“Hey @richardroeper. You’ve got horrible taste. U physically look like that group of sad old men who r mad @Ghosbusters great reviews!”
“@richardroeper You were unfairly harsh towards @Ghostbusters. Do you even care about equality? Clearly you don’t. Write another review.”
“@richardroeper your @Ghostbusters review was in poor taste, mean spirited and worthy of a lowly film blog. U can dislike a film, but come on.”
“Do us all a favor and die. You don’t know the first thing about how to review a film.”
— Viewers/readers reacting to my review of “Ghostbusters.”
I’ve been slimed.
Also slammed, applauded, lauded, derided, accused of misogyny and told to go off and do things I have no interest in doing because they sound really painful.
All because of my admittedly rough but 100 percent honest review of “Ghostbusters.”
Well before its release, you might have heard a little something about director/co-writer Paul Feig’s reimagined take on the beloved 1984 blockbuster, with the new version starring Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon.
There were nasty comments from resentful fanboys about the casting, essays about the misogynistic reaction and reports the preview was the most reviled trailer in the history of YouTube.
How much of an impact does stuff like that have on me when the lights go down and the screening starts?
Zero. I have one rule when it comes to reviewing films. It’s crazy, but what I do is:
I review the movie.
Not the personal lives of the filmmakers and the actors. Not the track record of the parties involved. Not the buzz about casting or the trailer.
Of course I look forward to some movies more than others; of course I have my doubts and hopes about various projects before I see the film. (Like many a critic, I often write “Most Anticipated Movies of the Year” pieces.) But once the film starts, it’s hardly a challenge to set all that aside and just absorb and reflect upon the finished product.
When one of my favorite films of the 1980s, “About Last Night…,” was remade in 2014 with Kevin Hart, Joy Bryant, Michael Ealy and Regina Hall in the leads, I noted, “All four leads are terrific” and gave the remake three stars.
When another beloved comedy from the 1980s, “National Lampoon’s Vacation,” was given the next-generation treatment in 2015, with Ed Helms playing the grown-up version of Rusty from the original series, I found it to be “dreadful, crass and relentlessly annoying,” and gave it one star.
Enter the 2016 edition of “Ghostbusters.” I’m a major fan of Paul Feig, from his days as the creator of the brilliant “Freaks and Geeks,” through his work on “The Office” and “Arrested Development,” and films such as “Bridesmaids,” “The Heat” and “Spy.” I’ve also praised the vast majority of the work done by the talented and versatile cast — both the leads and the supporting players.
But my sole obligation is to you, the movie consumer. My job is to tell you what the film is about, what I admired and what I found lacking, and whether I think you should invest your hard-earned money and your valuable time in the movie.
And in my view, the 2016 edition of “Ghostbuster” was a disaster: leaden, uninspired, overly self-conscious, visually unimpressive and largely unfunny.
That’s what I wrote and that’s what I said on TV, radio and on social media.
Enter the backlash, as well as the front lash and the side lash and the avalanche of opinions.
• • •
“For someone with a totally expendable job, what an inflated egomaniac.”
“You’re not in a position to say whether something [is] offensive to a group you’re not in…”
—More love from Troll Nation.
• • •
Salon posted a piece titled, “The Growing Gender Divide Over ‘Ghostbusters’: Why Movies Starring Women Get Slimed by Male Critics.”
The article, written by Nico Lang (a man), mentioned yours truly as one of the male critics who ripped “Ghostbusters,” and reported “84 percent of women giving the movie a thumbs up” while “77 percent of the critics who gave the film a thumbs down are male.”
That’s a bit of an apples/oranges comparison, but Lang uses the same criteria in reporting a disparity between male and female critical response to a number of female-lead films, from “The Hours” to “Ricki and the Flash” to “Pitch Perfect” to “Spy” to “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.”
To be clear: Unlike some of my critics on social media, Lang didn’t accuse me of sexism, but his thought-provoking piece led me to check my track record over the last two years re: films with females as the lead characters.
First — and this comes as no surprise — the number of films with women in the lead isn’t anywhere near the amount of films with men front and center. Come on Hollywood. You can do better.
Of the movies I screened in 2015 and 2016 that featured women in the lead roles, the positive reviews outweighed the negative reviews by more than a two-to-one margin. I praised “Trainwreck,” “Room,” “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2,” “The Shallows,” “Ricki and the Flash,” “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot,” “The Meddler,” “Joy,” “I Smile Back” … and many others.
If I’m biased, I’m really bad at it.
• • •
In a piece posted on the Heatstreet website, William Hicks wrote: “At the end of two long days of getting hounded by femidorks, Roeper proved his baseness.”
He was right. In one of my more indelicate moments, I had tweeted:
“I can’t overestimate the f—s I don’t give about a troll who’s never been paid a dime for his opinion telling me how to review movies.”
As arrogant as that sounded, I have to point out I wasn’t saying I don’t care about the opinions of filmgoers and colleagues. Of course your views matter to me. I love hearing from fellow movie lovers, even when they disagree with me. (Passionate conversation about movies was kind of the point of the legendary “Siskel & Ebert” show, as well as “Ebert & Roeper.”
The tweet was aimed at people telling me HOW to do my job, including those who claimed I was sexist because I didn’t like the new “Ghostbusters.”
But how insulting would it be to give a film a pass because of good intentions and diversity in the casting? That’s not equal treatment; that’s condescension.
It was encouraging to hear from so many who agreed with me. In fact, by week’s end, the positive comments on Twitter and YouTube and in my e-mailbox outnumbered the negative.
• • •
“I never knew a Ghostbusters reboot was a social movement. People are reacting like you dismissed King’s [I Have a] Dream speech…”
“Holy s— I had no idea Richard Roeper had the blood of a f—ing savage.”
“Somewhere in heaven Siskel & Ebert are giving this man a thumbs up.”
“Thanks for being honest. Too many people are reviewing the controversy or the ‘good intentions’ of the cast and crew, not the actual film.”
I’m grateful so many people — yes, even the haters — care enough about my review to weigh in. As I write this on Sunday afternoon, my various timelines are still filling up with comments about “Ghostbusters.” I ain’t afraid of no posts — but I’m going to let this piece serve as my final word on the subject.
In the meantime, please go see “The Infiltrator.” THAT’S the best movie released last week.