Steve James’ documentary "Life Itself,"inspired by Roger Ebert’s memoir of the same name, opens today, July 4 in limited release and on demand. In the little over a year since Ebert’s death in April, 2013, we’ve done much to commemorate the man who became one of the most famous and influential film critics in the world. There have been many tears and numerous tributes, and James’ film offers plenty of both. But what we may have neglected to revisit was the laughs.
Ebert was no stranger to terrible movies. He was, thankfully, willing to watch and review anything and sometimes his bad experience with a film lead his readers to a great experience on the page. He eventually compiled his harshest reviews into a book called "I Hated Hated Hated This Movie," a title inspired by his review of 1994’s "North." More books soon followed, such as "Your Movie Sucks" and "A Horrible Experience of Unbearable Length." With "Life Itself" now in theaters, let us balance some of the inevitable sadness over the loss of such a great critic, and laugh at some of his most hilarious take-downs. Here are 13 of the funniest lines from some of Roger Ebert’s most scathing film reviews.
"’Caligula’ is sickening, utterly worthless, shameful trash. If it is not the worst film I have ever seen, that makes it all the more shameful: People with talent allowed themselves to participate in this travesty. Disgusted and unspeakably depressed, I walked out of the film after two hours of its 170-minute length."
"The Blue Lagoon" (1980)
"This movie could have been made as a soft-core sex film, but it’s too restrained: There are so many palms carefully arranged in front of genital areas, and Brooke Shields’ long hair is so carefully draped to conceal her breasts, that there must have been a whole squad of costumers and set decorators on permanent Erogenous Zone Alert."
"Hellbound: Hellraiser II" (1988)
"That makes ‘Hellbound: Hellraiser II’ an ideal movie for audiences with little taste and atrophied attention spans who want to glance at the screen occasionally and ascertain that something is still happening up there. If you fit that description, you have probably not read this far, but what the heck, we believe in full-service reviews around here. You’re welcome."
"Last Rites" (1988)
"Many films are bad. Only a few declare themselves the work of people deficient in taste, judgment, reason, tact, morality, and common sense. Was there no one connected with this project who read the screenplay, considered the story, evaluated the proposed film and vomited?”
"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."
"Mad Dog Time" (1996)
"’Mad Dog’ Time is the first movie I have seen that does not improve on the sight of a blank screen viewed for the same length of time. Oh, I’ve seen bad movies before. But they usually made me care about how bad they were. Watching Mad Dog Time is like waiting for the bus in a city where you’re not sure they have a bus line."
"Battlefield Earth" (2000)
"’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."
"Freddy Got Fingered" (2001)
"This movie doesn’t scrape the bottom of the barrel. This movie isn’t the bottom of the barrel. This movie isn’t below the bottom of the barrel. This movie doesn’t deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence with barrels….The film is a vomitorium consisting of 93 minutes of Tom Green doing things that a geek in a carnival sideshow would turn down."
"Sorority Boys" (2002)
"I’m curious about who would go to see this movie. Obviously moviegoers with a low opinion of their own taste. It’s so obviously what it is that you would require a positive desire to throw away money in order to lose two hours of your life. ‘Sorority Boys’ will be the worst movie playing in any multiplex in America this weekend, and, yes, I realize ‘Crossroads’ is still out there."
"The Brown Bunny" (2003)
"I had a colonoscopy once, and they let me watch it on TV. It was more entertaining than ‘The Brown Bunny.’"
(Note: Ebert recanted after seeing a recut version of the film and gave it a three-star review.)
"Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" (2009)
"If you want to save yourself the ticket price, go into the kitchen, cue up a male choir singing the music of hell, and get a kid to start banging pots and pans together. Then close your eyes and use your imagination."
"Valentine’s Day" (2010)
"’Valentine’s Day’ is being marketed as a Date Movie. I think it’s more of a First-Date Movie. If your date likes it, do not date that person again. And if you like it, there may not be a second date."
"Battle: Los Angeles" (2011)
"Young men: If you attend this crap with friends who admire it, tactfully inform them they are idiots. Young women: If your date likes this movie, tell him you’ve been thinking it over, and you think you should consider spending some time apart."