DID YOU READ

10 Movies That Got Sweet, Sweet Revenge on Critics

JAY AND SILENT BOB STRIKE BACK, Ben Affleck, Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith, 2001. ©Dimension Films/Courte

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Bitter, schlubby, and pompous: The classic image of the critic was established long before Jon Lovitz underscored the stereotype in the 1994 animated sitcom of the same name. But whereas the cherubic Jay Sherman was ultimately likable, your average critic is, at best, tolerated by the masses and rated by the similarity to the majority opinion.

But more often than not, they’re roundly despised — especially by the artists who put their egos on the line with every word, frame, or brushstroke. So it’s no surprise that critics, when they’re not being buttered up for a rave review, are sometimes put through the ringer by the very material they’re tasked to assess.

Here’s a list of instances in movies where critics tasted retribution for their thousands of sneers, digs, and gibes.

10. Gremlins 2

In Joe Dante’s maniacally goofier follow-up to his 1984 hit Gremlins, movie critic Leonard Maltin demolishes the fourth wall with a wink as powerful as the Kool-Aid Man. Chiding the “ugly, slimy, mean-spirited” monsters of the original film, Maltin invokes the wrath of said creatures and presumably dies mid-rant — leaving us only to wonder about the parameters and residents of both films’ universes.


9. They Live

Similar to the Gremlins meta-shoutout, They Live director John Carpenter and slasher compatriot George Romero get called to the blood-stained carpet by Siskel and Ebert analogues, just after they were revealed to be members of the alien race intent on controlling humanity’s hearts, minds, and wallets. The brief scene affirms the anti-critic philosophy as the Mutant Siskel complains about sex and violence on screen while sitting beneath the now-legible message “No Independent Thought.”

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8. History of the World: Part 1

The symbiotic relationship between artist and critic was established by the very first paleolithic brush stroke, as evidenced by this scene from Mel Brooks’ spoof History of the World: Part 1. Here, a Cro-Magnon Sid Caesar plays the world’s first cave painter whose work, in turn, produces the world’s first critic. And in typical Brooks fashion, the unfavorable critique is expressed with little to no restraint.


7. Godzilla

Summer blockbusters are the bane of the movie critic: mostly hollow, over-budgeted trash with plot holes as big as the CGI leviathans that inhabit them. And nothing exemplifies that description better than the 1998 Godzilla reboot, helmed by the critic’s whipping boy Roland Emmerich. With the subtlety of a giant rampaging lizard, Emmerich’s movie shot back at critics with a bumbling, thumb-jutting, sweet-scarfing Mayor Ebert (played by virtual lookalike Michael Lerner) and his timid, follically challenged assistant Gene. Oddly enough, neither sees the inside of Godzilla’s stomach.

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6. Lady in the Water

And speaking of filmmakers curbstomped by critics, M. Night Shyamalan — once ballyhooed as the second coming of Hitchcock — has since been reduced to the same breath as Uwe Boll, no thanks to a string of dreadful movies after the mediocre Signs. Already critically bruised from The Village, Shyamalan took his anger out on Bob Balaban, who plays an arrogant and self-assured film critic who meets a bloody end in Lady in the Water. But with that, along with casting himself as an author who will save the world, Shyamalan basically set himself up on a t-ball stand for the rest of his career.

5. Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back

As anyone who’s scrolled below a YouTube video could tell you, some of the most vitriolic and hate-filled criticism comes from online commenters who aren’t even paid to write it. Such spewers of rage were pummeled (literally) in what could only be a cathartic finale for writer-director Kevin Smith’s re-re-re-return to the View Askewniverse. Smith and costar Jason Mewes track down the pubescent armchair critics who badmouthed Jay and Silent Bob on a thinly veiled version of the film blog Ain’t It Cool News and beat them senselessly. However, authentic beatdowns or not, there’s no stopping Internet critics.


4. Theatre of Blood

While Kevin Smith’s revenge fantasy dealt with immediate satisfaction, there’s no sweeter retribution for an artist than the long cons featured in Vincent Price’s deliciously campy Theatre of Blood. In it, the never-not-great Price plays a Shakespearean ham slighted by critics who methodically plans to take his murderous rage out on those who ignored his talents. Self-righteous monologues and tortuous slayings commence, but neither offers the audience as much delight as seeing Price disguise himself as a Disco Stu precursor complete with afro wig and smokey aviators.


3. The Devil’s Rejects

A lover of all things exploitative, writer-director Rob Zombie isn’t so much the puppet master with his characters as he is the creepy kid holding a magnifying glass to an anthill. But the movie critic briefly featured in The Devil’s Rejects gets off far, far easier than the rest of the cast — though he doesn’t escape without a verbal thrashing. The pontificating Shalit-effigy assists authorities in their investigation of the killer Firefly family, hurling Hollywood factoids like IMDb set to shuffle. But as soon as he disgraces “Elvis Presley the King” in front of country sheriff Wydell (played by the awesome William Forsythe), he gets a furious dressing-down that would throw any critic back on his heels.


2. Birdman

Critics are hardly immune to favoritism, prone to awarding accolades to familiar, oft-lauded thespians and sneering at the box office heroes attempting to go highbrow. That elitist opinion is given the perfect voice by actress Lindsay Duncan’s Tabitha Dickinson, a snobby New York Times theater critic of the highest order. After confessing that she’d never drag an esteemed Broadway player’s name through the mud, she coolly informs Michael Keaton’s character Riggan Thomson that, no matter how good his play is, she’ll pan it. And when he decries her and other critics’ position of safety in judging actors from the sidelines, she tells him, “You’re no actor, you’re a celebrity.” And with that, Riggan can’t do much but slink away with his tail tucked between his talons.

Birdman


1. Ratatouille

Ironically, the most scathing censure of critics comes directly from a critical darling. Ratatouille, written and directed by Brad Bird, features heartless restaurant critic Anton Ego (voiced by Peter O’Toole) who admits his delight in doling out ruthlessly unforgiving judgment during a humbling soliloquy. “But the bitter truth we critics must face,” he writes in a rare positive review, “is that, in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so.” Harsh words from a writer-director who regularly hits the 90s on Rotten Tomatoes.

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. 

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number! 

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time. 

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by. 

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo. 

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim. 

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t? 

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?” 

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud. 

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.

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Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.

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Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

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Inter-not

Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.

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Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

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If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.