Friday, August 22, 2008

Roger Ebert: Ruining America's Movies since 1967

Roger Ebert ruins movies. He just does. He always has. But I've recently run across a feat of movie ruining that I think is previously unmatched in Roger Ebert movie history.

I just watched, via Netflix's Watch Instantly feature, a really great documentary called King of Kong. If you haven't seen it, go rent it or watch it instantly immediately. It's that great. It's about two men who vie for the world record highest score on Donkey Kong. One of them, Steve Wiebe, is an affable, possibly mildly autistic laid off engineer. The other is a douchey, mulleted hot wing baron named Billy Mitchell. The whole movie is a good vs. evil struggle of the highest order, resting on a single question: which of these men will end up with the Donkey Kong record?

After rating the film on netflix, I checked out their link to Ebert's review, since I wanted to be mad at him for not praising it highly enough. I was treated to a shocking final paragraph:
"I would never dream of giving away the ending. But I can give away what happened after the ending. Today I went to and discovered that ... "in front of an audience of hundreds," [name redacted] topped his own record by scoring 1,050,200 points."

Oh God Ebert, you bastard. First you tease us with your well-known and longstanding predilection for ruining the ends of movies. Sure Roger, you'd never dream of giving away the ending. Not you, a paragon of non-spoilerness. But you don't mind at all removing the dramatic tension of the film, and EVEN BEYOND IT, by telling us that the victory in the film is rendered moot.

Seriously. This is like if there was some good romantic comedy - a real romantic comedy, like Knocked Up or Annie Hall, and you legitimately don't know whether or not the couple will get together. You're actually curious whether love will conquer all or not. And then Ebert writes:

"I would never dream of revealing the ending of this movie. But I do know for a fact that, two years after they get married, the couple in question gets a divorce." Sure, he didn't tell you how the movie was going to end. But he did something even worse: he told you how events would end, even beyond the movie itself.

Having actually seen this movie, I had no problem with Ebert giving us this information - I was glad to know. But I can't imagine reading this review before seeing the movie. Every time someone was going for the record - and those were some tense scenes - I would have thought "I know who wins in the end." How could I not have thought that? The world's most famous movie reviewer told me who ended up with the record. What a bastard.


Joseph said...

Agreed. I rarely read his reviews before I watch the film these days. I believe he did the same thing with Wall-E as well.

thecynicalgamer said...

Yeah definitely agree with this. I think hes a good reviewer sometimes, but the kind of review I read after I've watched a film. Any reviewer who spoils movies really needs to sort that out.

Oh and watched King of Kong last night it was fantastic!

Graham said...

Wow. I just read his Wall-E review, per your recommendation. "And in a development that would have made Sir Arthur Clarke’s heart beat with joy, humanity returns home once again — or is that a spoiler?"

Yes Roger. That is a spoiler. Please leave our movies alone.

Keith said...

Wow... that's awful. I once again reiterate my Ebert-is-a-cunt proclamation. He's totally a cunt! I don't even read his reviews as a joke anymore, they just angry up my blood.

But on the plus side, King of Kong is great.

Fox said...

Why not just look at his star rating instead of reading the review? That way you know if he endorses the film or not without having to learn plot points.

I can understand people being upset about reading revealing information about a film, but if I wanna go into a movie fresh I just don't read reviews until after.

Graham said...

Obviously, it's a mistake to look at the star review as well; Ebert is almost always wrong. So this isn't actually a personal problem for me; I agree with Keith about Ebert.

So this post is more a "I feel like I'm taking crazy pills" thing. People are walking around, reading Ebert's reviews, thinking that's a good idea. Why? The man ruins movies!

darkcitydame4e said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
darkcitydame4e said...

Being a fellow Chicagoan and sometimes a Native New Yorker!...The "Pulitzer Prize" winning Mr.Ebert...always get my "thumb(s)~up!" after I watch the film first!...Then I usually read his reviews afterward, but usually, he is "spot" on!...Just think about all those "correct" Oscar(s)@ Picks...The Man have guessed correctly!...Geez..he must be doing something right!...I am reading a couple of his books right now!

August 29, 2008 1:52 AM


Anonymous said...

Ebert is hands down, the best movie reviewer there is. His analysis is always in depth and insightful. He also warns you with a spoiler alert before he gives anything away. I've read several of his books and learned something from each one. You are really uninformed!