Criticwatch - Roses Are Red, But The Movies Blew

By Erik Childress
Posted 02/16/13 05:14:40

It is only mid-February and Criticwatch is already tired. Tired of studios not getting the message. Tired of seeing non-critics populate the ads of bad movies. Tired again of studios taking our advice, but instead of finding critics worthwhile of being quotes have grabbed even further unknown pre-written quote pickers. What the hell is going on out there in marketing land? Is it so hard to start with an acceptable list of film critics who write reviews, then move on to the "B" list and then head to your junket quote whores when all else is lost. Honestly, we should not be that confused this week as two of the worst reviewed films of the young year have opened. One for the guys that might get the ladies dinner and flowers if they attend. One for the ladies that might get the dudes laid if you buy two tickets. If the only sucking that results is what comes off the screen, remember these quote whores' names. Please, remember them.

We start actually with the best film of the week; best in that it has the best aggregate score at Rotten Tomatoes and isn't a total suck. Richard LaGravenese's Beautiful Creatures is better than all of the Twilight films put together. Yet after a promising start and a collection of actors all doing fine work, the final hour becomes literally just everyone locking themselves up and waiting for a full moon. It's like an entire movie based upon the outcome of which house the magical hat in Harry Potter chooses you for Gryffindor or Slytherin. Doesn't make for great drama or great pacing. While we wait for the reviews to come in on the Weinstein's animated effort, Escape from Planet Earth (which they didn't screen for critics), Beautiful Creatures does rank 6th amongst 16 wide releases in 2013 even if it only sports a 46% approval rating. In true Warner Bros. fashion though they loaded up on the ad quotes to make it seem higher.

"A love story that will keep you on the edge of your seat! Margaret Bristol,
"All-star cast" - Merlah Doty, Yahoo Movies
"Make this Valentine's Day epic" - Mordechai Laub,
"A supernatural love story for the ages." - Dino Lalli, KSBI-TV
"Smart and funny. A fantastic fantasy." - Laura Aguirre, Screencrave

Lot of hyperbolic cliches in that mix. You would have to think that WB could have chosen a better turn of phrase from Merlah Doty's review than just "all-star cast." Hell, all-star "casters" would have at least been something considering that's what the witches prefer to be called in the film. Dumb, but something. Unfortunately for WB, they didn't have a review from Doty to pull that quote from. Just this lame comparison list between it and the Twilight films. Go through the rest of the list and you won't find a whole lot of written content either.

You can find a lot of credits on Dino Lalli's resume as the producer and now co-host of Discover Oklahoma, but try tracking down even a segment of a movie review. Can't find anything in this Mordechai Laub write-up to suggest why we should "make this Valentine's day epic." Sorry, Laura Aguirre but this hardly qualifies as a written movie review. We also can't find where you call the film "Smart and funny" or "A fantastic fantasy." You did say:

"Itís a clever and funny fantasy that offers great performances, solid chemistry and a heartfelt Romeo and Juliet-type story. Despite the poor visual effects, itís worth watching."

So the studio asked if you wouldn't mind changing "smart" to "clever" and the word "fantastic" never appears in that "review." Then again it is a lot closer than choosing Margaret Bristol since is precisely what it sounds like - a website dedicated to books. So is her quote " A love story that will keep you on the edge of your seat!" referring to the movie or the book? That is nearly as shameless as Fox this year taking random Twitter quotes about Mark Wahlberg to sell Broken City. More shameless - WB's continued adherence to the quote whores:

"Beautiful Creatures will leave you spellbound." - Manny De La Rosa
"Superbly acted. Spellbinding!" - Mark S. Allen
"A perfect love story!" - Jeff Craig
"Exciting! Romantic!" - Cindy Pearlman
"Beautiful Creatures is fun, spooky and romantic." - Dan Jewel
"Gorgeous, lush and wildly romantic." - Joel Amos

See, it's about witches. We get it, Manny, Mark and F.U. Jeff Craig's idea of "a perfect love story" can be seen in the photo here. Ol' Cindy Pearlman is quickly supplanting ol' Mr. Allen as their go-to quote whooo-re. Since 2009 she has been quoted 19 times with 16 for WB. That includes two this year (Gangster Squad was "an instant classic" with a 32% approval.) Stick to kissing ass being the celebrity columnist you are rather than the movie reviewer you're not. Pearlman was joined on the Gangster Squad praise by Dan "spooky" Jewel and again here. A pair of WB films have actually got them ahead in the numbers of your usual junket whores. Like Joel Amos, getting his first quote of 2013 in his attempt to make a play at repeating his Quote Whore of the Year victory last year.

"Gorgeous, lush and wildly romantic." (Beautiful Creatures)
"Wildly original. Full of twists and turns." (Man On A Ledge)
"Great moves, hot music, wild fun!" (Step Up Revolution)
"The first great romantic comedy of 2010. Jennifer Lopez is pure perfection." (The Back-Up Plan)
"Finally a comedy that's romantic and funny!" (What's Your Number?)
(one week later...)
"Finally, a smart, witty comedy for adults." (The Big Year)

Just as we were posting this, we noticed that Amos has also called Escape From Planet Earth "the perfect family film." This is the animated film from the Weinsteins that they couldn't bother to screen for critics. Yet here they have a quote from The 2012 Quote Whore of the Year. Funny thing is that in the same commercial you see a "Funny" and "Heart-warming" double quote from Ashley Hume of Hollywood.TV. You can see Ashley here asking some hard-hitting questions at the red carpet premiere such as if Larry King if he likes animated films. The funny thing though is that in the newspaper ad it is Hollywood.TV that has the quote "The perfect family film." Fight amongst yourselves, morons.

Time to move on though. We can all agree that Len Wiseman's entry in the Die Hard franchise is the weakest. Yet, equally agree that it's the best thing the hack has ever done. Sad, really. Even we were shocked at just how much support there was for the fourth film in the series. 167 positive reviews vs. 39 negative. That's an 81% at Rotten Tomatoes. Do you know what the new Die Hard film is currently clocking at?

15%. 19 positive reviews vs. 112 negative (and counting) That's the worst score of director John Moore's career and this is the unbelievable hack behind the remakes of The Omen and The Flight of the Phoenix plus Behind Enemy Lines and Max Payne. That's right, Die Hard has a worse score than Max Payne. And yet...

A Good Day To Die Hard is only the third worst-reviewed film of 2013 to date though. Movie 43 is still the worst. In-between though is the latest Nicholas Sparks craptacular, Safe Haven. A film that starts as just as dopey romance between dopey, beautiful people with one of them on the run from domestic abuse then hops on the crazy train for its final 45 minutes until a headsmacker of a climax that makes the treehouse death of The Lucky One look like a moment of restraint. It is hard to determine which film is actually less realistic. Die Hard 5 has Bruce Willis jump out a window, fall at least 16 stories through all matters of wood, debris and shrapnel and ready to do it again. Josh Duhamel falls from his roof and takes longer than that to get up. Casters be damned in Beautiful Creatures though since perhaps the most beautiful creature of them all - Julianne Hough - has the magic power in Safe Haven to shoot a man point blank range in the face mere centimeters above her own and emerge with not a single drop of blood to be found anywhere. Ad quotes, on the other hand, are everywhere.

"Stunning! The best romance since The Notebook." - Debbie Lynn Elias

Debbie???!!! You know how we feel about this by now.

"The Notebook of 2008." (Nights in Rodanthe) Ė Shelli Sonstein, Q104.3 Radio NYC
"Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried are the best romantic couple since The Notebook." (Dear John) - Lisa Fuller-Magee, KTVK-TV Phoenix
"The most overwhelmingly romantic movie since The Notebook." (Dear John) - Mark S. Allen
"The best Nicholas Sparks film since The Notebook." (The Lucky One) - Mark S. Allen

God that Mark S. Allen is a suck, ain't he? When did The Notebook become the center of the romantic universe? Haven't people figured out by now that every Nicholas Sparks film is precisely the same?

"Original" - Pat Stoner, WHYY-TV (PBS) "Flicks"

NO, IT'S NOT!!! While we can refer you to the Sparks romantic canon that involves a man, a woman and a conflict that either involves a disease or a violent third suitor, has Pat Stoner ever seen SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY!!!??? Compare the trailers for God's sake.

If you have seen Safe Haven, you can do a checklist. Small town. New girl with a secret past. New prospective beau. A parade. The bad guy harassing an old woman who knew the girl.

"Evocative. A must-see." - Pete Hammond

NO, IT'S NOT!!! Last year Hammond's first must-see of the year was Darling Companion. Then you called The Words "Provocative and compelling" and told us "Don't miss it." The critical consensus on those two films - 21% & 22%, respectively. Keep your opinion to yourself, Pete. Nobody's listening.

"Josh & Julianne have great onscreen chemistry together." - Ben Lyons

Aren't we done with him yet?

"Complex. Inspiring. Touching. A captivating story of the power of love and second chances." - Whitney English,

Ah, yes. Remember Whitney? We talked about her just last week as she called Identity Thief, one of the worst films of 2013 (a distinction guaranteed to last amongst real critics until December), "laugh-out-loud hilarious." She also called What To Expect When You're Expecting, "the mother of all comedies!" That will never get old either. From the 24%-approved Identity Thief to the 13%-approved Safe Haven, Whitney is going in the wrong direction and looks determined to keep in the blurb game since Joel Amos went his own way. The "complex" part of her quote may have come from her saying that Julianne Hough had "such a complex role" in the film. We're not interested in wading through every one of her three-and-a-half-minute interviews with everyone from Safe Haven. Maybe Josh Duhamel was "inspiring" and Cobie Smulders was "touching." We were more amused by the Whitney quote that made it into the newspapers though.

"A captivating story of the power of love and second chances."

While we searched for any semblance of a written review where Whitney's words could be seen, we did find this little doozy. Makes you wonder whether (A) the marketing rep who came up with that quote was reading this book at the time or (B) was really just trying to equate Safe Haven as the dog that it really is.

© Copyright HBS Entertainment, Inc.