Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Take That, Rob!

Esquire has done a piece on Roger Ebert, who was half of the team that defined the TV movie critic genre -- Siskel and Ebert: At the Movies.

Ebert knows from bad movies -- he wrote the Russ Meyer picture, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, which was supposed to be a spoof of Valley of the Dolls, but which was about as silly and unintentionally-funny as anything ever put on the screen, and rated X (later NC-17.) My wife and I saw it in a sleazy downtown L.A. theater on a movie-crawl early one morning, in a place where the cigarette smoke was so thick you could barely see the screen, must have been about 1970. There's a scene at the end that we use as part of our personal shorthand -- "I can walk!" -- would have had me rolling on the floor, save how utterly gross that floor was. Become a cult classic, ala The Rocky Horror Picture Show ...

From the wiki:

Ebert and Meyer also made Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Vixens, Up!, and others, and were involved in the ill-fated Sex Pistols movie Who Killed Bambi?

Watch this at your own risk ...

But I digress ...

It's a sad, touching article, this piece on Ebert. It may disturb you to read it, and to see the photograph accompanying it. But you ought to read it anyway.

Gene Siskel passed away from brain cancer some years ago, and Roger Ebert, who also developed thyroid cancer around the same time, seem to beat that and get back to work.

The surgeons got it all. But it came back in his salivary glands. They went back in.

Complications with the surgeries eventually cost him most of his lower jaw. He can no longer eat, drink, or speak, being fed through a tube, though he still writes.

People forget that he won a Pulitzer for his writing before he became famous as a TV critic.

He wrote, among others, a book, Your Movie Sucks, and there's a funny story in it, based on his criticism of Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo. I dunno if you remember that one -- surely it was on all the top ten lists? -- but Ebert's review is hilarious, read it here.

Gigolo starred Rob Schneider, (who got a Razzie nomination in 2000 but lost to Jar-Jar Binks). Rob didn't take well to the lambasting -- much justified -- the movie got, so he lashed out at the critics. Took one of them to task for being a no-talent hack who didn't win a Pulitzer, yadda-yadda.

I am less than sanguine about critics myself, but I learned that it's not wise to argue with the man who controls the microphone ...

So Schneider dumps all over a Los Angeles critic, at which point Ebert steps up. The last line of which is:

"As chance would have it, I have won the Pulitzer Prize, and so I am qualified. Speaking in my official capacity as a Pulitzer Prize winner, Mr. Schneider, your movie sucks."

Hang in there, Roger.


Jonty said...

Interestingly, Rob Schneider studies/studied Serak under Pak Vic. I believe he once sent flowers to Roger Ebert on his sickbed, with a card attached that read something like "Best Wishes, from your least favorite actor."

Steve Perry said...

Jonty --

I knew about the card to Ebert -- that's in the link embedded in the post I did. I thought Schneider studied with Guru Dan Inosanto, and that only for a few months, for his role in Big Stan. I think Pak Vic claims him, but I don't see any mention of Schneider studying there anywhere, save on Pak Vic's site.

Big Stan was a straight-to-video movie released in the US, a couple years back, garnering 13% approval on Rotten Tomatoes ... I'm not sure that Guru Inosanto would put that movie in the same category as Red Belt or The Book of Eli -- he trained the lead actors for those -- Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Denzel Washington -- too. (Red Belt got 68%, Book of Eli, 45% ratings.)

Justin said...

Almost more sad was the number of times they tried to fashion him a new jaw, using various bones from his hip/leg/whatever, with every time failing.

At least he build himself the means to be comfortable. That's more than we can say about most of the people convalescing out there.

Ed said...

I liked Duece Bigalow - some funny stuff. It had a little heart in it too. Duece Euro - Trash, should not have seen the light of day/night, projector lamp. Heads should have rolled after that one -faster and farther.

Keep after them Roger - I hope you see more good ones than bad - I hope that for all of us too!

Gotta go - the Hammer is up!

Jonty said...

Ah... That makes sense. I remember Pak Vic going on about Rob Schneider in his streaming classes the last time I tried to study under him, but I never did see him show up.