Monday, March 2, 2009
The fourth Jonas Brother?
I keep thinking that Ben Lyons is going to go an entire episode of At the Movies without making a fool of himself. Granted, there have been a few occasions when his foolishness has been scattered about the show in a few odd, awkwardly formed sentences in defense of dubious opinions. But sometimes he just makes my job easy by making a fool out of himself for an entire segment, like on this week's episode during the discussion of The Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience--what else--which Ben thinks is better than Doubt and Synecdoche, New York.
The entire discussion is, unfortunately for Ben Lyons and for those who still sit through this show, worth printing in full. I will add a few comments, although they are hardly necessary. We start with Ben Mankiewicz opening the segment:
Mank: It's hard to know how to critically discuss a 3D Jonas Brothers movie when you are a 41-year-old man who still finds texting a bit impersonal.
To which you might add, it's hard to discuss film with a guy who finds texting so natural that he does it during film screenings. But I digress . . . After Mank's summary, Lyons responds:
Lyons: You ask how a 41-year-old guy can watch this film, how does a 27-year-old guy watch this film? I don't think any Jonas Brothers fan will be disappointed by this movie. And like you say, It's not a movie. But I think you're being too hard on it. If you can't afford Jonas Brothers tickets to see them at Madison Square Garden, or you're 4 minutes into the ticket sales and they're already sold out and you waited too long and you can't get to see them, this is a way to take the kids and take the family to go and see the Jonas Brothers.
Mank: OK, I got that but it belongs on television, it's not on film. This is a movie . . .
Lyons: It doesn't belong on television because you can't watch it in 3D on television. You see the guys rock out on stage like that. Yes, they throw the drumsticks at the camera . . .
Mank: More than that, the 3D is a complete distraction. At moments when there's really depth of field, which happens a lot at a concert looking back at the band or looking out at the audience, the 3D's distracting. I found myself covering up one eye because it seems almost like double vision. The 3D doesn't work, nothing about it works, nothing about it makes it a film. So many questions that I would have been interested about these giant mega stars at such a young age . . .
Mank knows something about somebody becoming a star--if by no means a "giant mega star"--at a relatively young age. That would be Ben Lyons, who has been criticized by some for being too young at 27 to co-host At the Movies, but far more have criticized him for trying to sound young and appeal to the 14-year-old teeny bopper crowd.
There is a frustrated look on Mank's face as he goes through the above diatribe, which I think says something like "Did I just defend this guy to the Associated Press? Did I just say that all of the criticism of Lyons has been 'through this prism of presuming that he's young and didn't know what he was talking about'? Did I really just say 'Nobody who meets [Lyons] is going to doubt that this guy knows a lot about film and is thoughtful about it'? Crap!" Lyons responds:
Lyons: I don't think this is the time and place for those questions to be answered. That can be a behind the music documentary that can be for television. This is to show their fans that these guys are rock stars. They play their instruments, they stay in fancy hotels, they shut down Times Square. That's what they are in this film. I'm going to have to say "See It," because it serves its purpose, its the Jonas Brothers experience.
Yes, he actually said that. He actually said that a VH1 special should provide more depth and inquiry into its subject than a feature film. He actually said that the movie "show[s] their fans that these guys are rock stars. They play their instruments, they stay in fancy hotels." That, apparently, is enough for Ben Lyons.
Of course, for many movies this would not be enough. On Doubt, Ben didn't say "fans of the play get to see Philip Seymour Hoffman giving a sermon and Meryl Streep wearing a habit." He said "Rent It" because it was not cinematic enough. But their fans don't watch E! or My Family's Got GUTS! or read the Twilight books, so Lyons is not all that concerned with maintaining their support for his flailing career. He lost it long ago and will likely never win it back.
Just to show how hard he is trying to appeal to this crowd--rather than attempt to provide serious film criticism--he later refers to them as the "JoBros", assuming that by the end of the show all of the adults have already changed the channel.
Sorry, Mank. This is the guy you are defending, and he is doing everything in his power to turn away viewers who might appreciate what you have to say.
Finally, just as Lyons ends his very last sentence in the above transcript and segues toward the next segment, there is a look of defeat and exasperation on his face. I think it says something like "Did ABC/Disney just spend the last month attempting to bolster my credentials as a real film critic by putting me on The View and Fox News and getting the AP to write an article defending me, and then I went and said that? Did I just flush all of that hard-earned good will down the toilet? Crap!"