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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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.

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

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

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

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
Die Hard restroom

Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines

Shopping

The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.

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Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.

Booger

A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.

Ogre

Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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