Annual blitz of film blurbs a public service, really

A Google search of the phrase “movie reviews” yields 320 million matches. Clearly, everybody and their grandmother is a critic these days.

Well, actually, that phrase on Google’s advanced search yields only 42.4 million matches. So everybody’s a critic, but maybe not their grandmas.

Which brings us to my annual roundup of critics’ blurbs.

As awards season moves toward its Feb. 27 Oscar climax, it’s time to honor the unsung heroes of the film biz: reviewers. In an era of Twitter and text-messaging, these professional critics are the ones whose opinions really matter.

And what is our criteria for “professional”? Glad you asked. It’s any critic who is quoted in newspaper and TV ads.

When I began these compilations in Olden Times (i.e., the 1990s), some accused me of mocking critics. I admit, I used to, when I was younger. But no longer. Reviewers are a beleaguered species and I refuse to kick ‘em when they’re down. (And if I did, our two resident critics, Justin Chang and Peter Debruge, would probably beat the crap out of me.)

So here is a salute to the hardy breed of folks who sit in the dark and keep us enlightened … and here’s why we love ‘em.

They think outside the box

Rick Florino, artistdirect.com on “Jonah Hex” — “The ultimate summer action flick.”

Mark S. Allen, CBS, “Flipped” — “An instant classic.”

Greg Russell, The Movie Show Plus, WMYD-TV, “Furry Vengeance” — “Don’t miss the furriest, funniest film of the spring!”

They have a senseof Hollywood history

Ron Gilbert, LA2day.com, “Bran Nue Dae” — “One of the best musicals since ‘The Wizard of Oz!’?”

Mike Sargent, WBAI, “A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop” — “Quite possibly the best remake or reimagining ever done.” (So “The Maltese Falcon” and “His Girl Friday” are no longer in the running?)

Mike Sargent, WBAI, Henry Jaglom’s “Queen of the Lot” — “Like Bogart and Bacall, Wyle and Frederick ignite the screen!”

Critics alert us to health issues

Peter Travers, Rolling Stone, “Unstoppable” — “This movie delivers so hard it shoots off sparks. Your head will spin. Your palms will sweat. Your nerves will fry.”

Peter Travers, Rolling Stone, “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” — “A breathless rush of a movie that jumps off the screen, spins your head around and then works its way into your heart.”

Jake Hamilton, Fox TV, “Unstoppable” — “A nerve-slicing, tension-soaked roller coaster that may stop your breathing, stop your pulse, hell it may even stop your heart … but you’ll be left ready to do it all over again.”

Repeat after me

CBS-TV’s Mark S. Allen (reviewing “Edge of Darkness”), Sixty Second’s Jeff Craig (“The A Team”) and Eurweb.com’s Lee Bailey (“Takers”) concluded that the respective films were “A thrill ride!” “The summer’s biggest thrill ride!” and “A smart, edgy thrill ride.”

Joel Amos of Sheknows.com saw “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” and Fox TV’s Bill Zwecker viewed “Grown Ups.” They concluded the respective films were “The perfect summer movie” and “The perfect summer movie!”

Pete Hammond writing, respectively, for the L.A. Times and Boxoffice, saw “The Yellow Handkerchief” and “The Good Heart.” He found the former an example of “wonderful actors at the top of their game” while the latter offered “two fine actors at the top of their game.”

They can depress you

Carrie Keagan, NGTV, “The A-Team” — “The sexiest fun you’ll have this summer!”

They make sense if you don’t think about it

Hollywood loves a happy ending, so it’s nice to end with quotes that are kinda goofy but fun.

Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times, “Knight and Day” — “Movie stars really do make a difference. I insist on it.”

Dan Kois, Village Voice, “Freakonomics” — “Alex Gibney’s meditation on sumo wrestling and corporate malfeasance is the most artful and thoughtful of the four segments.”

Jeff Jensen, EW, “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” — “The year’s yummiest, sweetest cinematic milkshake. If you don’t love this movie to pieces, I don’t want to know you.”

Theworldsaddress.blogspot.com, “Hot Tub Time Machine” — “Listen very carefully: It. Freaking. Rocked.”

See, I told you I’m not mocking critics.

Roger Ebert is the Mother Teresa of the film world, for Pete’s sake, so I’d be crazy to mock him. Besides, Debruge and Chang would beat the crap out of me.

Want to comment or suggest a column topic?Email timothy.gray@variety.com

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