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THE COURT OF PUBLIC OPINION: Freedomland Edition

by Chris Parry

Every so often we like to put together a look at the entertainment industry and gauge the public pulse on certain matters taking place in the business. Sometimes it might be something salacious like Paris Hilton going nightclubbing with her mother, while her mother dances in a see-through top with no bra. Other times it might be religious right nutjobs choosing to boycott a religiously-themed TV series about a Priest coping with modern life. But today we decided to narrow the field of fire somewhat and simply concentrate on one target, with several different heads. The target is Freedomland. And if you’ve seen the TV commercial for this largely useless waste of money and celluloid, you’ll have a good idea of the ‘heads’ – Larry King, Shawn Edwards, and Easy Earl Dittman, the men who volunteered their reputations and pride to allow the studio to boast three pull-quotes for a film that is almost universally hated. Read on, as we tear these hacks a new one, and throw Julianne Moore on the fire while we’re at it.

DEFENDANT #1: LARRY KING
“A riveting, sensational, important thriller with performances of a lifetime by Samuel L. Jackson and Julianne Moore.”


Anyone who has seen Larry King interview anyone on his CNN show is probably already aware that the guy brings absolutely no knowledge, research or follow-up questions to the table. He has an assistant put some questions together, and then he perches at his desk like an owl, reading those questions and sucking up to his guests so hard that the trees around the CNN offices all lean towards his desk. But what you might not realize is that King has a little side racket going as a ‘film critic’. What this means is, he’ll interview someone from the movie, then he’ll go on about how great the movie is, and then the studio, in thanks, will put his name on the trailer or TV ads.

This doesn’t happen a lot, mostly because studios have several willing plants they can go to when the critics have given a movie a cold shoulder. But when a movie really sucks unholy ass, or it is intended for the ‘older’ crowd, they’ll roll Larry’s old bones out and splay his name on a poster, like the guy has any credibility as a film critic. I mean, if Larry King is the best you can find for a pullquote, how far behind could the following be?

“Freedomland is really cool, y’all!” – Larry The Cable Guy
“I enjoy seeing Julianne Moore naked” – Gilbert Gottfried
“They let me see it for free! And there was food!” – Harry Knowles
“I like the title because it has ‘freedom’ in it” – George W. Bush
“The dresses were pretty” – Dakota Fanning
“I’d tap that ass” – Roger, Phi Delta House, Texas University


Of course, this is the third time Larry King has been quoted for a film this year, and we’re barely six weeks into a year that has boasted inglorious crap like Underworld: Evolution, Annapolis, Glory Road, When a Stranger Calls, and the Pink Panther – the latter being a film that tested so poorly it was actually shelved for six months, before eventually being released during the time of year famous for being a cinematic dumping ground. Still, that didn’t stop King from being quoted for the film, saying it was “Flat out hilarious. Steve Martin is incredible.” He liked Glory Road too – “A flat-out terrific movie! Brilliant!

Apparently Larry has a Freudian thing going on about being ‘flat out’. Which may explain his 14 divorces.

To be fair to King, he wasn’t such a hack last year. Granted, he did Robots was “Thrilling! Funny. Creative. Terrific.” And he did say Two For The Money was “The best movie about gambling ever made!”... Gee, Larry, even better than The Hustler? The Sting? The Color of Money? Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels? Casino? The Cooler? Casino Royale?

Heck, I’d put Two For The Money far behind even Rounders, White Men Can’t Jump and Maverick, as far as gambling movies go, and I HATE Maverick.

But then again, I’m an ACTUAL film critic. I’ve SEEN movies, whereas Larry King hasn’t. And if he has, let’s face it, dementia must be forcing those memories back behind such now forgotten knowledge as ‘how to ask a follow-up question’ and ‘perhaps it’s not a good idea to wear suspenders when you have no shoulder muscles’, or even ‘Jerry Lewis for a full hour? What are you thinking, you crazy old coot!?’

THE VERDICT: Larry King is guilty of being an idiot. But that’s hardly news. For his punishment, he should be remanded to a long term care facility, where he can be surrounded by the last demographic that gives a damn about what he thinks about a movie.




DEFENDANT #2: SHAWN EDWARDS
“****! Moving and gripping! Freedomland is a heart-stopping, riveting and utterly compelling film. Samuel L. Jackson delivers one of the finest performances of his career and Julianne Moore is superb.”


How big an idiot is Shawn Edwards? Here’s a timeline that demonstrates the scope of his idiocy in full.

2005:
February: Hitch - The Comedy of the Year.
March: Be Cool - The coolest movie of the year!
March: Robots - The most dazzling animated feature ever made.
May: Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants - The most charming and wonderful movie you'll see all year.
May: High Tension - The best horror movie of the year!
June: Batman Begins - The film of the year!
August: The Skeleton Key - The best thriller of the year.
September: Lord of War - One of the best films of the year.
October: Waiting - The craziest comedy of the year!
November: Get Rich or Die Tryin’ - The most powerful movie of the year!
December: At Last - One of the best romantic movies in years!


Do you get it now? Put simply, there is no larger idiot on the film criticism landscape than Shawn Edwards. In fact, as much as we despise the Human Sweatdrop, Paul Fischer, and Mose “Shame of French Canada” Persico, Shawn ‘Nuff’ pushes them all way off into the background as the biggest toss-pot in the entertainment industry.

His recent spat with the Kansas City Film Critics Circle, in which he called them "nothing but a big clique of film geeks" (gee, who would have thought?) and said they were “firing arrows out of jealousy and envy” (jealousy of what exactly? The Studio City Four Seasons’ breakfast buffet?), showed him to be not just an idiot, but a classless idiot, as he chose to air his professional grievances to a KC gossip columnist, which led to him getting the public caning of his life by several professional writers in his area. But it was his shenanigans with booze and lies to studio publicists that saw him essentially ‘cut off’ from the junket scene for a short time. In fact, those same gossip columns in which he once chose to publish his lack of professionalism took great joy in writing of Edwards’ recent appearance at an awards show, where he was reportedly falling down drunk, on stage, swigging from a vodka bottle, thanking the sponsors "for getting me fucked up", being heckled by the crowd, and ranting incoherently.

Or there's this, his "review" of When A Stranger Calls, reprinted in it's entirety right here:

WHEN A STRANGER CALLS
(Screen Gems) - Rated PG-13
This is what I like to call a, “talk to the screen classic.” This is an stylish [sic] update of the 1979 film. You know the premise, which inspired the “Scream” movies. A young girl is all alone at home and is harassed by a pervert on the phone. There are actually some genuine thrills and moments of suspense. - 4 out of 5 Popcorn Bags


That's it. That's what a review from a quotewhore looks like, complete with poor grammar.

One item that hasn’t made the gossip columns – yet – Edwards was reportedly caught using his cellphone to record video off the screen DURING A PRESS SCREENING! According to our insiders, “Shawn had claimed he needed the footage for his show at Channel 4. They made him erase the material off his phone, but as far as I know, there haven't been any other consequences for his actions. With him, there seldom are.”

What a jackass! In fact, only a jackass this huge could say about The Chronicles of Riddick… “One of the best sci-fi films ever!”

THE VERDICT: So guilty you want to punch the little asshole right in the nose. When Edwards was quoted as saying, “The quotes you read of mine, alongside Roger Ebert and all the top-notch critics, has totally helped my career as a film critic and my credibility,” we hated him for being an insufferable douchebag. But now we hate him for oh so much more – now we hate him for his inflated opinion of his own talent, for his dire awful taste in movies, for his stupidity and non-professionalism, for his nigh alcoholism, for his selling out of the film criticism craft, for his tendency to rush to gossip columnists whenever he has something to say that he doesn’t want questioned, and because he says stupid, incorrect stuff like, “I didn't not like ‘Sideways,' I gave it a three [out of five],” when in actual fact we have his exact quote above saying he “didn’t like” Sideways, and his taped TV review of the film says he gave it a two.

“Jealousy and envy?” That’s kind of like suggesting the reason people hated Leona Helmsley was because she was rich. It’s like saying the reason people hate Martha Stewart is because she has a TV show. It’s like saying the reason people hated Stalin was they were envious that he got to run a fascist dictatorship.

No, Shawn. Here’s the reason we hate you.

Crossroads – [Britney Spears is] “like a comet. A talent of her magnitude only comes around once in a lifetime and you can’t take your eyes off her when she is on screen in this totally cool and delightfully hip movie.”

We hate you because you’re a fucking idiot.




DEFENDANT #3: “EASY” EARL DITTMAN
A shocking psychological thriller. Samuel L. Jackson is brilliant. He will leave you breathless.


It’s sad that the studio behind Freedomland feels like they need to resort to a Larry King quote to hype their film, and when they use a Shawn Edwards quote, you KNOW the film is a piece of shit. But when they come out with an Earl Dittman pullquote, that just sends the movie into a very special level of cinema hell, where Congo plays on a loop, Cuba Gooding Jr stars in everything, and Paul Fischer is first in line at every buffet table.

As we have outlined previously, Earl Dittman doesn’t write movie reviews. What he does is put together ten or twelve pull quote options, then he sends them to the studio publicists before he’s seen the film. They choose the one they want, or if they don’t want any, they make one up and send it to him for his approval (which they always get). They then fly him to a weekend junket, put him up in a hotel, feed him three square meals at the Four Seasons, give him a promotional T-shirt, let him have his picture taken with Tom Cruise, let him see the film he’s already been quoted for in the trailer, and then send him home with a nice friendly pat on the butt.

He is a national disgrace. And every movie he gets quoted for is, almost without fail, a movie that no serious critic liked. None. An Earl Dittman quote is grounds for consumer boycott. It’s grounds for outrage.

And what a surprise that he should be quoted for TWO Sony releases in the last month (Fun With Dick and Jane and Freedomland - both stinkers), since Sony was the company that was busted a few years back having created a fictional film critic, David Manning. Several years later, it seems they’ve come up with a way to save themselves the legal hassles that come with a conspiracy fraud charge, by simply paying a celebrity-hungry hack like Easy Earl to become their very own real life fake film critic and putting whatever words in his mouth they think might help sell a bomb of a film to an unsuspecting public.

Dittman is scum, and Sony is scum if they think they can pass his special form of whoring off as film criticism. We stand here now and scream FREEDOMLAND SUCKS ASS! DO NOT PAY MONEY FOR THIS MOVIE!

THE VERDICT: Goes without saying, Dittman deserves to be fed to the hounds, and we will continue to ‘out’ any film that features one of his pull-quotes from this point forward. Learn the mantra, studio hacks - The Stain Of The Dittman will never wash off.




SPECIAL BONUS FEATURE!

DEFENDANT #4: JULIANNE MOORE
“This is a really good movie” - Julianne Moore on The Daily Show


You know, we get it that actors are contractually obligated to promote the movies that they are in. We know that actors that don’t do so are generally told they’re hurting their careers and that their failure to help will be remembered next time they have a project they want greenlit. Sure, it’s a tough situation to be in, especially if you don’t like the film. Yet there’s a difference between coming on to The Daily Show and saying this:

“Yeah, I’m in this movie, it’s about blah blah, opens tomorrow… and I just bought these wonderful new shoes! Do you like them? They’re real leather…”

…and saying this:

“This is a REALLY GOOD FILM, I think you’re going to love it. Sam Jackson is great, it’s dramatic…”

Julianne Moore knows Freedomland is terrible. She’s fully aware that she was paid a lot of money to scream and look like she’s losing consciousness for 90 minutes. She knows full well that she has whored her reputation as a serious actress out for the big bucks, and you know what? We’re fine with all that.

What we’re not fine with is that she has gone from talk show to talk show, whoring herself for this film. Not just appearing and having a chat about fluff, which is what most stars of awful films do to promote their movies when they know they suck, (“Yes Jay, I have three dogs at home – Fifi, Yipper and Paperweight… Oh, my movie opens Friday. Thanks for having me!”), but going on these shows and actually lying to our faces that we’re going to enjoy the movie.

SELL-OUT! HACK! LIAR!

We wondered if her brazen lying about the quality of the awful Laws of Attraction on the publicity circuit a few years back was just a case of her having different taste to most people, but telling audiences that Freedomland is a “good film” is inexcusable. It puts her in the same category as Dittman, Edwards and King, and I apologize in advance for the image of those three being in the same anything with Ms Moore.


You wanna know how to remain true to the people who pay to see you in movies, Julianne? Try the William H. Macy route of honesty: “William H. Macy spoke out to the press about the fact that [Jurassic Park III] was being shot without a completed script and that Spielberg, despite having an Executive Producer credit, had never made an appearance on the set.”

What a shame. She was good once. Now she’s just a liar and a sell-out.

THE VERDICT: Guilty of shameless shilling. The sentence? Straight to video hell. After Freedomland, nobody is going out of their way to see you in a movie, Julieanne. You’re dead to us.

WRAPPING UP: In case you hadn’t worked it out, Freedomland sucks ass. Avoid it, download it, do what you have to do in order to not reward failure and lies.


link directly to this feature at http://www.efilmcritic.com/feature.php?feature=1728
originally posted: 02/18/06 14:52:04
last updated: 03/05/06 12:59:11
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