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 www.TwinGalaxies.com 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.