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Criticwatch - Transforming Hyperbole Into Quotes

by Erik Childress

It might be time for a little refresher course in what we do here at Criticwatch. We are often questioned why we pick on poor Peter Travers. So many people apparently seem to hang on his every recommendation, if not the words he uses to recommend them. Therein lies the key. Travers does indeed agree with the consensus of opinion 79% of the time according to Rotten Tomatoes (76% in his last 50 reviews) and Twitter is aflutter with how much he hated the latest Transformers film, a film that "makes you die a little inside." So you agree with him, great. But the mark of a true quote whore is what happens within that 79%. When Travers likes a movie, no matter what the scale on his star rating, he is going to let you and especially the studios KNOW he likes it. Because grandstanding with a little extra ooomph on the ball is what makes you stand out in the major leagues of the marketing game. It's OK to like movies, even love them. It's OK to even disagree now and then. But when you forcefully use the same words time and time again, especially when being on the tail-end of favors from the studios, you immediately become suspect and end up at Criticwatch.

Last week, Paramount flew a select group of critics and junketeers to the other side of the globe to take in the premiere of Transformers: Dark of the Moon. While most junkets take place in Los Angeles and occasionally New York, this special occasion saw a number of them get a free trip to Moscow. Pretty nice, huh? If you go over to HitFix you can see my colleague, Drew McWeeny, introduce his review to you directly from Red Square. Josh Horowitz at MTV hints at a review while giving a full account of his time in Moscow. The difference with these though is that both writers have allowed their readers to take their reviews with a grain of salt. They may have genuinely liked the film, but they help remove any doubt that their opinions were solely influenced by a free trip across the world. Maybe just a little. No professional critic (who writes) would ever want to admit as much, but subconsciously in all of us if your neighbor invites you to their summer home for the weekend, it's going to be hard to tell them to their face that the food they served you was shit.

I feel more than comfortable though taking a guy like Drew at his word though, especially since I know he could make a compelling argument face-to-face without speaking the tongue of the hyperbolic whore. And I would tell him where he's wrong. That's what critics do. Particularly the ones that respect one another.

Over at Slashfilm on Monday, Peter Sciretta posted a piece about the early buzz being generated by the third Transformers, both positive and negative. Among the actual written reviews though was a very special list of praise. It was the usual gaggle of quotes provided to the studio by the various whores and invitees by those generously vying for the chance to make it onto the commercials or print ads. The list is usually the kind of memo the studio would rather you not see. Either these whores are that stupid and uninspired in their praise or it further implicates that the studios themselves are writing these quotes and then asking for someone to say them. But why should Michael Bay care? This is the same guy who quoted Steven Spielberg (allegedly - and I still don't believe it) saying that Revenge of the Fallen was the best thing he had ever done. When it came out and everyone told him it may have been one of the worst thing him or God could have ever created, he backtracked and admitted everything he did wrong with the second film. Gotta love it when filmmakers do that. And it was on his blog that the list of whore quotes was posted. It seems to be gone now, but we have them.

“The best 3D since Avatar.” - Scott Mantz – Access Hollywood
“Transformers: Dark of the Moon defies gravity.” - Danielle McGimsie – Etalk CTV
“Blockbusters don’t get any bigger than this! - Teddy Wilson – Host, InnerSPACE
“Dark of the Moon delivers. It’s bigger, better, badder. This is the one you’ve been waiting for.” - Nancy Jay – Daybreak USA (Syndicated Radio)
“A heart stopping, eye popping masterpiece.” - Chris Parente – FOX KDVR 31 or CW 2
“See it in 3D! It’ll transform your summer.” - Lisa Fuller-Magee – KTVK Phoenix
“Absolutely mind blowing! ?This is what going to the movies is all about!” - Sandie Newton – CBS Dallas
“Finally, a 3D experience that will blow your mind. Best 3D since Avatar.” - Kevin McCarthy – FOX-TV Washington DC or CBS Radio

That's your basic level of whoredom. Compare one potential blockbuster to the biggest of all time, hype the 3-D, call it a masterpiece and introduce a pun. Repeating yourself is also a true sign and you can be a real shameless whore like Kevin McCarthy who just three weeks ago called another Spielberg-produced movie, Super 8, "A mind blowing masterpiece." A better choice admittedly than Sandie Newton whose choice for a "Mind-blowing and jaw-dropping" experience this year was SANCTUM!

Again, we're getting into the taste game again. That's just a by-product of Criticwatch. And if these whores above are to be commended for anything it's for only allowing a single quote to slip from their tongue (or agree to be the mouthpiece for.) Others just can't make up their mind.

Shireen Sandoval – FOX News, Miami
“Visually stunning.”
“Summer fun at its finest.”

Chris Van Vliet – WOIO, Cleveland
“Buckle up for the action thrill ride of the summer!”
“The biggest movie of the summer.”

Lee Thomas – FOX 2 Detroit
“Transformers: Dark of the Moon is the most action packed adventure of this summer…crisp transformations. Clean fun.”
“They’ve reinvigorated the franchise.” … “The must see summer film.”

Mike Wilber – NBC
“The best Transformers ever!” …
“Transformers: Dark of the Moon is the summer movie to beat!”

Kim Holcomb – KING-TV NBC Seattle
“The best Transformers movie, by far.”
“This is why 3D exists.”

Bill Zwecker – FOX-TV or FOX Chicago News or (FOX-TV Chicago)
“The absolutely best Transformers yet! Bigger, better, best! Terrific storytelling and non-stop action from start to finish! This is the movie event of the summer!”
“This is why we go to 3D films!”

[big]Rusty Gatenby – ABC TV Minneapolis
“Biggest action movie of the summer? How about biggest action movie EVER!”
“You’ll need the BIG bucket of popcorn for this one!”
“Not just the best Transformers movie, the best summer movie in years!"

Rachel Smith – FOX 5, Vegas
“By far the best of the three!"
“The hottest cast of summer”
“2 hours of pure fun”
“The most action packed film of summer”

Man, now we're up to three and four quotes each. How do they come up with this stuff? Rusty Gatenby got his first quote for Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides ("Great fun! Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz are magic together.") Care to sample Miss Smith's output over the years?

"Powerful performances by an amazing ensemble cast!" (Rendition)
"Steve Carell has never been funnier." (Dan In Real Life)
"Mark Wahlberg is at his best. A smart and sexy thriller." (Shooter)
"Heartfelt and powerful. Zac Efron's best role to date." (Charlie St. Cloud)
"Hilarious and heartwarming." (He’s Just Not That Into You)
"Sweet! Surprising!" (Life As We Know It)

"A celebration of the American dream and fighting for it!" (Flash of Genius)
"Tom Hanks and Ron Howard deliver a heart-pounding, fast-paced thrill ride." (Angels & Demons)
"A high-energy movie with heart and the dance moves will make your jaw drop!" (Stomp the Yard)

"Like Mystic River, it will leave you talking for days. Ben Affleck makes an impressive directorial debut." (Gone Baby Gone)
"Like Juno – it’s a movie with big laughs and a lot of heart. A clever, crazy comedy!" (Charlie Bartlett)
"Raunchy and ridiculously funny." (Forgetting Sarah Marshall)
"Fresh, fun and fantastically funny!" (Role Models)
"Original. Pure fun!" (Leatherheads)
"Perfect family fun!" (Bedtime Stories)
"This movie is tons of fun!" (Confessions of a Shopaholic)

Not even Rachel Smith could say enough about Transformers: Dark of the Moon though to win this whore-off. Sorry, Rachel, but it took a grand total of five quotes to be the biggest loser in this race.

Kelli Gillespie – XETV CW6 – San Diego
“Best Transformers film yet!”
“The most fun you’ll have at the movies this summer.”
“This is what a summer movie is meant to be! Go see Transformers: Dark of the Moon.”

Kelli, Kelli, Kelli. You already called Kung Fu Panda 2 "the perfect summer movie." If that's the case, then how could Transformers be "the most fun you’ll have at the movies this summer." She already fucked herself by using the word "perfect." Transformers "is what a summer movie is meant to be?" You mean more than perfect? Can't happen. Would never happen. You have already reached perfection. Nothing can be better. And almost nothing can be worse than a quote from her.

"Lots of laughs." (Something Borrowed)
"Grab all your girlfriends and go see this movie! Hilarious and heartwarming." (Bride Wars)
"Full of humor and heart!" (Old Dogs)

"It keeps you on the edge of your seat. Chris cooper is chilling. Interesting inner workings of our national security." (Breach)
"Edge of your seat." (Eagle Eye)
"Intense…will blow you away." (Terminator: Salvation)

"Gripping" (Fracture)
"If you loved School of Rock, you’ll love Bandslam. Entertaining and fun, plus full of great music." (Bandslam)
"As fun as the original." (Live Free or Die Hard)
"Gripping, suspenseful and non-stop action. Will Smith is Oscar-worthy. You will not forget this performance." (I Am Legend)

Sticking with the repetition theme, remember when we said almost nothing can be worse than a quote from Kelli Gillespie. The "almost" tag, arguably, never applies to Shawn Edwards.

Shawn Edwards – FOX-TV
“The summer blockbuster has been transformed forever!”
“Phenomenal! The most exciting movie of the year. ‘Transformers: Dark of the Moon’ is total awesomeness. It’s a bigger and better experience. You’ll be blown away.”
“This is the 3D experience you have been waiting for! It’s amazing. The 3D is like nothing you have ever seen before. You just won’t see the movie. You’ll actually feel like you are in the movie.”
“* * * *”

You see, Shawn, we say arguably to not hyperbolize the idea that you could be the biggest whore of all time. Others might say Earl Dittman, Mark S. Allen or one of the two Petes, Travers and Hammond. We leave room for discussion whereas you already called Source Code "The most thrilling movie of the year!" and now you're trying to sell that Transformers 3 is "The most exciting movie of the year." Well, which is it you lazy slag?

"Phenomenal! The most exciting film of the year!" (2012)
"****…The most exciting movie of the year!" (Resident Evil: Extinction)

All the more shame to Summit for utilizing Edwards to promote Source Code, a legitimately exciting sci-fi film unfairly lumped into Shawn's propensity of getting a boner for just about anything that blows up. Have you seen this total awesomeness before?

"The coolest! Combines romance, action and humor. You've never seen anything like it before!" (Mr. & Mrs. Smith)
"Visually stunning! You haven’t seen anything like it before." (Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole)
"**** An instant classic! It’s visually awesome, totally fun and tremendously entertaining." (Horton Hears a Who)
"Awesome! A total blast." (Astro Boy)
"Awesome! The freshest and funniest comedy in a long time." (Drillbit Taylor)
"Totally awesome! So much fun you’ll want to see it twice." (TMNT)

So between 39 nominated quotes amongst 19 different critics, 13 of whom are members of the less-than-esteemed Broadcast Film Critics Association, which ended up as the big winners in the Transformers: Dark of the Moon whore-off?

"Terrific storytelling." - Bill Zwecker
"The best summer movie in years. The biggest action movie ever." - Rusty Gatenby

Oh, congratulations to newbie Rusty Gatenby and hometown colleague, Bill Zwecker, whom I'm going to have to challenge on the "terrific storytelling" angle the next time I see him. This is a Michael Bay film we are talking about after all, Bill. But way to go, Rusty. According to you, Transformers: Dark of the Moon is the best summer movie in years. Better than last year's Toy Story 3 and Inception. Better than 2009's Harry Potter entry, District 9 or Inglourious Basterds? If you want to argue the semantics of what makes up a "summer" movie aside from the seasonal calendar, go right ahead. But hopefully new readers to Criticwatch are beginning to understand that when these quote whores are involved in hyping these films to moviegoers, we are all losers.

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originally posted: 07/02/11 02:43:02
last updated: 10/13/18 03:55:14
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