At the New York Post, Lou Lumenick writes about the fact that neither Tyler Perry‘s "Diary of a Mad Black Woman" sequel "Madea’s Family Reunion" nor Euro CGI kiddie flick "Doogal" are going to be screened for critics (though Slant‘s superhuman Ed Gonzalez has managed to review it despite this, by picking up the UK version, which has a different cast providing voices). "That makes eight so far this year, compared with seven in all of 2005, by The Post‘s count," Lumenick muses.
"We are not going to spend $50,000 for the privilege of negative reviews for a film that isn’t going to be affected by them," Tom Ortenberg, president of "Madea" distributor Lionsgate, told The Post.
If ever there was a review-proof film, "Diary" was it. At Salon, Russell Scott Smith outlines the phenomenon that is Tyler Perry, include the backlash some of the critics who panned it faced from Perry’s fiercely loyal fanbase:
"These people were desperate to be spoken to," says Boston Globe film critic Wesley Morris. "When something came along that was even remotely relevant, they threw all their weight behind it, even though it was a shittily made movie." Morris didn’t like "Diary." "Blows to the head are delivered with more subtlety," he wrote in his review. He also happens to be African-American, but as soon as his review came out, he says, he got phone calls and e-mails from Perry fans who accused him of being white — and a racist at that. The fans were even harsher when they knew for sure that the critic was white. [Roger] Ebert, who is married to an African-American woman and has long been a champion for black cinema, received so much angry e-mail and became such a lightning rod because of his negative "Diary" review that Perry felt compelled, during a visit to Chicago, to plead with his fans to lay off the guy.
It’s a little beside-the-point for a mildly snobby existentialist white-guy journalist like myself to put down "Madea’s Family Reunion" (Lionsgate, 2.24), Tyler Perry’s God-praising, conservative-values sequel to "Diary of a Mad Black Woman."
It’s a fairly crude and clumsy film, but I don’t think this matters. Because on its own terms and with the right crowd, "Family Reunion" works. I felt it last night at a big splashy premiere screening at Hollywood’s Arclight theatre, and I didn’t say a single snide or contrary word to anyone at the after-party. That would have been impolite. And again, guys like me are so not the point.
The idea of excusing oneself from a real review on the basis of not being the intended audience smacks of condescension, if not, well, cowardice â€” and since when has a critic, who watches films professionally, ever been the ideal audience for a film (and lord, what kind of film would that be?)? Should reviews of children’s films then be the sole provenance of a gouty, scowling eight-year-old with a light-up pen? Regardless, the idea of "it doesn’t work for me, but I could see how it could for the right people" is ridiculous â€” no one has any qualms about bashing, say, the latest tweener summer throwaway, which you’d think would fall under the same argument. We don’t like the implication.
Via Movie City News, a study done by Duke, Florida Atlantic and Carnegie Mellon universities finds that, due to the exponential rise in film releases, avoid writing reviews of films they don’t like. Except for the critics who tend to choose to write about the films they hated. Yes.
+ ADVANCE FILM REVIEWS IN CRITICAL CONDITION (NY Post)
+ The new Amos ‘n’ Andy? (Salon)
+ Here She Comes! (Hollywood Elsewhere)
+ Study: Movie Critics Speak Even When They Don’t Utter a Word (Duke News)