I Like Roger Ebert, But Sometimes He’s A Complete Idiot…

I was about to watch one of my all time favorite teen comedies this morning (that would be Three O’Clock High). It was absolutely storming here, so I figured I’d watch a movie. As I was about to hit the Netflix ‘Play’ button I caught Roger Ebert’s name out of the corner of my eye in one of the user reviews. There was a link to Ebert’s review and since I respect Ebert’s love of film, I clicked on it to read what he thought about it.

One star. Wow. He gave it one frickin’ star. Not only did he say the movie sucked (having a ‘stupid’ plot), he even called it fascist. I’m not sure how he arrived at that one.  When I think of fascm I think of Mussolini. Hitler. Mao. The former King Of Pop. Ebert (as with a lot of critics) sometimes allows his political and personal biases to get in the way of reviewing a movie on its own merits. For me, this is one such case. Three O’Clock High (for me) is one of the best ‘high school’ genre films ever made. It’s writing, casting, direction and editing culminated in a very slick, fast moving film that was actually funny. Even the characters with bit parts were memorable (the guy with the red beret still gives me a good laugh). There’s nothing fascist about it. Ebert completely missed the point of the film. And on top of that, it’s a comedy. An entertainment. It wasn’t shooting to be Citizen Kane.

If this were the only case in which Ebert completely missed on, then I wouldn’t have a blog post… But he’s had a number of head scratchers, so I figured I would make a list of 10 films that I thought were some of his more glaring errors. These are movies that I think are now considered classics by most. I’m not including some of the stinkers he gave a thumbs up to, like Cop & A Half, Million Dollar Baby and Anaconda.

Update: #11 Copland (Cited that there was ‘too much story’. He even threw out the word lugubrious. I’m not even brave enough to drop ‘lugubrious’ on someone. Not even on this blog…)

So here are 10 (more) GREAT FILMS THAT EBERT gave ‘Thumbs Down’ to…

#10 The aformentioned Three O’ Clock High…

#9 Miller’s Crossing (My favorite gangster flick).

#8 Legend…  Siskel missed this one, also. Not the greatest story, but it accomplished what Ridley Scott set out to do, which was to

#7 The Lost Boys… Who, except Ebert doesn’t love this movie?

#6 Full Metal Jacket… Stanley Kubrick, dude. One of the most hard core war flicks ever.

#5 Empire Of The Sun… Maybe this was just some sort of backlash against Spielberg. Another great, albeit completely different, war film.

#4 Raising Arizona… Another great comedy  (he also didn’t like The Hudsucker proxy).

#3 Aliens… I mean, COME ON!

#2 Die Hard… Arguably the best action film of all time. In all fairness, after giving this an initial thumbs down, he later begrudgingly changed it to a thumbs up.

#1 Blade Runner… Most critics panned this one. Again, to be fair, Ebert didn’t EXACTLY pan this. He did say that it was worth seeing for the visuals but he found the story lacking. Siskel outright hated it. I don’t care what version you watch, you’re still going to see one of the most groundbreaking films ever made. Sure it’s dark (loved it), slow moving (with purpose), and occasionally brutal in its depictions of violence, but it has a core story that anyone and everyone can relate to in some way. “Who am I? Why am I here? How long have I got?”

That’s quite the collection of films that he got wrong and this was with minimal research. I’m sure I could find some real doozies if I tried. I must say that I don’t think Ebert is a moron all of the time. I wish that he had done more DVD commentaries like the one for Dark City, for instance.  Occasionally, though, as when he reviewed Three O’Clock High, he sounds like an idiot. But don’t we all sometimes?


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