Posted by: playingthedevil | June 6, 2012

book review: a horrible experience of unbearable length

named after a line from his review of transform2rs 2: r2v2ng2 of th2 fall2n, a horrible experience of unbearable length is roger ebert’s third collection of his reviews of bad movies. the first one, titled i hated, hated, hated this movie, published in the spring of 2000, was inspired by the rob “meathead” reiner movie north, in which BRUCE willis plays a bunny and frodo interviews new potential parents.

the second, your movie sucks, came out seven years later in 2007, inspired by the rob schneider sequel deuce bigalow: european gigolo. the interesting tidbit about the second volume is that schneider himself wrote a rebuttal to l.a. times’ patrick goldstein, who panned deuce bigalow 2 like everyone else. the open letter in daily variety unfortunately mentioned goldstein’s lack of pulitzer. thankfully, ebert jumped on the opportunity as a pulitzer winner. there’s additional coverage as ebert panned the vincent gallo movie the brown bunny at cannes, which resulted in gallo putting a curse on ebert’s colon.

a thumb going down

there is little in the way of surprises here for anyone who follows ebert (semi-) regularly. most of them fall under:

  • dumb comedies (all about steve, bride wars, cop out, no strings attached, grown ups, sex drive, the love guru, your highness…aka the sarah jessica parker/katherine heigl/gerard butler/garry marshall film festival)
  • action movies (battle: los angeles, push, from paris with love)
  • summer tentpole movies (the last airbender, g.i. joe: rise of the cobra, fast and furious, ridley scott’s robin hood, bad teacher, the change-up, sex and the city 1 & 2, twilight part 2 & 3, transformers 2 & 3)
  • movies based on videogames/picture books (the spirit, jonah hex, kick-ass, prince of persia, punisher: war zone, spiderman 3, x-men origin wolverine)
  • torture porn(human centipede 1 & 2, shuttle, the strangers)
  • horror/slasher remakes (friday the 13th 2009, i spit on your grave 2010, nightmare on elm street 2010)
  • remakes/sequels/reboots (basic instinct 2, boondock saints 2, rush hour 3, scr4am, terminator salvation, pink panther 2, pirates 4, death race 2008, fame 2009, predators 2010, footloose 2011, the mechanic 2011, paranormal activity 2 & 3)
  • 3D movies (sanctum, thor, x games 3d: the movie, the nutcracker 2010, journey to the center of the earth 2008) not directed by renowned auteurs like scorsese, wim wenders or werner herzog.

in other words, mostly things i can get behind. the joy of reading any criticism is not so much that you agree with the critic but more in the way said critic illustrates how and why he or she feels about said piece of art. there is also fun in seeing how many of the movies in the book you like. for me, there is, from mediocre and passable to good: the a team, cassandra’s dream, drive angry, eagle eye, the green hornet, the mist, national treasure 2: book of secrets, quantum of solace, red, and southland tales. and having read it numerous times, i still don’t quite get his 1 1/2 star rating for thor, other than the fact that he really hated it because he saw it in 3D. it’s hard for me to grasp the fact that there’s someone out there who likes captain america and green lantern more than thor, especially from someone who gave 3 1/2 stars to indiana jones and the kingdom of the crystal skulls.

at the same time, it’s kind of reassuring to read scathing reviews of shitfest like atlas shrugged part 1, boondock saints ii: catholic blood money, eat pray love, fast and furious, g.i. joe: rise of the cobra, good luck chuck, kick-ass, the last airbender, the lovely bones, nick and norah’s infinite playlist, no strings attached, rush hour 3, terminator salvation, and star wars: the clone war.

it’s an enjoyable read nonetheless, though less remarkable as the previous two entry. the first one has three decades of reviews to draw from and the second book has seven years. this new one only contains movies between the five years between 2007 and 2011.

the first book contains mostly movies that received 1 1/2 stars with a few two stars movies, while the second has nothing but movies that are rated 1 1/2 stars or less. this third one, perhaps because of time constraint, has quite a few two stars movies, which at worst, means average, run of the mill, bland, middle of the road movies.

quality-wise this part iii is not as bad as the third matrix or back to the future, it’s more like the original star wars trilogy, in that you definitely want to read the first one first, which will always have a special meaning. then proceed to the second one, which, which its backstory, makes it the best one, and finally settles on the third one, where you’re just happy to see another episode.

maybe it’s because i’ve read most of the reviews in the book before, he seems more cranky in this collection, and there doesn’t seem to be as many witty lines. but then life can do that to you when it throws you curve balls and forces you to realize your time on earth could be even shorter than you thought. you too, would want to re-prioritize your life, re-examine what’s important (in movies and in life), and curse those who are wasting our precious time.

of course, most if not all of his reviews are online, you can just read them online (though his website doesn’t seem to have the option to search by star rating and year anymore), unless you are like me and prefer to hold a book in your hands and flip actual pages.


  1. This is the first I have heard about these books and they sound like a lot of fun. Might be worth picking one up for some chuckles. I am the only one that finds his site a bit obtuse with regards to search functionality?

    • they are all pretty fun read. i would start with the first book, or if you prefer more recent movies, the second book.

      the search function on his site is definitely worse than before. i didn’t even notice they took away all the search options until i was writing this.

  2. Nice piece, reckon I’m going to put the first book on my xmas list.

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