Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Back to bad habits

Ben Lyons certainly did not excel in his role as a "serious film critic" during his tenure on At the Movies, but he seemed to realize that some of his more ridiculous hyperbole needed to be toned down--or at least heard the voices of reason telling him to do so. That did not stop him from making all sorts of gaffes, but at least he did not once again call some silly action movie the greatest film ever (more on that below) and backed off his early Twilight hype.

But since getting canned, he has fallen right back into his old habits, and it will doubtless be only a short time before he returns to being the complete fool he was before he was hired by ABC/Disney. Granted, this move already started before the ink was dry on A.O. Scott's contract, as witnessed in the interview below Lyons did with the stars of New Moon--that would be the second film in the Twilight series for those of you over 13 years old:

Unless I missed it, Lyons does not call the original Twilight a "really great film," or the next one "highly anticipated," but for somebody who gushed all over the series, then was forced to backtrack and call it the tenth worst film of the year (it was lame, but it wasn't that bad--The Spirit and The Day the Earth Stood Still didn't even make his ten worst list) this just seems to confirm what we all thought--he really loved Twilight but embarrassed himself by gushing all over it while pretending to be a serious film critic.

This interview was done while he was still presumably working for At the Movies. Since he was fired, Lyons wrote this on his Twitter page on August 17:

@wilcassettes sadly back in LaLa land. quick trip for a cameo in a @iamqueenlatifah movie with @thefatjew. Crazy!! 10 year reunion coming up

That's right, we're not going to have just The House Bunny to kick around anymore but some other movie as well.

But now, we get a full defense from Ben Lyons of some of his past behavior, specifically his claim that I Am Legend is "one of the greatest movies ever made." A reader of this blog left a link to an interview Ben did where this came up--I kept meaning to listen to it but the one hour running time kept making me think that I must have something better to do with my life. Fortunately, Erik Childress from Criticwatch took one for the team and summed it up for us. You can read his entire article here, but I'll give you a few highlights. First, on being asked whether he really believes this statement about the movie, Ben says:

Lyons: Yes, I do. OK, listen I’m going to explain it to you. This is a film that I saw and it blew my head to bits and I grew up in New York and it looked unlike anything I had seen before and I grew up on Will Smith. I think it’s an emotional movie, it’s funny, it made 700 million dollars around the world and inspired a prequel so there’s obviously a connection that people have made to the story. There are certain movies that just speak to you and that’s a film that I connected with and I won’t (inaudible) hide my opinion when that’s what I’m being paid to do. I love that film. That film is awesome. Every time I watch that film I notice new stuff in it.

Erik responds:

Is there anything sadder than a so-called professional film critic who grew up on Will Smith? Actually yes. It’s one that needs to justify their own feelings about a film by inciting the rule of the almighty public dollar. See, look at all the money the movie made so clearly I’m in the right. There is no quicker moment that you can call bullshit on any critic or moviegoer who jumps to that well to defend their opinion. Even Ben Lyons himself, I suspect, would scrunch his face at someone who said Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is good because it’s the highest grossing film of the year. But there he is whipping out figures to back up his opinion. It didn’t inspire a prequel (still in the planning stages) because of some fantastical, emotional connection to the story. It’s BECAUSE it made 700 MILLION DOLLARS worldwide. Chicken and the egg maybe since it can only make money if people go see it and recommend it. But how many crappy movies have made a dime at the box office? Even Wild Wild West made over $110 million. The best of Lyons’ defense though was yet to come.

It might be fun to watch Lyons try to regain the fan base that he lost by slamming Twilight but life may be just too short to devote too much time to that either.


Anonymous said...

I think Kristen Stewart has some problems.

thevoid99 said...

I read Erik's post last Mon./Tues. and was dismayed in Ben Lyons' attempt to defend his statement about I Am Legend as one of the greatest movies ever made and basing it also on box office.

He's a moron. Pure and simple.

My favorite film of all-time is Lost in Translation. Do I think one of the best films ever made? Yes. That's because it connected with me on a personal level. Especially at a time when I was in my early 20s where I had no clue on what to do with my life and was trying to figure out the world of adulthood. I was also trying to deal with my own alienation as it opened doors for me to explore cinema. I still watch that film once every year on the 21st of September. The day I saw that film back in 2003.

Of course, compare it to something like Casablanca or The Godfather would seem ludicrous since those are 2 great films in their own right. I don't consider myself to be intelligent but know a difference between a great film and a bad one. I Am Legend isn't a great movie though has a few moments from keeping it bad.

Ben Lyons is really someone who lacks the tenacity and desire to explore old films and would rather say something so he can be read.

It is sad if this individual becomes the person to go for opinions when we all know, there's far better people. I'm one of them. I think.

Anonymous said...

Please do a blog entry about Ben Lyons' pathetic crush on Keira Knightley. It's bad enough that he embarrasses himself on TV by talking about his crush on Keira - basically admitting that he'll probably never criticize her or any of her movies.

What's worse is Ben does things like ask Keira to kiss him while he's interviewing her. Can you say boderline sexual harassment? I'm not making this up. They showed this on E! last year. Ben was on the red carpet interviewing Keira at the 2008 Toronto Film Festival premiere for "The Duchess." And out of the blue, Ben asked Keira to kiss him!

She said, "No!," while cringing with a horrified look on her face, and then she quickly walked away. Too bad video footage of that interview doesn't seem to be on the Internet, but it was definitely shown on E!

Taylor Costello said...

Hey Scott,

I'm sure you're already aware of this, but the official At The Movies website has been purged of any trace of the two Bens, and now has Scott and Phillips faces all over the website.

Billy said...

Kristen looks like she's squirming away from Ben. Don't know if it's because of his slimy vibes or his awkward praise/pan/praise of Twilight.

And the first thing Lyons says is classically vapid: "Congratulations on returning to Comicon." Gee, we know he can't review films, but can't he even small talk right?

Anonymous said...

Scott, Do you have anything else better to do than "stopping BL"?
Ben is young and naive but he is harmless. Now he is fired by "At the Movies", let's have a break!

Anonymous said...

Scott has every right to still do this blog. Even though Ben Lyons was fired from "At the Movies," he's still plaguing the airwaves at E!

I think it's fair to criticize Ben Lyons because even though his father is a famous film critic (the ONLY reason why Ben even has a career), Ben is incredibly stupid when it comes to movies and being a movie critic.

You'd think he'd be more knowledgeable about the "family business," but he isn't. And that's really irritating, considering there are thousands of movie aficionados who would love to have the kind of career opportunities that have been handed to Ben, and they would work harder and do a much better job than Ben Lyons does.

So keep the Stop Ben Lyons blog going!

walterparada said...

I am SOOOOOOOOOOO happy Ben Lyons is no longer on At The Movies!

What a pure insult to have replaced Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper, and their more qualified co-hosts (love Michael Phillips wit!), with a buffoon like Ben Lyons and the other guy. Upon reading the profiles of Lyons and Mankiewicz prior to their debut, I was alarmed that someone so without insightful perspective, ostensibly lacking intellect, with published imagery of vulgarity and crass behavior could sit-down into the seat of his more distinguished and intellectual predecessors.

I never gave the new format a chance. But when I happen to come across the new show with these two new hosts, it was PAINFUL to hear Lyons "critique" a movie with his brazenly lack of vocabulary, using instead a lazy rhetoric while quoting movie poster tag-lines for his criticisms on movies. WHAT A JOKE!!

Most certainly, I was very happy to hear he was FIRED from the show, easily replaced by sharp-candor critic Michael Phillips and the very cool A.O. Scott. This was great news indeed and most certainly returned me to watching "At the Movies" as I had always enjoyed prior to that dismal and horrible 2008-2009 season.

Clearly, Ben Lyons was a disgrace and embarrassment to the show! He should stick to the more vapid environs of entertainment news while coddling to celebrities with his insipid remarks on the red carpet.

Anonymous said...

I cannot imagine how he would react to seeing a film like The Warriors, Taxi Driver, Annie Hall, Escape From New York. You know films shot in New York that certainly have blown people away. Sure they did not make millions of dollars give or take inflation but you know they had hardcore fan bases, won Oscars, and also shall be remembered for their originality rather than a half-baked, overproduced remake.

The box office argument Ben uses reminds me of those Transformers sycophants critical of Ebert's review of the sequel arguing box office. Point is, you do not pay after you see the movie pending your satisfaction. That could be one of the worst arguments ever.