There's sort of an unspoken rule about journalists not criticizing other journalists - at least in print, on the air or on videotape. But sometimes a journalist will say something so dumb that it's impossible to resist throwing a few jabs.
And while I respect Roger Ebert's obvious talent as a film critic, especially his consistent writing quality, one of his most recent critiques sticks out like a really sore thumb.In his enthusiastic review of the tasteless new Eddie Murphy comedy "Dr. Dolittle," which ran in the June 26 Chicago Sun-Times, Ebert praises the film for its "sweetness and gentleness." To which I ask: What movie did he see?
The PG-13-rated picture I saw - which is being misleadingly marketed as a "family film" - contains even more flatulence, sexual function and defecation jokes than the 1996 remake of "The Nutty Professor," if that's possible.
Strangely, Ebert defends the use of crude jokes in the film, saying, "Is this material a mistake? I don't think so. Kids have a healthy interest in bodily functions . . . Too many adults have a tendency to confuse bad taste with evil influences."
He then goes on to say that the activities of the anthropomorphic animals "are not violent or anti-social," and that "the movie will not harm anyone." Say what?
Um, call me a prude, but scenes showing animals that talk openly about sex, a sequence depicting a dog receiving a proctological exam and a finale that features pigeons pooping on hapless victims don't seem harmless to me.
Furthermore, Ebert's assertion that "parents and kids were laughing together" at the screening he attended is a cop-out, as would be pointing to the film's rosy opening weekend box-office grosses.
That's like saying TV's "Jerry Springer" sleazefest is great television because the audiences enjoy it and because it gets good ratings.
What's frightening is the thought that the movie studios will use a couple of encouraging reviews and the ticket receipts to justify making similarly crude kids comedies.
In fact, it's happening now - Murphy's "The Nutty Professor 2" is already in pre-production.
- RUMORS! WE GOT STAR WARS RUMORS HERE! If you're like me, you can't get enough speculation about the new "Star Wars" prequel trilogy, the first of which is scheduled to be released next May.
The newest round of speculations is based on the "Star Wars" Trivial Pursuit game, which was recently released in stores. The game contains 10 "bonus" cards with information and questions about the prequels - which substantiate some earlier rumors.
- Liam Neeson's Jedi master character will be the "center of `Episode 1.' "
- "Episode II" will feature the marriage of Anakin Skywalker, better known to fans of the existing trilogy as Darth Vader (after his turn to the Dark Side).
- Luke and Leia will be born sometime during the prequels.
Of course, most of this doesn't come as news to frequent Net surfers. But it is interesting to have it confirmed by LucasFilms (the game is licensed by the George Lucas' company).
By the way, thanks to Deseret News librarian Tammy Carlson, who's similarly obsessive about "Star Wars" tidbits, who brought this to my attention.
- "TITANIC" AUTHOR SPEAKS: For a couple of months, I've been e-mailing to readers copies of "Titanic in 31/2 Minutes," a joke file that neatly encapsulates the box-office juggernaut, and which would seem to have been written anonymously.
But that all ends this weekend.
For one thing, the true author of the file, Eric Snider, has come forward and convinced me that it was actually cobbled from a column he wrote for the BYU Daily Universe newspaper. And Eric certainly deserves credit for this very funny parody.
So for those of you who are still curious to read it, or if you'd like to read Eric's original column, e-mail him at email@example.com, and he'll direct you to the paper's Web site.
I am still sending out "The George-Titanic Coincidences," which makes strange-but-true comparisons between "Titanic" and "George of the Jungle" (e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org) . . . at least, until its author steps forward.
- QUOTES OF THE WEEK: "Oh, I'm sure there are no hard feelings. He's got to have forgotten about it by now." - Actor Peter Stormare.
"That's something you don't forget easily. I'm still looking for a project for the two of us where I get the upper hand . . . one where I get a really good revenge." - Actor Steve Buscemi.
(The two men, who currently star together in "Armageddon," were discussing the infamous "wood chipper" scene in "Fargo," in which Stormare's character dismembered and disposed of Buscemi's character.)