Simon: (Reading correspondence on Transformers: Dark of the Moon) "...big alien machines, big explosions, big army stuff, fast cars, and battles and that's-gonna-hurt scenes. Very very entertaining, better than the last effort by miles." And with that spirit of optimism, let's find out what Mark thinks.
Mark: Well it's horrible, vile, vulgar and hideous, but it's important to understand why.
The first hour is as boring as ever, even though they're doing the running and explaining with the less bad haircut. The little bit after that, snore-inducingly bad, but the last forty minutes are laugh-out-loud funny, and I guarantee you if Gerry Anderson had come up with that plot for Thunderbirds or Stingray, he would have torn the place up. The skydiving implications of it are so staggering. In a way, I want to tell you what happens at the end because the end is so funny.
—Kermode on Angels & Demons
Now, everyone will tell you it's a chick flick. Only in the sense that if you ground it up and fed it to battery hens, it might be better served than running it through a projector.
—Kermode on Bride Wars
Mark: It's a Russian-American co-production, and I have to say that on the basis of this I want the Cold War to start again now. I want missiles out, I want full-on aggression, because if this is what cooperation looks like, I'm not having any of it.
Simon: Maybe a little extreme.
Mark: No, sorry, you haven't seen the film.
—Kermode on Captivity
Derek Jacobi takes you on a televisual tour of places that Charles Dickens might have once sat down.
—Kermode on Charles Dickens's England
You know that rule about any film that's over two hours long, "your head goes with it but your bum gives up"? Well frankly, my bum gave up a long time before the two hours and by the time my bum gave up, my head had departed the building, my hair was reeling in horror from the shape of Tom Hanks' haircut, and my eyes were tired with looking at the darkness that was on screen thinking "TURN THE LIGHT ON!"
—Kermode on The Da Vinci Code
We were told it was the film the Vatican didn't want us to see, presumably because the Vatican wanted us to see good films.
—Kermode on The Devil Inside
I know [De Niro]'s got bills to pay and I know he's got projects that he wants to finance and I'm sure that he feels that he's earned his keep and it's not like he hasn't let us down before. But this isn't like being let down, this is really like somebody putting their chin forward and challenging you to still have any vestigial respect for them at all.
—Keromde on Dirty Grandpa
It reminded me somewhat of meeting somebody in a pub who you'd known at school and they were really great fun and you meet them in a pub twenty years later and you realise that actually they were really annoying and quite dull.
—Kermode on Dumb and Dumber To
In the middle of this there is a central thing which is 'I'm learning to love myself'. And I'm sitting there thinking, 'Yep, alright, go on'. What would have been really great is if at the end of the film what the person had learned was; you know what? (German accent) 'There is nothing but fear, desperation and murder'. Actually the last the last thing that should happen is she goes back to America, she goes back to Hollywood and Werner Herzog tells her that there is no God. The end.
— Kermode on Eat, Pray, Love
So, what you have is a comedy with no jokes. You have satire with no satire. Essentially, it's just like The Generation Game with a conveyor belt of lust, greed, avarice, vice just being wheeled in front of you and going, "There, that's great, isn't it?"
Compared to this, Sex and the City 2 is a call to arms for the dispossessed masses of the world to rise up. In terms of its gender politics, Human Centipede is more sensitive.
I would cross the road not to be on the same street as these people, but the movie wants to be with them. The movie is like some awful hanger-on that has found its way into some hideous celebrity party and can't believe it's there and doesn't want to annoy anyone.
—Kermode on Entourage
This is a film that trashes a work of art. It's like someone deciding to do a Mona Lisa 2, but with a moustache. Everyone involved in this, apart from Linda Blair, should be ashamed for all eternity.
Badly written, badly acted, badly directed, really sicky and horrible and nasty and does demonstrate that, probably, Christmas has been overtaken by Satan, and he and his minions are slowly planning an attack on all western culture and we are going to drop down into the bowels of Hades because of films like this.
—Kermode on Fred Claus
I know what you're thinking. "That movie's not that terrible." Go back and read the book.
—Kermode on How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
Here's the main problem. Any film that fills you with 'warm memories' of the early unwatchable shorts of Jörg Buttgereit is doing something very wrong indeed. Not only do I not want Human Centipede 2 on my DVD shelves, I don't want it in my house.
—Kermode, on The Human Centipede 2
Il est merde! Il est le plus grande merde dans le monde entier!
— Kermode on The Idiots, in the middle of a screening at Cannes. He got thrown out.
At the end, the usher was standing there waiting, and I walked out of the cinema on my own, and he looked at me and went, "All right?", and I went, "All right?", and we knew. We both knew what had happened in that cinema. NOTHING! NOTHING HAD HAPPENED AT ALL!
—Kermode on Jack and Jill
The problem is it's not going to do well with the mainstream audience because it's incomprehensible, boring, turgid, dull, plodding, really risible, awful, thrangy throng in the hiddly bang diddly bong bong script, the kind of stuff that makes George Lucas' opening screed at the beginning of Phantom Menace really sound like Shakespearean sonnets or Chaucerian verse or TS Elliot's The Waste Land.
—Kermode on John Carter
Shyamalan says he wrote it for his kids. No he didn't, he wrote it for himself. It's a piece of self-aggrandising hogwash that involves the actors saying things like "The Narf is coming out of the tree followed by the Scrunt, but the Iggledy-Pigglegy is hiding in the Biddly-Bong, and after a while the Eagle of Doom is going to - " and you're going "Shut up, shut up, shut up."
—Kermode on Lady in the Water
Is that the QE2 docking, or is that Pierce looking for a C?
To say the film wasn't funny was a staggering understatement, but much worse, it was something far creepier than "not funny". It was a film that actually made you begin to suspect that there'd been some conspiracy involved to get all these people in the movie. You kept looking at it and thinking, "What are they doing in this film?"
It's like, I'm sorry, did I miss a meeting? How did this happen? How did this become funny? At one point he gets his tie stuck in a vending machine - yeah, ok - and at another point he empties his dinner into somebody's handbag and I just think, I'm sorry, I just want you to be arrested by the gendarmes and savagely beaten up in custody.
—Kermode on Mr. Bean's Holiday
Mark: Nobody. Nobody. Nobody, Nobody, Nobody, Nobody, Nobody, Nobody will enjoy New Years Eve. Nobody.
Simon: They will.
Mark: No they won't. No they won't. Genuinely won't. Even people who love this sort of nonsense will feel ill. It's a movie so bad, even stupid people will hate it.
Mark: Even the might of Zac Efron starts to be crushed under the horrible tidal wave of vomitous pulchritudinous filth.
Simon: Vomitous? Excellent.
Mark: Honestly. It is like — it is like something you that you would sick up after having eaten all the nasty consumerist porn of Christmas. This is like the vomit furball at the end of it. But the best thing is, no one will like it. People will pay to see it, people will pay to see it, it will be in the whatever-it-is, but no one will like it. No one in the world.
—Kermode on New Year's Eve
It is a movie in which Michael Bay makes his little arthouse movie to show us his soul and we look into his soul and we find ourselves looking into a void-like abyss of blackness the depth and enormity of which it is impossible to comprehend. Werner Herzog could look at Pain & Gain and I think he'd actually be scared.
—Kermode on Pain and Gain
The second one was kind of worse because it was longer and it was a holding pattern, because it went on for like 150 minutes and nothing happened, I mean a bunch of stuff happened but nothing actually happened, just a bunch of stuff happened.
—Kermode on Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
Now Keira Knightley's acting has always been wooden, but here it is like a petrified forest of woodenness. I mean you really feel like you could build a very nice piece of IKEA furniture out of her performance, it's that bad. And when she and Orloondo Bland are on screen it's like watching two chairs mating.
There is a moment towards the end of this film in which it is contrived that Keira Knghtley can get married to Orlando Bloom, but she can only see him for one day in every ten years. I'm sorry, if somebody made me that offer, I'd take it right now. If I only have to see him one day every ten years, sign me up, because I don't think I can stand another moment of sitting there in the cinema, watching this dribblesome bore waltz around like somebody out of a Milk Tray advert.
And really, if you pay money to go and see Pirates of the Caribbean, it's your own fault, and you're bringing down the collapse of Western civilisation.
—Kermode on Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
Almost the worst criticism of the film is the product placement didn't bother me because I wasn't involved enough in the film to be bothered by the product placement taking me out of the fantasy of the film. And when the adverts don't interrupt the programme, you know the programme isn't up to snuff.
—Kermode on Quantum of Solace
If I was a GP and someone walked into my surgery and pitched Revolver, I would reach for the medicine cabinet. I would immediately prescribe electro-shock therapy and leeches, I would have men in white coats take them away, I would take away their shoes - I mean, it is the work of a very, very mad imagination.
It is like your worst nightmare happening on screen, so badly that you actually think, "I feel sorry for Guy Ritchie, because I can wake up tomorrow and think 'I didn't make that film', but he has to wake up tomorrow morning and think 'I made Revolver'."
It is a film that has the mentality of a fourth former who has just finished reading the back page of the NME, and has decided that, in fact, psychology is the future, and has gone away and written a film script, but rather than everyone doing what they should do, which is say "I'm sorry, come back when you are thirty years older and can actually string a sentence together," someone's put it together!
Ray Liotta stands there in leopard skin underpants blathering this drivel, and you think, "Ray, you've done some funny things in your career but, really, what have they got on you that you had to be in this?"
—Kermode on Revolver
A man mutates into Father Christmas. Yes, it's Miracle on 34th Street meets The Fly. With Tim Allen.
—Kermode on The Santa Clause
Watching Santa Clause 3 is like the abyss looking back into you and sucking your life force out through your ears.
—Kermode on The Santa Clause 3
It is consumerist pornography. It is an orgy of dripping wealth that made me want to be sick.
— Kermode on Sex And The City 2
It is the most boring, ploddingly put together, infantile, crass, adolescent, stupid, chauvinistic twaddle that I have sat through in a very very long time. The screaming awful noise of this thing, it's so boring! It's astonishing that you could take this many potentially incendiary elements and make something that crushingly dull.
—Kermode on Sucker Punch
I guarantee [Christian Bale] knows, not only that the film is rubbish, but that he is absolutely rubbish in it. [...] Around the explosions and all the rest of it, I can see that look of absolute panic when someone realises they're doing something that they really shouldn't be doing.
The very worst thing about it, of course, is it is like, and if such a thing is imaginable, McG is like Michael Bay's untalented cousin, and this is like a bad version of Transformers, and bearing in mind what I thought about Tranformers, that is just about as bad as you can get. [...] In the wake of something like that, just thank heavens for people like Ken Loach who actually want to make films, rather than just, you know, make stuff, on screen.
—Kermode on Terminator Salvation
It's like The Hangover, or it's like a hangover, but without the fun bit of getting drunk before you have the hangover.
—Kermode on Unfinished Business
There's a central gag about "Ooh, we all hate Valentine's Day", and I think "I hate this movie", it's like getting a greeting card full of vomit. "Here's your Valentine card, it's a bag of sick."
—Kermode on Valentine's Day
Now, I just want to say something that's really obvious. You know Four Weddings and a Funeral? You know, "American person, English person, weddings, funeral". You know, the thing that made that film good wasn't "American person, English person, weddings, funeral". It was a script. It was a script written by Richard Curtis who knows how do funny, who knows how to do comedy, who knows how to do sexy and sassy and interesting and satirical and wry. Not a script written by somebody who sat down and watched every successful hit rom-com of the last ten years and said, "I'll have one of them, please." I mean it is a shotgun wedding in that you will want to shoot yourself halfway through it.
Custodial sentences for everyone involved. All negatives removed from the cinemas and buried in a very deep hole in the ground. Laws passed to stop it happening again. That's my election promise.
—Kermode on The Wedding Date
Nicholas cage, with the best will in the world, is not Edward Woodward. One of the reasons the first Wicker Man is so good is that Edward Woodward's performance is extraordinary. He gives a really great performance as an uptight, puritanical policeman who suddenly comes face-to-face with this religion that he cannot deal with at all, and you really believe in his character, and when the awful denouement is revealed, the ghastliness of it all is completely filtered through Edward Woodward's reactions. With the best will in the world, the horse-faced Nicolas Cage going "Oh no!" is just Nicolas Cage going "Oh no!"
I do think he is the Angel of Destruction sent to destroy cinema with his flaming sword of corpulent rubbish. I do think that what he's doing is laying waste to cinema by reducing everything to, not so much the lowest common denominator, as the loudest common denominator.
—Kermode on the works of Michael Bay
Here are three absolute truths:
1. The world is round.
2. We are all going to die.
3. No-one enjoyed Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End.
Oh, I know loads of people paid to see POTC3 (as I believe it is known in the industry), and some of them may claim to have enjoyed it. But they didn't. Not really. They just think they did. As a film critic, an important part of my job is explaining to people why they haven't actually enjoyed a movie even if they think they have.
— Kermode, The Good, the Bad and the Multiplex, Chapter two.
First up, the big problem with Titanic is that it isn't A Night to Remember. Whereas the latter is essentially a film about Englishness in crisis (and is therefore interesting), the former is a film about Hollywood in hysterics (and is therefore annoying). In A Night to Remember, the band played on. In Titanic, CÚline Dion sang.
— Kermode, The Good, the Bad and the Multiplex, Chapter two.
The best joke I ever heard about the Saw series was from a listener to my Radio 5 Live film review show who had gone to a 7 p.m. multiplex screening of the fifth installment [...] and had taken great delight in being able to to stride up to the ticket office and demand: "One to see Saw Five in Six at Seven." This began a long-running theme that found listeners seemingly planning their entire evening's entertainment on the basis of a numerical pun such as "One to 3-D Thor in Five at Six", which I found ludicrously entertaining.
— Kermode, The Good, the Bad and the Multiplex, Chapter four.
All you really need to know about the Oscars is that they're the awards that didn't give a Best Picture Gong to Citizen Kane, but did give one to Driving Miss Daisy. Just think about that for a moment, and try to imagine a world in which Driving Miss Daisy really was the best film you were going to see all year. Be honest. You'd throw yourself off a bridge, wouldn't you? Or, at the very least, you'd give up going to the cinema and instead develop an interest in violent video games. In fact, when it first opened in the US in December 1989, not only was it not the best film of the year, it wasn't even the best Morgan Freeman film of the week.
—Kermode, The Good, the Bad and the Multiplex, Chapter five.
[On the popularity of British movies about royalty with American audiences and Oscar voters:]
In the nineties, Her Majesty, Mrs Brown took around $10 million in US theatres and became an Oscar contender by telling the heart-warming story of a frosty queen who overcomes crippling bereavement by befriending and taking the advice of a beardy "gillie" whom no one else likes; in the noughties, The Queen took $56 million in US theatres and became an Oscar-winning hit by telling the heart-warming story of a frosty queen who overcomes crippling unpopularity (as a result of her apparent inability to display bereavement) by taking the advice of an upstart politician whom no one else trusts; and in 2010, The King's Speech took $138 million in US theatres and became an Oscar sensation after telling the heart-warming story of a frosty king who overcomes a crippling speech impediment by befriending and taking the advice of an upstart speech therapist of whom no one else has heard... from the colonies!
—Kermode, The Good, the Bad and the Multiplex, Chapter five.