YMMV / Siskel & Ebert

  • 8.8: 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.)
      • In reverse, the duo liked Die Hard 2 the best out of the three original movies, with Siskel going so far as to personally thank everyone involved in the making of the movie. It's often overshadowed by the first movie.
    • 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."). Note 
    • 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.
    • Ebert also didn't care for Blue Velvet, which holds a 92% on Rotten Tomatoes. He admired the filmmaking, but hated being jerked around by having deadly serious scenes immediately cut to something cheerfully ironic. He particularly objected to a scene where Isabella Rossellini's character was naked on a character's lawn, feeling bad for the actress.
    • 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.
    • Siskel didn't care for The Silence of the Lambs, which has a 96% on Rotten Tomatoes and which Ebert put on his list of "Great Movies". He thought the film's execution was trashy, felt Anthony Hopkins overacted, and didn't feel the movie was an accurate portrayal of serial killers.
    • 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 and is one of Richard Roeper's personal favorite films.. He thought all the scenes were done better in other movies.
    • Siskel gave a marginal thumbs down to Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, which has an 89% on Rotten Tomatoes and is generally regarded as an improvement over Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Siskel didn't feel Harrison Ford and Sean Connery had any chemistry, and had a sense of déjà vu from the action sequences.
    • 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 
    • 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.
    • Casino, which has an 80% on Rotten Tomatoes, got a marginal thumbs down from Siskel, who felt it tread no new ground and that it's not Scorsese's best. Ebert was stunned at his vote.
    • Twister wasn't a critical success but did gangbusters at the box office. The duo gave it a thumbs down, claiming the special effects were the only good aspects of the movie and that they needed a better story to complement them.
    • Perhaps the most legendary of them all, both Siskel and Ebert gave Blade Runner two thumbs down when it was first releasednote , a movie widely regarded as a Science Fiction classic today and one of the most important films in the genre.note 
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: Of the guest hosts following Ebert's departure, A.O. Scott and Michael Phillips seemed to live up to this trope well enough (to the point where they ended up serving as the permanent hosts in the year after Ben Lyons and Mankiewicz departed).
  • Even Better Sequel: In the eyes of a handful, Roeper's reviews with guest critics (ESPECIALLY A.O. Scott and eventual regular Michael Phillips) produced some great camaraderie that may have surpassed his chemistry with Ebert. One could attribute this to the notion that Roeper's energy complemented critics around his age group more than Ebert (who was roughly 20 years his senior).
  • First Installment Wins: No matter the performance of the new reviewers, the original show with Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert is the version everyone remembers.
  • Gateway Series: This series encouraged at least a few viewers to try films they otherwise would have ignored like Documentaries and foreign language films.
    • One episode, "That's Not All, Folks!", had an entire segment devoted to Anime. It might have got certain viewers interested in that country's output.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: In the "Hollywood's Fear of Love" episode, the duo hypothesized why so many movies about the future are negative and dystopian: They thought it had to do with the fear of the year 2000, and once we get past that, humanity would breathe a sigh of relief. Yeah, that didn't happen, considering there are doomsday predictions practically every other week, and movies about the future are still predominantly dystopian.
    • In their review of Bulworth, Ebert wondered if there would ever be a political candidate like the one featured in the movie, and doubted it. Well, unfortunately, he was wrong.
  • He Panned It, Now He Sucks: While Gene Siskel liked Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, he got flak from Batman: The Animated Series fans after he said he didn't like Mark Hamill's performance as the Joker.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: For one of the holiday gift guide episodes, Siskel & Ebert had to demonstrate the ill-fated and unresponsive Activator peripheral for the Sega Genesis. Watching them flail around trying to use it on national syndicated TV could make it easier to understand why Ebert was never fond of the medium.
    • When the duo reviewed Bean, Ebert gave it a marginal thumbs down. Siskel gave it a thumbs up and pressed Roger: "You really wouldn't recommend this picture?" Ebert replied, "I'd tell people to wait until it comes out on video, something like that." Siskel said that he never makes that distinction and furthermore doesn't understand the distinction; Ebert replied that going to movies requires leaving the house. Siskel thought that argument made no sense, since you'd have to leave the house to rent a movie as well. Of course, nowadays it's very easy to stay home and rent a movie on iTunes or Netflix, and is much cheaper than going to the movies.
    • When they reviewed The Living Daylights, Siskel didn't care for Timothy Dalton as Bond, and thought Pierce Brosnan (who had just finished Remington Steele) would've been a better choice for the role. Ironically, when GoldenEye came out, Siskel didn't like Brosnan's portrayal despite praising him eight years earlier.
  • Just Here for Godzilla: More than a few viewers regularly watched the show just to see Siskel and Ebert argue. Which is funny because they actually often agreed with each other more often than not.
    Ebert: Some people thought he fought all the time; actually, we agreed most of the time. A lot of movies were clearly good or clearly bad, leaving only the ones in the middle to argue about.
  • Misblamed: Lots of fans of the show (and Ebert himself) believed that Ben Mankiewicz had been given a raw deal to be paired up with Ben Lyons, and should be remembered for trying his darndest to salvage the show from the mess the execs and Lyons were making.
  • The Scrappy: One could say this of the entirety of the Mankiewicz/Lyons year.
    • A multitude of reasons explaining the hate of the Mankiewicz/Lyons era have included:
      • The two having to live up to the precedents of Ebert and Roeper (the latter having actually found a pretty perfect onscreen partner post-Ebert in Michael Phillips, after over a year of subbing in guest hosts).
      • The overall lack of chemistry between the two critics.
      • Its adjustment leading to the destruction of the old Siskel and Ebert set, something Roger only found out afterwards, enraging him to no end (the fact that the original review archives were taken down certainly didn't help).
      • The use of a brighter, in-your-face, color palette and opening theme, likely used to bring in younger audiences.
      • The use of gimmicks uncommon during Ebert's run, such as an occasional feature where 3 guest critics would join the two to offer their input on various films in release.
      • Lyons' qualifications in particular were questioned, as he was in his 20s (as well as a regular correspondent on E!News) and viewers found that he lacked the same understanding of film that his predecessors shared. His negative review of Synecdoche, New York earned scorn from Adam Kempenaar (of the Chicago radio program "Filmspotting"), who reflected that Lyons hadn't taken the time to register what the film was actually attempting to say, but rather that the film was difficult overall. Mankiewicz himself averted this, as he's a regular contributor to Turner Classic Movies, a descendant of Herman and Joseph Mankiewicz (each of whom were Oscar-winners for writing Citizen Kane and directing All About Eve, respectively), and actually showed himself to be rather knowledgeable about the films they were reviewing.
    • Ebert himself seemed to offer a slight Take That to this section of the show, even remarking that, while he offered condolences to Mankiewicz over the show's mixed reactions (calling him "a perfect gentleman" and saying that he had suffered roughly the equivalent of "a drive-by shooting"), putting Lyons in the chair was very much a mistake. Ebert was quick to point out that Lyons had never even actually written a review for a film before his selection as co-host.
      • Roughly a year before this, just as the Bens were getting started, Roger actually published a column relaying the general rules and ethics for film criticism (seen here). Commentators were quick to point out that the timing of this seemed to be a subtle Take That to Lyons, something that Ebert's eventual examination (seen above) seemed to all but confirm.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/YMMV/SiskelAndEbert