Monday, April 09, 2007

We're Back

Well, I'm back to blogging (though I still may miss a few days this week). I'm glad to see while I was gone the rest of the crew has filled in, though I'm surprised to find they don't work weekends.

Another guy who's back, after a much longer break, is Roger Ebert. He's fought off a serious illness and is writing again.

I've noted Roger's deficiencies in the past, but it's always out of love, and this post is no different.

In Awake In the Dark, a collection of "reviews, essays, and interviews," I ran across a mistake so bizarre I still can't believe I'm reading it right. It's in a piece on Tom Hanks, written around the time of Forrest Gump. Ebert looks back at Hanks' work and has this to say about Big (which still might be his best peformance)--sorry, before I look at the mistake, I gotta discuss the previous paragraph about Splash, which is so wrongheaded.

Ebert says he thinks Hanks, whom I thought delightful in Splash, was miscast. He believes co-star John Candy would have made a better lead. This would have turned a fine romantic comedy into a one-joke stunt. Alas, both Ebert and Siskel, in addition to reviewing films, would regularly give bad advice on how to make the movies better. (Guess we can't all write scripts as well-wrought as Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls.) Ebert continues "[Hanks] is never at his best in movies where he's the one who has the answers." Around the time Ebert wrote this, Hanks decided the problem with his careeer was he didn't play enough parts where he was the one who has the answers. He changed course and has had one of the most succcessful film careers ever.

Anyway, back to the mind-boggling mistake, regarding Big. Take it away, Roger:
Look at [Hanks] instead in Big, where in the early scenes he plays a pint-sized adolescent. (If you think this is easy, see how Martin Short handled it in Clifford.) He is at just that age when all of the girls in his class shoot up into Amazons, while the boys remain short and squeaky-voiced. At an amusement park, he is in line next to the girl of his dreams, and hopes to sit next to her on a thrill ride, but the ride operator won't let him on board because he's too short. Hank's face is a study in tragedy here; he portrays his humiliation so completely that it sets up the rest of the film, as his thirteen-year-old mind is magically transported into a thirty-year-old body...
I'm still rubbing my eyes. Does Ebert (even thinking back a few years) truly believe Hanks played a thirteen-year-old in a thirteen-year-old body in Big? As clearly stated in the credits, and even more obvious on screen, it was another actor. David Moscow, if you want the name.

6 Comments:

Blogger New England Guy said...

This is what happens when you let interns write the first drafts and then edit them

8:14 PM, April 08, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a maroon.

12:26 AM, April 09, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Roger, if you're wondering, he also didn't play the older version of himself in The Green Mile, the dog in Turner & Hooch, or Mona Lisa in The Da Vinci Code.

12:43 AM, April 09, 2007  
Anonymous Lynette said...

...nor the volleyball guy in Castaway.

Roger wears glasses. Perhaps, when he first saw Big, it was time to get his prescription updated.

12:11 PM, April 09, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Geez, talk about kicking a guy when he's down. Roger is in an awkward spot because the book's in print. I've discovered that if you nicely point out in an e-mail that a print review has a glaring factual error, he will acknowledge it and (promptly) fix it on his website. I suspect if this came to his attention, it would get fixed in the next printing.

6:20 PM, April 09, 2007  
Blogger LAGuy said...

This was in an essay published in 1994 and years later selected and reprinted for a book of his best work. Perhaps someone somewhere along the way should have caught it, but that moment is gone. (I might add the essays come with introductions by Ebert.)

I don't know Roger's philosophy--perhaps he believes in keeping his old mistakes. In any case, this is not a typo. It's not even a simple factual error, like a wrong title or date. This is a deep mistake, where Roger is teaching us how good an actor Tom Hanks is by discussing a role he doesn't play. He could cut it, or apologize for it, but he can't correct it.

I have pointed out Roger's mistakes before--he writes for publication and is fair game. (If anyone is fair game, it's a critic). I've also helped him out in the past, by the way, and received a thank you letter.

Anyway, don't worry. Roger is big enough and rich enough to handle this.

6:44 PM, April 09, 2007  

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