WITH THURSDAY’S Golden Globe announcements, awards season is in high gear.But, amid all this excitement, let’s not forget some hard-working people who don’t receive awards but who contribute so much to the pleasure of moviegoing: Blurbmeisters. Every day, newspaper ads carry dozens of quotes from people expressing enthusiasm and urging that you attend these films. And, frankly, without them, would any of us ever go to a movie? Of course we would, but that’s not the point. The point is that Reel Life has pored over the blurbs in newspapers for the past year and we want to salute the critics’ boundless enthusiasm — even though we are confused by some of the nuances of their fervor. For example: Shawn Edwards of Fox TV liked “Nacho Libre” (“You won’t see a funnier movie all year!”) on June 16 … and “Little Man” (“The wildest, funniest and most hilarious movie of the year!” ) on July 9. Apparently, a month can make a big difference. Scott Mantz of “Access Hollywood” similarly hailed “Poseidon” and “Cars”: “The year’s most exciting movie!” (May 28) and “The best movie of the year is finally here!” (July 7). There are other uncertainties. Ebert & Roeper were quoted in ads for “The Proposition,” “Monster House” and “The Departed”: “Two big thumbs up”; “Two very big thumbs up!” and “Two massive thumbs up.” I am suddenly feeling very self-conscious about the size of my thumbs. READING ALL of these blurbs, one begins to ponder cosmic matters. Such as: “Who exactly qualifies for recognition as a film critic?” Some blurbmeisters do not come from the world of reviewing. For example: Larry King, “All the King’s Men” — “A masterpiece!!” Larry King, “You, Me and Dupree” — “Owen Wilson has to be one of the greatest comedic actors of all time.” Greta Van Susteren, Fox News Channel, “Akeelah and the Bee” — “The best family film ever!” And what exactly is “praise”? Studios apparently were convinced that these comments were surefire audience lures. Sam Adams, Los Angeles Times, “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning” — “There’s hardly a body part that isn’t mangled or lopped off, ground up or sliced through.” Dreadcentral.com, “Saw III” — “It’ll make you squirm and beg for mercy!” Steve ‘Uncle Creepy’ Barton, The Horror Channel, “Tamara” — ” ‘Tamara’ will thrill you, turn you on, grab your throat and tear it out!” The last blurb raises two questions. Are there many fans looking for a film that will tear out your throat? And how many other blurbmeisters secretly have the nickname “Uncle Creepy”? There are other pieces of “praise” that could be questioned: The Dove Foundation, “Barnyard,” “You have to see it to believe it.” Peter Travers, Rolling Stone, “Down in the Valley” — “A real movie!” Marketers apparently were convinced that these were strong endorsements. Other critics, however, leave absolutely no room for doubt about their enthusiasm. Pete Hammond, Maxim, “Beerfest” — “The party film of the summer. You’ll laugh your Heineken off!” Pete Hammond, Maxim, “Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny” — “Destined to become the most hilarious musical epic ever.” He also liked “X-Men: The Last Stand” (“Awesome!”),”8 Below” (“Magnificent!”) and “Hard Candy” (“Beyond intense!”) OTHER CRITICS were equally enthused. Scott Bowles, USA Today, “My Super Ex-Girlfriend” — “The funniest film of the summer!” Devin Faraci, CHUD.com, “The Fountain” — “The best film of 2006.” Rex Reed, New York Observer, “Find Me Guilty” — “Sidney Lumet is a filmmaking genius! He’s a wunderkind!” Lumet is certainly talented, but can an 81-year-old be considered a “wunderkind”? And finally, there are critics whose glee was so boundless, they ignored the laws of the calendar. In Touch on Feb. 3 declared “Something New” to be “The sweetest surprise of 2006!” Similarly: Shawn Edwards, Fox TV, “Lucky Number Slevin” — “The year’s best thriller!” (April 14) Earl Dittman, Wireless, “Lucky Number Slevin” — “The year’s best thriller!” (April 7) Earl Dittman, Wireless mag, “RV” — “The best family film of the year.” (April 28) Of course, one of the jobs of blurbmeisters is to recognize great films. Anthony Kaufman, Indiewire, “Climates” — “Masterpiece!” Film Advisory Board, “Open Season” — “A family masterpiece!” CineScene, “Zen Noir” — “A genuine masterpiece.” Andrew O’Hehir, Salon.com, “Flannel Pajamas” — “A spiny and dispassionate little masterpiece.” And, in the midst of all this awards excitement, a special Governors Trophy to those films that never carried a single critics quote during their runs: “Basic Instinct 2,” “Benchwarmers,” “Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector,” “The Santa Clause 3″ and “When a Stranger Calls.” So, there you have it. These are the quotes of the decade. The quotes of the new millennium. Quotes that are masterpieces that will tear your throat out. Happy holidays!
- Triptyk Studios, New York, New York
- Petrol Advertising, Burbank, California
- Bridgewater Associates, Westport, Connecticut
- Company Confidential, Aspen, Colorado
- Save the Children, Fairfield, Connecticut