I realize that with all the tributes from everyone, my special ranting seems minor. But I had some special memories I wanted to share, so here we go. Roger Ebert passed away yesterday at the age of 70. This is very sad news for me. I am not a big fan of any one critic. They all kind of blend together. Roger Ebert was the exception, no matter what if I wanted to know about a movie, I always checked his review. I have been a fan of his since I can remember.

When I was a kid one of the many staples of 80’s TV was At The Movies with Siskel and Ebert. This was a fun show to watch, and for the reason everyone enjoyed it. The arguing between Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert was just great. They really argued to, which I think is what made everyone enjoy them. They felt like real people discussing their favorite movies, or why they hated others. The truth is that I always liked Rogert Ebert much more than Gene Siskel, the reason is because Siskel always felt more like a snob. If the movie wasn’t a perfect work of art he would pick it apart. Ebert didn’t do that, he gave movies a break if they weren’t perfect. Finding something to praise a movie that is intended to be just good fun or is bad but has something in it that makes the movie worth seeing,
They also had a great sense of humor, which you would know if you ever saw them on The Tonight Show or any other show.They were always insulting each other and cracking jokes. In fact the only episode of “The Critic” I ever watched was the one where they are in it, and yes they did their own voices. It’s a cute episode which includes them getting into a fist fight! In real life they argued but it never went to far. The worst argument they ever had was over The Crying Game, when Siskel revealed the twist ending and Ebert was appalled. But they got over that one to. They really did respect each other and I think that despite the arguments, the audience could really tell that.
I would be lying if I said I watched that show every week but if a movie was coming out I really wanted to know about, better believe I tuned in. One of my memories from Disney World was the way that they used a Siskel & Ebert review of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids as a pre-ride attraction. I don’t remember the ride but I remember the Siskel & Ebert bit they used where they argued over whether or not the bee in the movie looked realistic or not.
In the 90’s my brother and I watched their show every Saturday. Very often we would watch a review of a movie we were just about to go out to see. In fact we enjoyed the show so much, that once during the time when we did our own video’s we did a parody of Siskel & Ebert. It was really crude but it was kind of funny too. My brother played Siskel as a jerk while I played Ebert as a regular guy who just liked movies and could see something good in an otherwise bad movie. Of course in the we end up fighting each other, as most parodies of the two did. I didn’t do an impression per se so much as an homage (you really want to see that, don’t you?).
I stopped watching when Roeper took over, in fact I think the last time I watched his show was his touching tribute to Gene Siskel. Not because I hated Roeper or was bored with Ebert but because my interests were changing and I did not, and currently do not, see movies like I did as a kid. Then I heard about what happened with his cancer surgey, and was impressed at what an inspirtation he was. He really had a positive attitude and never let anything get him down. When the internet came around his website was a resource for me. Everytime I wanted to know about a movie, whetehr it be an old one or a current release, I always checked what Roget Ebert said about it. Because I always knew he would be fair. I also enjoyed his books and have even paraphrased quite shamelessly his expression that he used as the title for one of his books, I HATED, HATED, HATED THIS MOVIE!! If you find that it is a fun read and I agree with most of his opinions. For example he stated quite simply why Jack Frost sucked, because the main character was creepy and unlikeable!
Did I always agree with him? Of course not. For instance I disagreed with his view on Father of the Bride II. He called it cliche and corny, I thought it was sentimental and sweet. He was way to hard on The Wedding Singer. This was a silly Adam Sandler movie, and he compared it to Casablanca! Please! But that’s cool, for the most part I did agree with him and even when I didn’t I really respected him. In fact one time when I realized just how smart he really was with the review of Click. In the review he talked about how dark the movie gets and how there is so much psychological  things in what should have been a simpe comedy. He kind of explained what the movie was trying to say and why it did it badky. Honestly, reading the review prior to seeing the film I thought he was nuts, it was an Adam Sandler movie!, and went to the movie. Thanks to reading that review I got what the movie was saying. Unlike my father who was sitting there going “WTF is this?” I understood what the message was and maybe that is why my tolerance of that movie is a bit higher. The problem with that movie is that it is all over the place, but that is getting off subject. That was one of the times when I reallky realized how much he got movies. It’s hard to remember one specific episode or review from his show but I am pretty sure their review of North was the reason we avoided that awful, awful movie.
I heard on TV that Roger Ebert may well be honored more than many of the people who appeared in the movies he reviewed. Yeah that’s probably true. Because you could depend on Ebert to  be honest and fair. He didn’t do schtick or cheap gimmicks (thumbs up and down aside) or be unnecessarikly hard on a movie to show off. He was just a guy who loved movies and loved sharing that love of movies. Nostalgia Critic summed it up in his own video last night better than I, if you have not seen that yet check it out. As for me, I am not sure what I am going to do next time a movie I want to see comes out, and my first instinct is to see what Rogert Ebert had to say about it. I feel like I could say so much more, but think I will stop here. Much like with Dick Clark, another part of my childhood is now gone. Goodbye Roger Ebert, you will be missed.

By richb

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