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YMMV / Siskel & Ebert

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  • 8.8: The duo gave thumbs up to The Nightmare Before Christmas but thought the story and characters could've been better (although Ebert is far more enthusiastic in his written review, raving about the art direction, dark humor, and music). Among Henry Selick/Tim Burton fans, their praise wasn't enough, especially since they were far more enthusiastic about James and the Giant Peach, which doesn't have as big a fanbase as Nightmare.
    • 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.
    • The duo gave two thumbs up to The Lion King, but didn't consider it as good as the previous three films. It ended up being one of Disney's biggest hits of all time.
  • Archive Panic: Considering the show ran from 1975 through 2010, with a new episode nearly every week, there's a lot to catch up on.
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  • "Common Knowledge": In their review of Tom and Jerry: The Movie, Roger criticized the characterizations in the film, saying that the basic premise of classic Tom & Jerry shorts is that Tom wants to eat Jerry. This is more accurate of the Sylvester the Cat and Tweety Bird shorts; in most Tom and Jerry shorts, their relationship is more one of sparring partners- always one-upping another, getting immediate revenge, and fighting over a common goal.
  • Critical Dissonance: Now has its own page.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: 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).
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  • 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 piqued viewers' interests in Japan's output of animated movies.
  • Growing the Beard: An inversion! The first episodes of Sneak Previews (then called Opening Soon at a Theater Near You) were very dry and the duo were clearly not used to being on camera, as it showed in their deadpan and stilted deliveries. Once Gene shaved the mustache, things improved and by the time the early '80s arrived, the duo had found a groove and their disagreements got more entertaining.
    • The Buena Vista series brought a number of improvements, such as a slicker presentation, more movies reviewed per episode (typically five, instead of the previous two series' four), and abandoning the gimmicks (the skunk and dog, signfiying the stinkers of the week). Plus the "Memo to the Academy" special episodes began here, which reinforced their status as influential critics.
    • After a slew of guest hosts throughout the 1999-2000 season, things improved quite a bit when Richard Roeper officially took over as co-host. While he and Roger's chemistry wasn't quite to the level of Roger and Gene's, it was close.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
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    • 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.
    • One of Ebert's main criticisms towards Die Hard was its depiction of the Los Angeles Police Department as a bunch of bumbling idiots, to the point where he knocked it as bad writing. As the rest of the country learned in The '90s after the Rodney King beating, its fumbling of the O. J. Simpson trial, and the Rampart scandal, the LAPD really was that corrupt and incompetent back then.
    • In his scathing review of Leonard Part 6, Ebert calls out the Product Placement for Coca-Cola in the film and says that Bill Cosby ought to be ashamed of himself for selling out like this despite being the richest man in show biz. Oh, that's the least of his sins.
    • In his review of Lord of the Flies (1990) Siskel was offended that they would make a movie remake 27 years after the original, viewing it as despicable cynicism. Unfortunately the remake trend only became more frequent.
  • He Panned It, Now He Sucks!:
  • 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. note 
    • 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.
    • Ebert gave a thumbs down to Star Trek: Nemesis, claiming the series had run out of gas. He suggested that the series start fresh, with a new cast and a new look. Not only was Nemesis the final Star Trek movie with the Next Generation cast, but in 2009 the series DID get rebooted.
    • In Ebert and Roeper's review of Cabin Fever, Roeper says, "Cabin Fever is also yet another film that picks on a group that's always maligned in the movies: The inbred, white trash, overall-wearing mountain man. Ever since Deliverance, these guys just can't catch a break. Aren't there any kindly and insightful inbred mountain men?" Why yes, there are.
    • While praising Return of the Jedi, Ebert said that "Star Wars is the kind of film that Disney used to make and the kind that they should be making". In 2012, Disney bought Star Wars.
    • In their review of Sleepers, Siskel accused Ebert of being too soft on the film and said that his thumbs up despite his criticisms to be "the polite, three-star review that I think is the death of film criticism". Ironically, an article written in 2013 argued that Siskel and Ebert's binary method of reviewing movies dumbed down film criticism.
    • The duo gave a big thumbs down to Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, and it also made their "worst of 1994" list. So it's amusing that only four years later, they devoted an entire episode to Jim Carrey; while they didn't change their thumbs down vote for the first Ace, they analyzed why he's gotten so much work and admitted he's done much better films since then (his most recent film at that point was the critically-acclaimed The Truman Show).
    • When reviewing Aladdin and the King of Thieves, Siskel wondered why Disney hadn't released the film to theaters, claiming Disney probably thought it would do better financially on video. Ebert corrected him to say that Disney doesn't release animated sequels in theaters as a matter of studio policy. Yeah, obviously that rule no longer applies.
    • When reviewing the 1986 film Down by Law, Roger mentions that he liked the wacky Italian character, played by "some guy named Roberto Benigni", and didn't know where he came from or if he'll ever work again. Yes, he has.
    • In their Best of 1987 show, Gene found it extremely difficult to narrow it down to just ten best films of the year, complaining why they couldn't do a top 11 instead. A couple decades later, The Nostalgia Critic did just that on a regular basis.
    • In 1987, Ebert described what we now know as video streaming:
    "We will have high-definition, wide-screen television sets and a push-button dialing system to order the movie you want at the time you want it."
    • Mixed with Heartwarming in Hindsight, while reviewing A Christmas Story they're both very worried that such a fantastic movie might be completely ignored at the box office and forgotten. It would go on to become the classic beloved Christmas staple complete with 24 hour marathons in December.
    • In their "Worst Movies of the Summer" episode from 1985, while reviewing The Man with One Red Shoe, Gene called Tom Hanks a "second rate Bill Murray". Highly amusing considering how beloved Hanks has become, even only a few years after this episode.
    • In their review of The Mighty Quinn, Gene said Denzel Washington is "not a big name". At the time, this was accurate, but such a statement is amusing today considering how famous he's gotten since then.
    • An episode from the year 2000 had a segment about streaming full movies over the internet. All three (Roger, Richard and internet correspondent Michaela Pereira) agreed that until bandwidth gets better, this was little more than a novelty. That may have been true at the time when many people were still on 56k modems and DSL, but now that streaming is the dominant form of viewing movies, and internet speeds have increased exponentially since then, such arguments are quite funny to hear in hindsight.
  • 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.
    • Invoked when the duo reviewed Cliffhanger: Ebert admitted that he liked the movie purely for its special effects and stunt sequences, even though the story wasn't anything special. Siskel called him on it, claiming that a strong story is always important, even in action movies.
    • Gene would occasionally give a movie a thumbs up purely because of one actor, saying the movie was worth watching just for them even if the rest was below par. See: A Few Good Men, where he gave it a marginal thumbs up solely because of Tom Cruise's performance even though he thought the film had no major surprises.
  • Mis-blamed: 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.
  • Parody Displacement: Roger Ebert’s thrashing of North ("I hated this movie. Hated hated hated hated hated this movie. Hated it.") is probably more well-known than the movie itself.
  • 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 Opening Soon at a Theatre Near You.
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