"That's next week, and until then, the balcony is closed."
Siskel & Ebert and the Movies (usually just called Siskel & Ebert) was a syndicated American television series that ran from 1986 to 1999, spun off from a couple of earlier shows on PBS: "Sneak Previews" (1975 to 1982) and "At the Movies" (1982 to 1986), both of which utilized a similar format of two critics, Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune and Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times, discussing and debating the week's new films. Roughly four or five films were critiqued per episode. It usually ended with a special segment like "Video/Laserdisc Pick of the Week/Month", an interview with a celebrity or director, or a short-lived segment where viewers wrote in to provide a second opinion or correct S&E about something.Occasionally, they would devote an entire episode to one issue in film: Their stance against colorization, against fullscreen cropping of widescreen films (and vice versa when it came to older Disney animated films), trends they noticed in film (such as directors influenced by Quentin Tarantino) and spotlights on whom they considered rising stars or directors. They even spent an entire episode analyzing who had the better filmography: Woody Allen or Mel Brooks? Most notable, however, were the annual "Memo to the Academy" (where Siskel and Ebert recommend what they think should be nominated for Oscars) and the "Best of" and "Worst of" the year lists, the latter of which were quite entertaining as they got to trash the bad films one last time.Siskel and Ebert's claim to fame was their method of reviewing movies, ultimately boiling down to a simple thumbs up or down. There was no middle ground, so it was interesting seeing them rationalize choosing either one or the other. And of course, when you have two major film critics together, disagreements could occur. And the debates were some of the most fun moments in the show. Heck, sometimes the two would bicker on some small detail even if they both agreed on the film's merit!Unfortunately, in early 1998, Gene Siskel was absent for a few weeks due to getting surgery for a brain tumor. Despite this, he was still able to phone in his reviews (literally!) and debate with Roger via a split screen and a still image of his face on one side. When Siskel returned, he was noticeably less animated and expressive, talking slower, and seemed to debate with Roger less. Nevertheless, he stuck with the show until early 1999 when he went back into surgery and, sadly, never came out. Gene Siskel died on February 20, 1999, and while the show continued under a few different banners and with different critics ("Roger Ebert and the Movies", "Ebert and Roeper", "At the Movies"), the Siskel and Ebert show was finished. Roger Ebert devoted an entire episode to Gene Siskel following his death, and it's clear that even though the two frequently disagreed, they didn't hate each other.Ebert continued the show, first as Roger Ebert and the Movies with guest cohosts, and then as At the Movies with Ebert and Roeper with the addition of his Sun-Times colleague Richard Roeper. Ebert stopped appearing on the show in 2006 because he lost the ability to speak due to his cancer and Roeper continued with guests until the two were removed from the show by their distributor in 2008. They were replaced by Ben Lyons (son of film critic Jeffery Lyons) and film critic and Turner Classic Movies presenter Ben Mankiewicz in a move to skew to younger audience. While most of the old fanbase of the show had no problem with Ben Mankiewicz, almost all of them (and Ebert himself) took issue with Ben Lyons' skill, ethics and taste. The two Bens were fired from the show a little over a year later. The critics were replaced one final time with A.O. Scott and Michael Phillips, choices Ebert expressed satisfaction with despite no longer having anything to do with the show. However, these two hosts only lasted from August 2009 to March 2010, when the distributor simply pulled the plug on the show, ending Siskel and Ebert's TV legacy for good.… Or so we thought. Later in 2010, Ebert announced he had purchased the rights to the show and had taken it back to PBS. His new Ebert Presents: At the Movies began airing in January 2011, with Ignaty Vishnevetsky of Mubi and Christy Lemire of the Associated Press as the new critics. Ebert himself made appearances on the show, with Bill Curtis narrating special versions of some of his recent written reviews. The show was a ratings success, but due to funding problems it went on hiatus at the end of 2011, and following Ebert's death from cancer on April 4, 2013, it is unlikely to return.
This show provides examples of:
Accentuate the Negative: Averted. Siskel and Ebert love to give positive reviews, it's just that the films aren't always up to snuff. In fact, there have been a few episodes where they've given two thumbs up to every film.
To paraphrase Gene on one talk show, "I would rather watch Hannah And Her Sisters every day for the rest of my life than a bad movie ever again", essentially to counter the point that critics love to see movies for an opportunity to nitpick and criticize (as he had adored Allen's film).
Ebert accused Siskel of giving praise to Jim Carrey grudgingly when they reviewed The Mask:
Siskel: I don't give praise grudgingly. (…) That's a rough characterization, because think about it: That means I don't like to like something. I'm not like that.
Siskel:Thank you. Not the guy you think you're sitting with, apparently.
Ad Hominem: Some of their arguments came dangerously close to this.
Ambiguous Syntax: From their Telling Lies in America review, Siskel gave it a marginal thumbs down. Ebert argued, "Gimme Bacon. Come on, gimme Bacon." Siskel chuckled and remarked that he wasn't sure at first what he meant by that. Understandably, it sounded like Ebert was asking for some bacon to eat.
The Announcer: The series had a Cold Open announcer for many years, but around 1996, Siskel and Ebert began introducing the shows themselves.
Bad Mood as an Excuse: Occasionally, if there's a sharp disagreement on a film, the one who gave thumbs up will accuse the one who gave thumbs down of being in a bad mood the day they saw the movie, and letting that cloud their judgment.
In their review of the 1995 French comedy French Twist, Ebert was appalled that the French chose this film as their submission to the Academy Awards, when they could've nominated Les Misérables (1995) instead. He wanted to get the voting crew to look him in the eye to say that French Twist was a better film and was convinced they wouldn't be able to do it, since he thought the voting was fixed and corrupt.
Ebert: In one scene, his twenty-year-old daughter brings home a sixty-six-year-old man that she wants to marry. Cosby is appalled; this guy is robbing the cradle! What does he do? He calls for a sandwich and a Coke. And then he holds the Coke bottle prominently next to his face for the rest of the scene. First it says "Coca-Cola", and then the next shot, it says "Coke", in case you missed the point. Who released this movie? Columbia. Who owns Columbia? Coca-Cola! What is Coca-Cola doing with this movie? They have a lot of products in this movie, Gene, that you can get a tie-in where you can get the product in connection with buying a ticket for the movie. I think that that is an all-time low: Bill Cosby, the richest man in show business, $67.5 million income last year, reduced to holding a Coca-Cola bottle next to his face in order to get a picture made at Columbia. He ought to be ashamed of himself.
You would be well-advised not to insinuate that Siskel was wrong simply because he held a different opinion than the majority, as we saw in their review of Outbreak when Ebert said Siskel was probably the only one who thought Dustin Hoffman looked ridiculous in the lab coat.
Siskel: Hey, what am I supposed to do? Give a review of what you think of the movie?! I give a review of what I think!
Ebert: Yeah, real great. Jason, you can't see him, you can't hear him, he hardly even breathes, he's the latest word in leading men from the geniuses at Paramount Pictures. You get the idea. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter is ninety minutes of teenagers being strangled, stabbed, impaled, chopped up, and mutilated. That's all this movie is, is just mindless bloody violence. And just think of the message this film offers to its teenage audience: The world is a totally evil place, this movie says. It'll kill ya, it doesn't matter what your dreams and hopes and ambitions are, it doesn't matter if you have a new boyfriend or a new girlfriend, or you've got plans for the future. You can forget all those plans, because you're gonna wind up dead. There is literally nothing else in this movie, and the sickest thing is, this isn't the final chapter. That's just an advertising gimmick. The ending clearly sets up a sequel, and what I wanna know is: I wonder if they're gonna be heartless and cynical enough to make a sequel, because why not? They've already taken the bucket to the cesspool four times for this sludge. I think the people that made this movie ought to be ashamed of themselves, and that's what I think, Gene.
Both Gene and Roger had it in for the Academy Awards Documentary committee and their opaque at best and corrupt at worst method of selecting the nominees for Best Documentary feature. It seemed just about every year there would be an exclusion that would piss Gene and Roger off, most notably Hoop Dreams in 1994, but also The Thin Blue Line in 1988 and Roger and Me in 1989.
In a year-in-review special, Ebert reflected that North was so astoundingly bad that something just came over him and moved him to (infamously) use the word "hated" no fewer than eight times in his print review.
Siskel: I liked Connery, and everyone else has been nothing compared to him.
Blind Without 'Em: In their review of the live action Mr. Magoo, Ebert readily admits that he's as nearsighted as they come, but was never offended by Mr. Magoo, and certainly didn't think the disclaimer at the end of the film (which defended nearsighted and blind people) was necessary.
Siskel: You know, Roger, I have never looked at the camera and talked to an actor; I'm gonna break this tradition right now. I know, Stallone, you probably hate my guts, you think I hate you. I don't hate you; I like your talent, I want you to use it. This isn't what you were put on Earth for. You can do this in your sleep, and sometimes it looks like exactly what you're doing.
When reviewing French Twist, Siskel also broke the fourth wall when he addressed the country of France by talking into the camera:
Siskel: You know, the French film industry is saying how "we need protection for our own kind, America is dwarfing us", (looks at camera) so look what you send out to America, here's what you endorse into America. I mean, it's absurd.
When Ebert and Roeper reviewed Garfield 2: A Tale of Two Kitties, Ebert directly addressed any kids who might be watching the show, ignoring Roeper (who was laughing incredulously that he was giving it thumbs up).
In their review of Broken Arrow (1996), the movie where Siskel initially voted thumbs up but changed his vote after hearing Ebert's criticism, Siskel tried to get Ebert to vote thumbs down to Cop and a Half, which they had reviewed three years prior and which Ebert liked. Ebert refused to change his vote.
There was a double callback in the Larger Than Life review: Siskel gave it a marginal thumbs up and Ebert accused him of being too soft, recalling a prior episode when Siskel argued that Ebert should've been tougher in their review of Sleepers (1996) (Ebert gave it a marginal thumbs up). Ebert then went on to say that he felt Larger Than Life would've been stronger if they had stuck with the motivational speaker satire and the elephant wasn't part of the story at all. Siskel sarcastically retorted that Ebert should review the movie that was made, not his rewrite. Ebert had accused Siskel of doing the same thing when they reviewed Bogus a few episodes prior. Siskel argued that they're obviously reviewing the movie that was made if they're coming up with alternatives of how the movie could've been better.
Catch Phrase: Aside from the quote at the top, there's "Two thumbs up, way up" or "Two thumbs down, way down", in both extreme cases. Each episode also opened with either Siskel or Ebert saying some variant of, "(movie title) is one of (four/five) new movies we'll be reviewing this week on Siskel and Ebert. I'm (Gene Siskel/Roger Ebert) of the (Chicago Tribune/Chicago Sun-Times)…", followed by the other saying their name and paper. The latter would then introduce the first film.
Caustic Critic: Usually their reviews are fairly levelheaded, but occasionally a really bad film comes along that will cause one or both to rip it to shreds, such as North.
Christmas Episode: For a while, Siskel and Ebert did an annual "Holiday Gift Guide" episode.
Circular Reasoning: Demonstrated in their review of Back to the Future Part III. Siskel liked the film, while Ebert gave it a marginal thumbs down, since he felt the western tropes were old hat. Ebert argued that Siskel would feel differently if the film was only a western and not a Back to the Future movie, while Siskel argued that it wasn't just a western (which is true, as the film played with a lot of those tropes). Repeat this back-and-forth a couple times.
Cold Open: Every episode began with an announcer telling a few of the movies Siskel and Ebert would be reviewing.
In the special episode "The Movie That Made Us Critics", Siskel told a story about how one of his first professional reviews was for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. He thought there were some cute moments but overall found it underwhelming and gave it a negative review. A fellow employee came across his review before it was published and was shocked that he'd give a bad review to a Paul Newman movie. Conflicted, Siskel went back to see the movie a second time and didn't like it any more than he did the first time (and actually, liked it less because he saw everything coming). That was an early lesson he learned as a critic: Hold your own opinions, no matter what the general consensus is.
Alluded to in their review of Outbreak when Ebert said that Siskel was probably the only one who thought Dustin Hoffman looked ridiculous in his lab coat (Siskel thought he looked like Benjamin Braddock in it).
On the complete OPPOSITE end of the spectrum, Gene and Roger were the only major critics in America to enjoy Speed 2: Cruise Control, which was otherwise regarded then (and still is now) as one of the worst films of all time by both critics and audiences, to the point that Sandra Bullock considers it an Old Shame. Roger would go on to write that it "inspired more disbelief" than any positive review he'd ever written.
Damned by Faint Praise: Occasionally occurs if a movie is really awful. In their brief review of The Hot Chick, Roeper listed the positives of the movie: It was in color, and was mostly in focus.
Frequently, after finishing a review and moving onto the next one, Siskel or Ebert would say: "Next movie, and our next movie is ______."
In Ebert and Roeper's review of She Hate Me, Ebert describes the film as tackling "office politics, sexual politics, and politics politics."
Disappointed In You: Siskel gave a positive review to Baby's Day Out, and Ebert replied by saying he hated the movie more than anything they'd ever reviewed on the show and said he was disappointed in Siskel and should be ashamed of himself.
Siskel: Of what? Not agreeing with you? I've always been proud of that.
Distracted by the Sexy: Ebert seemed more vulnerable to this, sometimes giving mediocre movies a pass if they had a particularly attractive woman in it, but Siskel wasn't above it, either … one of his major criticisms of Showgirls was that Elizabeth Berkley didn't look sexy enough.
Less so with Roger's death. Despite finally losing to his battle with cancer at the (in modern times) relatively early age of 70, it was established that he'd long made peace with death, and even wrote a piece just before his passing that essentially serves as a heartwarming goodbye to the world. He died with his family in close proximity, with his wife Chaz even commenting that he'd seemed happy, too.
Early Installment Weirdness: Nothing major, as the show stayed roughly the same since it began in 1986, but in 1992, the show's backdrop switched from a yellow-ish hue to a blue one. Also, in the early shows, Ebert had thicker glasses and bushier hair.
8.8: Invoked. Certain films received thumbs down from one or both, despite getting rave reviews from many others. Examples:
Ebert gave Die Hard a thumbs down. It holds a 94% on Rotten Tomatoes. He thought there were too many plot holes and hated the belligerent authority figures. (However, it should be noted that at some point, he seemed to come around on the film, as he liked Die Hard with a Vengeance and claimed he liked the third movie about as much as the first one.)
Siskel gave GoldenEye a thumbs down. It holds an 80% on Rotten Tomatoes and is regarded by some to be the best of the Pierce Brosnan Bond films and a return to form for the series. Siskel thought it was a routine story, thought the only good action scene was in the first five minutes, and thought Brosnan was a mediocre Bond ("Frankly, Roger Moore has a more commanding screen presence than this guy.")
While he didn't exactly hate it, Ebert gave a marginal thumbs down to Full Metal Jacket, claiming it wasn't on par with Stanley Kubrick's earlier work and finding the second half of the film a letdown. The film has a 97% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
While it doesn't have a high Rotten Tomatoes score, they gave the original Home Alone, which was a box office smash, two thumbs down. They didn't care for the comic violence and didn't think it was an accurate portrayal of a kid being left alone. Interestingly, while the two never changed their vote on the show, months later they took a second look at the film to examine why they thought audiences loved it. And in their review of Home Alone 3, Siskel was stunned that Ebert liked it more than the original film, and readily admitted that Macaulay Culkin was a better actor than Alex D. Linz.
Ebert gave A Few Good Men thumbs down, claiming it had no surprises and had a sloppy ending. It has an 84% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Independence Day was given two thumbs down; while it wasn't a resounding critical success, it was a big hit at the box office. They even re-reviewed the film after it became a success, and still disliked it, citing unmemorable characters, clichéd dialogue, and generic-looking aliens.
Siskel disliked Mulan, which has an 86% on Rotten Tomatoes. He thought the artwork was dull, there didn't seem to be a sense of jeopardy regarding the main character, and couldn't remember any of the songs.
Ebert disliked the 1989 Batman, which was and is held in high regard (though it registers only 70% on the Tomatometer). He liked the set design but didn't care about any of the characters and thought the film had a meanness to it, although he has mentioned multiple times since that Jack Nicholson's Joker is among the best comic-book film villains ever.
Siskel didn't like Ferris Bueller's Day Off, which has an 84% on Rotten Tomatoes. He thought all the scenes were done better in other movies.
Both Siskel and Ebert revealed on a special episode ("The Movie That Made Us Critics") that they felt Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid was overrated. Ebert went so far as to claim that the film was a turkey.
While he gave it a marginal thumbs up, Siskel wasn't all that impressed by Boogie Nights, which has a 92% on Rotten Tomatoes. He felt that the film didn't give much new insight about the porn industry and felt the film had no point.
Roeper gave a marginal thumbs down to The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, which has a 92% on Rotten Tomatoes; he felt it had too many characters to care about, thought the film was too long and repetitive, and was turned off by the non-ending. It should be noted, however, that he gave the other two movies thumbs up and seemed to come around on the first film when viewed in the context of a full journey, not a standalone movie.
The reverse of this trope occurs at times as well; Siskel enjoyed Carnosaur for its villain and goofy plot. It holds an 11% on Rotten Tomatoes. Home Alone 3 was also the only one of the Home Alone films that Ebert enjoyed; it has a 27% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Probably the most standout reverse example would be their two thumbs up to Speed 2: Cruise Control, a movie considered by virtually everyone else to be one of the worst sequels of all time.note Specifically, Siskel and Ebert are the two critics responsible for giving it its 3% RT score.
Mortal Kombat, which was almost universally panned critically, came oh-so-close to getting a "two thumbs up": Siskel gave it a "thumbs up" while Ebert went a "thumbs in the middle" thumbs-down, although he cited that his major issue (the film's lighting was too dark) may had been the theater's fault.
Perhaps the most legendary of them all, both Siskel and Ebert gave Blade Runner two thumbs down when it was first releasednote Unfortunately for Ebert, he never saw the theatrical version - he watched a pan-and-scan tape sent to him from the studio, a movie widely regarded as a Science Fiction classic today and one of the most important films in the genre.note As a side note, Ebert eventually gave the 1992 Director's Cut a thumbs-up and an entry into his Great Movies collection, specially noting that seeing the film in letterbox made almost all the difference. The opening shot of LA, for example, was no longer a "postcard" but more breathtaking.
Enforced Plug: When the Internet began to take off, Siskel and Ebert naturally got their own website, which led to one of the two plugging it at the end of every episode. Unfortunately, this meant they had no time to get a little more debating in, which was the highlight of the 1986-1995 shows.
Ebert: The problem is, that film portrays some French people as Nazi sympathizers, while this film merely portrays them as idiots. I guess it's clear what choice they prefer.
Finger Wag: Films that were Not Screened for Critics got the Wagging Finger of Shame. This rating was short-lived, however; it only lasted a year before Ebert abandoned it, claiming that it wasn't really stopping studios from withholding their movies from critics.
Flashback Effects: In Ebert and Roeper's review of Scooby-Doo 2, Ebert recalled his review of the first film, and the picture dissolves to his and Roeper's earlier review. The same occurred when they reviewed Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties.
Guest Host: Tom Shales filled in for Gene Siskel when he went in for brain surgery in 1999. After Siskel died, Ebert tried numerous other guest hosts in 1999 until finally deciding on Richard Roeper in 2000 as permanent replacement co-host.
Ebert: About half an hour into the screening, the film got trapped in the projector and it caught fire! That was the good news! The bad news was, the screening continued, and hardly any of the film was destroyed.
Not only this, but they frequently called out the Oscars at times where they felt Harrison Ford was ignored for Academy attention for his action roles, which they mentioned more than once that he could do better than anyone else (aside from maybe Steve Mc Queen in decades past). The Fugitive was probably one of the more notable examples of them feeling he was snubbed.
Like an Old Married Couple: Their arguments could fall into this quite often; the two had been paired together so long that they knew what made the other tick and jumped on that. And while they did argue, they also kidded each other just as much.
Limited Wardrobe: Throughout the entire run, the typical outfit for both Siskel and Ebert was a blazer with a turtleneck underneath. However, there have been exceptions: Both wore tuxedos for some of their "Best of" shows, and Ebert wore a suit and tie for his Gene Siskel tribute episode. Perhaps the biggest aversion occurred in a special 1994 episode "Sunny Side of the Screen", where they both wore blazers with Hawaiian shirts underneath.
Ebert made one during their review of Gamera: Guardian of the Universe. He gave the film thumbs up despite listing some flaws. Siskel said that all of Ebert's flaws were accurate and suggested renting one of the early giant monster movies instead (which he felt were superior). At this point, Ebert took Siskel's point too far by sarcastically suggesting that the audience shouldn't bother with any of the films on the program and to just rent Citizen Kane. Ebert's fallacy backfired when Siskel said: "Well, you could do that, and I think you and I both look at Citizen Kane regularly. But I'm just saying is, that I think you want to like this picture more than you know in your heart of hearts that it really contains entertainment value."
Siskel made one in the episode where Ebert gave Full Metal Jacket a marginal thumbs down. Siskel said it was absurd that Ebert was giving a Kubrick film that rating, while in the same show he gave a recommendation to Benji the Hunted (which he disliked). As Ebert rightfully pointed out, Jacket and Benji are two totally different genres and as such, deserve to have different criteria for judging them.
Money, Dear Boy:invoked A common complaint from the two when discussing why certain actors took roles. Ebert stated that Connery's huge smile in Highlander II: The Quickening was perhaps because of the massive paycheck he received, especially since the film had a huge budget and looked like it had No Budget.
Mood Whiplash: Due to the wide variety of films that debuted each week, they could review a slasher flick … followed immediately by a lighthearted family film.
Moral Guardians: Their review of Silent Night, Deadly Night consisted mostly of them wagging their fingers and clucking "Shame, shame" at all the names listed in the credits. There's also Siskel's infamous review of the original Friday the 13th (1980), in which he referred to the director as "one of the most despicable creatures to ever infest the movie business" and gave out the personal addresses of some of the people involved in the film's creation so equally infuriated viewers could send their hate mail directly to them.
Most Annoying Sound: Invoked. A few actors have been described by Siskel and/or Ebert as "fingernails on the blackboard", such as Pauly Shore.
Mundane Wish: In their review of Frozen Assets (which both would name the worst film of 1992), Ebert said that as a reward for having to view this film, he deserved months "in a beautiful valley with honey and nectar and zephyr-like breezes". Siskel joked that he had simple tastes, to which Ebert added: "…And a big car!"
Re Tool: Infamously done during the Lyons/Mankiewicz era.
Serious Business: While the duo sometimes exchanged funny banter, for the most part the duo took film criticism very seriously, even occasionally accusing each other of lowering their standards (see the Predator review). This is perhaps why they gained such a reputation as an authority on what are the best films to see (to the point where "Two thumbs up!" was practically a given to mention in ads or on video covers).
Sequelitis: A major sticking point for them... their "Worst of 1983" show was devoted entirely to sequels, and most of their Worst Of specials to follow would have a special segment devoted to mediocre sequels.
Shout-Out: In their review of Black Sheep, Siskel gave a nod to the famous "Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy" quote:
Siskel: This, stunk. I knew John Belushi, I knew John Candy, he's [Chris Farley's] no John Belushi or John Candy.
Shown Their Work: Siskel and Ebert rarely made mistakes during their reviews, and often mentioned screenwriters, cinematographers, and directors by name.
As stated in the intro paragraphs, some episodes take a break from reviewing new movies and focus on a specific issue (colorization, "What's Wrong With Home Video", favorite villains, guilty pleasures, etc.).
Sometimes a standard-format episode would have a segment briefly discussing a hot film-related topic along with the usual reviews; in late 1991 they discussed the controversy over Michael Jackson's "Black or White" video — specifically its violent, crotch-grabbing finale. They weren't so much bothered by that as the fact that they had no idea what was going on in the video.
The tribute to Gene Siskel episode didn't feature any movie reviews at all, a rarity for the show.
The duo never reviewed TV shows, but they made an exception with The Critic, due to its subject matter. They reviewed the first three episodes and gave it a marginal thumbs down. However, they sensed promise in the premise and felt the show should stay focused on satirizing movies. Eventually they guest-voiced a second-season episode ("Siskel & Ebert & Jay & Alice") which parodied many film tropes to break the two apart and bring them together again.
Special Guest: Some of the guest critics may count (such as Jay Leno and Kevin Smith during the Roeper era). Also, Bill Clinton (a famous movie buff) appeared in one episode where he was interviewed by Roger. The transcript for that interview can be read here.
Siskel: Our next film is called Prince of Darkness, and yes, it's about the devil, about the opening of an age-old canister, and who escapes? Evil personisfied … personified. You know what I mean. It's evil, it's bad, it's naughty. (…) I would say, roughly, it's the devil. And this guy plays by a whole different set of rules, where up is down, in is out, I can't talk right, and all kinds of different rules. And if you're not careful, you're gonna be destroyed. (Beat) In this movie.
Tough Room: In one review, Ebert made a joke and Siskel didn't laugh. Ebert thanked Siskel for his overwhelming support, and Siskel replied, "It wasn't that funny."
Twisting the Words: Sometimes occurs, especially when they review movies about controversial subject matter.
Unintentional Period Piece: Unavoidable, due to the movies reviewed, not to mention the advances in home video technology. Yes, laserdisc was touted as the best way to watch movies at home.
Also the clothing and facial hair the critics wore in the earliest PBS episodes of "Sneak Previews" and "Coming to a Theatre Near You."
Visual Pun: Their "At the Movies" days featured two animals, Aroma the Educated Skunk and Spot the Wonder Dog, which represented the stinkers and dogs of the week, respectively. These were excised when they moved to the Buena Vista series. During a 1992 interview on Late Night with David Letterman, Gene recalled working with the skunk.
Siskel: The skunk was a very bashful creature and would always bury its head in the movie seat cushion as the camera and lights were put in position for taping the upcoming segment. Just before the cameras would start would come the order from the director "Spin the skunk!"
Ebert: You're giving this movie thumbs down? You have the appearance of a human being, but you are, in fact, an android. Roeper: Hey, you're the one who wants to cuddle with a movie.
And of course this one from their review of Sahara (Ebert liked it, Roeper didn't):
Roeper: Well you are the king of kindness on this one. Ebert: Thank you very much. Roeper: I'm glad you enjoyed it. Ebert: I'm happy that the- may the balm of human generosity spread, perhaps, from my side of the aisle to yours one of these years. Roeper: May you spend an afternoon seeing Sahara 2 someday as your punishment for recommending this movie. Ebert: May a diseased yak make love to your sister's kneecap. Roeper: That's funnier than anything I saw in Sahara.