Monday, January 19, 2009

At the Movies, 1/18/09

Stop that "film critic"!
I have always said that I would be much more willing to give Ben Mankiewicz a chance on a show with a better film critic than Ben Lyons--not that he would be my first choice, but he seems reasonably informed and willing to defend his strong--if sometimes unusual--opinions.

Unfortunately, on the current show he often finds it difficult to complete a thought, not to mention an entire sentence. Lyons is so quick to jump in and get his face time with his inane comments, sometimes sitting there with his mouth open, foot shaking, leaning forward and just waiting to interrupt him. Mank doesn't stand a chance.

I noticed this during the review of Paul Blart: Mall Cop more than any time in the recent past. Lyons started the review and gave his rating, then Mank tried so hard just to complete his thought that by the end he just seemed annoyed--which is pretty endearing, because at least the audience can sympathize with him--with his clenched teeth and stone-faced stare attempting to hide how pissed he is getting. Unlike Lyons, Mank is trying to develop a conclusion out of several insights into the movie, positive and negative, each of which Lyons sees as a chance to say "Oh, yeah, that was so funny when . . ." etc. Obviously Lyons is the only person--excluding the few who still watch the show--who cannot seem to tell that Mank isn't finished yet.

Even worse, when Mank is done and says "Skip It", Lyons says, "I'm glad, though, that you see the talent in Kevin James. I do think he's one of the funnier guys working today." A fair enough comment, but after interrupting Mank three--three!--times, it is a bit much for Lyons to congratulate him on making a single point when he in fact struggled to get out several.

As for Lyons' opinion on the movie, he says "I don't think there is anything wrong with taking [your family] to See It."

That is a "See It" in capital letters, which would be Ben's rating for Paul Blart: Mall Cop. This is becoming a recurring event for Lyons on this show--if a movie is relatively sweet and innocent, then he says you should "See It". Pretty much regardless of the quality of the movie, which he cannot defend at all, and which Mank always calls him on.

This explains Ben's defensive "I don't think there is anything wrong" with going to see it. Fine. But is there anything right with going to see it? A reason that people should take the time and the money to go to a theater to see it? If not, THEN YOU SHOULD NOT RECOMMEND THAT WE SHOULD "SEE IT" no matter how much you want to stay on Kevin James' good side so that you can set up an interview with him later.

He makes the same sort of comment--although this time, even worse--when he says of Hotel for Dogs that there is "nothing wrong with renting this [ie Rent it] if you have to take care of the kids and want something to put on for two hours." So not only is there "nothing wrong with renting" the movie, you don't even have to watch it! When did the possibility to get a kid to sit in front of a TV become a criteria for a rating? If that is your criteria, there is plenty of stuff a kid is willing to tolerate on TV, why bother with renting?

And if you are going to the video store--or Netflix, or whatever--and you have the possibility of renting just about anything, why not try something unique or different, an old classic that will open your kid's horizons? Because Ben Lyons said Rent It, rather than encouraging you to find something better. Thanks Ben, lowering the country's standards one "Rent It" at a time.

By the way, I am sure there are 10-year-olds who, when given the chance to rent Hotel for Dogs would respond, "No thanks, I'd rather watch Wall-E again."

Finally, I have to give props to Mank for his snarky comment delivered with a sneering grin: "Hotel for Dogs is about, and this may surprise you, five kids who start a hotel . . . for dogs! Sometimes the script just writes itself."


Anonymous said...

Any reviewer working opposite Ben Lyons would seem competent and that's my problem with Ben Mankiewicz. I can't be certain of the value of his opinions because Lyons just isn't clever enough to contradict Mankiewicz in a meaningful way. And because I have no respect for Lyons' opinions, my estimation of Mankiewicz suffers every time they agree on anything.

Kevin T. Rodriguez said...

I was familiar with Mank before he was announced as a replace for "At The Movies," and I was a bit relieved. He was reviewing movies on local TV networks for years, and he currently enjoys a spot discussing movies on TCM (Turner Classic Movies) when Robert Osborn isn't available. He always struck me as someone who knew what he was talking about, with potential to be one of the greats with time. His stink with his idiot co-host though could be his career downfall.

tommy salami said...

I like Mankiewicz when he introduces movies on Turner Classics, but on At the Movies it's as if he's boxing with one of those inflatable balloons you give to children.

Anonymous said...

I have little respect for Ben Two. It's true that being paired with a moron brings your game down considerably but he doesn't have much game on his own, from what I've seen. Debating Lyons is pointless but he could offer solid film criticism on his own. When he's on his own, however, he does not do that.