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Criticwatch - The Season of the Petes
by Erik Childress

How's everyone doing? Ready to head into a season filled with a lot of great movies? There is some really terrific stuff coming like Gravity, Dallas Buyers Club and Labor Day. Plus some really good stuff like 12 Years a Slave and All Is Lost. That is just what thine eyes have seen. Also looking forward to Captain Phillips, Nebraska and American Hustle, just to name a few. (We'll see if Wolf of Wall Street gets pushed back.) What do these movies have in common besides their greatness (or potential greatness?) Many of them will be headed for awards attention, garnering lots of warm reviews from critics with genuine insights and some with even better prose to put them in perspective. That means, naturally, that it will be the breeding ground for Peter Travers and Pete Hammond to get a first look at all of them and get the first shot to spew their pathetic, repetitive and worthless hyperbole all over them. You don't have to look too closely to see that the Petes' season has already begun.

For practically a month now, Peter Travers has been seen as the lone supporter of Captain Phillips. So confident is Sony in Paul Greengrass' latest (and why shouldn't they be with his track record) that the film has been getting screened for promotional audiences for up to a month before it opens...on Oct. 11. We are STILL two weeks away and a large number of the nation's critics are not being given a chance to see it until the week it opens yet there is Travers with his name in the ads.

"Tom Hanks hits a new career peak. One of the best films of the year." - Peter Travers
"Crazy Heart may finally win him the Oscar that's unfairly eluded him and it offers the pleasure of watching a great actor at the peak of his form." (Crazy Heart)
"Dazzling...Mann hits a new peak, orchestrating action, atmosphere and bruising humor." (Collateral)
"Eastwood, at the peak of his artful powers, tightens the screws of suspense without ever forgetting where the heart of his film lies." (Changeling)
"A spellbinder that builds unbearable suspense without losing sight of the story's grieving heart. This classic-in-the-making is the Coen Brothers at the peak of their powers!" (No Country for Old Men)

The adjective they are really banking on to describe the film though is the following. Watch as Travers quickly takes the meaning out of it.

"Captain Phillips is a knockout." - Peter Travers
"A knockout!" (Crash)
"A French knockout!" (A Christmas Tale)
"A knockout! A visual miracle!" (Rize)
"A game-changer. A breathless rush of a movie that jumps off the screen, spins your head around and then works its way into your heart. Dazzling...A visual wonderland that is literally a knockout." (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World)
"Drop-dead dazzling knockout beautiful…this movie will grab you." (Step Into Liquid)
"Hits the jackpot! Maria Bello dazzles! A knockout!" (The Cooler)
"Great acting is quicksilver, impossible to pin down in words. But you know it when you see it. "And you see it with dazzling clarity in this landmark portrayal. A movie that doesn't pull its punches. It's a knockout! A terrific no-nonsense Catherine Keener." (Capote)
"Jonah Hill scores a no-joke knockout." (Moneyball)
"Keira Knightley scores a knockout…Impurely delicious…There's a fire in her eyes that won't be extinguished." (The Duchess)
"It's a comic knockout. Sharply funny and touching...A dream cast! Playful." (Crazy Stupid Love)
"Hairspray earns knockout status for its humor, heart and high spirits." (Hairspray)
"Hilarious in ways you have to see to believe! Apatow builds a knockout fable of modern immaturity." (Knocked Up)
"Think of all the ways you can hurt yourself laughing, as in fall down, split your sides, bust a gut, blow your mind. You get it all in Tropic Thunder, a knockout of a comedy that keeps you laughing constantly. It's also killer smart, lacing combustible action with explosive gags." (Tropic Thunder)
"Thunderous action and nail-biting suspense…A potently acted powerhouse that sticks in the mind and the heart. Harris and Mortensen make a knockout team. Gripping entertainment that keeps springing surprises" (Appaloosa)
"A knockout! Spellbinding! It spins a web that will pull you in. A thriller that really thrills." (The Lookout)
"A knockout of a thriller! A triumph of the highest order! A new crime classic." (A Prophet)
"A globe-trotting, butt-kicking, whiplash-paced action movie done with humor, style and smarts. A knockout performance by Matt Damon" (The Bourne Supremacy)
"A knockout in every way…Passing Strange blows the roof off!" (Passing Strange)
Kinsey wanted to snap the public out of sexual ignorance. And Condon's knockout of a movie tries to do the same. You'll be shocked at how far we haven't come." (Kinsey)
"One sweet sexy sting of a movie! Edward Burns gives a knockout" (Confidence)
"A knockout! Like nothing you've ever seen!" (Hanna)

You would have been better off with David Manning, Sony. Saw this next quote from Travers during the football game. Consider what he said about another musical extravaganza.

"A full throttle expression of rock and roll anarchy" (Metallica Through the Never) - Peter Travers

"Phantom, which is still running on Broadway, is a rapturous spectacle and the movie, directed full throttle by Joel Schumacher, goes the show one better. It smolders." (The Phantom of the Opera)

True anarchy would have been Metallica doing an a cappella version of "Think of Me" while thousands of fans pirated the film in front of Lars. Let us run down the rest of Travers' recent quotes, shall we?

"Brie Larson is a revelation...One of the year's best performances. An exceptional film in every way." (Short Term 12)
"This doc will be a revelation." (Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work)
"Alec Baldwin's revelatory portrayal is the stuff Oscars are made of." (The Cooler)
Mary Elizabeth Winstead is a revelation." (Smashed)
"A heartfelt and deeply moving film...Penn Badgley is a revelation." (Greetings from Tim Buckley)
"Hits you like a shot in the heart. Michelle Williams is a revelation." (Brokeback Mountain)
"It's more than one of the best of the year. It's a movie you want to hold inside. Adrien Brody is revelatory. Owen Wilson skillfully blends humor and heartbreak, and Jason Schwartzman's performance cuts to the bone…I love this movie. (The Darjeeling Limited)
Writer-Director Tod Williams catches the heartbreak and humor of the story that do John Irving proud. Extraordinary in every way. Kim Basinger's haunted beauty burns in the memory - this is her finest work." (The Door In The Floor)
"A haunting and hypnotic film. Patricia Clarkson's sublimely nuanced performance is in every way transporting." (Cairo Time)
"An extraordinary movie in every way." (Momma's Man)
"A knockout in every way…" (Passing Strange)

"Prisoners is packed with twists you don't see coming. Jackman and Gyllenhaal burn with white-hot intensity." (Prisoners)
"Harrelson gives a white-hot performance that demands Oscar attention." (Rampart)
"A mesmerizing film that burns in the memory." (Changeling)
"A haunting and hypnotic tale of love! Toni Collette burns this movie into your memory." (Japanese Story)
"Kim Basinger's haunted beauty burns in the memory." (The Door In The Floor)
"Hot-blooded, haunting and packed with the pleasures of the unexpected. (Tell No One)
"Devilishly clever plot twists." (Duplicity)
"It's jolting, juicy stuff made juicier by the actors. State of Play keeps the twists coming." (State of Play)
"Tommy Lee Jones shakes you in way you do not see coming." (The Three Burials of Melquaides Estrada)
"David Hyde Pierce is pricelessly good at taking you places you don't see coming." (The Perfect Host)
"Precious leaves you moved like no film in years and then lifts you up in ways you don't see coming." (Precious)
"A mind-bender of a thriller with twists you don't see coming!" (Mr. Brooks)
"Terrific and packed with surprises. It's full of twists and nail-biting suspense. You can't get it out of your head." (Side Effects)
"A hell of a ride! Pines sticks with you. Hold on tight." (The Place Beyond the Pines)
"The director of District 9 has done it again. It sticks with you. Strap in for a wild ride." (Elysium)

And how about just this weekend?

"An erotic comic whirlwind." (Don Jon) - Peter Travers
"...his film is funny and dead-serious, poetic and plain-spoken, erotic and touchingly tender." (Down in the Valley)
"...seduces with eroticism and resonates with ideas." (The Dreamers)
"A mesmerizing erotic odyssey!" (Don't Move)
"A mesmerizing erotic odyssey." (Friday Night)
"An erotic mindbender!" (A Dangerous Method)
"A potently erotic spellbinder." (Atonement)
"Provocative and potently erotic." (Black Book)
"Ang Lee's potently erotic and suspenseful (film) casts a spell you won't want to break!" (Lust, Caution)
"Mary Harron keeps the film bristling with suspense and erotic tension." (The Moth Diaries)
"A hothouse of erotic tension that's primed to explode." (Stoker)
"Sets off sexual fireworks that leave scorched Earth...literate, erotic, brutally funny and touched by brilliance." (We Don't Live Here Anymore)
"An erotic blast of sinful flesh, fun and fantasy that you don't want to stop." (Kaboom)

"Chris Hemsworth is revelatory. He nails every vulnerable nuance." (Rush) - Peter Travers
"Tom Cruise nails it. A dazzling ride." (Jack Reacher)
"...writer Mark Boal nails every telling detail." (The Hurt Locker)
"Andrew Dice Clay nails his role." (Blue Jasmine)
"Brad Pitt nails every nuance." (Moneyball)
"Takes a piece out of you! A riveting cast plays it for real. Sarandon nails every nuance." (The Greatest)
"Annette Bening and Julianne Moore nail every nuance." (The Kids Are All Right)
"Secrets are revealed slowly, and Scott Thomas uses every nuance in her acting arsenal to register their impact." (I've Loved You So Long)
"Kevin Kline gives a master class in acting. He finds every nuance of mirth and melancholy in this wonder of a role and rides it to glory." (The Extra Man)
"Patricia Clarkson's sublimely nuanced performance is in every way transporting." (Cairo Time)
"Zach Galifianakis is a comic force of nature! 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)

Speaking of Rush, Travers wasn't the only Peter singing its praises. That Hammond dick was as well. Sorry, but there's no mincing words anymore. He's like that first lesion that should send people rushing to the doctor's office.

"One of the best movies of this, or any, year." (Rush) - Pete Hammond

"So in some alternate universe, it's one of the best movies of 2067," said colleague Mark Dujsik so perfectly on Twitter this morning. To paraphrase Hammond's all-time bone-brained quote, he would probably think that's a ridiculous light year away. But let's scale it back a bit, right? Rush has a shocking 87% approval at Rotten Tomatoes for what is basically a dramatic Talladega Nights only without the depth. And I generally like Ron Howard's brand of populist entertainment. So best of year - to each his own? Best of this or ANY year? In the same year that one of the few movies you put down is The World's End? What else should we expect from Pete Hammond though?

"Ranks with The Shining as one of the best Stephen King adaptations ever!" (1408)
"The best Pirates ever." (Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides)
"Destined to become the most hilarious rock epic ever." (Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny)

That's the fourth Pirates film, mind you. The Rob Marshall one. And Travers may have something to say about that Tenacious D line. By all means, continue Whore Hammond

(2011) "The best use of 3-D in any film ever and that includes Avatar. "(Hugo)
(2007) "Mind-blowing 3-D animation." (Battle for Terra)
(2010) "A 3-D experience like we've never seen onscreen before." (Step Up 3-D)
(2010) "A great story that takes us to places we've never been before." (Tron: Legacy)
(2008) "Soars, taking the 3D experience to brand new heights." (Fly Me To The Moon)

Did Hugo really have that much competition in the 3-D medium? Back to Mr. One-Half Dimension.

(2005) "A winning combination of sex, mystery, brilliant writing and first-rate acting that all adds up to one of the most erotic and exhilarating movies in years." (Match Point)
(2006) "Woody Allen is back in style with his funniest movie in many years." (Scoop)
(2008) "Smart and riotously funny with DeNiro's best screen work in years." (What Just Happened?)
(2006) "Robin Williams turns in his smartest, funniest performance in at least a decade." (Man of the Year)
(2006 - June) "One of the best American comedies in years." (The Break-Up)
(2006 - November) "One of the funniest films in many years." (Borat)

Here's a good one...

(2007) "One of the most powerful films in years." (Reign Over Me)

Later that year...

(2007) "Stands apart as a powerful, provocative and spellbinding film." (A Mighty Heart)
(2007) "Vital and powerfully important." (Trade)
(2007) "A powerful human drama that packs a strong punch." (Reservation Road)
(2007) "Powerfully compelling! American Gangster makes a return to the lost art of true storytelling, every bit as epic as The Godfather." (American Gangster)

Since then...

(2008) "Exciting and powerful." (Miracle at St. Anna)
(2011) "Gripping and powerful." (Contagion)
(2008) "A powerful, compelling and shocking drama that will keep you hooked from beginning to end." (The Burning Plain)
(2011) "A powerful, important, humane and uncompromising film." (In the Land of Blood and Honey)
(2008) "An unforgettable motion picture experience. Powerful and moving beyond words." (The Boy in the Striped Pajamas)

And how quickly Hammond forgets...

(2011) "Packs the kind of punch-to-the-gut wallop the screen hasn't seen in years." (Warrior)

Unless the great Warrior packs the best punch since Reservation Road, what are we really talking about here, Pete?

"Chasing a dream has never been this much fun. Disney Pixar's funniest movie ever!" (Ratatouille)
"Hilarious" (WALL-E)
"The funniest movie of the summer." (Up)
"Truly Awesome. Hilarious, heartwarming entertainment for all ages." (Toy Story 3)
"A total gas! Revs up the action and laughs. Even better than the first." (Cars 2)
"Loads of laughs and heart. Pixar does it again!" (Monsters University)

Hammond didn't hit the whore circuit so we do not have any pre-2005 quotes to see where he stood on Pixar pre-Ratatouille. But we do have this little gem from last year...

"A treasure chest full of laughs! One of the funniest animated films in years." (The Pirates!: Band of Misfits)

Again, in YEARS, Hammond?

(2005) "Full of fun. With big out-of-this-world laughter." (Chicken Little)
(2006) "Jumps waaaaaay over the top on the laugh meter! Trust us - This movie should be in the 'funny' hall of fame." (Over the Hedge)
(2008) "An animation triumph! Thrilling, funny, charming and inspiring." (Kung Fu Panda)
(2011) "The greatest animated triumph since Toy Story 3." (Rio)
(2012) "Like Toy Story 3 this Madagascar proves 3 is the charm. It's easily the best one yet! Hilarious. Exciting. Heartwarming." (Madagascar 3)
(2008) "Awesome! Hilarious! More laughs, excitement and heart than any other comedy this year. The perfect holiday film." (Bolt)
(2008) "Monstrously funny and clever…genuine fun for the whole family." (Igor)
(2009) "The year's funniest comedy. Monstrous laughs!" (Monsters vs. Aliens)
(2009) "The most purely entertaining and inventive animated comedy of the year. It's raining big food and big laughs." (Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs)
(2010) "The funniest film of the year!" (Shrek: The Final Chapter)
(2010) "It's impossible to have a better time at the movies this summer. Roaringly funny, heartfelt and imaginative." (Despicable Me)
(2010) "A hilarious comedy event. A mega-funny movie loaded with laughs, action and heart." (Megamind)
(2011) "Wonderful! A movie treat full of heart and laughs." (Gnomeo & Juliet)
(2011) "Funny, warm and wonderful with great 3D! The perfect family film in every way." (Mars Needs Moms)
(2011) "These boots are made for rocking. Puss In Boots is so funny, so charming and so irresistible, one look into his eyes and you'll be swept away." (Puss In Boots)

So funny. Full of laughs. A comedy event. All is forgotten the moment The Pirates: Band of Misfits opened in April 2012. How about action films? How do they stack up?

(2005) "King Kong rules over all the others. As big, breathtakingly exciting and relentlessly thrilling as any epic adventure the screen has seen in many years! If you think you've seen Kong, you ain't seen nothing yet!" (King Kong)
(2010) "The best action film in years!" (The A-Team)
(2007) "The Bourne Ultimatum is the best action film in decades. A two hour high-tech chase around the world that surpasses everything that's come before it, including Oscar-winning classics like The French Connection and Bullitt." (The Bourne Ultimatum)
(2011) "A hard driving adrenaline pumping blast that leaves everything else in its dust. The most spectacular and exhilarating action sequences the screen has seen in years." (Fast Five)
"The most visually inventive, trailblazing film of its kind in light years." (Wanted)

We left the year off, appropriately enough, since light years measure distance and not time. The only equation left to answer is how many light years we can kick Travers and Hammond away from film criticism?

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originally posted: 09/28/13 08:55:44
last updated: 09/28/13 09:22:19
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