It’s a total 10.” ”Sidesplitting.” ”The best romance in years.” No movie ad would be complete without a surfeit of superlatives, called blurbs, from the country’s leading critics. You know: Roger Ebert, Gene Siskel, Jeff Craig.
That’s right, Jeff Craig of Sixty Second Preview. Today, when it comes to heaping praise on movies — especially iffy ones — you don’t need to be famous to have your words immortalized in newspaper ads. Though the movie companies won’t comment on this practice, they seek and receive favorable reviews from wherever they can. These days lesser-known reviewers are gaining reputations for the art of ”hyblurbole” — blurb + hyperbole — and here’s who they are:
Jeff Craig, 36, critic for radio’s syndicated Preview, doesn’t write all the one-minute reviews that air on 150 stations. But since he reads them all, it’s his name that appears in print. Which is why he can’t be held accountable for all the raves, like one that said the ephemeral Drop Dead Fred was ”Harvey meets Beetlejuice. A trippy comedy!”
Susan Granger, who won’t give her age, does a daily entertainment report on Connecticut’s WICC radio. Though the credit American Movie Classics usually appears after her name (with permission), the cable show she once hosted hasn’t appeared on AMC for more than a year. One of her more unbridled predictions this season: Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead ”could become the hip sleeper hit of the summer.”
Jim Whaley, 35, host of the syndicated Cinema Showcase (shown on some 100 public-TV stations nationwide) considers himself ”an interviewer rather than a film critic.” But that doesn’t stop movie companies from lifting his chat as review copy. He was doing a series of interviews, not playing critic, when he opined, ”Mobsters joins The Godfather and GoodFellas as one of the greatest gangster films ever made.”
Patrick Stoner, 44, host of two short TV shows, Flicks and Quick Pics (syndicated on 140 public stations), said recently of Dutch: ”It’s like Home Alone with Bart Simpson.” Yes, Stoner said it, but he doesn’t want to be judged by his blurbs. Since reviewers ”don’t control” what’s printed, and since their words usually ”appear outside the context of our work,” says Stoner, ”it seems like anybody would have trouble taking us seriously over our quotes.”