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Criticwatch - The Fairest Whore Of Them All?

by Erik Childress

Film critics do their best not to have a pre-formed opinion going into their next screening. It's not easy when we are bombarded by trailers, featurettes, interviews and whatever is leaking out on Twitter. Whether we say something looks good or bad or admit to looking forward to something more than something else over the course of a week or season, a true professional will nevertheless wipe their memory of everything they have seen including entire resumes to focus their attention on what is filling the screen in those very new minutes. Most of my colleagues fall under this banner and expect no praise for doing their job. Turning it on and off is not the easiest thing for those on the junket scene though. As if every little perk and taste of the final product translates into one extra star to provide to the studio. And if there is one thing any professional film critic or moviegoer should fear is when they see one of the junket whores on the ads before anyone else has had a chance to see it. That is a near impossible thing to remove from one's head.

Universal is not having the greatest of years. Their out-of-the-gate summer tentpole, Battleship, has turned into the second biggest bomb of the year after John Carter. Profits put up by The Lorax, American Reunion and Contraband (Safe House was about an even play) were all washed away by the $200 million-plus disaster. Returns by Big Miracle and the poorly advertised (but good) Judd Apatow-produced double-bill of Wanderlust and The Five-Year Engagement didn't help either. Of the top seven studios this year (including Lions Gate), Universal is further in the red than any of them.

Now this weekend they have Snow White and the Huntsman with a budget reported between $170-190 million. It is going to need over $300 million just in overseas dollars to get it even close to breaking even on the books. It would serve them well to get some positive word of mouth out there before opening weekend. At the Las Vegas Cinemacon convention, the studio did a pretty solid job in selling extended footage to theater owners. Even I tweeted that I was more interested in ever in a film that had to go a long way to prove that Kristen Stewart was "the fairest of them all," including Charlize Theron. Per Universal's pretty standard nationwide screening policy, they had their usual save the dates for the Tuesday prior to its June 1st opening. But by Sunday, May 27 they already had
quotes on the TV spots.

"A flat-out masterpiece. Amazing battle scenes. A breathtaking experience that shouldn't be missed." - Shawn Edwards

Yep, that's right. Not one week removed from giving the sticky sweet to Will Smith and his Men In Black, Edwards has reloaded and giving it his all to de-purify Snow White. The above commercial quote then turned into the newspaper's...

"A flat-out masterpiece! A mesmerizing and haunting film that soars with creativity, stylistic genius and amazing battle scenes." - Shawn Edwards

If one saw that quote attached to Mr. Ebert or A.O. Scott or any number of worthy online critics who have earned trust over the years, you wouldn't bat an eye at it. But when Shawn Edwards name is seen trailing it, the words come off as "Derp De Doop Du Cool Yadda Yadda Blah Blah Yadda Hot Whore" Only one thing truly stands out - that Shawn Edwards has cemented his reputation as a whore, a whore and nothing but a whore. Who gives a shit whether he's being genuine or just overtly generous? Edwards is a used car salesman in red jeans giving you the same script on the 1964 Aston Martin DB5 that he is on the flaming Pinto.

"A truly haunting and mesmerizing masterpiece!" (Let Me In)

Does that not look familiar? Scroll up a bit. Want more? Scroll down.

"A true masterpiece!" (The Beaver)
"A true masterpiece. One of the most creative, original and visionary movies ever made." (Where the Wild Things Are)
"A masterpiece, absolutely brilliant. One of the most powerful and moving films I've ever seen. A must-see." (Tsotsi)

Masterpieces are rare enough as it is. But he wants to take it even a step further as if he wants you to forget he ever called anything as such or even putting down others who would dare use the "M" word. That is for "professionals" like Shawn Edwards to decide.

"A 100% certified masterpiece." (Sin City)
"An undeniable masterpiece!" (Grindhouse)
"**** Brilliant! A contemporary masterpiece." (Stranger Than Fiction)
"An electrifying cinematic achievement! A modern-day masterpiece. One of the best films of the year!" (American Gangster)
"Electrifying. Liam Neeson has never been better. An epic adventure that will thrill you. A masterpiece!" (The Grey)
"An ultra-cool masterpiece! The best film of the year!" (Kill Bill Vol. 1)

So there! Masterpieces given the Shawn Edwards stamp of true 100% certified approval for modern day audiences who might associate the term with films like Citizen Kane or Lawrence of Arabia. Why stop there though?

"A masterpiece!" (Crash)
"A masterpiece!" (The Manchurian Candidate 2004)
"An explosive masterpiece tailor-made for those who love ultra-cool high energy action!" (Resident Evil: Apocalypse)
"The year's best film. Jamie Foxx is brilliant. A stunning masterpiece that is destined to become a timeless classic." (Ray)
"A masterpiece destined to become a timeless classic. Uplifting and inspiring. Movies don't get much better than this." (Cinderella Man)

We have pointed out those two quotes before many times. One from October 2004 and the next from June 2005. Masterpiece. Destined. Timeless classic. Also in common with those two quotes - both Ray and Cinderella Man were Universal films. Awfully convenient. Now they have Edwards again. And maybe that is all they think they have. Their Universal policy of Tuesday screenings keeps the level playing field as critics walk into it. Could be great. Could be crap. If they screen the week before for professional critics suddenly expectations rise a bit. If Snow White and the Huntsman proves to be their second bomb in a row, they may want to just go ahead and start screening Ted, Savages and The Bourne Legacy as early as possible this summer. They can use all the positive vibes they can grab at this point cause they certainly are not getting it this weekend. A 46% approval at Rotten Tomatoes ranking it smack dab in the middle of the wide releases at 28th out of 56 titles. How many positive reviews could Universal have chosen from had they screened the film for people last week. Instead, they are left with Shawn Edwards who is also seen on another opener this week.

"Extraordinary!" (For Greater Glory) - Shawn Edwards

That film has a 17% ranking at Rotten Tomatoes, smack dab in the bottom five of wide releases in 2012. Edwards is now quoted as recommending two of the very worst-received films of the year. The other is Eddie Murphy's A Thousand Words, still one of the very rare films to garner a perfect ZERO rating at the aggregate site. The last time we saw Edwards call a film "extraordinary" it was The Chronicles of Riddick. Can we see the back end of Edwards' Snow White quote one more time?

"A breathtaking experience that shouldn't be missed."

Keywords for hyperbolic whores that raise red flags the way large checks alert the I.R.S. Surprisingly enough, we found that Edwards didn't use those as much as we would have thought. However...

"A delightful, breathtaking experience that's as wonderful as The Wizard of Oz and as enchanting as E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial. Magical! The best family film of the year." (Peter Pan)
"One of the best sci-fi films ever! Extraordinary! A true classic not to be missed! Vin Diesel is ecstatically superb." (The Chronicles of Riddick)

...the pair that we did find were both for Universal films. Sometimes, I guess you get what you pay for. Good luck the rest of the summer, Uni, on not having to use Shawn Edwards. It's as epic a misstep as casting Kristen Stewart as Snow White.

link directly to this feature at
originally posted: 06/02/12 07:30:59
last updated: 09/26/18 22:59:33
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