The Movie Critic’s Dilemma

Monday, April 6th, 2009

If I were a movie reviewer, I think I’d probably spend some of my alone time, say in the shower or on the treadmill, trying to think up witty ways of describing the next really, really horrible movie I might get the opporutunity to review. But I’ve always wondered, how do movie critics know when to roll out their A-stuff? Because there’s always the chance someone will make a worse movie. Seems like you might worry about running out of superlatives (or whatever the opposite of “superlatives” is).

For example, let’s say you’re Roger Ebert. And when the movie Battlefield Earth came out, you (justifiably) wrote:

“Battlefield Earth” is like taking a bus trip with someone who has needed a bath for a long time. It’s not merely bad; it’s unpleasant in a hostile way…

I watched it in mounting gloom, realizing I was witnessing something historic, a film that for decades to come will be the punch line of jokes about bad movies.

What then, is left to say about this movie, out this month?

Digg it |  reddit | |  Fark

46 Responses to “The Movie Critic’s Dilemma”

  1. #1 |  More cynical | 

    I’d be tempted to call it the fractional reserve banking of movies.

    P.S. Just from the trailer you can tell the lead actress is awful. Does she happen to be the daughter of the executive producer?

  2. #2 |  Danno49 | 

    “What do you know of hell?”

    Plenty after watching your trailer.

    The Rifftrax guys will simply HAVE to do this one when it comes out on DVD. Wow, what a stinker.

  3. #3 |  Tokin42 | 

    I really hope the devil makes her dance nude, cuz that’s the only way I’d see this movie. Whoever she is, we really need to see her writhing around a stripper pole, she’s hott.

  4. #4 |  Mike Leatherwood | 

    My eyes are bleeding.

    To plagiarize Billy Madison:

    Mr. Director, what you’ve just made is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever seen. At no point in your rambling, incoherent movie were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

  5. #5 |  Chris Berez | 

    If I wasn’t already an atheist, I think that trailer would have the final straw that shattered any illusions concerning the existence of a just and loving deity in the universe.

    The acting alone is nearly indescribable in its atrociousness. If I had to choose between watching this movie and dunking my balls in a tank of starving piranhas, I’d take my chances with the fish.

  6. #6 |  av | 

    I can’t see video, so what movie is it?

  7. #7 |  Jefferson | 

    av, you are wise.

  8. #8 |  Sithmonkey | 

    I could have lived the rest of my life in blissful ignorance of that film’s existence…

    However, the fact that this film isn’t Battlefield Earth gives it a tiny, tiny sliver of merit.

  9. #9 |  Robin | 

    As for the girl’s acting, not sure how much better can be done with that dialogue. “Dad, I just wanted to dance and hang out!”

  10. #10 |  TomMil | 

    Assuming this is a documentary, the fires of hell seem to have burned off the devils eyebrows while leaving the hair on the top of his head intact. You science types thought you had all the answers; well, explain THAT!!!!

  11. #11 |  Mister DNA | 

    In the 5th Century, C.E., Saint Augustine of Hippo wrote City of God

    In 1452, Leonardo da Vinci began work on The Last Supper, finally completing it in 1519.

    Consecrated in 1626, Saint Peter’s Basilica, is just one of many awe-inspiring examples of architecture being used to glorify Christianity.

    In 1772, upon realizing that God would forgive even a wretched slave trader like himself, John Newton wrote Amazing Grace.

    In 2009, writer/producer/director/actor Greg Robbins released C Me Dance, a Christian movie so insipid that not even Kirk Cameron wanted to be involved with it.

    When asked to comment on the film, a member of Stryper was quoted as saying, “It’s crap like this that makes Christianity look bad”.

  12. #12 |  Chris K. | 

    she can’t act, but damn she’s cute.

  13. #13 |  Paul | 

    Honestly, I would simply say:

    “The movie is terrible, she’s kinda hot, but I wouldn’t watch it if it were free.”

    I think that’s more effective, if not as entertaining, as the more creative pans.

    But I’m a simple guy.

  14. #14 |  Aspasia | 

    It’s all in the art of snark, Radley. Gotta adjust your zingers to the craptravaganza before you.

    Movie: *girl in water* “Help me!”
    Me: “Once more, with feeling!”

    I dunno. She didn’t look like she was drowning or even TRYING to drown. Could you put a little effort into your accidental death, dear? Ooh, and it’s out in theatres now! Come on, everyone! Let’s go see it!

  15. #15 |  joev | 

    i use two browsers. one with flash, one without. i’m really sorry i fired up the one with the plug-ins now.

  16. #16 |  Emily | 

    About 15 seconds in, I started thinking, “HA HA HA HAAA!! Hilarious spoof!!!” But by 30 seconds, it stopped being funny. And then I went to the website, just to see if maybe it WAS a spoof. But no, no such comfort awaited me.

  17. #17 |  Gabriel | 

    People do make some really bad movies. I saw one called “The Pet” a couple of years ago which was apparently a cautionary tale about not getting involved in BDSM because you might run afoul of international human traffickers who will kill you and harvest your organs. The acting in “C Me Dance” looks better, at least from the trailer.

    It’s possible to enjoy these in a certain odd way if you can get yourself into an MST3K sort of mood first. Then watch Barbarella for the second feature.

  18. #18 |  dave smith | 

    To seriously answer the question, you bring your A material when a movie that could be good, or should be good (Like BE) is horrid.

    This movie deserves no creative comments.

  19. #19 |  claude | 

    No movie could ever top “Heavy Metal Parking Lot”. Best movie ever.

  20. #20 |  nobahdi | 

    When comparing bad movies, you have to consider expectations. There is a big difference between a low-budget movie (with an agenda) and a potential blockbuster with A-list actors.

    There’s no dilemma, save your good stuff for big-budget bombs.

  21. #21 |  David | 

    There’s a difference between “forgettably awful” and “spectacularly, memorably awful” and all sort of things that contribute to both. I’d assume that the latter needs a decent budget, production values, and a big marketing campaign. This movie has all the trappings of a bad 80’s low budget horror flick.

  22. #22 |  Nick T | 

    How about this Radley:

    “At one point in this film, a girl is drowning in a lake. She cires out for help. In a good movie you would have hoped for her to be rescued. In a bad movie you wouldn’t really care. With C Me Dance, I actually found myself envying this young girl. I was almost angry at her arrogance of wanting to be saved, when she had a means of ending her life literally all around her. That’s right, I actually, for a fleeting moment, found drowning in a freezing lake a more appealling activity than sitting in the movie theatre.”

    Why does the dad say “well this sure is gonna piss off the devil?” Like the devil is his neighbor or the asshole-ish guy in his office. Who says that? Did anyone in Friday the 13th say “this is gonna be a great summer, unless someone kills all the counselors!”

  23. #23 |  Dave Krueger | 

    I never critique a movie I haven’t seen. I won’t be critiquing this one.

  24. #24 |  Nick | 

    None of you have seen Tommy Wiseau’s The Room?

  25. #25 |  David Nieporent | 

    It can’t possibly be worse than this movie, which for some inexplicable reason my Tivo once stuck me with. It’s got Gavin MacLeod in it — and time travel, and the Bible. Need I say more?

  26. #26 |  Danimal | 

    I would hit that actress like the fist of an angry god.

  27. #27 |  Mister DNA | 

    Nick (#24):

    I’ve seen bits and pieces of The Room on YouTube, and from what I gather, it makes C Me Dance look like The Third Man.

    Radley, if you should ever decide to do a “Zero Star Friday” entry, you should post Complete’s “Hoogie Boogie Land”; it’s the musical equivalent of C Me Dance… imagine The Shaggs as a Molly Hatchet tribute band.

  28. #28 |  Chris Berez | 

    None of you have seen Tommy Wiseau’s The Room?

    Nick, I’ve heard of it. I might one day get up the courage to track it down.

  29. #29 |  SusanK | 

    The lighting was professionally done, and done well.
    The music playing in the background of the trailer was the perfect fit.
    That’s all I got.

  30. #30 |  UCrawford | 

    I liked how the movie was endorsed by Donald Wildmon…one of the idiot leaders of the censorship brigade.

    You know, I don’t know what’s more pathetic…the drive by religious wingnut groups (a term I’m not applying to Christians in general, just to be clear) like Wildmon’s to ban movies and books because they realize the only way their lunatic ideas will ever become mainstream is if they bar all other ideas from society, or the tendency of those groups to try and broadcast their ideas and beliefs through some of the most laughable and pathetic films you’ll ever see on the screen.

    I imagine that a country run by fundamentalists like Wildmon would probably feature nothing but crappy films, crappy art, and crappy ideas.

  31. #31 |  Z | 

    The perfect movie for our times, catering to the not-insignificant proportion of Americans who are content to hole up with a shotgun and a transistor radio tuned to Rush Limbaugh as they wait for the non-White storm troopers to round them up for re education and confiscate their earning for the purpose of buying condoms and hypodermic needles for San Franciscans, C Me Dance deftly and effortlessly combines the exploitation of nubile youth with the death of grammar, communication and true emotional connection to create a hellish vision of modern life, one so ghastly that I’d welcome the eyebrow-challenged Satan in the film to take over even if the actor playing him lacks the dramatic gravitas of the late Rodney Dangerfield who was in the similarly themed tho far superior Devil flick “Little Nicky”.

  32. #32 |  Tsu Dho Nihm | 

    This isn’t a late April Fools joke, is it?

  33. #33 |  Laughingdog | 

    Battlefield Earth:
    $44,000,000 Budget
    3% Rating on

    C Me Dance:
    $500,000 Budget
    Rottentomatoes: not enough ratings yet for an aggregate, but how much worse than 3% can you really get.

    C Me Dance is right there with most low budget bad movies. While they are just painfully bad, at least they made said horrible movie for roughly 1% of the budget for Battlefield Earth, while achieving roughly the same quality.

  34. #34 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Mark Wahlberg sees nothing wrong with the acting here.

    Obviously, Geithner needs to be given more power over these studios.

  35. #35 |  NAB | 

    Wait, can I see this at an actual theater or do I have to attend a screening/conversion party at my local mega church?

  36. #36 |  Danno49 | 

    In looking over the credits, I found one somewhat redeeming quality. Eddie Mekka makes an appearance. Come on, y’all. You can’t be dissin’ on the ‘Big Ragu’!


  37. #37 |  Pinandpuller | 

    Y’all are pissing off the devil’s advocate in me.

    UCrawford- Just to be fair didn’t Donald Wildmon advocate boycotts? Nothing wrong with that as far as I’m concerned-regardless of whether I agree with the cause or not.

    Z good buddy-did you ever catch “The Handmaid’s Tale”? Enough said.

    Honestly I thought Anna Farris dyed her hair again. They should have hired a bunch of veteranos from Galavision and had the Ingles subtitled-the acting would have been much better.

  38. #38 |  TJ | 

    That video link does NOT work. ;((

  39. #39 |  DBN | 

    There are movies that make you cry. There are movies that make you laugh. There are movies that you will never forget. “C Me Dance” is a movie.

  40. #40 |  UCrawford | 


    Just to be fair didn’t Donald Wildmon advocate boycotts?

    Yes, which would be fine except that he also advocates pushing the FCC to censor material his followers deem “obscene” or “offensive”. Taken from the American Family Association’s own website.

  41. #41 |  Mister DNA | 

    If you see only one movie about a cancer-stricken ballet dancer whose soul is being sought by the Prince of Darkness this year, don’t see this one. See the other movie about a cancer-stricken ballet dancer whose soul is being sought by the Prince of Darkness.

  42. #42 |  Z | 

    Pinandpuller I spent the last four years out of the U.S. except for the last year in Louisiana which did nothing to endear me to the idea that Louisiana is or should be a part of this country so no, I didn’t have the chance. I did google it tho and it sounds like book was sixteen years ahead of its time.

  43. #43 |  JWeidner | 


  44. #44 |  Stormy Dragon | 

    My all time favorite is Roger Ebert’s review of North:

    I hated this movie. Hated hated hated hated hated this movie. Hated it. Hated every simpering stupid vacant audience-insulting moment of it. Hated the sensibility that thought anyone would like it. Hated the implied insult to the audience by its belief that anyone would be entertained by it.

  45. #45 |  Danno49 | 

    OK – here’s a change of pace – here is a very entertaining review for an excellent movie. If you don’t like cursing and sophomoric humor, DO NOT click this link. This of you who are not adverse to such things … what follows is . . . well, you’ll see:

  46. #46 |  thomasblair | 

    Mister DNA,

    Leonardo started it in 1495 and completed it in 1498. Your dates are his birth and death dates.