Roger Ebert, who died Thursday at age 70, became a television personality, a Twitter legend and a beloved American icon, but what he was first and foremost was a movie critic.
Movie critics are as plentiful as popcorn, but there was truly no one like Ebert. He never buried his reviews in academic language or flowery comparisons. A down-to-earth writer, he brought his whole life and his entire understanding of human nature, plus a great sense of humor, into his writing.
Sure, he was known for his commentary on classics such as "Citizen Kane," but often, the movies that made him suffer the most gave us the most delightful reviews. Here are some of his gems. Rest in peace, Roger.
The Pullet Surprise
Perhaps his most classic line references Ebert's own 1975 Pulitzer Prize, the first awarded to a film critic. Back in 2005, Rob Schneider complained that another reviewer who didn't like "Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo" wasn't qualified to review it because he didn't have a Pulitzer. In response, Ebert wrote, "Speaking in my official capacity as a Pulitzer Prize winner, Mr. Schneider, your movie sucks."
Where the stars don't shine
"I am required to award stars to movies I review. This time, I refuse to do it. The star rating system is unsuited to this film. Is the movie good? Is it bad? Does it matter? It is what it is and occupies a world where the stars don't shine." —From review of "The Human Centipede"
Tell us how you really feel, Roger
"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." —From "North" review
"One of the details that 'A Christmas Story' gets right is the threat of having your mouth washed out with Lifebuoy soap. Not any soap. Lifebuoy. Never Ivory or Palmolive. Lifebuoy, which apparently contained an ingredient able to nullify bad language. The only other soap ever mentioned for this task was Lava, but that was the nuclear weapon of mouth-washing soaps, so powerful it was used for words we still didn't even know." —From"A Christmas Story" review
A kiss is still a ...
"(Rhett Butler) tells Scarlett in a key early scene, 'You need kissing badly. That's what's wrong with you. You should be kissed, and often, and by someone who knows how.' For 'kissed,' substitute the word you're thinking of." —From "Gone With the Wind" review
Over the rainbow
"... The elements in 'The Wizard of Oz' powerfully fill a void that exists inside many children. For kids of a certain age, home is everything, the center of the world. But over the rainbow, dimly guessed at, is the wide earth, fascinating and terrifying. There is a deep fundamental fear that events might conspire to transport the child from the safety of home and strand him far away in a strange land. And what would he hope to find there? Why, new friends to advise and protect him. And Toto, of course, because children have such a strong symbiotic relationship with their pets that they assume they would get lost together." —From "Wizard of Oz" review
What they really, really want is an acting coach.
"(The Spice Girls) occupy 'Spice World' as if they were watching it." —From "Spice World" review
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