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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.

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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Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.

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Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:

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The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.

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They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!

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Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.

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Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.

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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.