The Movie Siskel and Ebert Called ‘The Worst Comedy Ever Made’
Movie critic Gene Siskel named this comedy the worst movie of 1992, “as depressing an experience as I've ever had going to the movies. That's 23 years of going to the movies professionally, maybe six, seven thousand pictures.” Siskel’s partner-in-criticism, Roger Ebert, went him one better: “This is perhaps the worst comedy ever made.” The movie in question? It’s Corbin (L.A. Law) Bernsen and Shelley (Cheers) Long, two of the 1980’s biggest TV stars, in Frozen Assets.
The comedy’s problem starts with its premise. “The first lame joke sets up the whole story as Corbin Bernsen is sent from the head office to manage a small-town bank,” says Siskel. “But what he doesn't know? It's a sperm bank. Now isn't that a scream?” Small point that Siskel leaves out here: The head office is at an actual bank. This means Bernsen is being transferred from a business that does car loans and mortgages to a branch in the semen trade. You’d think that would come up in the transfer conversation. Those underpinnings alone make Frozen Assets “one of the dumbest comedies I have ever seen,” Siskel said on the duo’s movie review show, Siskel & Ebert.
“You're going very easy on it,” Ebert replied.
The feuding and fussing between Bernsen’s inept bank executive and Shelley Long’s uptight sperm expert (it's a dirty job but someone has to do it) didn’t impress with “dialogue that's on the level of a failed TV pilot,” according to Siskel. “I knew Frozen Assets was going to be awful from its opening scene in which we see an executive at the head office jabbering on the phone with underwear stretched over his head. I don't think I can adequately describe to you how unpleasant the remaining 95 minutes were.”
Ebert noted that he’d been going to the movies even longer than Siskel and "there was nothing I saw during that time that even approached this in its abysmal awfulness. You know the theory of reincarnation where the dues we pay in this lifetime, we may get to collect in another lifetime? For having seen this movie, I want months and months and months in a beautiful valley with honey and nectar and zephyr-like breezes.”
Siskel and Ebert’s fellow critics agree that Frozen Assets is beyond terrible — it has a 0 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The movie was so bad that on the duo’s year-in-review show, the critics had to flip a coin to see which one got to name it worst of the year. Siskel won the honors, but Ebert didn’t hold back in his written review of his worst comedy ever: "I felt like I was an eyewitness to a disaster. If I had been an actor in the film, I would have wondered why all the characters in this movie seem dumber than the average roadkill. What puzzles me is this film's tone. It's essentially a children's film with a dirty mind. This is a movie to watch in appalled silence. To call it the year's worst would be a kindness."