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Criticwatch - The Side Effects of What We Do
by Erik Childress

Welcome to the first Criticwatch feature of 2013. Those were words we hoped we would never have to write. Each morning we wake up thinking this is going to be the day that we no longer have to worry about those notorious junket whores, entertainment reporters or anyone without a critical thought in their head. Maybe it will be the day that don't understand what we do here will wake up to a particularly asinine ad quote and go, "yes, this has to be stopped." We went into a self-imposed hibernation in January, hoping that by the second of February Punxsutawney Phil would peek his head out and say that whore season is over. Instead it looks like he saw the shadow of a lazy marketing industry and the collective Muppetman of a dubious press corps continuing to darken the landscape with each moronic sentiment and thoughtless-turned phrase. Yet, at the same time, the studios have appeared to do exactly what we have asked them to do for years.

We noticed something was amiss when Fox started airing ads for the Mark Wahlberg/Russell Crowe thriller, Broken City, with a twist. Or tweets. That's right. It was filled with the following quotes:

"There is just something about Mark Wahlberg. - @ryleeann12
"Mark Wahlberg is absolutely amazing. - @emmadonnachie
"Mark Wahlberg is perfect. - @danyarenee
"Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe, Nuff said! Is it January 18 yet???" - @GypsyLullaby7
"Hot, Great, Love Him, Obsessed, Rocks, Must see" - all anonymous

This is at the same time the studio was scheduling press screenings directly up against another opener that week (Mama) forcing those who write reviews to choose between them. Guess they were the lucky ones to see it before any of us. It only took a little digging to realize that wasn't exactly the case. As written about Alex Kantrowitz at Forbes (inspired by our tweets on the subject at the time), most of these quotes were random and had nothing to do with Broken City. They hadn't even seen the movie. My favorite line in Alex's piece was the explanation of his source " close to the film’s marketing efforts" for the ad:

"The trailer was never intended to portray the tweets as reviews. Instead, it was meant to highlight anticipation for the film."

Twitter account @whoareyoukidding could not be reached for comment. The previous week it was the Marlon Wayans spoof, A Haunted House, getting the Twitter treatment from Open Road Films.

"Funniest movie I've ever seen!" - @_Copastetic_
"So good" - @Sharmisa
"Loved it" - @Hannersbanners
"LMFAO!!" - @FriskyDingo_
"A must see!" - @ThatBoyJesse
"Great!" - @Gin_IsMyName
"Awesome" - @MumblesRadio
"Funniest movie ever!" - @cuellarsteven27

With all due respect, FriskyDingo, that band is a better joke than anything found in this parody of the Paranormal Activity films. But where else was Open Road going to get their praise? They weren't screening the film for press unless you did an interview with Wayans. And who amongst that quote was really going to say something positive about this thing?

"Marlon Wayans is fantastically hilarious! Laugh out loud funny." - Maria Salas

Oh yeah, her. No time like the present to remind you about 2012's #5 Quote Whore of the Year.

"Knockout funny. It's laugh out loud until you cry funny." (The Campaign)
"You can't miss this movie. Laugh-out-loud fun." (Red)
"A must see. A laugh out loud hilarious comedy. Crazy." (Hall Pass)
"Laugh-out-loud hilarious!" (Something Borrowed)
"Hilarious, laugh-out-loud funny." (Rumor Has It)
"The laugh-out-loud comedy of the year!" (Due Date)

But that's just one whore showing her true faded colors as usual. A dying breed sticking her head out for one last gasp. Really not so bad for the new year, right? OK, so it's more than one. Rick Florino got in a quote on The Last Stand. Greg Russell, Cindy Pearlman, Dan Jewel and Stuart Lee found their way onto the Gangster Squad, but that is par for the course for Warner Bros., the most junket whore friendly studio in the game. We are holding our breath for what they have in store for Beautiful Creatures. Especially after they couldn't find a single quote to put on this year's biggest bomb to date, Bullet to the Head. Here's a film from a legendary director with a better Rotten Tomatoes rating than Gangster Squad and they couldn't be bothered to reassure Walter Hill that some legitimate critics were still on board with his style of filmmaking. Shameful, really, as the film numbers-wise was basically the worst opening of Sylvester Stallone's career. All of his comedies (including Rhinestone) opened better when ticket prices were a fraction of what they all know. Back to the whorefront though, other studios are stepping it down.

12 wide releases on the young year. Only three of them hitting Fresh status with critics. Just four over 50%. Universal went with a collection of horror websites to pimp Mama, which is actually one of the Fresh Three. This week, they just go with complete horror. Identity Thief looked like it was on the road to mixed status with the first reviews that came in. Five positive vs. four negative. Since midday Wednesday: 11 positive vs. 45 negative. But, hey, accentuate the positive right?

"Bridesmaids' Melissa McCarthy and Jason Bateman are comedy gold." - Courtney Howard,
"The first great comedy of the new year." - Sheila Roberts, Moviesonline
"Insane" - Danny Miller, MSN Movies
"Laugh out loud hilarious." - Whitney English,

"Insane" is right, Danny Miller. Insane that anyone could recommend what is guaranteed to be one of the year's worst films. Sheila Roberts seemingly took all of 2012 off, which is a good thing. The last time Criticwatch heard from her she was calling New Year's Eve "The best romantic comedy of the year!" Now she's kicking off the new year by calling a film with barely 1-of-4 critics supporting it, "the first great comedy of the new year." Not a whole lot to choose from in 2013. I get that. Unless you chose to go into Movie 43 with an open mind and wasn't determined to try to be the loudest hater out there. (Full disclosure, I found it funny.) In fact, I would have no problem recommending Movie 43 on a continuous loop to Lou "I heard Howard the Duck mentioned in Movie 43 so I'm gonna say it's just as historically infamous" Lumenick before I would tell him to listen to anyone at

That is the website that spawned 2010-11 runner-up Whore of the Year and 2012 Whore of the Year honoree, Joel Amos. Now that he has moved on to run a website full of blurbs, capsules and press notes, it is left to Whitney English to pick up the slack. She is the one who called last year's What To Expect When You're Expecting, "the mother of all comedies!" Where that film was "Hilarious!", Identity Thief is now "Laugh-out-loud hilarious!" Red flag applied.

Speaking of Whitney though, Universal sure dug deep into the well of whores to apply praise this week. It's a well we never knew existed and it's either a promising or disturbing sign. Sure it's not Shawn Edwards, Mark S. Allen or Joel Amos, but where in the hell did they find Courtney Howard and the website Not only did Courtney get the above quote, but was also subject to the singular adjective approach:

"Drop dead funny. Comedy gold. Perfect. Hysterical."

Did a little investigating into Howard's output at Veryaware and we were momentarily encouraged that she actually wrote reviews. That is more than you can say for the likes of your average junketeer. Reading those reviews are another matter. Travers-esque hyperbolic content aside, of the five reviews credited to her in 2013, four of them are positive. This includes equating Identity Thief with the same 4.5/5-stars that she gave Steven Soderbergh's Side Effects and calling Texas Chainsaw 3-D "a refreshingly fun ride." Though even she could not fully endorse Broken City. One can easily question her credibility on the laugh meter by putting Wanderlust of all films on her worst of 2012 list. One can easily question her credibility entirely by listing Beasts of the Southern Wild on the same list.

("Art house pretentiousness at an all time high... Are we supposed to be rooting for irresponsibility? Stupidity? Do these people enjoy abject poverty?")

You may be asking just precisely what is the "Whitney" segue we were referring to? Veryaware posted the following piece as a Memo to NBC to save that show. If and ever teamed up, it would be a black hole we may never be able to escape from.

Just like this whole junket whore game that continues to thrive. It is already bad enough to see them on every shitty movie that Hollywood has to offer. But when some of the worst quote whore output appears on the two best reviewed films of the year; films that the lazy-ass marketing departments of the studios can't be bothered to put a name with credibility on that is when film criticism is headed towards a zombie apocalypse. Check out the whore-stuff ad for Warm Bodies.

"A sexy, cool comedy." - Jeff Craig
"Brings comedy back from the dead." - Tony Toscano
"Truly original." - Trey Alexander, Fandango
"The perfect date movie." - Kevin McCarthy

Good Christ, Summit & Lions Gate! This is the best you could come up with? These are morons making moronic statements about a very good film. Shall we guide you through them?

- "A sexy, cool comedy." How clever, cause the film is called WARM bodies.

- "Truly original." Has Trey ever seen My Boyfriend's Back?

- "Brings comedy back from the dead." Comedy was dead? We get that it's a riff on the subject matter. Doesn't make it any less moronic. Go to hell, Tony Toscano, for being so dumb.

"The perfect date movie." - Really, Kevin? THE perfect one?

"Letters is the perfect date movie." (Letters To Juliet) - Maria Salas
"A perfect date movie!" (Shelter) - John Hartl
"A real life Love Actually. Perfect for a date night." (Love Etc.) - Leslie Stonebraker, New York Press
"The perfect date movie for the holidays." (P.S. I Love You) - Jim Ferguson
"This summer's perfect date movie." (Must Love Dogs) - Jimmy Carter, NBC-TV Nashville
"…the perfect summer date movie." (Alex and Emma ) – Mark S. Allen
"The perfect date movie." (Trust the Man ) - Mark S. Allen
"The perfect date movie!" (Something New) - In Touch Weekly
"The perfect date movie." (Something Borrowed]/b]) - Joel Amos
"The perfect date movie" (Twilight) - Kevin Steincross
"The perfect date movie." (The Back-Up Plan) - Jami Philbrick
"The perfect date movie." (Valentine's Day) - Brandy Williams, TV Guide Network
"The perfect date movie." (No Reservations) - Bonnie Laufer
"The perfect date movie." (Life As We Know It) - Bonnie Laufer-Krebs
"Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey are a total joy together. They’re the new Hepburn and Tracy. The PERFECT DATE MOVIE." (How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days) - Jeffrey K. Howard
"The perfect date movie. Drew Barrymore is absolutely enchanting. The best romantic comedy since 50 First Dates!" - (Fever Pitch) - Earl Dittman
"An instant date-night classic." (Dear John) - Earl Dittman
"The perfect Valentine's Day date movie!" (The Vow) - Jim Ferguson
"The perfect date movie. It's Dear John meets The Vow." (The Lucky One) - Maria Salas

As I said earlier in the week, the next person to call a movie "the perfect date movie" must punch themselves in the face, stomach, crotch and both eyes until they fall down and agree to never did it again. BAD CRITIC! The only thing perfect about that list is the ubiquitous Maria Salas bookends it like the walls of the trash compactor in Episode IV. Whereas that film promised A New Hope, we have a film with a 76% approval rating that has to sit back and watch while some of the least reputable "critics" support it publicly. Imagine how Steven Soderbergh feels. Then again, maybe he doesn't care. He is retiring. Maybe because a crapturd like Identity Thief doubles the opening weekend of his latest film. Maybe because the best the studios marketing his films can do is to give him quotes from the two Petes

"A hell of a thriller. Terrific and packed with surprises. You can't get it out of your head." - Peter Travers
"A terrific thought-provoking thriller. Soderbergh at his best." - Pete Hammond

We refer you back to the retrospective pieces on Travers & Hammond from 2012 to see why this is faint praise indeed. As for Tony "Brings comedy back from the dead" Toscano:

"Not since Fatal Attraction has there been a thriller so full of surprises." - Tony Toscano

Really, Tony? 26 years and there hasn't been a thriller with enough twists and turns to shock the hell out of you? Not any of the films that Side Effects could be compared to like Final Analysis, Wild Things or Love Crime? Not Memento or The Usual Suspects or The Sixth Sense? Not A Simple Plan or The Departed or Seven? We're just spitballing here, so feel free to add your own. Did Fatal Attraction really have that many "surprises" in the first place. Not sure what pills are on the market to spark brain stimulus in Tony, but someone needs to write a prescription for him pronto. 82% approval at Rotten Tomatoes. The best reviewed wide release of the year and who does Open Road have telling you to see it.

"A must-see thriller." - Maria Salas

You want to know the last film that that Maria Salas called "a must-see?"

Way to go, Open Road. Way to go.

link directly to this feature at
originally posted: 02/10/13 05:33:28
last updated: 02/10/13 05:55:52
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