I hereby declare this a thread for your favorite Ebert quotes.
The humans, including lots of U.S. troops, shoot at the Transformers a lot, although never in the history of science fiction has an alien been harmed by gunfire.
From his glossary:
An expletive used by knowledgeable film buffs during any chase scene involving a foreign or ethnic locale, reflecting their certainty that a fruit cart will be overturned during the chase, and an angry peddler will run into the middle of the street to shake his fist at the hero’s departing vehicle.
A good resource from which to pick a favorite:
Oh God. I’m not very familiar with his quotes, and that one about Freddy Got Fingered had me laughing so hard.
This movie doesn’t scrape the bottom of the barrel. This movie isn’t the bottom of the barrel. This movie isn’t below the bottom of the barrel. This movie doesn’t deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence as barrels….
Klaatau, in The Day The Earth Stood Still. Kind of started the entire plotline. Ebert, I am disappoint.
(Still, sad he’s dead, of course.)
“We are born into a box of time and space. We use words and communication to break out of it and to reach out to others.”
Also: “I believe empathy is the most essential quality of civilization.” (I may have paraphrased; don’t have the exact quote in front of me.)
Review of North:
I hated this movie. Hated hated hated hated hated this movie. Hated it. Hated every simpering stupid vacant audience-insulting moment of it. Hated the sensibility that thought anyone would like it. Hated the implied insult to the audience by its belief that anyone would be entertained by it.
“This is my happening and it freaks me out!”
“The director, whose name is Pitof, was probably issued with two names at birth and would be wise to use the other one on his next project.”
“In one scene, a man has his head split open with a ferocious blow from a sword. On the screen we see his lips opening in an anguished scream. On the soundtrack we hear him say, in English: ‘Oh, no!’ It is possible to respect his opinion while questioning his sincerity.”
“Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is a horrible experience of unbearable length, briefly punctuated by three or four amusing moments. One of these involves a dog-like robot humping the leg of the heroine. Such are the meager joys. If you want to save yourself the ticket price, go into the kitchen, cue up a male choir singing the music of hell, and get a kid to start banging pots and pans together. Then close your eyes and use your imagination.”
“‘Mad Dog Time’ should be cut into free ukulele picks for the poor.”
From his review of Heaven’s Gate:
“This movie is $36 million thrown to the winds. It is the most scandalous cinematic waste I have ever seen, and remember, I’ve seen Paint Your Wagon.”
On Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990):
“This movie is nowhere near as bad as it might have been, and probably is the best possible Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movie.”
I hope he knew how much he would be missed. RIP.
From his classic review of Armageddon:
“The movie is an assault on the eyes, the ears, the brain, common sense and the human desire to be entertained. No matter what they’re charging to get in, it’s worth more to get out.”
“It is quite possible a game could someday be great art.”
“Kindness covers all of my political beliefs, no need to spell them out. I believe that if, at the end, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn’t always know this and am happy I lived long enough to find it out.”
And from his all-time best negative review:
“But Schneider is correct, and Patrick Goldstein has not yet won a Pulitzer Prize. Therefore, Goldstein is not qualified to complain that Columbia financed “Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo” while passing on the opportunity to participate in “Million Dollar Baby,” “Ray,” “The Aviator,” “Sideways” and “Finding Neverland.” As chance would have it, I have won the Pulitzer Prize, and so I am qualified. Speaking in my official capacity as a Pulitzer Prize winner, Mr. Schneider, your movie sucks.”
“Farrelly was going for a 21st century version of ‘The Groove Tube’ and ‘Kentucky Fried Movie,’ two very funny, very raunchy and very influential sketch-comedy flicks of the mid-1970s.
The only thing ‘Movie 43’ has in common with those movies is it’s in color.”
“Resident Evil is a zombie movie set in the 21st century and therefore reflects several advances over 20th century films. For example, in 20th century slasher movies, knife blades make a sharpening noise when being whisked through thin air. In the 21st century, large metallic objects make crashing noises just by being looked at.”
“You don’t find true love. You meet someone and build it from the ground up.”
“Maybe that’s why I enjoy this blog. You don’t realize it, but we’re at dinner right now.”
“There is a Hollywood law requiring fictional characters in such a situation to fall in love, and the penalty for violating it is death at the box office.”
“… a Semi-Obligatory Lyrical Interlude, that old standby where they walk through the park, eat hot dogs, etc., in a montage about a great day together. I do not remember if they literally walk through the park or eat hot dogs, but if they don’t, then they engage in park-like and hot dog-like activities.”
-“Alex and Emma,” review
“More rounds of ammunition are expended in this film than in any in recent memory, and I have seen The Transporter.”
‘”G. I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” is a 118-minute animated film with sequences involving the faces and other body parts of human beings. It is sure to be enjoyed by those whose movie appreciation is defined by the ability to discern that moving pictures and sound are being employed to depict violence.’
Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo makes a living prostituting himself. How much he charges I’m not sure, but the price is worth it if it keeps him off the streets and out of another movie. Deuce Bigalow is aggressively bad, as if it wants to cause suffering to the audience. The best thing about it is that it runs for only 75 minutes…. Speaking in my official capacity as a Pulitzer Prize winner, Mr. Schneider, your movie sucks.”
“Watching Mad Dog Time is like waiting for the bus in a city where you’re not sure if they have a bus line.”
It’s a bit of a cheat because he’s quoting Gene Siskel, but it’s still pretty much my favorite pan of any movie ever:
“Little Indian, Big City’ is one of the worst movies ever made. I detested every moronic minute of it. Through a stroke of good luck, the entire third reel of the film was missing the day I saw it. I went back to the screening room two days later, to view the missing reel. It was as bad as the rest, but nothing could have saved this film. As my colleague Gene Siskel observed, ‘If the third reel had been the missing footage from Orson Welles’ The Magnificent Ambersons, this movie still would have sucked.’ I could not have put it better myself.”
And, for contrast and because it kind of makes me sad how many Ebert memorial posts are winding up as just quotes from his (always brilliant) eviscerations of terrible movies, here’s his note-perfect description of what it’s like to watch Fargo from his four-star review:
“To watch it is to experience steadily mounting delight, as you realize the filmmakers have taken enormous risks, gotten away with them and made a movie that is completely original, and as familiar as an old shoe – or a rubbersoled hunting boot from Land’s End, more likely.”
My favorite, from the ’98 Godzilla: “The movie played at Cannes, and was shown at the end of the festival, for much the same reason that the elephants come at the back of the parade.”
“”Pearl Harbor” is a two-hour movie squeezed into three hours, about how on Dec. 7, 1941, the Japanese staged a surprise attack on an American love triangle. “
“The director, Roger Christian, has learned from better films that directors sometimes tilt their cameras, but he has not learned why.”
On the appearance of a thinly-veiled insult to him in 1998 Godzilla:
“Now that I’ve inspired a character in a Godzilla movie, all I really still desire is for several Ingmar Bergman characters to sit in a circle and read my reviews to one another in hushed tones.”
A question to the Movie Answer Man from Miguel E. Rodriguez of Tampa, Fla.: “I am an English major, so I’d like to think I’m on top of things when it comes to grammar. When did it become a Rule to capitalize the word ‘Realtor?'”
Ebert’s answer, in part: “‘Realtor’ is a ‘federally registered collective membership mark owned exclusively by the National Association of Realtors,’ and only members can use it. I have decided I am in sympathy with them, since ‘Two Thumbs Up’ is a trademark registered by Gene Siskel and me, and people are ripping it off all the time. Just the other day some Realtor used it in an ad. Now I am thinking of trademarking Reviewor, and can think of other possibilities, such as Lawyor, Singor, and Proctologor.”
And while I understood why Jabba went out like a mob boss in “Return of the Jedi,” Ebert’s observation from the film’s special edition was a head-slapping “Of COURSE” moment for me:
“I have always felt Lucas lost an opportunity here; since Jabba obviously must die at some point, why not feed him to the sand thing? I can envision the Hutt’s globular body slithering along the plank and plopping down into the big open mouth — and then being spit up again, as too unsavory even for this eating machine. Final shot: green gooey Jabba-stuff dissolving in the monster’s digestive juices under a pitiless sun.”
I was fond of his zero-star review of Chaos, but when its director wrote an indignant letter in its defense, Ebert’s response to that letter was magnificent. In closing:
“What I object to most of all in Chaos is not the sadism, the brutality, the torture, the nihilism, but the absence of any alternative to them. If the world has indeed become as evil as you think, then we need the redemptive power of artists, poets, philosophers and theologians more than ever.
“Your answer, that the world is evil and therefore it is your responsibility to reflect it, is no answer at all, but a surrender.”
From the review of Species:
“According to the movies, out there in space, untold light years from Earth, exist many alien species with the ability to travel between the stars and send messages across the universe. Their civilizations must be wonderfully advanced, and yet, when we finally encounter them, what do we get? Disgusting, slimy morph-creatures with rows of evil teeth, whose greatest cultural achievement is jumping out at people from behind things. How do they travel through space? By jumping out from behind one star after another?”
The opening to his review of Goodbye Lover, which is unusual, because it’s not because of it’s mind-numbing stupidity, but of its extreme mental strain:
“I’ve just transcribed no less than 11 pages of notes I scribbled during “Goodbye Lover,” and my mind boggles. The plot is so labyrinthine that I’d completely forgotten the serial killer named The Doctor, who murders young women by injecting curare into their veins with a syringe. When a character like The Doctor is an insignificant supporting character, a movie’s plate is a little too full, don’t you think?”
Then there’s the assassin who does everything the hard way in The Jackal (not to be confused with Day of the Jackal)
“The Jackal strikes me as the kind of overachiever who, assigned to kill a mosquito, would purchase contraband insecticides from Iraq and bring them into the United States by hot air balloon, distilling his drinking water from clouds and shooting birds for food.”
Then there’s the opening notes he took for Halloween: H20:
Medical science should study Michael Myers, the monster who has made the last two decades a living hell for Laurie Strode. Here is a man who feels no pain. He can take a licking and keep on slicing. In the latest `Halloween’ movie, he absorbs a blow from an ax, several knife slashes, a rock pounded on the skull, a fall down a steep hillside and being crushed against a tree by a truck. Whatever he’s got, mankind needs it
I use his “No good movie is too long and no bad movie is short enough” whenever I give talks about resumes, because people always ask “How long should my resume be?” and the same rule applies.
I loved his Death to Smoochy review, which he quoted on the clip Jon Stewart aired this week: “It took a lot of supremely talented people to make a movie this bad.”
[…] him and Gene Siskel and some of the thoughts I gained from them a few years back. MGK adds more thoughts. LGM catches Andrew Breitbart’s website gloating about how that nasty liberal had it coming. […]
“That is why the Greek tragedies were poems: The language ennobled the material.”
I have to add one more Movie Answer Man quote: Adam Ritt of Evanston, Ill., asked about the opening credits of Siskel and Ebert’s show in which they each buy their own paper and walk into the theater while engaged in a spirited discussion: “Why are you arguing about what you wrote in your own columns?”
Ebert’s answer: “We are not arguing. If you read our lips, you will see that I am saying ‘This is a brilliant review,’ and Siskel is saying, ‘I wish I could rewrite mine now that I’ve seen yours.'”
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