My Favorite Worst Review EVER

17 06 2008

Roger Ebert with his director, Russ MeyerEditors almost NEVER get mentioned in film reviews, unless it’s a chase film with lots and lots of cuts. But allow me to tell you the story of when I got mentioned in a Roger Ebert review.

Yep, I’m practically famous.

Years ago, I worked on a movie called MAD DOG TIME, which was actually tons of fun, and a trip and a half to edit. It starred Jeff Goldblum as a laconic and top mob hit man who, while his mob boss Richard Dreyfuss is out of town (locked up in a funny bin) has to fend off hit man after hit man (including a delicious Gabriel Byrne) while balancing two girlfriends — Diane Lane and Ellen Barkin. It also had small roles by Burt Reynolds, Joey Bishop (the director’s dad), Kyle MacLachlan, Henry Silva, Michael J. Pollard, Billy Idol, and the amazing Gregory Hines.

When it came out it was, to put it kindly, pilloried by most critics, who felt it was too reverential to Tarentino, without having the talent or class of Tarentino.

Now, I have my own feelings about the film, which are far more positive than the reviews. But I did love the mention that I got from Ebert:

Mad Dog Time” is the first movie I have seen that does not improve on the sight of a blank screen viewed for the same length of time. Oh, I’ve seen bad movies before. But they usually made me care about how bad they were. Watching “Mad Dog Time” is like waiting for the bus in a city where you’re not sure they have a bus line. …

What were they thinking of? Dreyfuss is the executive producer. He’s been in some good movies. Did he think this was a script? The actors perform their lines like condemned prisoners. The most ethical guy on the production must have been Norman Hollyn, the editor, because he didn’t cut anybody out, and there must have been people willing to do him big favors to get out of this movie

“Mad Dog Time” should be cut into free ukulele picks for the poor.

Now that’s a review that I didn’t show up on my resume!

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6 responses

17 06 2008
jr

I remember going to see MAD DOG TIME in the theatre, and sorry Norman, I do remember it being as bad as the reviews. From what I recall most of the humour came from the fact that three of the main characters were “Vic”, “Nick”, and “Mick”.

17 06 2008
Norman

Hey, no problem. Though we try and make the movies we work on as good as possible, sometimes they just don’t hit an audience. And, sometimes, they just aren’t very good.

I happened to have loved working on MAD DOG TIME (which was called TRIGGER HAPPY while we were shooting it), I understand that many people didn’t have the same experience watching it. And, yes, some of the humor did come from the Vic/Nick/Mick stuff.

And I’m impressed at two things — one that you remember the names of the characters (we must have hit that too much, and two, that you saw it in the theatre!! Damn, I wondered who the person was who saw it!

17 06 2008
Mike Barber

I haven’t seen the film, but I have to say I love Ebert’s unfiltered straight-to-the-point (if not jugular) style. No matter the movie, “like waiting for the bus in a city where you’re not sure they have a bus line” and “should be cut into free ukulele picks for the poor” are f*n classic!

Hell, I would hope anyone who strongly dislikes anything I worked on would have that much creativity and wit in their criticism.

17 06 2008
Norman

Yeah, it’s what made Ebert a constant favorite among film goers.

I have to say that I laughed when I read the review. I expected lots of people to dislike the film. When I edited HEATHERS we felt the same thing (we never got a preview test score over 50, if I remember correctly).

I always say that if I work on a movie where lots of people like it, and lots of people hate it — then I’ve done my job.

18 06 2008
Frank Reynolds

Yeah, I edited IN THE BEDROOM, and while the critics overall liked it, with the public it’s about split down the middle between love and hate. In the user reviews on sites like imdb or Amazon, it usually gets either the most amount of stars you can give, or the least…very few in the middle.

Someone on imdb said that I should be shot. :-)

20 06 2008
Competitions, Buy a Ukulele, Ukulele Hero | Ukulele Hunt

[…] Worst film review ever: “Mad Dog Time should be cut into free ukulele picks for the poor.” […]

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