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TraversWatch - Cars And The Whores In The Backseat

by Erik Childress

There is something that the commenters at Rotten Tomatoes need to understand. Critics love Pixar! Outside of maybe Armond White, they have no agenda to bash one of their films. They have not been lining up waiting for them to fail. We look forward to a new Pixar production the way the Westboro Church awaits a funeral with a media opportunity. Except completely the opposite. The numbers are right in front of you. 10 of the first 11 Pixar feature films register a 91% or higher rating at Rotten Tomatoes. Last year's Toy Story 3 received only THREE negative reviews out of 250. That's a sequel mind you to two previous films that currently register at 100% (out of 75 & 148 reviews, respectively.) Only 2006's Cars has registered any less, at a still respectable 74% (with 193 reviews.) The numbers help prove what we already knew in our heart - that Cars is the weak link in the otherwise stunning Pixar resume. Even those who like the film likely don't have it in the Top 9 (or, certainly shouldn't.) So, Mr. & Mrs. Rotten Tomato Comment Person, be very careful who you are praising for pushing back against the ludicrously imagined pile-on of negativity towards Cars 2, because you may be aligning your loyalty with the bottom of the barrel in more ways than one.

Twice this week, the two Pete whores (Travers & Hammond) were quoted on the same ads marking the sixth & seventh time this has happened in 2011. Universal is guilty of doing it three times and on films that were already well within the red. Between Paul (71%), Fast Five (78%) and Bridesmaids (90%) you have three of only fourteen wide releases to garner over 70% positive and don't need two of the easiest critical lays out there. Hammond alone has posted 28-of-33 positive reviews all year, while 23 of Travers' last 33 reviews have been positive. Nor does Summit need to do it on the well-reviewed A Better Life (79% through 29 reviews in limited release.) But along with Sony Classics, they are the biggest offender in continuing to use Travers this year.

"Director Chris Weitz creates a haunting movie that gets under your skin. Powerful work. Demian Bichir gives one of the year's best performances."

So said the Travers about A Better Life. You may not remember what he said about The Dying Gaul:

"(Craig) Lucas' powerfully haunting film gets under your skin."

Does anyone get the impression that in his downtown, Travers is just holed up in a dank room like Michael Shannon in Bug?

"Prepare to jump out of your skin!" (Open Water)
"You'll be jumping out of your skin and begging for more." (Beowulf)
"Want your skin to crawl? This one's for you." (Willard)
"Zach Galifianakis is a comic force of nature! He is terrific. He digs down here and delivers a beautifully nuanced performance that gets under your skin. Just like the movie." (It's Kind of a Funny Story)

That really is a haunting image isn't it?

...truly haunting. (Hereafter)
Hot-blooded, haunting and totally embraceable. (Broken Embraces)
Hot-blooded, haunting and packed with the pleasures of the unexpected. (Tell No One)
The haunting and visionary Dark Knight soars on the wings of untamed imagination. (The Dark Knight)
The rapturously romantic and haunting New World is a genuine event. (The New World)
Brims over with bracing humor and ravishing romance, but there are also haunting shadows. (Midnight In Paris)
A passionate, haunting, and truly unforgettable story! (The Devil and Daniel Johnston)
A haunting and hypnotic tale of love! Toni Collette burns this movie into your memory. (Japanese Story)
A haunting and hypnotic film. (Cairo Time)
Hypnotic and haunting. (Down in the Valley)
Haunting and hypnotic, it's pure movie-going bliss. (The Good German)
Isn't just hot it's incendiary. You see it with the exhilarating feeling that a movie can make a difference. This is the best acting George Clooney has ever done - he's hypnotic, haunting and quietly devastating. (Syriana)
Clooney inhabits this burnt-out case with haunting brilliance. (Michael Clayton)
Martin Scorsese's Shutter Island sizzles with so much nerve-frying suspense that it's hot to the touch. This is DiCaprio's most haunting and emotionally complex performance yet. (Shutter Island)
P.S. is Laura Linney's show, and she makes it hilarious and haunting. (P.S.)
A fiercely funny human comedy that manages to be both hilarious and haunting. (The Upside of Anger)

That's like a Peter Palindrome, isn't it? But back to Pixar. Cars 2 has sunk to depths on the review charts that no one likely believed that Pixar was capable to lowering itself to. Since the beginning of the Animated Feature Oscar in 2001, the studio has seen every one of its films nominated. Seven nominations in all and five victories including a four-year winning streak. The original Cars was one of the two losers (after Monsters, Inc. lost to Shrek in the inaugural.) Is it at all possible that its sequel could be their first to go without even a nomination? Rango, Kung Fu Panda 2 and Rio are all on the positive side. But with Cars 2 at a paltry 36% (as of June 24 at 11:10 AM Central), it is 38% below Pixar's lowest-rated film and has even fallen behind Gnomeo & Juliet and Mars Needs Moms on the review scale. Ouch! Oh, I'm sorry did you want to say something Mr. Travers?

"I blow a piston whenever 2006's Cars gets trashed as the runt of the Pixar litter."

I think you said 14 too many words there. If we oblige you another 42, Pete, what would you have to say about the sequel?

"A total gas! Cars 2 revs up the action and laughs. Even better than the first."

Not YOU, Pete Hammond. I meant the original Peter. Go ahead, Mr. Travers. 42 words or less.

"Cars 2 is a winner. Cars 2 is even better than before. This is the real Fast and Furious. A tire-burning blast of action and fun with a beating heart under its hood. You can bet Cars 2 will rev your engines."

Ugh, OK. Where can we begin to break this one down? The horrendous puns? Throwing your Fast Five love under the tow truck? Better than the original? What do you consider a winner again?

"Be on the lookout for Bottle Shock, it's a winner." (Bottle Shock)
"…a winner!" (Charlie Bartlett)
"Hilarious and heartfelt...a winner." (Garden State)
"Hilarious and heartfelt. What makes Prime a winner is the way writer-director Ben Younger blends raucous laughs with touching gravity." (Prime)
"A winner…Its characters manage to be romantic, hilarious and recognizably human at the same time." (Dan In Real Life)
"It's a winner! The two leads are dynamite and director Alfredson knows to to pin you to your seat. See it now before a Hollywood remake ruins it." (Let the Right One In)
"It's a spellbinder. Prepare to be wowed." (Let Me In)

So Travers hates that the original Cars gets trashed, but he has no problem trashing a Hollywood remake that he had not even seen yet? What do you know? Travers LIKED IT! Hey, Mikey, I mean Petey. What's under that Cars 2 hood again? A tire-burning blast of action and fun?

"A blast of pure movie oxygen." (Kill Bill Vol. 2)
"A blast of fright and fun!" (Shaun of the Dead)
"A blast of good gory fun that just won't quit!" (Cabin Fever)
"An erotic blast of sinful flesh, fun and fantasy that you don't want to stop." (Kaboom)
"A roaring blast of energy! It dares you to dive into its anarchy!" (Kick-Ass)
"A fireworks display of action, smarts and fun." (X-Men: First Class)
"The perfect antidote to a synthetic, overblown movie summer, Camp is a blast of exuberant fun that stays rooted in humanity." (Camp)

You always have to love when a critic like Travers or Hammond stoops to saying one film is an antidote to all the pyrotechnics of a prime movie season when they are supporting just about every one of those proverbial bottom-barrel fire-and-brimstone blasts of fun. Frankly, we're too tired of Travers' bullshit this week to scour his entire list of quotes looking for every bad pun we can find. So, we'll just stick to the ones that have to do with cars.

"Fasten your seat belts." (Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work)
"...a bracing ride." (Melinda and Melinda)
"A breathtaking ride." (Up)
"A raucous ride..." (Due Date)
"Put on those 3D glasses and ride, baby, ride. Zemeckis springs so many 3D surprises you'll think Beowulf is your own private fun house." (Beowulf)
"A red hot thriller that keeps popping surprises that shouldn't be spoiled...Hang on for the ride." (Salt)
"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)
"A wild ride of a movie!" (The Motorcycle Diaries)
"A wild, witty ride that will creep you out big time!" (Lemming)
"Prepare for a thrilling ride! The Constant Gardener comes in the nick of time to prove a point: movies that give a damn do have a place in summer." (The Constant Gardener)

Lou Pucci rides this spellbinder! (Thumbsucker)
Greg Kinnear takes the star spot...and rides it to glory. (Flash of Genius)
(Kevin Kline) finds every nuance of mirth and melancholy in this wonder of a role and rides it to glory. (The Extra Man)
Matt Damon puts everything into the role and rides it to glory. (True Grit)
Peter Weir stages a storm at sea - filmed in the same tank where 'Titanic' was shot - and a climactic battle that will shiver anyone's timbers. His triumph, though, is in balancing action and character. 'M&C' rides that road to glory. (Master & Commander: The Far Side of the World)

So, remember you commenting folk at Rotten Tomatoes. There are good critics and there are rotten ones. Choose wisely which ones you want to ride to glory. Like perhaps someone who uses so much puntastic hyperbole on the worst-reviewed film in a studio's history that they are guaranteed to be the story on the film's ads.


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originally posted: 06/25/11 02:17:41
last updated: 06/25/11 02:39:09
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