Category Archives: Ebert’s worst reviews

54. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)

Roger’s Rating :

Should be :

From that most irreverent of years, 1969, came the great Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The movie starts with the intro : MOST OF WHAT FOLLOWS IS TRUE.
Roger in his stunning review (I was stunned when I read it) said “The problems are two. First, the investment in superstar Paul Newman apparently inspired a bloated production that destroys the pacing. Second, William Goldman’s script is constantly too cute and never gets up the nerve, by God, to admit it’s a Western.”
He went on to say “But unfortunately, this good movie is buried beneath millions of dollars that were spent on ‘production values’ that wreck the show. This is often the fate of movies with actors in the million-dollar class, like Newman. Having invested all that cash in the superstar, the studio gets nervous and decides to spend lots of money to protect its investment.”
Roger’s 2 1/2 star review means that he thinks you should take a pass on it. Wow!
Rotten Tomatoes has it at 91%. AFI has it listed in their Top 100 movies of All Time, 100 Best Thrillers, 100 Heroes and Villains and 100 Songs. They also had it listed as #7 Best Western of all time. It had The Searchers, High Noon, Shane, Unforgiven, Red River and The Wild Bunch listed above it. that is a pretty fast crowd to be running with.
IMDB has an 8.2 rating for this movie. In 2003, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
I loved this movie when I was young, and I still love it today. This is definitely a review that Roger needs to revisit.
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Posted by on January 22, 2011 in Ebert's worst reviews



39. Army of Darkness (1983)

Roger’s Rating :

Should be :

Roger gave this movie a Thumbs Down in his At The Movies review. Roger liked the state of the art special effects but can’t recommend the movie because he said “it’s not that funny, because most of the funny stuff in this movie was already seen in his movie from 1987 Evil Dead II which this one is allegedly kind of a sequel to.”
In his written review Roger gave the movie 2 stars. He says “The movie isn’t as funny or entertaining as Evil Dead II, however, maybe because the comic approach seems recycled. Then again, the movie seems aimed at an audience of 14-year olds, who would have been 8 when Evil Dead II came out, so maybe this will all seem breathtakingly original.”
I think this movie can stand on its own and should be judged on its own. It’s funny, entertaining and seems to have gotten even better with age (and I’m not 14 years old). It’s very rare when you get good comic writing paired with good special effects. On IMDB it has a 7.6 rating and has a 75% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

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Posted by on February 13, 2010 in Ebert's worst reviews



38. Pelle the Conqueror (1988)

Roger’s Original Rating :
Thumbs down

Should be :

Somewhere between December 21, 1988 and March 3, 1989 Roger came to really like Pelle the Conqueror. In his At the Movies review Roger gave the movie a Thumbs Down. In his later written review Roger gave it 3 1/2 stars.
In his At the Movies review Roger said he didn’t think he could give it a recommendation because it “was really predictable from beginning to end. Once every character is set up you know more or less what is going to happen to them. I mean, we’ve seen these kinds of pictures before in which little boys grow up in ways that are sometimes painful because of the evil adults in their life.. ” He also said it was “moving very slowly and it took a very long time to get to the end.” He said “Max Von Sydow was terrific in the role but I wasn’t really challenged to get involved and engaged in it.”
In his written review a couple of months later he liked the movie much more. He said “Von Sydow’s work in the film has been honored with an Academy Award nomination for best actor, well deserved, particularly after a distinguished career in which he stood at the center of many of Ingmar Bergman’s greatest films (The Virgin Spring, The Seventh Seal). But there is not a bad performance in the movie, and the newcomer, Pelle Hvenegaard, never steps wrong in the title role (there is poetic justice in the fact that he actually was named after the novel that inspired this movie). It is Pelle, not Lasse, who is really at the center of the movie, which begins when he follows his father’s dream, and ends as he realizes he must follow his own. ”
The movie has a 7.8 rating on IMDB and a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. I think Roger’s second review is good, his first is not so good.
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Posted by on February 12, 2010 in Ebert's worst reviews


21. Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)

Roger’s Rating :

Should be :

Roger thought this movie was vulgar and distasteful. He said in his review :
In addition to Leigh’s work, however, there are some other good performances. Sean Penn is perfect as the pot-smoking space cadet who has been stoned since the third grade. Phoebe Cates is breathtaking as the more experienced girl who gives Leigh those distasteful lessons in love. Judge Reinhold has fun as a perennial fast-food cook who rebels against the silly uniforms he’s supposed to wear. Ray Walston is suitably hateful as the dictatorial history teacher, Mr. Hand. But this movie could have been a lot more fun if it hadn’t chosen to confuse embarrassment with humor. The unnecessary detail about sexual functions isn’t funny, it’s distasteful.
Leigh looks so young, fresh, cheerful, and innocent that we don’t laugh when she gets into unhappy scenes with men — we wince. The whole movie is a failure of taste, tone, and nerve — the waste of a good cast on erratic, offensive material that hasn’t been thought through, or maybe even thought about.
I agree with Roger that the movie was vulgar but I liked it much more than he did. In the days of Superbad, Knocked Up, American Pie, Wedding Crashers, Old School, The 40 Year Old Virgin, The Hangover, Bruno and Borat; Fast Times not only fits in, it stands out.
It is raunchy, but it has a plot. It shows the characters making mistakes and learning lessons. It shows them growing as people. The movie also has a tremendous soundtrack and it has Jeff Spicoli, played by Sean Penn, who is really something of an iconic figure as a surfer dude. Some Spicoli quotes :

What Jefferson was saying was, Hey! You know, we left this England place ’cause it was bogus; so if we don’t get some cool rules ourselves – pronto – we’ll just be bogus too! Get it?”
“Learning about Cuba, and having some food.”
“Well Stu I’ll tell you, surfing’s not a sport, it’s a way of life, you know, a hobby. It’s a way of looking at that wave and saying, “Hey bud, let’s party!”

Not my favorite genre, not my favorite movie, but much, much better than the one star Roger gave it. It has a 7.2 rating on IMDB and a 79% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

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Posted by on January 23, 2010 in Ebert's worst reviews


13. O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)

Roger’s Rating :

Should be :

I just watched this great movie again the other night and I was somewhat shocked when I looked up Roger’s review afterward. Roger said :

If these elements don’t exactly add up, maybe they’re not intended to. Homer’s epic grew out of the tales of many storytellers who went before; their episodes were timed and intended for a night’s recitation. Quite possibly no one before Homer saw the developing work as a whole. In the same spirit, “O Brother” contains sequences that are wonderful in themselves–lovely short films–but the movie never really shapes itself into a whole.

It seems that Roger really understood what the film was about. It was such a wonderful and brave idea to try to write the story of the ancient Greeks in the Depression era south. Like the Odyssey, O Brother is a collection of adventures, and when you put them together they are wonderful.

At the end of his review Roger decided he really didn’t get the movie anymore. He doesn’t think the parts add up to a cohesive whole. He says :

All of these scenes are wonderful in their different ways, and yet I left the movie uncertain and unsatisfied. I saw it a second time, admired the same parts, left with the same feeling. I do not demand that all movies have a story to pull us from beginning to end, and indeed one of the charms of “The Big Lebowski,” the Coens’ previous film, is how its stoned hero loses track of the thread of his own life. But with “O Brother, Where Are Thou?” I had the sense of invention set adrift; of a series of bright ideas wondering why they had all been invited to the same film.

I totally disagree. The story is about Ulysses McGill who is trying to find his way home to stop his wife’s impending marriage. He strings along his two comrades by telling them that there is a treasure waiting for them at the end of the adventure. Along the way they encounter a cyclops, sirens and monsters.
And even without the symbolism, the movie stands on its own as a great examination of the Depression era South. It has a great look and feel to it. It has some great bluegrass music, which in itself makes the movie worth viewing. And the acting and the dialogue …
Roger only gives this great movie 2 1/2 stars and that is a crime.

At the Movies Review
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Posted by on January 6, 2010 in Ebert's worst reviews


11. Taste of Cherry (1997)

Roger’s Rating :

Should be :

When I watched the great movie, Goodbye Solo, last week I was immediately reminded of this Iranian movie from 1997. Roger had given this movie 1 star in his review. I thought I really liked it, but I wasn’t absolutely sure so I decided to get it again.
The movie has Mr. Badii driving around looking for someone who will do a job for him. The movie is quiet and bleak like the landscape. Mr. Badii is on a mission. At first we think he is gay and he is trying to make a pickup. We find out as the movie slowly unfolds that he is trying to find someone who will throw twenty shovels of dirt on him after he kills himself.
The movie is very much like Goodbye Solo in that the facts are hard to come by. Mr. Badii, like William in Solo keeps things to himself. But both movies turn into mysteries as we search for clues as to why these men would want to end their lives.
The movie is slow, but unlike what Roger said in his review, it is never boring. The movie focuses on Mr. Badii’s eyes as he searches and we try to see into his eyes and view his soul. He picks up a someone studying at a seminary and we learn some more about Mr. Badii as he tries to convince him to take the job. He says : “I know that your duty is to preach and guide people. But you’re young, you have time, you can do that later. It’s your hands that I need. I don’t need your tongue or your mind. I’m lucky that these hands belong to a true believer. With the patience, endurance and perseverance that you learn you’re the best person to carry out this job. I know my decision goes against your beliefs. You believe God gives life and takes it when he sees fit. But there comes a time when a man can’t go on. He’s exhausted and can’t wait for God to act. So he decides to act himself. There that’s what’s called ‘suicide'”. Mr. Badii is in a great deal of pain and he says that he is not able to discuss it. The young man tells him that suicide is against the Muslim religion and that he cannot help him.
Mr. Badii tells him that being unhappy is a sin too because when you are unhappy you hurt other people and that is a sin. Mr. Badii says that he thinks that God is so great and merciful that he doesn’t want to see his people unhappy and suffer. He tells the young man that he is going to take all of his sleeping pills and lie in the hole he has dug for himself. He only needs him to cover him with dirt. The young man again tells him that he cannot help him commit a sin.
Mr. Badii finally finds someone willing to help. But that man can’t help but try to help him. He says tells him that every problem has a solution – be it family, debt, whatever. the man tells him a story of how when he first got married he had so many problems that he decided to end it all. He climbed a tree and was going to hang himself but he felt a soft mulberry in his hand. He began eating them and then noticed the sun was rising over the mountaintop. He heard children heading off to school. He shook the tree for them and then he gathered some and went home to his wife. A mulberry had saved his life.
The man, Mr. Bagheri, then goes on to tell a parable. “A Turk goes to see a doctor. He tells him: ‘When I touch my body with my finger, it hurts. When I touch my head it hurts, my legs, it hurts, my belly, my hand, it hurts’. The doctor examines him and then tells him : ‘Your body’s fine but your finger is broken!’ My dear man, your mind is ill but there’s nothing wrong with you. Change your outlook. I had left home to kill myself but a mulberry changed me, an ordinary, unimportant mulberry. The world isn’t the way you see it. You have to change your outlook and change the world.”
The movie is almost over and we are hoping that Mr. Badii has been convinced. This stranger, who is willing to do the job because he needs the money to help cure his child, has made a great speech. What will Mr. Badii decide? The mystery continues.
Roger finishes his review with : “Yes, there is a humanistic feeling underlying the action. Yes, an Iranian director making a film on the forbidden subject of suicide must have courage. Yes, we applaud the stirrings of artistic independence in the strict Islamic republic. But is Taste of Cherry a worthwhile viewing experience? I say it is not.” I completely disagree. I think Taste of Cherry is such a wonderful movie. It talks about important things. It isn’t the most exciting or dramatic movie ever made but I found it fascinating. With an 82% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a 7.4 on IMDB I am probably not alone. This has to go down as one of Roger’s worst reviews.
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Posted by on December 13, 2009 in Ebert's worst reviews


10. The Long Goodbye (1973)

Roger’s Original Rating :

Should be :

Roger’s original review of this movie is really not that bad. He gave it three stars. In 2006 he adds it to his list of Great Movies, which are really 5 star movies. So, in his original review he was off by two stars.
He says in his original review : “Robert Altman’s “The Long Goodbye” attempts to do a very interesting thing. It tries to be all genre and no story, and it almost works. It makes no serious effort to reproduce the Raymond Chandler detective novel it’s based on; instead, it just takes all the characters out of that novel and lets them stew together in something that feels like a private-eye movie.” (Here is the link to his review.)
He felt that Altman’s take on Marlowe almost worked. In 2006 he would say “”The Long Goodbye” should not be anybody’s first film noir, nor their first Altman movie. Most of its effect comes from the way it pushes against the genre, and the way Altman undermines the premise of all private eye movies, which is that the hero can walk down mean streets, see clearly, and tell right from wrong. The man of honor from 1953 is lost in the hazy narcissism of 1973, and it’s not all right with him.”
Once again. I like the fact that Roger is able to change his mind on movies and show us this change in print. Both reviews are posted on his web site. The Long Goodbye is a great movie and Roger is a big enough man to admit it.
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Posted by on October 25, 2009 in Ebert's worst reviews