Criticwatch - Shawn Edwards: Professional Bullshitter
by Erik Childress
Criticwatch comes to both bury and praise this week. First up, the latter. A gigantic heap of praise to colleague Mike McGranaghan for giving us the heads up on Shawn Edwards recent tweet in regards to the DVD/Blu-ray release of The Hangover Part III. It was a doozy of a contradiction and normally it would be left to us to put in the time to put the pieces together on Shawn's shenanigans, but Mike did what we have asked so many to do for over a decade. Speak up. Vent that frustration against those critics who so neatly fit themselves into the studio's marketing plans for films. Surely we are not the only ones who are fed up with the lazy campaigns and the quote whores that give it up so easily that their words (or the words the studio provides them with) have become routine, laughable and insulting. We'll be sharing much of Mr. McGranaghan's blog entry with you but we'll also dig deeper into the hypocritical hyperbole machine known as Shawn Edwards.
First up, let's get to the incident at hand. As well documented by McGranaghan, Shawn Edwards tweeted the following about The Hangover Part III:
If one didn't know any better you would think that was hyperbole of the opposite kind. Zero bags or stars, either way, avoid like the plague. Harsh, don't you think? Unless you have actually seen Todd Phillips' big F.U. to anyone who actually liked the original film and then dared to criticize that Part II was just more of the same. Already we are getting off topic. So many have assumed Criticwatch, with its Rotten Tomatoes numbers and all, is just about taking people to task who do not subscribe to the collective taste. That is only part of it. (You will notice that the whores are normally used when most respected critics think a movie stinks.) In any case, it seems that Edwards actually agrees with us that The Hangover Part III is a giant hunk of garbage and one of the very worst films of the year. Or does he?
That was the quote that run on the ad back in May. Alongside quotes by fellow whores, Bonnie Laufer, Kevin McCarthy, Cindy Pearlman, Jami Philbrick, Maria Salas and Steve Samblis. Consider the disparity in those two statements though. "The funniest trilogy ever" vs. "Avoid like the plague." That's a 4-to-0 popcorn bag swing. How does that happen? How can Shawn explain that? Did he merely just change his mind?
You have got to be shitting us! When we began planning a follow-up to McGranaghan's thorough piece we were considering coming up with a list of alibis and possible explanations that Shawn could use. Now that he tweeted that, we can now delve into the circumstances that led Edwards to simply change his mind.
It has been five months since Shawn Edwards declared The Hangover as "the funniest trilogy ever." First off, what could be in the running to challenge that statement? Austin Powers? Beverly Hills Cop? Alvin and the Chipmunks? How many comedies have lent themselves to the overall arc and closure worthy of being labeled a trilogy? More importantly, how many of them have sustained their comedic energy and laugh quotients to be deemed a complete package of success? Meet the Parents? Friday? Big Momma's House? Even Steven Soderbergh's Ocean's trilogy had a middle bump in the road that most dislike. We have on record that Shawn Edwards liked The Hangover Part II since he was quoted as saying "The Wolfpack delivers again!" That was a sequel that dipped to 34% from the original's 79%. Part III came in at 19%. But these are just numbers.
What occurs in five months that leads someone to shift from a grandiose statement of putting a film in the comedic archives to making sure nobody ever digs up and unleashes that plague again. Did Todd Phillips take a public shot at Edwards? Did Bradley Cooper or Zach Galifiankis deny him an interview? Did Warner Bros. screw him over in some way? It has to be personal, right? Even if Edwards came to his senses (as many of us occasionally do when we feel we have overpraised or pooped on something prematurely in the heat of the moment) that's still a steep leap.
Imagine if Edwards comes out of The Hangover Part III ecstatic. The WB publicist is waiting for him outside the junket screening looking for a reaction and he spouts out how its "the funniest trilogy ever." Or the WB publicist shows him a list of pre-determined quotes and asks him to choose like Miyagi offering Daniel-San his first car.
"The wildest ride yet" "Hilarious" "Surprising" "Outrageous. Wild." "Ridiculously funny, The best Hangover yet" "An epic ending" "The perfect ending." "The funniest trilogy ever."
Choose, Shawn. And he chooses the biggest and best one. He sleeps on it and realizes maybe he should have just gone with "hilarious." Too late now. It's already sent to the trailer editor and been included in the ads. Cut to five months later. WB sends Shawn a copy of the DVD. He watches the film, presumably sober, and comes to the Arrested Development-like epiphany that he's made a huge mistake. Hey, everyone is entitled to change their mind, right? I didn't think much of The Tree of Life at first. Maybe The Lone Ranger won't hold up for me on second viewing. Except there is one big problem with Shawn's recent excuse of mind-changing.
If you zoom on over to the Fox4KC website, you can see Shawn's original review of The Hangover Part III on May 24, 2013. The day it opened. Or just watch it here.
As Shawn's partner, Russ Simmons, explains the plot of The Hangover Part III, Shawn immediately interjects "that's why it was disappointing." Already, the claim of funniest trilogy ever has started to crumble. Again, this was on May 24, the day the film opened. The ads with Shawn's quote had been running for at least a week. The junket would have been at least a week before that. So let's say 2-3 weeks just to be fair from Shawn's enthusiastic quote selection to Warner Bros. to the airing of his official "review" on television.
"Three is the magic number unless you are a movie franchise."
Oh boy, here we go. Not only is Shawn dismantling his quote, he's going to take others down with him. Enlighten us, Shawn. What are these awful third movies you speak of?
"Godfather III, Revenge of the Jedi, Back to the Future Part III, Jaws 3-D, The Matrix Revolutions. Now you can add The Hangover Part III to the list. It's awful."
First off, did he mean Return of the Jedi or Revenge of the Sith? Either way, look at that list. Jaws 3-D is clearly the worst of the bunch, though even that franchise had a fourth film thus taking it out of the trilogy discussion. As for the others, to even include any of them in the discussion of The Hangover Part III is enough to have Shawn permanently put in the critic cooler with no food or water for, oh let's say EVER! Argue amongst yourselves what is good, what is bad and what was merely disappointing given what came before them, but good GOD man! Couldn't Shawn have said Meet the Fockers, Chipwrecked or Amityville 3-D? Exactly what was your sudden big problem with The Hangover Part III now Shawn?
"The biggest problem is that it's not funny."
Wow! From "funniest...ever" to "it's not funny." Even if Shawn felt Part III was only worthy of 3 popcorn bags, "ever" to "not" is still a major leap. If he thought the first two films were comedic masterpieces and the third was just decent, Shawn may still have been able to justify it as the funniest trilogy ever given the minute list of fully-rounded challengers. Did he change his mind on any of these quotes?
"The Funniest Movie Ever!" (Bridesmaids) "The funniest, craziest and zaniest teen movie ever." (Fired Up) "A magical experience unlike anything you have ever seen." (Idlewild) "One of the most creative, original and visionary movies ever made." (Where the Wild Things Are) "One of the most epic love stories ever." (The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1) "One of the best vampire movies ever." (Twilight) "One of the coolest vampire movies ever!" (Priest) "One of the coolest movies you'll ever see!" (Stomp the Yard) "One of the most entertaining, exciting and intense movies ever made." (I Am Legend) "One of the best sci-fi films ever!" (The Chronicles of Riddick) "The most dazzling animated feature ever made." (Robots)
That is all Shawn Edwards right there. Don't you just want to see the other science fiction films on the list of the greatest alongside The Chronicles of Riddick? Bringing the whole trilogy thing full circle there's a second part to Edwards quote. Not only is The Hangover Part III "the funniest trilogy ever," but it also "comes to a glorious end." Just how glorious was it, Shawn?
"You would think it would all end in spectacular WTF fashion. Nah, it doesn't. It actually concludes rather flatly."
And there you have it folks. As Criticwatch has repeated over the years, you be the judge. Who do you trust? Do you think Shawn Edwards simply changed his mind? Or did he willfully give a quote he knew in his heart to be untrue just to get his name some air time? Can he be blamed for lying directly to Tyler Perry's face about how much he liked Alex Cross only to pull the same reversal on both Fox4KC and Twitter.
"Funniest trilogy ever" to "0 popcorn bags." Just how many bags did Edwards give on television on May 24?
"2 popcorn bags."
From 2-to-0 sounds more like changing one's mind to us. Hopefully it is time for studios to begin changing theirs when it comes to Shawn Edwards and the quote whores of his ilk. This is a three-time Quote Whore of the Year champion at Criticwatch and never once failed to at least make the top ten. Shawn Edwards is, inarguably, one of the worst quote whores in history of whoredom. To call him a bullshit artist would be a direct insult to bullshit and the association of artist of any kind is equivalent to the mistake of calling him a film critic. He is a film cheerleader, strutting his ass around trying to hype up the home crowd during an 0-15 season. The Jacksonville Jags would sure like to have that kind of support and Edwards would surely fit in on a team with that nickname. We will give the final word though to Mike McGranaghan who concluded his article with the following:
"Quote whoredom has gotten out of hand. People like Travers and Shawn Edwards are hurting the reputations of respectable film critics with their unprofessional antics, and they’re also harming the cultural discussion of cinema. By proclaiming crap to be gold, or by happily lying so as to avoid losing their ability to suck up to movie stars, they make the audience mistrustful. The dirty, duplicitous, repellant quote whores ought to be ashamed of themselves. And I’m talking to you, Shawn Edwards."