I gotta be honest: though I know we in the movie critic world are supposed to revere Roger Ebert, the guy has always rubbed me the wrong way. I was never a fan of Ebert on “At the Movies” because when Ebert didn’t like a movie, he expressed more than negative reviews, he displayed contempt. Nobody enjoys beating the crap out of a bad movie more than I, but Ebert often came off as nasty and mean-spirited, and regardless of how bad the movie was, he had a way of eliciting my sympathy for the victims of his pans.
Of course, later in life, Ebert has softened, and in his writing, he comes across as far more thoughtful, but his television presence always made me bristle. It’s not that I disagree with his opinions or anything, it was that he was so unlikable. In my mind, he is largely responsible for the negative stereotypes that people so often associate with critics, notwithstanding the admiration and respect he’s received later in life.
If you’re not old enough to remember “At the Movies” with Siskel and Ebert, never watched it, or don’t have any memory of it, I present to you this outtakes clip from the show. It’s from the 1980s, and it reminds me of everything about Roger Ebert that rubbed me the wrong way. He was a total dick.
Stick around at least until the 3:00 mark on this video, where you’ll get to see Gene Siskel (rightfully) call Roger Ebert an asshole.