Monday, July 12, 2004

Ebert and Roeper: Jackasses (again)

It seems like complaining about Ebert and Roeper is becoming a weekly staple, but then, it's not my fault they make jackasses of themselves week after week.

So on last night's iteration of of this developing theme, they reviewed America's Heart and Soul. Ebert gave it thumbs down, because he said the whole thing was like watching a cheesy corporate commercial for America. You couldn't help but note that he didn't have any actual reasons as to why this was the case, aside from the fact that it was unabashedly pro-American, and at one point he plaintively asked, (I'm paraphrasing from memory) "Where are all the people living paycheck to paycheck or the recent immigrants or the ones without healthcare?" I suppose offering the defense that this is a movie that is up-front and honest about its point of view and which makes no claims of objectivity isn't sufficient in this case for some reason I'm probably too stupid to fathom. So, I guess, in Ebert's world, you're not allowed to make a movie that is pro-American unless you also go out of your way to show various reasons why America sucks. OK, I got it (you moron).

Roeper, on the other hand, gave it marginal thumbs up, calling it "shamelessly corny" at the same time, but still liking the interesting stories enough and not being put off too much by the film's patriotism to recommend it. However, he couldn't help but join Ebert's stupidity brigade for the night by declaring that he thought "America's Heart and Soul" and "Fahrenheit 9/11" were, in their own ways, equally patriotic.

As for myself, I haven't seen the movie. It may well be unpalatably saccharine for all I know. I do know a lot of people besides Ebert certainly have been saying as much. You get a steady stream of those kinds of criticisms when reading online reviews, such as at the IMDB comments section. Do give them a gander. They're notable not only for their raging, sputtering bile ("It was pathetic seeing a movie that makes me sick to be an American....The HATE OF America came through LOUD and CLEAR. [Hatred? an over-sanitized "yay America!" commerical? -Ed] It covered a biased cross section of American experiences. It was not worth seeing. You will leave the theater with a terrible ache in your heart. It is the politically correct wannabe of Fahrenheit 9-11. My friends hated it. Another Disney piece of crap. You will want to burn it again and again."), but also chiefly for their complaints of over-sentimentality or corniness that repeatedly don't have any specific examples to point to other than the general crime the movie makes of wholeheartedly praising America. This is strictly verboten, apparently, and the degree of contempt that oozes to the surface in response to such praise will be sure to nauseate.

So I don't know if the movie is good. Medved liked it, and I'm much more inclined to trust his opinion over Ebert, Roeper or a guy who seems to love F-9/11.