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Abe Gurko Headshot

What's With the New York Times Movie Reviewers?!?

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Couple of weeks ago, with an itch to see a summer film, though the offering so far seems lackluster, we were this close to seeing Super 8 when a review in The New York Times by Manohla Dargis led us to, of all places, Bad Teacher. According to Ms. Dargis, this film was one step away from a Carole Lombard screwball comedy directed by Howard Hawks. Clearly, someone drank the Kool-Aid or some kind of liquid substance before seeing this film, that not being me. Dumbstruck, we sat through the movie wondering what the attraction was for Manohla. Have I become such a fuddy duddy post mid-life crisis? The answer is no. The movie is kinda lame at best and making loveable Cameron Diaz incredibly unlikeable is not a plot point; rather, there is no point and little plot. Sadly, Ms. Diaz is suffering from whatever Jennifer Aniston has... bad choices disease.

Today's review by A.O. Scott about Horrible Bosses makes me wonder, "What is in the water cooler at The New York Times building, or at least where the movie reviewers sit?" Mr. Scott goes on and on about Horrible Bosses, which from the previews alone makes me realize that poor Ms. Aniston has no hope of establishing a respectable career in her waning years. The premise alone, wanting to kill your boss, is perhaps evidence that our society is at the brink of extinction. Well, surely not distinction. If the word kill is the major motivation for the lead character, then I say pass on developing this movie. At least for the sake of our children. Years ago I was in a development meeting at Paramount and the discussion was to do a movie about a loveable murderer. The group in the meeting were so reluctant to have the lead be intrinsically unlikeable for the sheer fact that he kills people. Though I chimed in and reminded the group about the success of Prizzi's Honor, that film with Jack Nicholson about the two hit men, one being a woman, who fall in love only to discover they have to kill each other. And we all know how successful that remake, Mr. & Mrs. Smith starring Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie was, and did at the box office. The overall thought then was, you need to have amazingly likeable stars so that the audience will forgive them, no matter what. And that, my friend, still holds true. And (B) no one in the cast of Horrible Bosses can hold a candle to Nicholson, Kathleen Turner (especially back then), Pitt or Jolie. Sorry Jennifer. I am sad to have to say that, as I really did love you in Friends.

While we are on the topic of movie reviews from The Times, I wanted to recommend seeing the documentary Page One: Inside The New York Times, which depicts the newspaper as a lioness fending for her cubs. I walked out of the theater with unending respect for David Carr and Bill Keller, Executive Editor. Then decided to read the review of the film that was featured in The New York Times by a writer named Michael Kinsley. I was aghast at how much he hated this film. His big notice was that there was no cigarette smoking in the editorial meetings. He calls the movie a mess, no less. Why such disdain? It makes me re-think where to go and get my movie reviews.

Correction: An earlier version of this post mistakenly described Michael Kinsley as a staff writer at The Times. He is in fact a senior editorial adviser for Bloomberg View.

Please visit Abe's blog, I Mean...What?!?