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.”

They Live


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.

Godzilla


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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Car Notes

Portlandia Keeps Road Rage In Park

Get a lesson in parking etiquette on a new Portlandia.

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It’s the most American form of cause and effect: Park like a monster, receive a passive-aggressive note.

car notes note

This unofficial rule of the road is critical to keeping the great big wheel of car-related Karma in balance. And naturally, Portlandia’s Kath and Dave have elevated it to an awkward, awkward art form in Car Notes, the Portlandia web series presented by Subaru.

If you’ve somehow missed the memo about Car Notes until now, you can catch up on every installment online, on the IFC app, and on demand. You can even have a little taste right here:

If your interest is piqued – great news for you! A special Car Notes sketch makes an appearance in the latest episode of Portlandia, and you can catch up on it now right here.

Watch all-new Portlandia Thursdays at 10P on IFC.

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Naked and Hungry

Two New Ways to Threeway

IFC's Comedy Crib gets sensual in time for Valentine's Day.

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This week, two scandalous new digital series debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib.
Ménage à Trois invites people to participate in a real-life couple’s fantasy boudoir. And The Filling is Mutual follows two saucy chefs who invite comedians to make food inspired by their routines. Each show crosses some major boundaries in sexy and/or delicious ways, and each are impossible to describe in detail without arousing some awkward physical cravings. Which is why it’s best to hear it directly from the minds behind the madness…

Ménage à Trois

According to Diana Kolsky and Murf Meyer, the two extremely versatile constants in the ever-shifting à trois, “MàT is a sensually psychedelic late night variety show exploring matters of hearts, parts and every goddamn thing in between…PS, any nudes will be 100% tasteful.”

This sexy brainchild includes sketches, music, and props that would put Pee-wee’s Playhouse to shame. But how could this fantastical new twist on the vanilla-sex variety show format have come to be?

“We met in a UCB improv class taught by Chris Gethard. It was clear that we both humped to the beat of our own drum; our souls and tongues intermingled at the bar after class, so we dove in head first.”

Sign me up, but promise to go slow. This tricycle is going to need training wheels.

The Filling is Mutual

Comedians Jen Saunderson and Jenny Zigrino became best friends after meeting in the restroom at the Gotham Comedy Club, which explains their super-comfortable dynamic when cooking with their favorite comedians. “We talk about comedy, sex, menses, the obnoxiousness of Christina Aguilera all while eating food that most would push off their New Year’s resolution.”

The hook of cooking food based off of comedy routines is so perfect and so personal. It made us wonder about what dishes Jen & Jenny would pair with some big name comedy staples, like…

Bill Murray?
“Oh, that’s easy Meatballs with Lingonberry Space Jam it’d be great, but then we’d have to Oh, that’s easy Meatballs with Lingonberry Space Jam it’d be great, but then we’d have to… Oh, that’s easy Meatballs with Lingonberry Space Jam it’d be great, but then we’d have to avoid doing any kind of silly Groundhog Day reference.” 

Bridget Everett?
“Cream Balls… Sea Salt encrusted Chocolate Ganache Covered Ice Cream Ball that melt cream when you bite into them.” 

Nick Kroll & John Mulaney? 
“I’d make George and Gil black and white cookies from scratch and just as we open the oven to put the cookie in we’d prank ’em with an obnoxious amount of tuna!!!”

Carrie Brownstein & Fred Armisen? 
“Definitely a raw cacao “safe word” brownie. Cacao!”

Just perfect.

See both new series in their entirety on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Dark Arts

Foot Fetish Jesus And Other Nightmares

Meet the minds behind Comedy Crib's latest series, Quirks and The Mirror.

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The Mirror and Quirks are really, really strange. Deeply disturbing yet hauntingly beautiful. But you really don’t need to read a synopsis of either of the aforementioned shows to understand the exact variety of nightmare-bonkers comedy these shows deliver — that’s why the good lord made links. Instead, take a peek behind the curtain and meet the creators.

Quirks

Let’s start with Kevin Tosi. Kevin does the whole show by himself. That doesn’t mean he’s a loner — Kevin has a day job with actual humans. But that day job is copywriting. So it’s only natural that his suppressed demons would manifest themselves in biting cartoon form, including “Foot Fetish Jesus”, in ways that somehow speak to all of us. If only all copywriters channeled their inner f*ckedupness into such…expressive art.

The Mirror

Onward to the folks at Wham City Comedy.

These guys aren’t your typical comedy collective in that their work is way more left-field and even elevated than your standard digital short. More funny weird than funny ha-ha. They’ve done collaborations with musicians like Beach House, Dan Deacon & Wye Oak, television networks (obviously), and others. Yeah they get paid, but their motivation feels deeper. Darker. Most of them are video artists, and that explains a lot.

See more of The Mirror and Quirks on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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