The Criticwatch section of Hollywood Bitchslap has announced its annual tally of the top 10 movie blurbers who string together superlatives for the sole purpose of getting quoted in movie ads, aka "The Whores of the Year." Before I get to their list (and the article, written with "Passion and Verve!" by Erik Childress -- Childress being, coincidentally, the name of the very cool and creepy black-clad villain played by John Cassavettes in Brian De Palma's "The Fury"), I thought I should point out that studio advertising and marketing departments are the ones who decide what quotes to use, and how to edit them. Real critics (and by that I mean those who are not outright Junket Queens or Quote Whores who either provide studios with punchy phrases to choose from or simply sign off on blurbs pre-written by the ad departments themselves) have to keep an eye out for how their words are used or misused.
For example, I once panned a movie that was based on a book I had loved, and the film company took the positive adjectives I had written about the source novel, which I contrasted with the movie in my review, and stuck 'em on the video box as an endorsement of the movie -- without my knowledge or consent. That kind of thing happens sometimes. (The movie was Nicolas Roeg's 1992 "Cold Heaven," starring Theresa Russell, Mark Harmon, Talia Shire and Will Patton. I complained and got a letter of apology from the distributor, Hemdale, and a promise they'd remove the quote from the box on the next printing. They did.)
But back to the Ho's. These are the people who pump out indiscriminate raves for movies like "Stealth," "Domino," "Derailed," "Be Cool," "The Cave," "Underclassman," "Diary of a Mad Black Woman," "The Island" and "Undead."
Childress is, of course, being (understandably) snarky in his comments, but he's absolutely right about the damage the Quote Whores do to the credibility of critics -- and movie ad campaigns in general. He writes: "Whom can you trust? It�s the question Criticwatch has been asking from the beginning and it�s the one we will be asking until the end of the Quote Whores as we know them. The countdown is on again for the Whores of the Year, a race that went down to the wire producing another Top 10 list and another year of disgrace. Remember these names. And when you think of them � think less. They certainly do when it comes to film."
Now, I don't even know who most of these people are. Do they really exist? Caveat emptor:
Criticwatch's Quote Whores of 2005 are...
10. Larry King (15 quotes)
9. Chuck "The Movie Guy" Thomas (11 quotes)
8. Paul Fischer (20 quotes)
7. Harry Knowles/Ain't-It-Cool News (21 quotes)
6. Bill Bregoli (17 quotes)
5. Clay Smith (24 quotes)
4. Pete Hammond (31 quotes)
3. Jeffrey Lyons (50 quotes)
2. Shawn Edwards (36 quotes)
1. Earl Dittman (36 quotes)
Criticwatch correspondent Chris Parry wrote an detailed piece about Dittman (of "Wireless Magazines") called "Hyperbole For Sale: How Earl Dittman And The Studios Have Destroyed Film Criticism," which is worth quoting at length because of the accumulated evidence:
Let�s play a little game. Read the following quotes for the film Robots, and see if you can pick which one was used by the studio behind the film:All I can say is: "Incredible, thy name is Dittman."
"Hysterical, ingenious and whimsical 'Robots' is an even more spectacular, computer-animated film than 'The Incredibles' ... In fact, the term 'brilliant' fails to accurately describe how wondrously witty and innovative 'Robot' [sic] really is ... a hilariously clever and breathlessly innovative work of computer-animated entertainment, 'Robots' is a visually stunning and wildly hilarious comedy for intelligent, humor-starved movie-goers ready to laugh themselves silly."-- Earl Dittman, Wireless Magazines
"Magical, clever and innovative, 'Robots' is a hysterical comedy inhabited by a hilarious universe filled with the funniest and most witty group of mechanical 'bots you'll ever encounter ... If you thought the superheroes of 'The Incredibles' and the ocean-dwellers of 'Finding Nemo' were humorous, you haven't heard nothing yet. The side-splitting humor of the mechanical beings in 'Robots' is worthy of a capital 'H' ... Forget 'The Incredibles,' 'Robots' is one heck of a funny animated comedy ... 'Robots' is a hilariously awesome and breathlessly inventive work of entertaining animated brilliance"-- Earl Dittman, Wireless Magazines
"The ultra-hilarious 'Robots' is so innovative and wily, it propels the animated action film to a whole new dimension ... it's a computer animated comedy like no other you've ever seen ... 'Robots' is an exciting and explosive technical marvel ... 'Robots' is a spectacular, eye-popping piece of master filmmaking... You can't afford to miss a single frame of this amazing, unforgettable animated classic."-- Earl Dittman, Wireless Magazines
"A sharp, clever and entertaining animated adventure, 'Robots' is easily one of the most hilarious and smartest comedies since 'The Incredibles' ... Exciting, witty, outlandish and unconditionally hilarious, 'Robots' is a gut-busting and side-splitting animated hi-tech comedy that will keep you laughing from beginning to end ... You've never laughed this much at a movie before ... It's absolutely one of the most hysterical and heart-warming comedies ever conceived."-- Earl Dittman, Wireless Magazines
Okay, can you pick which of those was the actual Earl Dittman quote that he supplied to the studios?
Whichever one you picked, you were right. Because Easy Earl Dittman supplied ALL of the above quotes to the studio. And more besides:
"A spectacular, breathtaking and momentous hi-tech computer-generated adventure full of unstoppable thrills and chills, 'Robots' is an animated adrenaline rush that'll keep you laughing, clapping, and cheering with excitement throughout the entire movie ... You don't want to miss a single frame of this energizing and laugh-filled animated adventure of truly epic proportions."-- Earl Dittman, Wireless Magazines
"It's time to move over 'Incredibles,' because the action-packed and hysterical 'Robots' proves there's a group of mechanical beings that's even more outrageous, clever, lovable and hilarious than a family of superheroes ... An exciting and explosive piece of cinematic technological marvel, 'Robots' is absolute perfection. You'll never laugh so much and so hard at a big screen comedy ever again!"-- Earl Dittman, Wireless Magazines
"Ewan McGregor is remarkable ... He's cool, lovable and downright hilarious in 'Robots' ... McGregor delivers a splendidly spirited and seemingly effortless performance ... Based on his vocal performance, it's time to crown Ewan McGregor Hollywood's newest king of comedy ... In 'Robots', McGregor exposes his remarkably keen ability to make every single joke hilarious and unforgettable ... He's a natural born comedian."-- Earl Dittman, Wireless Magazines
"A sure-fire Oscar winner ... 'Robots' is an exciting and explosive big screen spectacle ... The Academy Awards were created expecially for original and thrilling animated motion pictures such as 'Robots'... Filmmaking at its best, next year it deserves every Oscar it qualifies for ... Place your bets early, because 'Robots' will be an indisputable winner on Oscar night 2006 ... in other words, it's going to clean up!" -- Earl Dittman, Wireless Magazines
"Robin Williams absolutely steals the show with his hilarious, over-the-top, slapstick performance in 'Robots' ... Possessing superb comedic timing and impeccable chemistry with his animated co-stars, 'Robots' finally bears out the fact we've all known for years -- that Robin is most hysterical human being and mechanical being in the universe [sic]... Wildly hilarious, Williams is magnificent ... His performance in 'Robin' [sic] is priceless."-- Earl Dittman, Wireless Magazines
"Wow! 'Robots' is absolutely magnificent ... Although there's still nine months to go in 2005, 'Robots' is such a spectacular animated film that it already deserves the Number One spot on every critic's year-end Top Ten list ... if 'Robots' is any indication of the caliber of animated motion pictures we can expect from Hollywood from this day forward, audiences are in for the best movie-going years of their lives ... Count 'Robots' as one of the funniest and brilliantly conceived computer-generated animated films of the new millennium."-- Earl Dittman, Wireless Magazines
That�s TEN DIFFERENT QUOTES for a single (bad) film. Ten. Not two, not three, but TEN.
Dittman sent several pages of this hyperbole to the studio, which they then in turn sent to the editors that put together several versions of the "Robots" trailer. One such editor was so taken aback by this fraud that he leaked them to us, along with a whole lot of information about how the studios misuse quotes and rely on junket whores who, quite often, haven't yet sen the film they're so happy to hype.
But it doesn�t end there � the quote eventually attributed to Dittman on the trailer wasn�t even one of the options he so willingly supplied. The quote that went into ads under his name was actually created by one of the trailer company producers: "'Robots' is more incredible than 'The Incredibles.'"
So, look for Earl Dittman in a movie ad near you!