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Criticwatch - Quote Whores Come Into Focus In 2015

by Erik Childress

Will Smith is back in theaters this weekend after almost two years off - not counting his career-defining cameo as Satan in last year's Winter's Tale. Criticwatch is also back after a rather slow 2014 on the article front but just a couple of months off since announcing last year's quote whores of the year and offering another retrospective on why Peter Travers and Pete Hammond should not be read, heard or seen in any capacity. Especially when they are using their words. More on them at another time. This week though we are on alert about this week's ads for Focus which once again sees the same ol' whores up to their same 'ol tricks.

Focus currently sits at 56% at Rotten Tomatoes and an equal 56 at Metacritic. Split just about down the middle and that is pretty good for this year so far. That makes it the sixth best-reviewed wide release (out of 21) - or - the best-reviewed "rotten" wide release of the year. Either way it is nothing to get too excited about especially since it is a rather dumb, thrill-less caper film featuring one of the biggest asshole con artist the screen has seen to date. And THAT is saying something. Watch as Will Smith goes from slick to lovestruck puppy dog by looking as if he's choking on a turnip. Watch as Margot Robbie does nothing to shed the "blonde bombshell" label by playing a twit whose only arc is learning how to pick a better pocket. (She is much better in the upcoming Z for Zachariah from Sundance this year.) Seriously who would have thought that directors Glenn Ficarra & John Requa (who already made a con man film with Jim Carrey called I Love You, Philip Morris) pull off a better twist in Crazy, Stupid, Love than the films that are usually overbaked with crazy plot turns? We are getting distracted here though. What do the junket players have to say about the movie? The ones who are so very eager to please with their lack of critical faculties.

"Riveting." - Nancy Jay

Nancy is becoming another of Warner Bros. stable of quote whores. (That's what Terry Hoitz would call them.) And sometimes she can be found on films that many critics like as she did last summer.

"Jaw-dropping. An instant classic." (Godzilla)

It is hard to take her praise of Godzilla as "an instant classic" when she used the same words to describe:

"An instant classic." (Dark Shadows)

And then it just gets worse from there.

"Stellar cast. Legendary matchup. Sensational. A blast. Packs a punch." (Grudge Match)
"This is one of the best movies of the year." (This Is Where I Leave You)
"Melissa McCarthy does it again." (Tammy)
"Genuine. Perfect." (Blended)

Can you believe anyone after they call Adam Sandler's Blended "perfect." One of the worst-reviewed films of his career. And that's saying something. That goes the same for our next junketeer who is starting to make a career out of praising films from Warner Bros.

"Twists. Thrills." - Scott Carty
"Amazing." (Pacific Rim)
"Honest, exact and riveting." (Godzilla)
"Awesome" (Blended)
" A true classic. A riveting story with layers of deep characters, heartbreak and laughs." (The Judge)
"They're back and even crazier." (Horrible Bosses 2)

5 of his 7 quotes from 2013-14 were for Warner Bros. Now 6-of-8.

"Keeps you guessing. Slick." - Greg Russell
"A slick, psychological thriller that will keep you riveted to the final credits." (Suspect Zero)
"Clever and suspenseful. Keeps you guessing until the very end." (Man On A Ledge)
"You'll be guessing all the way till the end, and you'll still be wrong." (Taking Lives)

If you are continuing to guess all the way until the end of a film and you are still wrong, has the movie not done its job or is Greg simply saying you are stupid? You may keep guessing in Focus. The only difference is there really isn't much to guess. And you are not the one who is stupid.

"A stylish thrill ride. Sensational." - Cindy Pearlman

I wouldn't trust anyone who would use the same words ("thrill ride") to describe Focus as they did Inception. Since 2009, Cindy Pearlman has been quoted 29 times. 27 of them on Warner Bros. films. 19 of the 29 were films that received "rotten" percentages at Rotten Tomatoes. 3 of them (Winter's Tale, Blended, Red Riding Hood). Two of those were just last year.

"Bold" (Red Riding Hood)
"Laugh-out-loud. Funny." (Blended)
"Stunning. Moving. A beautiful love story for the ages." (Winter's Tale)

How much of a sensational thrill ride does Focus sound like now?

"Riveting. Electric. Thrilling." - Joel Amos
At least one of those words is a favorite of 2012's Quote Whore of the Year.
"Riveting." (Gone)
"Riveting" (Draft Day)
"Powerful. Riveting" (Transcendence)
"Red Dawn rocks. Riveting. Thrilling. A movie for our times." (Red Dawn)
"The first great thriller of the fall. Sensational, riveting, & powerful " (A Walk Among the Tombstones)
"The first must see movie of fall. Riveting. Powerful. Action-packed. Denzel delivers like never before." (The Equalizer)

A Walk Among the Tombstones and The Equalizer opened a week apart last year. Gone received an 11% at Rotten Tomatoes and Warner Bros.' "powerful" Transcendence got a 19%.

And that brings us to four-time Criticwatch Quote Whore of the Year winner.

"Seductive. Mesmerizing. Incredibly sexy." - Shawn Edwards
"A truly haunting and mesmerizing masterpiece!" (Let Me In)
"A flat-out masterpiece! A mesmerizing and haunting film that soars with creativity, stylistic genius and amazing battle scenes." (Snow White and the Huntsman)
"A mesmerizing conclusion to the best trilogy in cinematic history." (The Matrix Revolutions)

As to Shawn's idea of sexy...

"Fun, sexy and smart." (Chef)
"Sexy, fun and fresh!" (Just Wright)
"Ultra sexy." (The Losers)
"Sexy cool." (Red Riding Hood)
"I loved every second of this crazy, sexy and cool flick." (Alfie)
"Sexy, stylish and altogether the coolest movie of the year." (Twilight)
"Stylish, sexy and riveting!" (We Own the Night)
"Hip, sexy and packed with laughs!" (Deliver Us from Eva)
"Twice as sexy. Twice as sharp. Twice as funny." (Think Like a Man Too)
"A seriously sexy, action-packed and completely intriguing cinematic tour de force." (Miami Vice)
"A qitty, clever and sexy romp that both women and men will find incredibly enjoyable." (Little Black Book)

Since Criticwatch began in 2002, Will Smith has had just four films crack 60% at Rotten Tomatoes. Another seven have received "rotten" ratings there and that is without including Shark Tale or his cameos in Jersey Girl and Winter's Tale. Good or bad, of those 11 films, Shawn has been quoted on six of them.

(2003) "...Year's most action-packed and high-flying flick." (Bad Boys II)
(2005) "Hitch is the Comedy of the Year. Highly Entertaining and Laugh-Out-Loud Funny!" (Hitch)
(2006) "****! Powerful and uplifting!" (The Pursuit of Happyness)
(2007) "Dynamic. Exhilarating. Exciting. Entertaining. The best movie of the year! One of the most entertaining, exciting and intense movies ever made." (I Am Legend)
(2012) "A blast of fun. It's hilarious. ****. Phenomenal. Total awesomeness. Will Smith is back! and better than ever. It's the best Men In Black yet." (Men In Black III)
(2013) "Brilliant. Intense." (After Earth)

That's right. Including 2013's After Earth the film that may very well be the film that marked the end of Will Smith's power at the box office. It is about time we stopped placating Edwards with any such power as well.

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originally posted: 03/01/15 03:19:06
last updated: 03/01/15 03:20:08
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