Monday, March 30, 2009

At the Movies - Lyons vs. Critical standards

Here comes one of Ben Lyons' movie reviews! Run for your lives!Ben Lyons started this week's episode of At the Movies with a review of Monsters vs. Aliens saying that it seems like a new animated movie comes out every month (the last one was Coraline, which came out seven weeks ago, preceded by Bolt in November), that it "raises the bar" for animated movies (without saying a whole lot about why that is) and that it has that "blockbuster event-movie feel," just in case you weren't sure why you should see it.

We then move on to more gushing with Adventureland. He asks, "How does director Greg Mottola follow up his box office success Superbad?" First, by not casting America's most despised critic in a bit part in the movie, as Mottola did with Lyons in Superbad.

Remember, this was one of the five movies that Ben saw at the Sundance Film Festival this year. While he was there, he interviewed Kristen Stewart about her new movie, even though all he wanted to talk about was Twilight. Somehow, Ben found it in himself to avoid mentioning teen vampires in this review, which he described in a live chat on the At the Movies Web site as a movie he "liked, but would have been more interested in it had the leads been a little funnier". And that's in a comedy.

He summed up his review on the show saying:

"I was on the edge of saying 'Rent it', but because of the strong performances of Hayder and Wiig, I'll say see it."

On the other hand, Ben Lyons found himself capable of even defying the laws of math by giving a "Rent it" to Goodbye Solo, which has a whopping 100% on the Tomatometer as of Sunday morning. That is before Lyons gets his grubby little hands on the tomato, as he has with Sin Nombre, where he and Mank are the top two critics listed.

I eagerly await the movie as it still has not yet opened in San Francisco, so there is not much more I can say about it. But I'll simply point out that Ben says you should merely "Rent it" even though the lead performance was great (and that is, apparently, all), but you should see Adventureland because of the side performances by Bill Hayder and Kristen Wiig, even though the lead actors just aren't very funny. Listen up, Ramin Bahrani--maybe you should consider casting Ben Lyons in your next movie if you really want it to be 100% fresh.

Finally, there is Lyons' DVD pick of the week: Slumdog Millionaire. He gushes, "When you compare it with other best picture winners from recent years like The Departed and Gladiator, it ranks right up there as one of my favorites." That's a quote that says almost nothing (other than pointing out that he likes popular movies) while sounding important.

This is not just gushing in the hopes of getting blurbed in an ad (although Slumdog has enough critical praise that the marketing campaign does not need to scrape the bottom of the barrel for a quote), it is also jumping on the Oscar bandwagon to legitimize his opinion. Seriously, who talks like this way--other than a blurb-gushing, bandwagon riding "critic"?


Agatha said...

Like Roger Ebert said, "You gotta be really something for the LATimes to write an article like that."

Yeah, Benny Boy is really, really something.

Agatha said...

He is so inane, so full of what I call "mediababble" and everything he says is so free from actual information, he makes Dr. Phil look like a professional and intellectual. He is what you get in a culture of "infotainment".

He's also exactly what you get in a culture of the "media personality". You can be a "media personality", yes, but you have to be something first. You have to be a film critic, a psychiatrist, a DJ, a journalist, an activist, an educator, an actor/actress or even a model first. You cannot be famous and on TV for absolutely nothing.

Ben is the male Jade Goody, the film critic version of Dr. Phil and Paris Hilton sans the money and little dog.