and he, also naked, runs after her. The moment is frivolous in a lyrical way that’s irresistible."
Denby doesn't seem to decide one way or another about the merits of the film in his review, and he certainly doesn't attribute the word "irresistible"—with or without an exclamation point—to anything other than the particular scene he's describing. For that offense, this ad wins Gelf's Bogus Blurb of the Week award.

Water (Fox Searchlight)

Claudia Puig, USA Today: "'Water' is life-affirming, poignant, captivating and will remind you of the power of film."
Actual line: "'Water' may make your eyes well up with its tragic story of an innocent girl in India who is consigned to live in a grim widows' ashram, thanks to ancient Hindu law. But it will also remind you of the power of film to enlighten about customs in distant parts of the world."

Spot a misleading media quote in an ad about a movie, show, book, or anything else? E-mail Gelf with your find.

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Article by David Goldenberg

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