Welcome, everyone to Bad Shakespeare’s Anniversaganza Week. All week, I’m going to be blogging smaller posts that, in addition to leading up to Saturday’s big announcement, really gets to the heart of what Bad Shakespeare is all about, and helps with some life lessons. Strap in, afix your jaw to the “stunned silence” position, and prepare to be amazed.
For today’s post, I’m going to spend a moment to eulogize the great Roger Ebert. I’m the one billionth person to do this, so I’m not going to cover any different or great ground in doing this. I want to talk about the personal reason I feel Roger Ebert is one of the greatest men in the world, aside from the fact that he found the best excuse ever to not have to review the sixth installment of the Fast and the Furious franchise.
Roger Ebert loved movies.
You got that, movie critics of today? Roger Ebert loved movies. He was unabashedly a movie fan. And you know what? That’s what we need in life. Too often movie reviewers (and reviewers of every kind) look for the great new prestige piece. We wouldn’t understand why this movie is great, as we are the commoners, while them with their fancy film degrees understand art. I remember people being up in arms when one of my favorite websites, the Onion’s AV Club, gave A Very Harold And Kumar Christmas a great review. Their response was along the lines of “It wasn’t Citizen Kane. But it did make us laugh. And that’s what it set out to do.” Because they enjoyed the movie. This also happened when Slate.com reviewed Les Miserables and chose a reviewer that started their review with "I don't like musicals." Then you've told us all you need to know about your opinion right there: you're taking yourself too seriously.
Roger Ebert very famously panned the movie North, a disaster of such Cagian proportions it forced it’s actors Elijah Wood and Bruce Willis to never act again, and derailed what could have been the promising film career of Scarlett Johansson. (citation needed.) The writer, Alan Zweibel, was on a talk show a few years ago, and pulled out the review that he keeps with him. Because he understood. Roger Ebert wasn’t trashing the movie coming from some high and mighty role. He was doing it from a movie fan’s perspective, and he just didn’t enjoy the movie. (Alan Zweibel would go on to write a book I reviewed for Bad Shakespeare, and one of the reasons I enjoyed it was the fact that it really seemed like Alan Zweibel enjoyed writing it.)
Why is all this important? Because Roger Ebert wasn’t full of himself. He understood what he did. He watched and reviewed movies. He did something all of us need to do: enjoy things for what they are. Not everything is “the best.” Sometimes, something is good because we like it. Sometimes, we should enjoy ourselves, and not take anything too seriously.
So if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to listen to my Russell Crowe albums, which I enjoy.
So we bid adieu to Mr. Ebert as he goes to Heaven to review God’s personal movies, including “The Flood” which I’m sure Mr. Ebert would say that it started ok, but it went on a little too long. And I hope that I’m there when the conclave of movie reviewers visits the former Mann’s Chinese Theatre to elect the next Siskel and Ebert. They’ll send an intern out with a thumbs one once they are done.