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Criticwatch - Dogs and Pussies & A Touch Of Salt

by Erik Childress

Last week's Criticwatch took a more direct approach at singling out those - not normally on our radar as quote whores and blurb sluts - who are simply unworthy of calling themselves a critic. If you don't like Inception and can back it up, fine. But you cannot make that argument in the same weekend where you recommended The Sorcerer's Apprentice, the second of the Bruckheimer Factory released this summer to suck imagination out rather than plant it in our minds. Even the whores who slurped up the latest from Jon Turteltaub seemed smart enough to believe Inception was better. It's a strong opinion, maybe infuriating for some, but one to stand upon in the age of the "educated" Armond White who thought that Grown Ups and Jonah Hex were superior to Nolan's work. But this week it is back to something hopefully we can all agree upon. Studios are not helping themselves by favoring the same old quote-meisters.

To take shots at Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore without having seen it is admittedly unfair. (On the night of the screening, I chose instead to take my first opportunity at seeing Scott Pilgrim vs. the World at a closer venue. Can you blame me?) What we can take shots at though is Warner Bros. continuing to stick with their junket guns and putting even less faith in their product before the darn thing is even screened for the actual press. They went with four quotes on their Sunday ads, three from guys who have made Criticwatch's Top 10 Whores of the Year and one from someone on the fast track to make the list for 2010.

Mark S. Allen is a man of few words. Because he apparently only knows a few given his history of similar blurbs or attaching his name to whatever the studio asks him to. The 2008 Whore of the Year found Kitty Galore "hilarious." And why shouldn't he? Mark has been more than happy to lend his name to Warner Bros. over the years. 14 of his 26 quotes from the past two years were for the studio including such gems as Terminator Salvation ("The summer’s biggest thrill ride!"), Sex and the City ("The best date movie of the summer!)" and He's Just Not That Into You ("The best date movie of the season!")

Then we have Jim Ferguson. He's on his sixth quote of the year and seems to be having a blast in this rather crappy year of film. Mind you this is the guy who once said that The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen was "the most original action-adventure of the summer."

"Take this fantastic journey...A non-stop action adventure with state-of-the-art special effects." (Clash of the Titans)
"An action adventure for the entire family." (Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief)
"A high-flying family adventure." (Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore)

Now we get to the final two on the Cats & Dogs ads. Special cases indeed.

"Purr-fect! A 3-D spectacular for the whole family!" - Jami Philbrick
"An irresistible action comedy that's pure tail-wagging family fun." - Jeff Craig

If there's anything worse than a pun used to sell a movie, I don't know if we have come across it. We may all be guilty of doing it at one time or another in a review, but most of us who know how to write movie reviews tend to be rather self-aware of it. But you have to wonder if Jami Philbrick just looked at the poster for Jackie Chan's The Spy Next Door when calling it "High-flying family fun!" Or the following three quotes for films in December '09 & January '10 that were withheld from press screenings:

"Explosive, fully-loaded fun." (Armored)
"A laugh riot that ignites the screen with sexiness!" (Transylmania)
"Bullet-blazing action and demon-killing satisfaction." (Legion)

And sorry, Mark S. Allen, but Jami thinks that The Back-Up Plan is "The perfect date movie," so there! Don't try telling Jeff Craig who is boss though. The faceless disembodied press release reader on his sixty-second radio spots knows a thing or two on how to assemble a pun. And he'll make you work for it too. OK, so "tail-wagging family fun" for Cats & Dogs is not all that inspired. They can't all be gems though.

"A gem!" (Mid-August Lunch) - Hollywood Reporter
"A gem." (The Eclipse) - Marshall Fine
"A brilliant comic gem!" (Micmacs) - James Verniere
"An unexpected gem!" (Greenberg) - Claudia Puig
"An inspiring gem." (La Mission) - New York Post

Color me corrected. But this is Jeff Craig time, so let us walk you through some of his pun-tastic quotes over the years.

"A hugely enjoyable knockout of a movie." (The Karate Kid)

That's pretty obvious. Karate + Kicks = Knockout

"An irresistible comedy that will put a big fat smile on your face." (My Life In Ruins)

This one is pretty easy too if you remember who starred in this film. That's right, it was Nia Vardalos, the creator of My BIG FAT Greek Wedding. In case you forgot with her most extensive resume.

"Beyonce Knowles is a revelation. Funny…the music is simply divine!" ( The Fighting Temptations)

Anyone remember that Cuba Gooding Jr. film from 2003? Sorry to remind you. He played a guy who had to create a hometown gospel choir. Gospel Music...Church...Divine! Whether or not he was actually associating Beyonce with the end of days is anyone's guess.

"A joyful film that will leave a lump in your throat." (The Secret Life of Bees)

Yeah, if you are allergic to bees. Exclusively picking on Craig and Philbrick for this practice though is hardly fair when 2010 has been loaded with this most useless gimmick. Play along with your friends.

"Inception dreams big. How cool is that?" (Inception) - Peter Travers
"Truly, madly, wonderful." (Alice In Wonderland) - The Hollywood Reporter
"Queen Latifah & Common are the perfect all-star team." (Just Wright) - Mark S. Allen
"Chris Columbus waves his wand of fantasy again." (Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief) - Patrick Stoner
"Tim Allen's directing debut is a great escape." (Crazy On The Outside) - Jim McFarlin, Metro Times
"I love Rock 'N' Roll and this movie!" (The Runaways) - Jan Wahl, KCBS AM/FM San Francisco
"A fish tale that will hook you." (Ondine) - Marshall Fine
"A howl of a ride." (The Wolfman) -
"A bolt of family fun!" (Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief) - Stephanie Webb, WZZM-TV/ABC
"Rabidly entertaining!" (Survival of the Dead) - Dennis Dermody
"There's infectious humor..." (Survival of the Dead) - Stuart Klawans
"You'd be crazy to miss it." (The Crazies) - Conor Nolan, The People (UK)
"Insanely entertaining." (The Crazies) - Chris Hewitt, St. Paul Pioneer Press
"...will get into your head." (The Crazies) - Claudia Puig
"Puts the A back in action!" (The A-Team) - Sandie Newton
"This movie kicks ass!" (Kick-Ass) - Dennis Dermody
"Drop dead funny." (Death at a Funeral) - James Thomas
"You'll want to know this secret." (The Secret In Their Eyes) - Joe Morgenstern
"Oh, what a fun Knight." (Knight and Day) - Claudia Puig
"Has 2 Times the glitz and 2 times the glamour." (Sex and the City 2) - Russ Simmons
"Sex is even better the second time around." (Sex and the City 2) - Scott Mantz

Nothing like throwing salt on the wound, huh? Speaking of which, this is a segue and not a pun. Mose Persico, recently seen as calling Steve Carell & Paul Rudd "the new Odd Couple" on the Dinner for Schmucks ads believes that Philip Noyce's Angelina Jolie spy thriller is the "best action film of the year" and "a jaw-dropping thriller." But so what?

"Brilliant! A captivating adventure that's thrilling from start to finish." (The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian)
"A fun-filled movie with chills and thrills for the entire family!" (The Haunted Mansion)
"Gripping and suspenseful! A thriller that shakes you up." (Suspect Zero)
"Explosive! Gripping! A blazing suspense thriller! Terrific entertainment! A great time at the movies!" (Firewall)

Straight from the mouth of Mose the Moron. I don't know what else to say about Dave Basner's assertion that Salt has "more strength than Bourne" other than I didn't know Tom Hanks' character from Nothing in Common moved from advertising to movie reviewing for the MTV/VH1 Radio Networks. We do, however, know exactly what to say about ol' Peter Travers saying that "Salt is a red hot thriller that keeps popping surprises that shouldn't be spoiled...Hang on for the ride" but we would rather let Travers say it himself.

"Hero was just a warm-up for this martial arts fireball that throws in a lyrical love story and countless other ravishments and dazzling surprises. Prepare your eyes for popping!" (House of Flying Daggers)
"It keeps popping with surprises! Uma Thurman is sizzling in an electrifying performance!" (Kill Bill Vol. 2)
"The suspense crackles, the acting sizzles and the script keeps tossing surprises like grenades." (Inside Man)
"Put on those 3D glasses and ride, baby, ride. Zemeckis springs so many 3D surprises you’ll think (it) is your own private fun house." (Beowulf)
"...gripping entertainment that keeps springing surprises." (Appaloosa)
"...springs so many juicy comic and dramatic surprises." (Matchstick Men)

Can someone please toss Travers into a spring? Hang on, Pete!

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originally posted: 07/28/10 12:43:05
last updated: 10/06/18 11:16:10
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