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TraversWatch - You'll Laugh 'Til It Hurts

by Erik Childress

Last week, it came as quite a shock when we noticed that Peter Travers, the leading quote merchant for all but one of Criticwatch’s years of existence, was currently sharing 2011’s lead with Sixty Second Previews Jeff Craig. The addition of TraversWatch as a spinoff was designed for studios to notice what they were paying for with early access for the Rolling Stone “critic” and to realize it was in their films’ best interest to scale him back. The thought that he could actually be outgunned by the faceless Craig and his reviews/press releases by committee is a brand of ironic justice that we might actually be OK with. Watching studios let Travers take the lead again is something we cannot abide by.

We are coming upon the end of April and Travers is besting Craig and rival Pete, Mr. Hammond 13-12. In an interesting twist, you will notice that original Peter is hardly being favored by the majors in 2011. So far 11 of his 13 quotes have been from indie divisions. This might seem like a significant step back for Travers, but consider that the guy actually wrote some negative reviews this year. 12 of the 15 major studio films he reviewed (listed at Rotten Tomatoes) were not in the positive. Of course, of the three he did like, two (Unknown and Paul) pick up quotes from him. By the smaller companies fishing for his quotes, it only accentuates the idea that words from him are worth seeking out; that he's actually one of the names like Ebert or The New York Times they use to replace Jeff Craig and Shawn Edwards on the ads.

The summer movie season is on the horizon though where Travers bulks up on the praise. 40% of Travers' total quotes in 2009 came from the May-August months. The percentage was down to 33% in 2010, but his quote total also reached a career best last year with 81. Totals were down from the majors last summer, however, with them favoring a Travers quote 11 times, down from 14 in '09. Let's see if we can get that number down again in 2011, just like Travers' pre-summer tally. Last year, he already had 20 quotes in the bank. This year, only 13. Shall we take a look at four of his most recent ones?

"A ride that starts at wild and accelerates from there." (Source Code)

"Mesmerizing! A wild, witty ride that will creep you out big time!" (Lemming)

"Magnificent! Mesmerizing! A wild ride of a movie! (The Motorcycle Diaries)

"A wow of an action movie that buries the competition and sets a new gold standard for thrills and smarts. We’ve waited all summer for a wild ride to grab us with more than jolts. Now it’s here. Hang on." (The Bourne Ultimatum)

"You won’t find hotter action, wilder thrills or loopier laughs this summer!" (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest)

Raucous laughs. Steve Carell is flat-out hilarious. The laughs fly higher and wilder because the characters keep it real." (The 40 Year-Old Virgin)

"Wild, rowdy fun. Billy Bob Thornton whacks the laughs out of the park. (Bad News Bears)

"An emotional powerhouse!" (In a Better World)

"Holds you spellbound! Brimming with stinging laughs and tears, and swirling healing music. Jonathan Demme directs his best film in years. A funny, touching, vital script by Jenny Lumet. Anne Hathaway delivers an acting tour de force. Debra Winger, magnificent, is a volcano of repressed anger. Rosemarie DeWitt is superb…and a heartfelt Bill Irwin. Demme calls Rachel Getting Married a “home movie”. A home run is more like it. Hang on for an emotional powerhouse." (Rachel Getting Married)

"One of the best movies of the fall season…An emotional powerhouse…Hirsch gives an award-caliber performance of astonishing depth and humanity. Eddie Vedder’s remarkable songs sound like the voice of Chris’ unconscious." (Into the Wild)

"An emotional powerhouse! Jean-Pierre Jeunet is a miracle worker, a filmmaker whose soaring visuals and passionate intensity are artfully blended in this stunning film...Just sit back and behold as Jeunet takes you to hell and back with this epic love story." (A Very Long Engagement)

"An emotional powerhouse!" (We Own the Night)

"A knockout! Like nothing you've ever seen! A fairy tale of lightning speed and gritty action." (Hanna)

So, Travers didn’t see Kick-Ass then?

“Kick-Ass is a roaring blast of energy! It dares you to dive into its anarchy!” - Peter Travers

Oh OK, so Travers just completely forgot about that other film concerning a guy training his “daughter” to become an assassin to avenge some past wrongdoing done onto their family? The one from just under a year ago. I guess its easy to forget such an anarchic, roaring blast of energy. Wonder what he said about The Professional.

"...Flying high on explosive action and sly wit, THE PROFESSIONAL gets the job done..."' - Peter Travers

Seriously, Travers' Hanna quote is about as asinine as Pete Hammond calling Rio the biggest animated triumph since Toy Story 3.” Is there a memory bank in either of these guys' head? Has Hammond been so starved to find a match for Pixar’s brilliant conclusion that after ten months he couldn’t wait to declare a film as lifeless and boring as Rio as a triumph on par with last year’s Oscar winner?

Not even Rango or Tangled or The Illusionist or the whole other eight animated films that have come out since last June. Maybe Roger should replace My Dog Tulip at Ebertfest this year with Rio. The only truly triumphant thing about it is that it proves that bright, pretty colors are enough to get Pete Hammond's attention.

"The party of the year! Dazzles like nothing else anywhere." (Dreamgirls)

"A knockout!" (Crash)

"A knockout! A visual miracle!" (Rize)

"Magic! A French knockout!" (A Christmas Tale)

"A knockout of a thriller!" (A Prophet)

"A knockout! Spellbinding! It spins a web that will pull you in. A thriller that really thrills." (The Lookout)

"Drop-dead dazzling knockout beautiful…this movie will grab you." (Step Into Liquid)

"A movie that doesn't pull its punches. It's a knockout!" (Capote)

"A knockout in every way…Passing Strange blows the roof off!" (Passing Strange)

"One sweet sexy sting of a movie! Edward Burns gives a knockout performance…Confidence is a game worth playing." (Confidence)

"Scott Pilgrim is a game-changer. A breathless rush of a movie that jumps off the screen, spins your head around and then works its way into your heart. Dazzling...A visual wonderland that is literally a knockout." (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World)

"A combustible spy thriller. Gritty action laced with simmering drama. DiCaprio’s in top form. Crowe is a live wire." (Body of Lies)

"Think of all the ways you can hurt yourself laughing, as in fall down, split your sides, bust a gut, blow your mind. You get it all in Tropic Thunder, a knockout of a comedy that keeps you laughing constantly. It’s also killer smart, lacing combustible action with explosive gags." (Tropic Thunder)

"Keira Knightley scores a knockout…Impurely delicious…There’s a fire in her eyes that won’t be extinguished. Ralph Fiennes is superb." (The Duchess)

"Thunderous action and nail-biting suspense…A potently acted powerhouse that sticks in the mind and the heart. Harris and Mortensen make a knockout team. Appaloosa is gripping entertainment that keeps springing surprises" (Appaloosa)

"A globe-trotting, butt-kicking, whiplash-paced action movie done with humor, style and smarts. A knockout performance by Matt Damon" (The Bourne Supremacy)

"The Cooler hits the jackpot! William H. Macy is hilarious... Maria Bello dazzles! Alec Baldwin's revelatory portrayal is the stuff Oscars are made of. A knockout!" (The Cooler)

"Hairspray earns knockout status for its humor, heart and high spirits." (Hairspray)

"Hilarious in ways you have to see to believe! Knocked Up is the comedy of the summer, and maybe the year. When schlub Seth Rogen, in a star-making performance, lucks out on a first date with sexy Katherine Heigl, neither one of them expects him to hit a bull’s-eye. On such improbabilities, Apatow builds a knockout fable of modern immaturity." (Knocked Up)

"Kinsey wanted to snap the public out of sexual ignorance. And Condon's knockout of a movie tries to do the same. You'll be shocked at how far we haven't come." (Kinsey)

Maybe how far you haven't come, Travers. Back in 2004 you said about Super Size Me that "Spurlock proves himself a supersize talent; he makes you choke on every laugh. I'm lovin' it." So finally, how appropriate is it that Morgan Spurlock’s new documentary gets the quote that puts the Peter into the lead for 2011?

"I'm buying into Morgan Spurlock! He makes you laugh till it hurts!" (The Greatest Movie Ever Sold)

You'll laugh till it hurts...Sweet! (Napoleon Dynamite)

One of the year’s best. A radically fierce & funny fireball. You’ll laugh till it hurts. (Sicko)

The summer's best, most original and crazily inventive comedy. In a multiplex crowded with formula rom-coms divorced from genuine feeling, Cyrus brims over with hilarity and heartbreak. You'll laugh 'til it hurts. (Cyrus)

Acutely hilarious…This film will make you laugh till it hurts! This stinging satire is easily the best and wickedest comedy of the year. (Thank You For Smoking)

Killer-funny. You'll laugh 'till it hurts! Produces more laughs than any hundred jokes you ever heard. (The Aristocrats)

**** A mind-blowing comedy classic…It will make you laugh till it hurts and you’ll still beg for more. You won’t know what outrageous fun is until you see Borat. Sacha Baron Cohen is a balls-out comic revolutionary, right up there with Lenny Bruce, Andy Kaufman and Dr. Strangelove. Cohen’s total immersion in his character is a wonder to behold. His performance is a tour de force that sets off comic and cosmic explosions in your head. (Borat)

Woody Allen is back in fighting form...Will Ferrell is a hoot and Radha Mitchell works wonders. Melinda and Melinda is a bracing ride. You'll laugh till it hurts. (Melinda and Melinda)

Funny, but you might just be able to say the same thing about Peter Travers.


2 - Fox Searchlight (Cedar Rapids, Win Win)
2 - Focus (Jane Eyre, Hanna)
2 - Sony Classics (In a Better World, POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold)
2 - Summit (Limitless, Source Code)
1 - IFC (Kaboom)
1 - Lions Gate (The Lincoln Lawyer)
1 - Roadside (The Conspirator)
1 - Universal (Paul)
1 - Warner Bros. (Unknown)


Paramount (9), Sony Classics (7), Warner Bros. (6), Weinstein (6), Focus (5), Fox Searchlight (5), IFC (5), Disney (4), Magnolia (4), Sony (4), Universal (4), Lions Gate (3), Music Box (3), Overture (2), Anchor Bay (2), Roadside (2), Fox (1), Miramax (1), Paramount Vantage (1)[br]

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originally posted: 04/26/11 00:58:40
last updated: 04/26/11 01:18:26
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