By anon guest blogger
Some people believe that a review does little to hinder one’s desire to see the film or read the book. It’s a solid argument: a glowing review shouldn’t deter you from settling into your mega seat and kicking back with your mega popcorn. A poor write-up, meanwhile, might even serve to pique your interest: is it really that bad? Then there’s the product itself. If you’re a Tarantino fan and his new flick gets panned, you’re still gonna have to see that shit.
There’s a tendency to think of critics as a negative, hard-to-impress bunch that are out of step with public opinion. Reviews can be useful though. Hell, reviews can even be works of art in their own right. Bad reviews; lukewarm reviews; rave reviews; fanboy reviews; libellous reviews that get pulled by the lawyers. Invariably, the reviews that linger in memory are the ones where the writer has an axe to grind. Not content with disliking the product, they’ve taken exception to the assignment even landing on their desk in the first place. They are insulted that their time has been wasted on such drivel and are determined to ensure that no one else undergoes a similar fate. They consult the thesaurus and mine for synonyms of ‘lousy’ in an attempt to encapsulate the atrocity they have just witnessed. And sometimes they find that word.
Butthurt and bad feels
Negative reviews can inspire a world of butthurt – as we’ve seen recently – but even when no offence is taken, some negative reviews deserve to be enshrined for all time. In a just world, the best worst reviews would achieve perpetual viral momentum, remaining lodged in public consciousness as a warning to artists hell-bent on disseminating twaddle that We Will Not Countenance Your Bullshit. Some reviews, like the ones shortlisted below, get inside the product itself and, like a well-planted strip of C4, blow the entire phoney affair to smithereens. Angry reviewers, we salute you.
Neil Kulkarni reviews Streets In The Sky for The Quietus
Kulkarni’s review of The Enemy’s Streets In The Sky album is memorable for many reasons. First, it’s hella long. It doesn’t read like a review so much as a dossier revealing why The Enemy deserve to be tarred and feathered in a public square and their bodies tossed on a refuse tip to be shat on by seagulls for eternity. You get the impression it hasn’t been written but snarled, dictated by a Kulkarni who is foaming at the mouth like a rabid music press mongrel. Streets In The Sky is condemned as a “document that seals the horror of the age”, The Enemy’s music as “interminable pap”.
Kulkarni describes how a billboard of The Enemy’s frontman, unwisely installed on a ring-road in Coventry, was once bedaubed with a “massive spunk-spurting cock”, in a move “that’s provided a genuinely warm-fuzzy feel of civic pride every time I’ve driven past it since.” Yep, he doesn’t hold back, old Kulkarni. The songs are “so laughably under-developed, half-arsed and unconvincing it almost makes you pity the little pricks,” he opines, before stating “The Enemy aren’t actually making music anymore, if they ever did – they’re arranging sounds in ways to make money from people who have bought previous arrangements of sound they’ve been responsible for.” The piece inspired intense debate in the comments section – a zone that is often as entertaining as the review. The last line goes to Kulkarni though: “Avoid all media that might accidentally send this sonic turd up the u-bend of your day…rot in bargain bins forever you twats.” Ouch.
Peter Bradshaw reviews After Earth for The Guardian
There’s no getting around it: After Earth was a turkey. To say its failure at the box office was down to Peter Bradshaw’s review might be gilding the lily – the trailer did a sterling job on its own of repelling interest – but there’s no getting around it: if you stumbled across this review, the chances of then paying money to see the film were slim to anorexic. Director M. Night Shyamalan is the first to get it in the neck: “He has given us another film for which the only appropriate expression is stammering, gibbering wonder that anyone can keep making such uncompromisingly terrible movies with such stamina and dedication.”
After Earth features “a triple-whammy of abysmal acting, directing and story”, with Will Smith said to have played his role with “baffling dullness and solemnity.” Jaden Smith, the apple of Will’s eye, plays his part “with a face like a smacked bum.” If Kulkarni wrote a saga, Bradshaw penned a stinging riposte, a broadside that concludes, “[Jaden’s character] must be like his dad: show no fear. Or any emotion. Or any acting talent of any sort.” Genius.
Taylor Parkes reviews Lovejoy On Football for When Saturday Comes
Tim Lovejoy is considered a ledge by a legion of football fans, but for pretty much everyone else he’s a ginormous bell-end. That’s the premise of Taylor Parkes’ cutting review of Lovejoy’s “smugly-written” book of football tales. The best thing about this review is the picture we get of Parkes’ contempt – a simmering, instinctive dislike that
burns and broils into an all-encompassing hatred. Parkes remembers Soccer AM: “a bad memory: hungover mornings in other people’s flats, disturbed by a crew of whooping simpletons…Tim Lovejoy, with his fashionably receding hair, I remember only as an averagely blokey TV presenter…one of the few averagely blokey TV presenters to make me clack my tongue in irritation.” It would be fair to say this book review isn’t going to shift copies.
“Chopped into chapters that barely fill a page, in a font size usually associated with books for the partially sighted, it’s part autobiography, part witless musing, and one more triumph for the crass stupidity rapidly replacing culture in this country.” The bile continues, a juggernaut that refuses to let up. “Smirkingly unfunny”, “nauseatingly self-assured”, “it’s a £300 T-shirt, a piss-you-off ringtone, a YouTube clip of someone drinking their mate’s vomit. Its smugness is a corollary of its vacuity. I hope it makes you sick.” It’s easily one of the harshest reviews you’ll encounter, but each gripe is summed up with such winsome wordplay that one can’t help but nod in agreement, particularly if you’ve ever endured said bell-end, or in Parkes’ words the “bland, blond ringmaster in a cocky circus of crap.”
Anthony Quinn reviews Only God Forgives for The Independent
It’s rare for a film trailer to provoke annoyance. With the amount of studio cash that gets ploughed into producing a trailer – a heavily-edited snippet designed to shock, stun and excite the audience, embedding a seed coded with the message “I must see this” – they should have a 100% success rate. So what was it about the trailer for Only God Forgives that made me want to kill myself? That’s a topic for another day, but Anthony Quinn’s review in The Independent went some way towards explaining my revulsion. Ryan Gosling is rightly savaged – “Gosling has apparently decided that being a star means you don’t have to act anymore, you can just stand there looking moody” – and the film plays out with “lead-boots heaviness”, affording you time to catch up with more pressing matters: “I thought about what books I’d pack for my holiday, but you could also plan out those emails, tweets and epic poems you’ve been meaning to write.”
If the style-over-substance trailer didn’t abort any interest you might have had in this, Quinn’s biting assertions probably will. Only God Forgives “moves so ponderously you fear it might snail to a standstill…proceeding at its pace apparently under the illusion that it’s got Major Themes to peddle.” You gotta love it. Quinn deconstructs the entire film with a sweeping enfilade of word-fire, mercilessly burying this abomination forever – or until the DVD release, at least. “Strip away the noirish lighting and the high-end production design and you have a boring revenge melodrama without character development, emotional impact or moral nuance.” Bosh!
Whoever said that scathing criticism is wrong? Whoever said negativity doesn’t have a place? When bad reviews are this good, they deserve to be read again and again.
Moar Best Worst Reviews
- Lindy West reviews Sex and the City 2. “If this is what modern womanhood means, then just fucking veil me and sew up all my holes.”
- Ed Uncovered reviews Cav nightclub. “If you don’t come home with fingers smelling of Scampi Nik-Naks, you’re clearly a double amputee.”
- John Crace reviews IT by Alexa Chung.
- Spotlites Fail Hard: The Butthurt Express Claims Another Victim. What happens when a bad review is received badly.