Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert is the most most widely read film critic in the country. He has managed to do what most of us wish we could do – take our greatest love and make it a career.

Born to criticize: A young Ebert reviews his mother's breast milk

Gladiator: Ebert reviewing thyroid cancer

The early days of Siskel & Ebert (they're probably getting ready to watch porn here)

Just The Facts

  1. Won a Pulitzer Prize for film criticism. This means that if you are an opinionated movie buff and you spend time disagreeing with Ebert's review on your blog that no one reads, rest assured that your point of view is wrong and your taste in movies is terrible.
  2. Gave the widely-panned Speed 2: Cruise Control and 3-star rating. Gave the critically acclaimed Blue Velvet a 1-star rating.
  3. Dated Oprah Winfrey. When the relationship ended his limbs were still attached.
  4. If he finds himself at a loss for words he often uses the term "stupefying".
  5. Thyroid cancer survivor. Flips thyroid cancer the bird on a daily basis as he continues to review films, make appearances, and live life better than you or I.

Quick overview

Go ahead and criticize Roger Ebert all you want, but the man knows his movies.

Ok fine, I'll start.

Yes, Roger Ebert knows how many calories are in a box of Milk Duds and yes he eats them anyway.

Yes, ever since birth, Roger Ebert's face has featured the same complacent look. This does not mean he is a robot.

Yes, Roger Ebert has a wife. And yes, her name is Chaz. Who marries a woman named Chaz? You guessed it - Roger Ebert.

Now that the necessary cheapshots are out of the way, let's kill the lights and meet the man.

A review of Ebert's reviews

To call Ebert's knowledge of films "encyclopedic" would be to neglect 99% of what he actually knows about films. He knows every detail about every shot in every movie and as soon as he discovers something new, he runs (read: waddles) to his computer and updates his blog.

Ebert's film-IQ, like his cholesteral, is incredibly high. He seperates himself from other critics by not automatically dumping on a film to make himself feel better. Unlike many of his peers, whose opinions on a particular film seem to be hopelessly tethered to a Top 10 list, Ebert's reviews treat each film individually.

Using the film L.A. Confidential, here is a visual diagram of Ebert's movie reviewing process (good) vs. mine (so stupid).

Ebert's review is correct

This review is awesome. But incorrect.

Over the years Ebert's opinions have been trusted for one simple reason: He reviews movies from our perspective and not through the eyes of some anal-retentive movie critic. He is not afraid to call bullshit when he see it, but at the same time is more than ready to point out the high points of even the worst movies.

Many times his opinions have gone against the mainstream. For instance, while every moviegoer on the planet was yelling and beating off to how incredible they thought the Usual Suspects was, Ebert took a second to actually watch the movie and came up with this gem of a quote: "To the degree that I do understand, I don't care. I prefer to be amazed by motivation, not manipulation."

He then cointed the term, "The Keyser Soze Syndrome" to describe movies that hurridly add final scenes that redefine the reality of everything that has gone before it. (looking directly at you Fight Club, Sixth Sense, Illusionist, Momento, etc).

Ebert is relevant

Let's face it, celebrities in this country have easy lives filled with drugs, sex without consequence, clean air and lots of bacon. However, we have always held our celebrities to one rule: You can't be cool forever. As soon as some "hot" band or actress or other flavor-of-the-week ascends the summit of our stinky diaper mountain of American culture, the next tidal wave of corporate shills eagerly await their claim as the "top" of the consumerist gang-bang.

That being said, just because you can't be cool forever doesn't mean you can't be cool more than once. Examples of celebrities who have completed at least one revolution of the cool-lame-cool cycle include Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, John Travolta (who has actually managed to complete this cycle four or five times), and slap bracelets.

Ebert has an official facebook fan page with over 1,700 members. Typing "Roger Ebert" into a facebook search yields over 160 results with his name as either a group or common interest. Granted, a number of those groups are dedicated to discussing his alarming veal intake, but the point is that he is being discussed.

Despite his loyal fan base, Ebert's number of facebook fans is far fewer than some of his contemporaries.

For example, Ebert does not rank particularly well among other fat guys:

Ebert is also lacking when compared to other guys who use voice boxes because they have lost the ability to speak:

Alliance of thumbs

Much like the Book of Genesis, it's difficult to determine which facts about Roger Ebert are true and which are false. One thing we do know is that in the mid-seventies, he teamed up with a little-known film critic from the Chicago Tribune named Gene Siskel. Together they brought film criticism to the mainstream via their highly-rated show - "Siskel & Ebert at the Movies."

At first, neither critic had much on-camera experience and production of each segment was slow. According to Ebert, it would take eight hours or more in the studio to finish a single weekly segment. Eventually, the tedious production process combined with two guys with huge vocabularies and endless targets for mockery between them (Ebert's weight, Siskel's face, etc), led to heated exchanges.

Here are two clips from the 80's of Siskel and Ebert mercilessly sniping one another on camera:

Allegedly, Ebert thought Siskel was a neurotic jack-off with a perpetually stuffy nose, while Siskel felt Ebert was an overstuffed pork-a-holic. In the end, both were correct.

Despite each man's obvious physical flaws and boorish bickering, audiences could see that they shared the same love - great film. They would sometimes trip over their own words because they were so excited about a film's merits. They would often trip over each other's words but it wasn't insulting, it was more like two kids on a playground who desperately want to tell the other a really cool story.

The show eventually grew to be immensely popular. They soon were able to tape all of their segments without using scripts or notes and their on-camera chemistry was undeniable. For example, their review of the movie Fargo begins as a serious critique but soon turns into basically two minutes of each guy half-giggling and cutting the other one off because they are unable spit out enough praising adjectives.

The review is here: Siskel & Ebert review Fargo

What each man lacked in basic table manners, they made up for with a total obsession for film. How obsessed? Consider the following: In 1998, Siskel underwent surgery to remove a brain tumor. Since most Americans would file a workman's comp lawsuit after spraining a fingernail, removal of a brain tumor is usually a sign to at least retire. Not Gene Siskel. Siskel literally spent his final days on this planet reviewing movies via satellite. He was reviewing films from his fucking deathbed.

Ebert's blog & movie glossary

Ebert's movie website/blog is a fountain of funny, odd, and interesting cinematic tidbits. He has a ton of commenters who are knowledgeable about film, but sadly are often douchenozzels.

While you read through his blog, you'll find epic tales of hilarity such as this one about Rob Schneider (whole thing is paraphrased):

"Fresh off the success (term used relatively) of Deuce Bigalow, Rob Schieder decided to make a sequel. Not surprisingly, the sequel was a pointless, unnecessary waste of film, with less of a plot than a giraffe eating a melon out of a donkey's crotch. Rob Schieder then took out an ad saying that one of the critics had never won an award and therefore didn't have the right to criticize his movie. Ebert saw this and responded that his Pulitzer Prize is an award that qualifies him to review, and that Schnieder's movie 'sucked'."

Ebert also has his own movie glossary. The glossary contains user comments about ridiculous aspects or trends in movies.

For example, why is it that movies depict people in medieval Europe as having perfect teeth, even though they are all poor as shit and covered in rags?

There is also the Box Rule, stated as follows: "If a movie is advertised with a row of little boxes across the bottom, each one showing the face of a different international star and the name of a character, it's probably going to suck."

These are illustrations of only two terms from Ebert's glossary. He has many, many more.

Ebert today

Ebert has been fighting a host of health problems, including a terrible bout with thyroid cancer. Despite the fact that he cannot speak because the cancer made off with his lower jaw, Ebert writes several weekly reviews for the Chicago Sun-Times. He also blogs (a lot) and still makes time for his film festival. He also finds time to answer hundreds upon hundreds of dumbass film questions from jerkoffs like you and I.

Unfortunately for death, Ebert has decided that he is going to continue writing, reading and watching films. Unfortunately for Rob Schneider, Ebert will also continue to point out which ones are terrible.