I highly recommend any film lover to watch old episodes of At the Movies on Atthemovies.com. It chronicles nearly all of the reviews from the show since 1986.
There have been many pairings on At the Movies. The show began with Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert as the hosts. I liked them together, though I often felt that Siskel was too austere. You had to get it just right for Siskel to raise his thumb, but I gotta admit, when something was extraordinary, he gave it its due.
After Siskel passed away, the show was hosted by Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper, my absolute favorite pair. They were hilarious together! I always admired their ability to call bullshit in a funny and thoughtful way. If they hated a film, they gave good reasons why. To see what I mean, visit Atthemovies.com and watch reviews of the following films:
How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days (2003).
She’s All That (1999).
Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood (2002).
Rush Hour 2 (2001).
Bring It On (2000).
Sometimes I felt that Roeper was more likely to recommend a movie if it had a hot woman in it. Examples of this would be his enjoyment of Tyra Banks dancing on a tabletop in Coyote Ugly (2000), his commentary on Angelina Jolie’s beauty in Wanted (2000), and his interest in Jessica Biel’s blue jeans in Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003).
It’s sexist to put so much emphasis on a woman’s looks, but it’s something audiences and filmmakers have been doing since the early days of film. Most female film stars are good-looking, whether or not they have a decent amount of acting talent, and regardless of whether they make high quality films. The male stars, though there is certainly a bevy of good-looking ones, are judged more on the strength of their performances. What does that say about our society? I think we value beautiful women as national treasures, and we don’t value character and brainpower as much as we should.
Ebert was eventually forced to leave At the Movies for health reasons, so Roeper continued the show with a guest host filling the extra seat during each episode. As random hosts gave their opinions, I felt disconnected. I missed Ebert during those days.
Ben Lyons and Ben Mankiewicz took over as hosts in 2008. I think the idea was to appeal to a younger generation, though I don’t think it worked. I rarely took Lyons seriously, especially when he said he could relate to a Biggie Smalls biopic because he grew up in New York during the 1990s. The 1990s! OMG, I thought. This guy is like, my age. Once I googled him, I found that he’s only five weeks older. Maybe it’s ageist of me, but I kinda like my critics and movie aficionados to be a bit…old (and yes, I do realize I just discredited my ability to write this review. Oops).
Anyway, I thought Mankewizc and Lyons were kinda dull, however I sometimes agreed with “Mank,” such as when he pointed out that most romantic comedies are neither romantic nor funny. Good point, Mank.
The current hosts are A.O. Scott and Michael Phillips. I haven’t watched them long enough to know quite how I feel about them yet. Also, I’m behind on my movie watching lately, so I can’t determine if I think their reviews are fair and accurate.
To all of you At the Movies watchers, what has been your favorite pair of critics? Which reviews have stood out for you, and why?
Random side note: there’s just something about Richard Roeper’s speaking voice that I find appealing. The tone of it and the way he pronounces certain words like ‘Chicago’ and ‘them’ is just cool as hell.